If you’re planning to buy a home and stay in it just a few years, many home improvement projects aren’t worth the money.  In other words, when you go to sell your house, you’re not going to get your full investment back.  Backyard, in ground, swimming pools are a good example.  However, Consumer Reports is out with a list of 8 things you can do to increase your home value. They’re projects you can invest money in where you will get the maximum return on the dollar, especially if you plan to only hold onto the home a few years.  



The kitchen has always been a focal point for buyers, but first-time homeowners seem to be gravitating towards the kitchen even more.  Consumer Reports says, “a ‘modern/updated kitchen’ topped the list of ideal home features in our survey of millennials, registering as most important to more than a third of respondents.”  But that doesn’t mean you need to remodel your kitchen from the ground up.  Spending as little as $5,000 can give you top results and make your home more marketable.  For example, for that amount of money, you should be able to buy new appliances, as well as a new countertop and flooring, and apply a fresh coat of paint to the walls or cabinets.  

When choosing appliances and countertops, go stainless steel and quartz.  Stainless steel implies a clean, contemporary design, so will signal “updated” in the buyer’s mind.  Also, check out new versions of black stainless steel with a softer, less reflective finish.  When it comes to countertops, quartz is now challenging granite and marble in higher-end kitchens.  Quartz also doesn’t require the upkeep of other comparably priced natural stones.  Just doing these two things can net you another 3 to 7 percent in the sales price. 



It doesn’t necessarily matter if you have a big home or not, it’s what you do with the space that matters.  “An open floor plan with flexible living space was second only to an updated kitchen on millennials’ list of most desired features,” according to Consumer Reports.

Finishing a basement is the most common way to add usable square footage to a home. But expect to spend anywhere from $10,000 to $27,000.  “Attic conversions are another option. The average attic remodel in 2014 cost $50,000.”  While a basement or attics upgrade might not seem important to many of you, younger buyers will envision this additional living space as an office or a playroom.

Flex rooms, aka double-duty rooms that can serve a variety of purposes, from a guest bedroom to a game room to an exercise room to a study room for the kids, can definitely make your home more attractive to buyers.  

A mother-in-law apartment has its advantages since it can house an additional family member or provide rental income.  

An upstairs laundry room seems to catch the attention of younger buyers, especially if it’s located near the kitchen or second-floor bedrooms.   



Not only does it save you money, but keeping your home’s energy costs down should be a major selling point.  “Energy-efficient” was second only to “safe community” when it comes to top attributes influencing a buyer, according to a 2015 survey by the National Association of Home Builders.  One realtor says it’s not unusual for millennial buyers to ask for two years’ worth of utility payments or even water heating bills.  

If you want to impress an energy-efficient buyer, replace your windows with high-efficiency windows that can lower your home’s energy bills by up to 15%.  You probably won’t recoup the entire investment, if you sell right away, if you replace every window, but it could attract buyers.  Replacing your hot water heater, with an energy-efficient one, is another attraction.  A much cheaper way to get “energy-efficient” is to use LED lights.  A $7 bulb has a 23-year life expectancy.  



If an appliance, countertop, cabinet, or even carpeting looks like it’ll require a lot of upkeep, buyers might walk away.  While ornate cabinets or fancy countertops may look nice, buyers might look at these upgrades as extra work to maintain and added stress.  

It’s also important to keep major mechanical systems in working order.  Many first-time buyers don’t have money left over after making a down payment, so they want to be reassured that they won’t have to make expensive repairs to the heating system, plumbing, and electricity.  Outside of that, a new roof will put buyers at ease and replacing carpeting with durable hardwood floors can be a big attraction.  



The buyer for your home might not necessarily by a millennial.  By 2040, there are expected to be almost 80 million seniors accounting for 21 percent of the population.  Seniors or even a younger person looking to stay in a home beyond retirement, aren’t wanting steep staircases, narrow doorways where a walker or wheelchair won’t fit through, and slippery step-in bathtubs and showers.  

When it comes time to replace or upgrade features in your home, consider a walk-in shower, a floor plan in which the master bedroom is on the first floor, and comfort-height toilets. 



Paint keeps your house looking fresh while also protecting walls from wear and tear.  It’s not necessary to repaint your entire house if you’re getting ready to sell but rather focus on high-traffic areas like the kitchen and bathrooms.  Keep to neutral colors that appeal to most homebuyers.  



Adding living space might not always be easy indoors, but outside might have possibilities.  Adding a deck or patio with room for seating and maybe an outdoor BBQ is a great way to create space.  Millennials love outdoor spaces, prior generations gravitated towards pools.  Also, don’t go for overly lush landscapes.  Millennials don’t like high water costs. For curb appeal, trim overgrown shrubs, replace or paint the front door, and replace worn-out siding.



Don’t go overboard on high-tech features because they can become dated in a hurry.  One of the recent biggest losers is the fully wired audiovisual system.  One architect says this system has lost 80% of its value since everything went wireless.  However, certain smart devices can add value to your home such as programmable thermostats, security systems, and whole-house generator.