12 Budget Upgrades That Add Value and Help Sell Your Home

woman painting her walls pink as a budget home upgrade to add value

Most homeowners have heard that certain home upgrades can add value to your home. And with 79% of U.S. homes that need work, it’s likely your home could benefit. Although this is a universally-accepted truth, many homeowners are reluctant to update their homes before a sale. Why? Because they don’t want to undergo lengthy and costly renovations. But more often than not, unlocking the true value of your home usually doesn’t require an entire remodel.  

Selling your home as-is sounds like a daunting enough task to begin with, so why would you waste your time and energy sprucing up a house that won’t be yours much longer, right? The answer is simple: today’s buyers want move-in-ready homes. In fact, 71% of potential buyers are scared of buying homes that need upgrades of any kind. With those kinds of odds, you’re better off starting with a few fast and strategic updates. That way you can guarantee your home will sell faster, for maximum profit. 

There are a variety of speedy, low-budget, and most importantly, easy home upgrades that can increase the value of your home. These are 12 upgrades that don’t break the bank but will help you add value to your home on a budget: 

1. Focus on first impressions  

The feeling buyers get when walking through the front door of their potential forever home might be the number one thing that sticks with them about the house. When creating the initial impression, ask yourself these questions: 

  • What do I want buyers to experience? 
  • What tone do I want to set right away? 
  • What mood do I want people to be in when they enter my home? 

But guess what? First impressions start before potential buyers even walk in the door. They begin outside your home, starting with the curb appeal, the exterior color and texture, the state of the landscaping. Even your address makes an impression. Consider swapping out your house numbers for a more modern font, add a pop of color with low-maintenance seasonal flowers, or pick out a friendly welcome mat.  

2. Paint cabinets and cupboards  

It is no surprise that kitchens are often the most expensive room to renovate. Even smaller projects can add up quickly. One easy way to brighten up your cooking area is to paint the existing cabinets. Opting to paint cabinets instead of replacing them all together will save you loads of time, money, and stress. This home hack isn’t exclusive to kitchens!  

Adding fresh paint to bathroom vanities or shelving will have the same positive effect, on the same budget. Experts recommend sticking to bright neutrals when painting to sell as it creates a blank slate for buyers to imagine their future. So as much as you may love lime green accent walls or terra cotta rooms, they won’t help you achieve the home sale you’re hoping for. Ditching the color and embracing the neutrals will drive home value without undergoing extensive and unnecessary home updates. 

 3. Paint or replace exterior doors  

First impressions start at the curb, remember? And there is something deeply charming about a home with an accent door. Although we walk through our front doors almost daily, when it comes to updating a home, they are often overlooked.  

Paint is one of the cheaper updates you can make on the exterior of your home but it can go a long way towards increasing home value. A boldly colored front door exacts character from homes of all kinds, even newer builds. You can impart character with just a half-gallon investment, and it pays dividends. Painting or replacing exterior doors is a great way to guarantee a positive first impression from your prospective buyers. And psst, don’t forget about the garage!   

4. Shed some light on great windows  

Experts recommend replacing your windows every 15-20 years, but new windows can be a hefty investment. There are many cheaper ways to ensure your windows don’t deter potential buyers. Remove any broken or yellowing blinds and opt instead for soft, neutral curtains. You can touch up paint on the trim if it is chipping and, of course, make sure your windows are crystal clear and clean. 

In addition, bigger windows offer an opportunity for more natural light to spill into your home, so if it’s already on your list to repair them – consider enlarging them too! More modern windows are a huge attraction and add instant value to a home. If you don’t have the wall space or the time, something as simple as painting the window casing to match the wall can make a huge difference. Removing window casing contrast makes the home appear more timeless and less dated. Sometimes it’s not just about what you add to a home, but what you subtract as well!  

5. Power-wash siding and walkways  

You never know the value of a power-washer until you’ve used one on your home. Simple things, like your walkway, would never be called a “focal point” of your yard. But after you power-wash it? It becomes the main attraction! The star! That’s because we can easily forget how dull things have actually gotten when we see them every day. It’s only when we give them a deep clean that we remember their fullest potential. (Yes, we are still talking about walkways.) 

Replacing or painting siding can get pricey, fast. Brighten up your home – literally – by power-washing the exterior. Whether it’s brick, limestone, siding, or stucco… you will see an immediate transformation that will not let you down. 

6. Refinish hardwood floors  

Hardwood floors are loved for their longevity and durability, which often makes them look scuffed or dated from years of wear. Can you believe there were even decades in the not too distant past that people covered them up with tile, carpet, or vinyl? Yikes. These beauties are diamonds in the rough and with minimal investment you can maximize value on your home. 

Instead of replacing it, refinishing your hardwood floors will give your buyers the sophisticated look they’re looking for – while still retaining all your home’s original charm. 

7. Install a kitchen backsplash 

A modern backsplash is an effortless way to bring a level of elegance to your kitchen. One of the most common trends is subway tile backsplash, which offers needed texture and color. There are dozens of types of tiles, from Moroccan-inspired pieces to surprising shapes, each offer a different flavor in your cooking space. 

The best thing about tile is it’s not too hard to DIY! You can get the help of a contractor if you like, but a few YouTube videos may be all the training you need to add value to your home on a budget. And don’t forget about the grout! That’s an opportunity to play with contrast, color, and design that many homeowners overlook. 

8. Upgrade light fixtures  

Aside from wood paneling and popcorn ceilings, old light fixtures are a sure-fire way to date your house. You can swap out antiquated lighting with something more sleek on a budget – only a couple hundred bucks (to make it look like a million bucks). 

Light fixtures are also a great way to showcase home trends in your area. If modern homes are selling for more, then consider a minimalistic look when selecting fixtures. You could also lean into industrial, farmhouse, traditional, or something completely unexpected.  

9. Prioritize landscaping  

Spending a day or two on landscaping can significantly increase your home’s value. (Read that back just for good measure.) If a couple days of your time and a minimal budget can yield a higher profit on your home sale, it’d be a no-brainer right? 

So get your gardening gloves and get out there. Focus on trimming shrubs, mulching in flowerbeds and around trees, and showing the lawn a little love by reseeding or mowing. For bonus points hire a tree-trimmer (don’t DIY) and remove any branches or debris for maximum appeal. 

10. Swap out hardware  

Hardware is the jewelry of the home! Upgrading hardware in the kitchen and throughout the house is the most inexpensive update that is guaranteed to bring you an impressive ROI. From everything to drawer pulls in your kitchen to the door knob in your bedroom, hardware is, generally speaking, on the cheap side for home updates. But it can look really expensive if you do it right! 

When selecting new hardware, keep an eye out for brushed metal finishes that are trending now, like chrome or muted brass.  

11. Deep clean grout 

You would be surprised at how quickly grime can build up in the nooks of your tile floors, even with routine cleaning. Putting in the elbow grease to scrub down grout can make your floors look brand new without the high price tag or headache of installing new flooring.  

12. Address any deferred maintenance  

No matter how many years you have been living in your home, there are bound to be minor repairs that you’ve been putting off. Now is the time to fix that closet door that has been sticking for years, the broken basement window, or the peeling paint in the pantry. While these issues all have relatively simple fixes, leaving them for the buyer to take care of could be what makes or breaks your sale.  

Preparing your home for the market doesn’t have to overwhelm your schedule or your budget. There are many simple (and fun!) ways to update your home. You deserve to get the most out of your home, even after selling, and prioritizing pre-listing updates will allow you to sell for more and invest in your future.  

If you understand the benefit of pre-listing updates but don’t want to tackle them yourself, Curbio is here to help. We are a general contractor that works on projects of all sizes to get your home ready for market fast, and you don’t pay a dime until the house sells! Talk to your Realtor® about the time and stress you can save by partnering with Curbio, and gain peace of mind that you are unlocking the true value of your home.