If you’ve ever sold a home, you know it is generally a good practice to fix everything up nicely to sell. Perhaps you wondered after doing so if it wouldn’t have been a better idea to do all of those fixes early on, right after purchasing your home, so that you could have enjoyed the upgrades as well. Now that you own a home, you probably want to know: What are the best ways to increase home value while you live there?

Whether you are on the market for your first home or shopping for your second or third, it’s a good idea to keep this cautionary tale in mind. Suppose, instead of making your home as lovely as possible before selling it, that you make your home as lovely as possible right after purchase?

In this guide, we help you identify the best ways to increase your home’s value right after purchase so that you can enjoy the upgrades as long as possible. You will learn how to identify potential upgrades while still in the home shopping process, as well as how to get the biggest return on your home improvement investment.

An office in a home with increased home value.
Source: (David Sherry and Grant Spanier / Death to the Stock Photo)

Best ways to increase home value right after purchase

Note that some of the best ways to increase value may also be some of the most expensive projects. This is all the more reason to tackle these projects early on so that you can get the most out of them. Depending on the market, inflation, and depreciation of the upgrades over time, you may or may not recoup 100% of what you invest, but you will likely come close.

According to the 2020 Q3 Top Agent Insights survey from HomeLight, remodeling in general is seeing a surge as remote jobs and virtual learning drive people to reconfigure their living spaces. There has been a rise in in-law suites, outdoor dining areas, partitioned spaces, and even private amenities, like pools and gyms, that can turn a home into a retreat. Indeed, people are redirecting budgets that may have otherwise gone toward travel and vacation toward home improvement projects.

Many people who are looking for a new home right now are doing so because the shift to remote work either frees them from needing to live close to the office — or, with kids and other family members spending so much time at home, they simply want more space.

If you are in the market for a new home and are ready to hit the ground running with upgrades right after purchase, below are the nine best ways to increase your home value while doing so.

1. Add a primary suite

According to Remodeling’s 2020 Cost vs. Value report, adding a second main or primary bedroom can increase home value by between $80,000 and $145,000 and it costs anywhere between $137,000 to $282,000. This amounts to about a 51% to 58% return on investment (ROI).

However, getting to use the suite while you own or live in the house can bring its own value. A primary suite can be a nice, relaxing hideaway at the end of a long day, or it can serve as a place for the in-laws to move in. You could also rent it out for additional income as a short-term rental on Airbnb or other sites, a strategy that could quickly help it pay for itself and even earn a profit for you over time — especially if it has its own entrance.

When home shopping, look for houses that either already have two or more primary suites that simply need renovation (which can save you a lot of money), or houses with plenty of exterior yard space into which you could build an addition. It’s also worth looking into how any city regulations or homeowners association rules may affect such projects.

According to Cindy Boutwell, a Houston-area real estate agent with more than 20 years of experience, a relaxing and calming primary suite “should be light and bright, and the color scheme should flow well from the bedroom to the bathroom.” Consider calming blues and grays, such as PPG Porter Paints’ Chalky Blue or Benjamin Moore’s Alaskan Husky. Add mirrors to open up the space, and make sure the choices of decor tie the room seamlessly to the rest of the house.

2. Remodel the kitchen

A complete kitchen remodel can increase your home’s value by between $40,000 ans $73,000, though it may cost between $69,000 and $136,000 (a 54% to 59% ROI).

According to Boutwell, when shopping, “Look at the house and see if the kitchen is open and if it flows well.” Kitchens that are mostly closed off from the rest of the house are less desirable and may require a lot more remodeling.

While kitchen remodeling can be a significant undertaking involving installing new cabinets, flooring, appliances, and possibly knocking down some non-load-bearing walls, sometimes quick fixes can go a long way. According to Boutwell, “We recently sold a house in which the kitchen to the family room was kind of open, but it had a lower section of cabinets that were blocking the flow. We took out that lower section of cabinets, and that just opened up the kitchen.” Moreover, that simple fix only cost $250.

It’s possible to get away with a minor kitchen remodel at a much lower overall price tag. Consider painting cabinets white, adding a new backsplash and a granite countertop, and updating the appliances. You can even paint old fixtures matte black to give them a fresh, updated feel. Boutwell also describes an example where removing the raised portion of a breakfast nook created a much more open feel in a kitchen, another affordable but effective project for increasing your home’s value.

3. Add a bathroom

The addition of an extra bathroom can increase your home’s value by between $27,000 and $50,000 while costing between $50,000 and $91,000, for an ROI of 54% to 55%. The addition of a bathroom can be a significant undertaking because of the need to add proper plumbing. As you are shopping for homes, consider where you might be able to make such an addition. The other side of the wall from an existing bathroom is often a good choice for simplifying the required work and plumbing.

Note that adding a bathroom can make your home more roommate-friendly and can allow you to rent out part of the space more easily. This could help you recoup your entire investment if done right.

A bathroom in a home with increased home value.
Source: (Watermark Designs / Unsplash)

4. Remodel a bathroom

If the house has plenty of existing bathrooms, you might consider a remodel to one or more of them. This can increase your home’s value by between $14,000 and $40,000 while costing between $21,000 and $67,000 (between a 57% to 64% ROI). When shopping, look for bathrooms with space for larger tubs, or that could be improved with new mirrors and a paint job.

Consider adding a full bathtub to replace a shower stall, or replacing an existing tub with a larger jetted tub. Replace the toilet and sink, and swap out the countertops with granite.

You may also want to redo the flooring. You can replace cabinets or spruce them up with paint. And you can also paint the walls and fixtures.

“If you have an older, vintage house,” notes Boutwell, “you can take an antique piece of furniture and put a sink in it” for a vanity setup that nobody else can match.

5. Replace the roof

A quality roof is essential for keeping your home protected from the elements. Upgrading to a metal roof can increase your home value by $25,000 with an average cost of about $40,000. New asphalt shingles increase your home value by $16,000 and cost $25,000. Both roofing types offer greater than 60% ROI, but metal roofs last longer. In fact, metal roofs can last 40 to 70 years compared to the typical 15 to 20 year lifespan of shingles.

Be sure to note the state of the roofing when home shopping. While a new roof can last for years, if you purchase a house with an older roof, you will want to upgrade it sooner rather than later.

6. Replace windows

With older houses especially, windows may be single-paned with aluminum frames, which lets a lot of heat out in the winter and heat in the summer.

Replacing old windows not only increases your home’s value by between $13,000 and $15,000, but it can also lower your heating and cooling bills and reduce sun bleach damage to your home furnishings. Window replacement costs between $18,000 and $21,000 for an entire (average) house, resulting in a 69% to 72% ROI.

A homeowner on a deck installed to increase value.
Source: (Elle Hughes / Unsplash)

7. Add a deck or patio

If you’d like some nice space for enjoying good weather or hosting backyard barbecues, consider adding a deck or a patio. A composite deck will increase value by $13,000 and cost $20,000 (67% ROI), while a wood deck will increase value by $10,000 and cost $14,000 (72% ROI). It’s best to do this one early so you can spend some summers fully enjoying the upgrade!

If you don’t have the funds for a new deck right away, Boutwell says, “A cheap option, if you don’t have a patio, is to place stepping stones outside the back door.” Stepping stones can be purchased from your local home improvement store and will create a nice solid surface for backyard hangouts.

8. New veneers or siding

One project offering some of the biggest ROI is redoing the outside of your home with new veneer or siding. Fiber or cement siding increases home value by about $13,000 and costs $17,000 (78% ROI). Vinyl siding increases value $11,000 and costs $14,000 (75% ROI). And increasingly popular stone veneer raises value by $9,000 while only costing a little more than $9,000 (a 96% ROI!!!).

If you aren’t ready for new siding but want to spruce up your home’s exterior, a coating of paint is another option. Take note of each home’s exterior when shopping. Old paint or damaged siding can lead to big problems later, so tackle this task right away if that’s a concern.

A grand entrance of a home with increased value.
Source: (Brad Starkey / Unsplash)

9. Grand entrance/garage projects

Reframing the grand entrance increases value by $5,000 and costs $9,000 (53% ROI). Complete this task early so you can hang some decorative wreaths on your door and create a welcoming environment for guests.

Garage door replacement increases value by $3,400 while costing $3,700, another great ROI of 95%. Replacing your entry door with steel increases your value by $1,200 and costs $1,800 (69% ROI). You can also spruce up your entryway by painting or staining your front door and upgrading your landscaping.

Plan upgrades for your new home today

Boutwell has some great suggestions for planning and implementing renovations on newly purchased homes. For starters, “Get referrals for people who can do things if you’re not a DIY person. Your real estate agent should be able to give you referrals.” Also, choose a color scheme, make a list, and keep a binder full of your ideas as well as any paints or materials you use.

By keeping track of everything in a binder, you will have a detailed list of all expenses and improvements. This will come in handy if and when you sell your home, and it provides a convenient reference if you need to touch up the paint in your bathroom years later and can’t remember if the blue was “robin’s egg” or “sky.”

If you would like to find a qualified real estate agent in your area who can help you find the home of your dreams, whether newly remodeled or a fixer-upper, try HomeLight’s agent search page. Happy remodeling!