The 3 Best Categories for Boosting Your Home’s Value Without Going Broke

Everyone makes home improvements for different reasons, but most of the time they’re either a necessity like a roof repair, something for personal enjoyment, or intended to increase a home’s market value. Whether you’re getting ready to move or just sprucing things up, it’s wise to be mindful of how the improvements you’re making will affect your home’s value when it comes time to sell your home.

Based on what real estate experts say, the top home improvement categories that deliver the biggest bang for your buck are:

1. Practical Appeal

When we think of home renovation, our minds jump to fun projects like updating a kitchen or adding a deck, but standard projects like routine maintenance and repairs go a long way in creating a baseline appeal and value to your home.

  • Maintenance & Repairs

Home hunters want to know the place they’re considering is in good condition. No matter how great a renovated bathroom looks, it won’t persuade a buyer to overlook a major repair they’ll have to deal with right away. Performing routine maintenance on furnaces and septic systems, fixing problems like plumbing leaks or rusty gutters, and making practical improvements, are all investments that will raise and maintain your home’s value in the long run.

  • Energy Efficiency

Home buyers are looking more carefully at utilities – one of those controllable expenses that can be drastically improved with energy-efficient appliances and heating/cooling systems. Besides the personal savings on your utility bills and taxes, making your home greener may also improve the value of your home by up to 20 times the annual energy savings.

2. Curb Appeal

Potential buyers decide within the first few moments of walking up to a house whether or not they’re interested in seeing more. First, there’s landscaping. Overhanging trees and unruly bushes can obscure your home’s best features, darken the interior, encourage mold, and can even cause expensive damage.

Then there’s the entryway. Is it neat, well lit, and protected from weather? Is your front door in good shape and does it look secure?

Finally, fix other exterior issues like missing siding or chipped paint. These small fixes can make a pretty big difference when it comes to shaping the first impressions of anyone who sees your home.

3. Modern Appeal

It’s now time to give your home some modern appeal after the basics are taken care of. Real estate professionals say home buyers are looking for open floor plans, natural light, updated flooring, and bathroom and kitchen upgrades. A few of the most value driven ways to make your home look more modern, are to knock out a non-structural wall or kitchen island, and to improve light by replacing broken panes, or installing less expensive tubular skylights. You also want to fix squeaks in your floors, patch and repair boards and tile, and maybe even rip out some wall-to-wall carpeting and replace it with engineered hardwood. Updating a bathroom on a tight budget could mean cleaning grout, removing any rust stains, re-caulking, updating door knobs, or replacing faucets.

The bottom line is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on improvements to increase your home’s value. Just choose your improvements wisely and you can easily recoup that investment back. The more you value your home by taking care of it, the more others will value it, as well.

In need of some home improvements but could use a little help? First Financial’s Home Improvement Loan is designed to help you create the home you’ve been imagining. It’s time to move your “wants” to the top of your to-do list.*

*Available on primary residence only. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a Home Improvement Loan and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. See credit union for details. Rate will vary based off of applicant’s credit rating. Not all applicants who apply will be approved, subject to underwriting guidelines and credit approval. Lien position and appraisal valuation may affect the maximum loan amount. Not all applicants will qualify for maximum Loan to Value (LTV) ratio. It will be based off of creditworthiness, property type, occupancy, lien position, and loan amount. Rates will be affected by LTV or combined LTV if there is another lien on the property. Loan amounts over $7,500.00 will be required to give First Financial FCU a security interest in their property. Rates will vary based off of lien position and whether the loan is mortgage secured or unsecured. For mortgage secured Home Improvement loans First Financial FCU (FFFCU) will waive closing costs at inception of loan. If loan is terminated within the first 2 years of opening, closing cost waiver is revoked and are required to be paid back by member to FFFCU.

Article source: Jessica Sommerfield for

Home Improvements on a Budget and the Mortgage Market Seminar Summary

girl redecorating homeAt our recent Home Improvement on a Budget and the Mortgage Market Seminar, attendees learned about today’s mortgage market, information on our home improvement loan and home improvement tips on budget. Below are a few home improvement tips that were presented that can help you get the most out of your budget during your home improvement period.

Maximize Your Decorating Budget:

What’s the dirtiest word in decorating? That’s right: budget. Whether you have just a few $100 for a room makeover, or tens of thousands, you’ll need to plan carefully and make tough choices to meet your bottom line.

1. Make a design wish list: Give your imagination free reign. Write down everything you’d like to do and buy – be specific. Although you’re indulging in a bit of fantasy, don’t forget to include the practical stuff that needs to be fixed, upgraded and purchased.

2. Determine your actual budget: Be brutally honest here: Take a look at your monthly inflows and outflows, as well as any funds you’ve set aside for rainy day projects, and see how much you realistically have to spend. If the money just isn’t there, it might make sense to put off your project while you set a savings goal, rather than maxing out your credit card.

3. Familiarize yourself with price tags: Before you draft an itemized budget, hit the stores, catalogs and Internet to research how much the items on your wish list will cost. If it’s been a few years since you’ve decorated — or if this is your first major home project — expect some sticker shock. Couches, for example, can range from a few $100 to $1000+, so price out sofas that meet your style, quality and comfort standards.

4. Prioritize your purchases and labor: Start itemizing with your decorating wish list, real costs and your total budget in front of you. If you have a whole home to decorate, decide if you need to tackle the project by room or category: furniture first, then window treatments, etc.

5. Keep common budget busters in mind: Just as you would with a remodeling budget, tuck away 10 to 15 percent of your total for unexpected expenses. If, you’ve set aside $5,000 to create a bedroom sanctuary, do your best to draft an initial budget that tops out at $4,250. That way, you’ll have money in reserve to pay an electrician when it turns out that hanging the bedroom chandelier isn’t a simple matter. Other common errors and oversights that can break the budget are impulse buys, freight and delivery charges, and supplies.

6. Phase it in: Unless your budget is unlimited, you may not be able to do everything right away. But don’t lose heart — you can spread out the expense by making a long-range plan and implementing your design in phases, as time and money allow. Designers tend to tackle jobs in this order: backgrounds and surfaces (ceilings, walls, floors), buildables (built-in shelving), furniture, fabrics, lighting and accessories – take your time to do it right!

Some Other Home Improvement Tips to Keep in Mind:

  • Re-paint a room: A great way to spruce up a room for cheap with the most dramatic result.
  • Do-It-Yourself: Use and get some crafty inspiration and don’t be afraid to paint and do flooring yourself – try something new!
  • Call in friends & family: Why pay for workers when you have family & friends (Just don’t forget to feed them lunch)!
  • Shop secondhand stores: Great way to find unique and inexpensive pieces that you can easily fix up or paint.
  • Wait for sales & discounts: Wait to find what you really want at a price you’ll really love.
  • Sew your own linens: Don’t be afraid to get a little “Martha Stewart” and sew your own window treatments and linens.
  • Reuse items you already have: Be imaginative and find ways to reuse décor – slipcovers and new hardware do wonders!

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