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

4 Tips for Saving Money on Spring Painting Projects

Painting is a popular spring do-it-yourself project, especially since it’s one of the easiest ways to refresh the appearance of your home. If you’re trying to sell, new paint can also improve your home’s appeal to potential buyers. Depending on the size of your project, primer, paint, and supplies can get expensive fast. To help you stay on budget, here are a few tips to help you choose paint, find good deals, and ultimately get the greatest return on the time and money you invest in your spring painting projects.

1. When choosing paint brands, compare key qualities.

There are scores of paint brands to choose from these days, ranging in price from $8 per gallon to more than $30. The price of some brands corresponds with their quality, but that’s not always the case. To choose the best paint for your project, you need to look at more than just the price tag. Here are five key qualities to look for:

  • Coverage: Many higher-end paints have built-in primers and get the job done in fewer coats than economy brands.
  • Stain resistance: Depending on what you’re painting, you may want to choose a paint with better stain resistance (for instance, high-traffic living areas).
  • Scrub resistance: Some paints dull when you scrub them, so if you’ll be using extra elbow grease on the walls, prioritize this quality.
  • Paint pros say acrylic latex paints are more resistant to the effects of temperature and moisture over time than oil-based alternatives.
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are the solvents paint releases into the air as it dries. A typical paint has about 150 grams of VOCs per liter; low-VOC paint has 50 g/l or less. If you’re concerned about paint fumes, this is something to pay attention to.

A great place to find all this information in one place is Consumer Reports, but you’ll also find useful reviews on non-biased handyman and do-it-yourself sites.

2. Consider what you’re painting.

Deciding which of these qualities to prioritize is easier when you keep in mind what you’re painting. Areas that won’t be seen or trafficked don’t require top-of-the-line paint, but if you want the paint job to look professional and last longer, you may want to spend a little more.

Also, consider the color change you’re making. If you’re painting over a very dark color, it could mean the difference between two coats of a high-quality paint versus three to four coats of an economy paint.

3. Use expert tips to make inexpensive paint look spectacular.

Even though the quality of paint you use matters, how well you paint can also make a huge difference. Failing to prep your surfaces properly and follow good painting techniques, can make even the most expensive paint look bad. On the other hand, using expert tips with mid-range paint can result in a professional looking job. If you’re an amateur painter, look for expert tips or — better yet, get a seasoned pro to help you.

4. Find deals on paint.

Investing in quality paint won’t be cheap. Stretch your budget a little further by looking for coupons (DIY retailers like Home Depot run regular sales). The best time to shop for paint is in the months of May, July, and September, right before the major summer holidays.

If you’re not picky about the shade of your paint, check out the miss-tint section at retail stores, where you’ll often find $35 gallons discounted as low as $15. There’s nothing wrong with this paint – it just didn’t turn out the way a customer expected.

You might be surprised to learn that you can get even get paint for free from recycling centers, where businesses tend to drop off excess paint from their renovation projects. Even if the paint is a few months old, the shelf life of paint is much longer – up to 8 years!

Like many things in life, what you put into painting is what you get out of it. Even if you’re just trying to spruce things up for your own benefit, it doesn’t hurt to use these tips to get the best possible results and save a little money in the process.

Article Source: Jessica Sommerfield for