Very often a home owner will say they wish they had made the improvements to their home before they were getting ready to sell so they could enjoy it. Here are some ideas that will make your home a more enjoyable and comfortable place for you, but will also give you the “best bang for your buck."


This is the area most seen by the buying public. It is important to keep the exterior of you home in "ready to sell" condition. Even if you are not someone who enjoys gardening, maintaining the exterior of the house and the yard will give you great satisfaction and will give a good first impression. It shows you care about the property, and it will invite folks “in.” A few tips on keep the outside always looking ready to sell:

Address drainage problems: This is not just important to appearance but may very well prevent problems with wet basements etc. Soil can be washed away by clogged gutters and misplaced downspouts. Walk the foundation of you home and be sure water is being properly sloped away from the house. If you need to, add soil along the foundation to provide proper drainage. If your downspouts are dumping water too close to the house add extensions and direct the water away.

Keep wood areas painted: Don’t let the paint deteriorate. Scrape and paint when things begin to peel. Allowing the paint to deteriorate not only looks unsightly but the wood may become damaged and then it’s not just painting but repairing or replacing.If youare thinking of residing, consider fiber cement materials or high quality vinyl. According to the 2007 Cost vs. Value Report this will give your highest payback.

Lawn: Keep the lawn mowed (not too short) to a uniform length and edges trimmed and crisp. If you have bare spots fall is a great time to add top soil and seed.Many homeowners think maintaining a lawn organically is more expensive and time consuming. This is not true. With regular upkeep and managing nutrients in the soil you can have a beautiful healthy lawn without adding pollutants to the local waterways, or toxics to your lawn where your children and pets play.

Beds: Mulching your beds and keeping the edges crisp and trimmed will give your lawn the “pop” you seen in gardening magazines. Shredded hardwood mulch not only gives the clean manicured look many homeowners like, but it adds nutrients to the soil as it decomposes. When you mulch be sure to not have more than 3 inches of mulch on the soil at a time. More than it preventing water from reaching the soil and plants, and promotes fungus and insects. There are too many flower varieties to list. Remember when planning your beds to have year round attraction. Bulbs planted in late fall bring color in spring.

There are thousands of perennials that bloom all summer long. Choosing native plants will require less of your time and energy than exotics. Your local nursery can help you find the right plant for the right spot.

Shrubs: Neatly trim/prune your shrubs. On flowering plants such as azaleas the new growth from the past season provides flowers the following spring. The main pruning for these plants should be shortly after the blooms have faded. When pruning at other times of the year hand prune to remove the tall leaders. Keep your shrubs cut below the windows. This is not only good for security but will show your home in it’s best light. Remove volunteer seedlings and saplings.


Historically remodeling kitchens and bathrooms have given homeowners some of the biggest pay back when they resell. Most recent surveys show this continues to be true. When doing your remodel try to stay away from current fads. Stick with neutral colors and stay with style of the home. Minor updates and remodels will of course give you the best pay back.

Bathrooms: When re-doing a bathroom the big expense will come from retiling. If you don’t have to replace the tile it may not be worth the added expense. If the current tile is in good shape and a neutral color you can leave the tile and just replace the fixtures. Updated sink/vanity and toilet will give a bath a nice face lift.

Kitchens: When considering an upgrade in the kitchen you can do as little as replacing counter tops and appliances to a completely new kitchen. One option is to do a cabinet face lift. If the existing box or frame are well made you can have them refaced. You will also put on new doors and hardware. This will save you quite a bit over removing and replacing all of your cabinets. Replacing worn, stained counter tops is a great pay back. There are many kinds of counter tops available, from natural stone to man made products. There is something available to fit any budget.


There are few areas that will benefit you as much as improving your home’s energy efficiency. Whether it is new appliances, insulation or new windows the savings will begin immediately. Once the energy savings have paid for the cost of equipment and installation, energy conserved is money saved- and saving energy will be even more important as utility rates go up.

LEDs: LED lighting is by far the most power-saving and smart solution. Long life time stands out as the number one benefit of LED lights, If you leave on the LED fixture for 8h per day it would take around 20 years before you’d have to replace the LED bulb. LEDs are the most efficient way of illumination and lighting, with an estimated energy efficiency of 80%-90% when compared to traditional lighting and conventional light bulbs which are approximately 20% efficient.

Another advantage is a low-voltage power supply is sufficient for LED illumination. This makes it easy to use LED lighting also in outdoor settings.

Insulation: Up to 50 % of the energy used in the average American home is for heating and cooling and inadequate insulation and air leakage are leading causes of energy waste. Proper insulation makes a home more comfortable by helping to maintain a uniform temperature throughout the house, and makes walls, ceilings, and floors warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Also check the areas around doors, windows and light switches. There may be little leaks that make the space feel drafty and uncomfortable.

Appliances: When replacing appliances look for the Energy Star label. The money you savein energy costs will more than make up for the higher cost of the more efficient equipment. On average you can expect to save about $75 a year on utility bills with the more efficient appliance. Check with your local utility provider and see if they have any promotions or incentives for purchasing the more efficient appliances.

Heating and Cooling: Up to 50% of the energy used in the average household goes to heating and cooling. Any positive changes you make can have a large impact on your monthly utility bills. A few things you can do to keep your systems running efficiently are:

  •  Change your air filters on a regular basis. One way people get into the habit of changing the filter is to change them when they pay the bill.
  •  Have the systems checked regularly. Most HVAC companies offer maintenance plans.
  •  Install a programmable thermostat. A properly installed and used programmable thermostat can save over $150. a year
  •  Seal your heating and cooling ducts. Focus first on ducts that go through unheated/non-airconditioned space. If you are in need of a new heating or air conditioning system consider buying and Energy Star rated equipment. Again the money saved in monthly utility bills will more than make up the additional up front cost. Then the extra savings are like money earned.