The Best Home Improvements

Out with the old and in with the new.

Besides looking nice, it's also good to know that your home improvements are adding value. Some home-remodeling projects get a good return on investment, especially in a modest housing market where the right touches can really make your home stand out. Other fix-ups aren't so financially rewarding.

The most important rule of thumb when considering a remodeling project is, "Keep up with the Joneses, but don't surpass them." Get a sense of the standards in your neighborhood. If other houses have new floors and updated kitchens and bathrooms, improving those items in your own home will be very rewarding. However, putting granite countertops and stainless steel appliances in your kitchen in a moderately priced neighborhood may be more than potential buyers are willing to pay for and might not be worth your investment.

Here are some home improvements you might want to consider.

It's the simple things

One of the first things you want to consider is how long you plan to stay in your home. Most home improvements don't yield an instant return on investment. If you plan to stay and enjoy your home's fresh new look awhile, you can afford to go a little bigger and benefit when you sell down the road.

If you're trying to sell, stick to the basics. Something as simple as adding brighter bulbs or light fixtures and more natural light will make your home look bigger and more inviting. Repair the obvious broken screen door and plumbing and electrical. A fresh coat of neutral-colored paint can do wonders. Clean and trim your yard, landscape, and add planters to give your home more curb appeal.

Remove the clutter and stage your home for sale. You'll get a better offer without spending too much.

Your outdoor room

The cost of building or renovating a deck or outdoor space is lower than that of any interior room and can deliver a lot of bang for your buck. Patios built with brick or stone are beautiful and a great place to entertain guests.

Kitchen

Buyers seem to gravitate to the kitchen first when looking at a house, and appraisers give extra credit to homes with updated kitchens.

Update the space with refinished or new cabinets and countertops. New energy-efficient appliances are popular, and they'll pay for themselves if you stay in the home.

Bathroom

Bathrooms are almost always among the smartest remodeling projects for resale value.

Replace old fixtures and refinish surfaces. Just remember to compare other homes in the neighborhood before adding custom features like a soaking tub. If buyers aren't in the market for such features, they won't help you sell your home.

Master bedroom

Paint, new furniture and artwork are some of the most common updates you can make to your master suite. If you're more ambitious, more closet space is always a nice feature.

New siding or exterior paint

There are plenty of siding materials to choose from: fiber cement, steel, vinyl and more. Choose the one that fits your budget, and of course the neighborhood. In historic neighborhoods where traditional wood siding is still preferred, other siding materials might actually detract from your home's value.

Green means caution

Energy-efficient technologies are a good investment if you plan to stay in your home because they will pay for themselves. If you plan to sell, you'll need a buyer who is interested in a green home, otherwise green features won't pay off.

Some green technologies are safer bets than others. Most buyers will appreciate energy-efficient appliances and windows. Solar panels covering your roof might not have the same appeal.

Of course, green technologies are becoming more prevalent and buyers will accept and even demand them more and more. Just be sure to keep the buyer in mind when considering these upgrades, and don't get too far ahead of the pack.

Other improvements

New carpets and flooring are common updates that can make a big difference in your home. Crown molding, chair rails and other trim add a nice effect as well.

Don't get carried away

Some home improvements just aren't worth it. For example, you probably don't need to replace your roof because most buyers won't care how old it is; they just want to be sure it doesn't leak.

Don't spend a lot on technology improvements because we all know it's impossible to keep up with technology. A lot of people spent a lot of money wiring their homes for high-speed internet; only to see their internet provider install wireless internet in their homes anyway.

Similarly, don't expect to get your money back on special features like a sauna or indoor hot tub. Buyers might not share your taste for these items. If you plan to stay in your home and you could really use a good soak, then these items are a good gift to yourself; nothing more.

Home improvement loans

If you do plan on doing some remodeling, consider borrowing against the equity in your home. Home equity loans and lines of credit have interest rates well below those of most traditional credit cards, and the interest is sometimes tax deductible (Consult with your tax advisor for more details.).

Starion Financial has home equity loans and lines of credit with competitive rates and terms, and you can use online banking to view your account balance and make payments 24 hours a day.

Home improvements are a great way to invest the equity in your home, but you can use your home equity loan or line of credit for other purposes such as buying a car, vacations and more.

Call or visit your nearest Starion Financial location and talk to a personal banker about a home equity loan or line of credit.

Sources:
Forbes.com
HomeGain.com
MoneyPit.com
WalletPop.com
Bankrate.com