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Bottom Line Up Front

  • Look at your home as an investment and continue to reinvest in it to raise your equity. 
  • Home improvement projects differ in terms of cost, effort and ROI. Find a balance!
  • Start improving your home with small projects before pursuing larger, costlier upgrades.

Time to Read

5 minutes

August 4, 2022

Whether you’re planning to sell your home soon or sometime in the future, a few improvements can make it more functional and enjoyable, while delivering a better price when it’s time to sell. Some improvements will give you more bang for your buck than others, though. 

Looking for simple, budget-friendly ideas? Here are 7 that shouldn’t put too much strain on your wallet, but could reward you handsomely in home equity. 

1. Enhance the Curb Appeal

First impressions can make or break a sale, and if potential buyers fall in love at first sight, you can expect a higher selling price. A well-maintained exterior and uncluttered yard are attractive to buyers. Make sure windows are clean, paint is fresh, and grass, trees and bushes are trimmed. Pull weeds and fill in patchy areas. If your garage door looks outdated, consider updating it. If you’re putting in new plants, choose ones that are native to your region for low maintenance. 

Tip: If you’re not certain what kinds of plants would work best, take a picture of your home to your local garden center to get some expert suggestions.

2. Take Care of the Basics

You may no longer notice your home’s creaks, squeaks or leaks, but a potential buyer will. Repair plumbing leaks, fix squeaky floors, lubricate hinges, and patch and paint or replace rusty rain gutters. These fixes can go a long way toward helping buyers see themselves as your home’s new owners. And, if you plan on staying put for a while, they’re also proactive ways to stave off larger costs that can accompany unexpected repairs. 

3. Increase Energy Efficiency

Potential buyers want to pay as little as possible for energy, so spending time making your home more efficient makes sense. Efficiency upgrades can also pay for themselves relatively quickly, which is a win-win for homeowners who might sell later down the line. A few projects with great return on investment (ROI) include:

  • Make sure you have the right type and amount of insulation.
  • Install high-efficiency windows or seal drafty doors and windows.
  • Add a storm door or replace door glass with low-E panes.
  • Change filters and tune up your HVAC system regularly.
  • Make smart upgrades like a programmable thermostat and/or LED lights.
  • Install low-flow showerheads or an efficient water heater.

4. Upgrade the Kitchen

For many, the kitchen is the main hub for activity, so it pays to give this room extra attention. Don’t have the funds for a full renovation? Coordinated appliances, neutral flooring, refinished or freshly painted cabinets and updated hardware can quickly modernize the space. If you’re going to spend another decade or more in your current home, consider your options for home improvement financing to fund a full kitchen remodel that you’ll appreciate every day. 

5. Make Over the Bathroom

Your bathroom should look inviting, fresh and clean. If the room is a little dark, bright natural lighting around a mirror or an updated light fixture can take it from drab to fab. And, you’d be surprised at the difference you’ll see just by painting a tired, old vanity, adding new hardware or installing new tile. Has your tub seen better days? Consider refinishing/reglazing. 

If you’re just looking for relatively quick and easy ideas to spruce up your bathroom, consider basic aesthetic improvements such as regrouting and caulking, hanging artwork and decluttering the room. 

6. Create Extra Space and Function

Many homebuyers are looking for a bigger house or more storage space, so flexibility is important. A finished attic or basement “flex room” that can serve a variety of purposes—from a home office to a guest room to an in-law suite—can make homebuyers see more potential in your home. But there are also small things you can do, like installing closet organizing systems, above-door shelving, under-stairway storage, simple built-ins and electrical outlets with USB ports.

7. Freshen Up the Interior With Paint

A sleek, smooth coat of paint can liven up an entry door or change a room quickly. Focus first on high-traffic areas such as front and back doors, the kitchen and bathrooms, to impress potential homebuyers. When painting to sell, avoid dramatic hues and go with neutrals or all white for interior walls.

Build Equity by Adding Value

It’s exciting to make upgrades to your home, whether your goal is to make it more functional and attractive, get it ready to sell or just build more equity in a property you love. From remodeling to quick repairs, whatever home improvement project you’re considering, Navy Federal Credit Union can help you finance it

Next Steps Next Steps

  1. Do a walk-through of your home and make a room-by-room list of simple things you can do right now to improve it. Look for small DIY projects that are low-cost or low-effort, and start with these first. 
  2. Calculate the ROI of large projects to determine what’s worth investing in. To do this, you’ll need to calculate the cost of the upgrade and make an informed assumption about the value it will add to your home. 
  3. Explore the different financing options for larger home improvement projects. Talk with a Navy Federal representative about financing such as a personal home improvement loan vs. a HELOC.


This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.