Money Talks, So Should You

Q&A: How can I increase my home's value?

Mechel Glass
by Mechel Glass, Dimespring Contributor  (@CredAbility)

As home prices across the nation begin to increase, many homeowners are grabbing hammers or hiring contractors to make major improvements to increase the value of their homes.

I’m among the millions of homeowners that view my house not simply as my home, but as a major asset that I want to appreciate over time. But instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars on major renovations, I’ve made a number of improvements by doing some research, using my imagination and spending wisely.

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After all, I want to enjoy my home while also making the most of my investment.

I’ve owned my ranch house for several years and made several strategic improvements and renovations in past year to increase its value. But now I have some new goals. I want to update its look and give it the feel of a cottage you might find in the country to make it stand out in my neighborhood.  While I don’t intend to sell my house soon, I don’t want to spend a lot of money that may not be a good return on my investment.

Here are some of the improvements I’ve made recently by just spending a few hundred dollars:

Adding “accents” to the exterior of the house. I explored the cost of replacing my shutters, but at $200 per unit, it just wasn’t feasible. Instead, I added decorative black metal ornaments to make the shutters stand out and give the outside of the house a fresh look. The cost of these items was roughly 10 percent of the cost of new shutters.

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After researching costs to upgrade the area around my mailbox, I decided to go the simple route. I bought a lantern at Lowe’s for the top of my mailbox and spent $3 on a battery lite candle. The new look gives my house a lot of “curb appeal” and sets it apart from the neighbors. Many people will hire a contractor to build a brick enclosure for the mailbox at a cost of a couple of thousand dollars. But I achieved a similar look by utilizing excess brick left over from a previous remodeling job for a lot less.

For the house’s interior, I’m taking a minimalist approach. I sold off my old dining room set, office furniture and sofa, opening several hundred square feet throughout the house. Instead of filling it up with a complete set of furniture, I’m buying separate pieces and repainting all the rooms one at a time.

I also wanted to install a mail center, but my house doesn’t have a large mudroom where I can easily dump shoes, backpacks and sort mail when I enter. I could have extended the house or converted part of the garage to build a mudroom, but that would have cost thousands of dollars.  

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Instead, with all of this new space, I noticed a corner of the room where I used to have a chair and ottoman.  I removed this chair and installed an $8 white wood shelf under the window sill with brackets. Then I placed two large wicker baskets underneath the shelf to capture backpacks and shoes when people enter the house.  I also added a sorting tray on top of the shelf to hold my incoming mail that can be sorted later in the week for bill paying.

This approach will give my house an eclectic feel, while taking advantage of all of the space and allows me to pay cash for all of my purchases. If you plan to live in your current home for the next few years, I encourage you to take a similar approach to homeownership. This approach allows you to create a new look, keep your costs down and improve your home’s value.


Mechel Glass is vice president of community outreach for CredAbility. She is responsible for coordinating community outreach and financial education activities across the agency’s regions and developing new education programs for both classroom settings and online. Glass, a U.S. Army veteran, is also co-author of “The Veteran’s Money Book,” scheduled for publication in April 2014 by Career Press. The book can now be ordered on