Bang for your Buck

Whether you're getting ready to sell your home, plan to sell in five years, or just want to improve your surroundings, investing a few thousand dollars in your nest is a good way to augment your home's value.

So, what should you do with $5,000…or $10,000? The TCBN tapped area experts about the smartest ways to spend your money now.

Susan Hintz, Realtor

Real Estate One-Front

Internet/Technology Certified, Accredited Buyer Representative, Short Sale & Foreclosure Resource, Resort/Second Home Property Specialist



With $5,000, you can make several minor but significant improvements to your home to enjoy yourself or make more appealing to others when the time comes to move on.

Upgrade your kitchen and bath hardware (faucet and cabinet handles, showerheads, toilet seats) and install modern lighting fixtures. Brighten your home's interior with a fresh coat of paint. While you're at it, splash some new color on the front door – inside and out – which makes that all-important, first impression to your visitors and potential buyers.

Pay attention to landscaping, especially around your entryway. Asymmetrical plantings of perennial shrubs and flowers help soften the angular lines of most homes. Moveable flowerpots with bright annuals, strategically placed, draw attention to features of your yard and home you want to highlight.

Is your home already updated? If so, consider adding an outdoor deck to increase your living space and add to your home's value. With the rise in popularity of outdoor spaces, it only makes sense to create a spot to enjoy with family or friends.



Replace dated counters or cabinets. You might even be able to redo both, if you skip the granite and top-shelf wood finishes. Or give yourself a gift of new stainless appliances. If your kitchen looks great but lacks storage, purchase innovative drawer and cabinet organizers to optimize your cupboard space and add convenience to your cooking.

Got a great kitchen? Upgrade your bathroom. Walk-in and spa showers, garden tubs and extensive use of ceramic tile are almost commonplace in newly constructed homes. Purchase a sleek, energy-efficient toilet, a low-flow or adjustable showerhead, a glass shower enclosure and a new sink. Install in-floor heating for the ultimate touch of luxury.

If you're still living with wall-to-wall carpeting, your $10,000 might be well spent on new flooring. Popular choices include wood, cork, ceramic, linoleum and wool, with many homes offering a combination of both.

Gretchen Knoblock

Owner, New Leaf Interiors and

Certified Home Staging Specialist

Getting the most out of your remodeling dollar will depend on the end result you're hoping for. Is this an investment you hope will pay off when it comes time to sell or are you just looking to update your space to enjoy while you currently live there?



To get the biggest change in look, think in terms of surface embellishment and cosmetic changes versus major remodeling. You can really enhance a space by changing paint colors, painting cabinets instead of replacing them, changing out artwork and accessories, maybe a few furniture pieces and changing light fixtures and cabinet/door hardware or window treatments. For an investment with expected return, focus on one thing: Update aging appliances, build a nice deck or upgrade your landscaping.



Invest in hardwood or natural stone floors, upgrade counter tops or cabinetry, upgrade your interior doors, or add an outdoor living space. Remodel a small bathroom or create personal spaces like a hobby room or man cave out of unused areas. Exterior painting, a new front door/lighting and landscaping can greatly enhance curb appeal and add value to your home.

Andrea Galloup

Associate Broker, Century 21 Northland, GREEN, GRI

Accredited Staging Professional

Whether a homeowner has $5,000 or $10,000 to spend, a portion of that budget should be invested in de-cluttering and cleaning the home. If they don't have the time or skills to do this themselves, they should hire a professional to help them organize, give away or sell their items. A clutter-free home appears cleaner and larger.



Homeowners with $5,000 to invest should next address any items needing repair. A few small things add up quickly in a buyer's mind and give the impression the home has been neglected.


The yard needs to be picked up, raked and mowed, with bushes and shrubs trimmed. If the siding is faded or an unpopular color, it should be painted. If the siding and/or roof are dirty, they should be power-washed. If sellers don't have the time or skills to do this themselves, they should hire a professional. Washing or painting the front entry door is an inexpensive but important step, as well. If the exterior lights are out of date, they should be replaced. The entry should be warm and welcoming; power-wash the deck and sidewalk and set out some potted flowers.


If there's still money in the budget, focus on interior improvements. Removing wallpaper and any out-of-date, dim lighting fixtures are must-dos. (No buyer falls in love with a homeowner's choice of wallpaper and most cringe at the thought of having to remove it.) If lighting fixtures are outdated shiny brass or dim, they should be replaced with a popular style that sheds plenty of light into the room.



If a homeowner has $10,000 to spend, I would recommend all of the above suggestions, plus a few additional ones. In general, kitchen and bath improvements return the highest yield on investments.


Replace any old or mismatched appliances or chipped or worn countertops. If the cupboards are old, they could be painted or refaced, or just the knobs and handles could be replaced. If the sink is chipped and the faucet pitted, replacing them will give the kitchen a more updated look. Many homeowners think they have to have granite or quartz countertops, but that's not necessarily the case. If the kitchen has outdated or cheaper cabinets, granite and quartz will look out of place.


Walk-in showers are the most desirable; most adults don't have time for baths and a walk-in shower is appropriate for able-bodied adults, those with disabilities, and seniors. Less expensive improvements include having tubs refinished, cabinets repainted and faucets and lighting replaced.