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Top 5 Home Improvements for First Time Home Buyers

Have you ever wished like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz you could just click your heels 3 times and instantly you’ll arrive at the home of your dreams?

First time home buyers can be overwhelmed trying to figure out which home improvement projects will transform an ordinary home into their dream home.

Here’s a list of the best simple and inexpensive home improvement projects for first time home buyers:

Top 5 Home Improvements for First Time Home Buyers:

1. Painting:Painting a room gives it an instant makeover

  • Cost: $30.00-$60.00 (per gallon of paint)
  • Benefit: Instant Room Makeover

Interior painting can bring so much to a home. We’ve all been in the homes where the paint colors were a turn-off.  But don’t let someone else’s taste steer you away from purchasing a great home. Paint can be changed for little money.

Painting is the perfect weekend project for friends and family.  Most rooms require 2-3 gallons of paint, and material costs can stay under $200.00 including brushes and tape.  You’ll be surprised how much painting 4 people can do if you do at least 1 hour of prepping in each room (sanding, spackling, and taping).  Visit the major paint manufacturers’ websites for help with color choices.

2. Update Flooring:Updating the flooring makes a dramatic difference

  • Cost:  $600.00-$800.00 (per room)
  • Benefit: Instantly Updates Decor

Whether it’s carpeting that needs to be scrubbed or replaced, or hard wood floors that look as though the previous owner’s cat used them as scratching posts, most home buyers want to update flooring before moving in.

The cost of carpeting ranges by quality and design but on average, it costs anywhere from $3.34-$4.50 per square foot. So if your family room measures 15’x12’, you’ll spend around $600.00-$800.00. Not bad for achieving the look of a brand new room.

If the home has hardwood floors then the best solution is to have them sanded and re-varnished. This can be cheaper then carpeting, with prices $3.32 to $3.70 per square foot.

A cheaper alternative to replacing the carpets is to have them professionally cleaned. You can hire a company to come in and clean your carpets for about $100.00 per room. Or you could rent a steamer and do it yourself, which usually can cost about $25-$40 per day for the machine.

3. Updating the Bathroom:

Installing new bathroom fixtures is an affordable change

  • Cost: $200.00-$400.00
  • Benefits: Adds to Home Appeal, Can Often be Completed in a Weekend

What most people don’t realize is a simple remodel to a bathroom or kitchen can be so easy and inexpensive.

Whether you are looking to replace a leaky faucet or change out an outdated vanity, it can be very affordable.

A simple plumbing fixture (i.e., faucet or sink) can change the look and function to the bathroom immediately.

A complete bathroom remodel can cost $9000.00-$16,000.00, but you can go as little or as big as you want and make that simple room into the room of your dreams.  A lot of bathroom changes can be done by homeowners very easily.  For example, a new vanity from a home supply store can be bought for as low as $198.00 and a free standing porcelain pedestal can be purchased as low at $70.00. You can also purchase a new faucet for as little as $26.00 up to $100.00.

4. Landscaping:Landscaping improves home value and appeal

  • Cost: Varies
  • Benefit: Improves Home Value

Adding a bit of color to your yard, or trimming some shrubs can make the entire look of a yard change dramatically. One of the greatest things about landscaping is you can do it yourself very inexpensively. Keeping grass trimmed and green, or adding flowers and pretty trees to a yard can make any home look fantastic. Not only does it help make the home look nice but it can also add value to it down the road.

Landscaping’s effect on home values varies.  Lot size, plant type, plant spacing and overall design all play roles in how much money homeowners reap from their beautification efforts at resale time.

According to a spokesperson for Associated Landscape Contractors, landscaping can also improve home security. In fact, thorny shrubs are often planted under windows to deter burglaries!

5. Lighting:Lighting brightens rooms and improves ambiance

  • Cost: Under $10.00 (box of 6 light bulbs); $30.00-$250.00 (lamps or fixtures)
  • Benefits: Brightens Rooms and Improves Ambiance

If a room seems very dull and you think even painting won’t make a difference, one thing that buyers don’t think about is lighting. Replacing old light bulbs with brighter ones (within the maximum wattage a fixture will allow) and actually changing some fixtures out completely will open and brighten up a room instantly.  You would be amazed how simply taking a floor lamp and changing it out to a wall or ceiling hung light can do to open up and add space to a room. That coupled with a nice paint job can completely transform a room in no time.

Don’t let simple projects that can be done affordably be the reason you walk away from what could be your dream home. The process can be a lot to take in, but preparing yourself ahead of time and knowing what something can cost can really put things into perspective for first time home buyers. Then instead of clicking your heels 3 times and dreaming of being home you can sit back and relax and say “there’s no place like home.”

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