Homeowners often ask how they can enhance the value of their homes without spending a fortune. The answer is really quite simple. Be a good neighbor and help others do the same. Remember, buyers don’t just buy a home, they buy a community. This year, resolve to take these nine simple steps. Doing so will make you richer in home equity and in life.
1. Plant A Tree
Trees add immeasurable beauty to a neighborhood and neighborhoods with lots of trees tend to have higher market values. Great examples can be found in places like central Phoenix and Arcadia. Modern builders now embrace this concept and most require a minimum number of trees as part of the HOA CC&Rs.
Newer communities like Verrado in Buckeye and Marley Park in Surprise went all in and are now making tree-lined streets a central focus of their communities. It’s not just about the beauty, according to the council of tree and landscape appraisers. A mature tree can add up to $10,000 to the value of your home. With so many native or low water use options like the Palo Verde, Iron Wood, Mesquite and Tipu, adding beauty and value to your home and neighborhood is a snap.
The biggest bang for your home investment buck is fresh paint. In the flip world, it’s generally accepted a fresh coat of paint will return 10 times the cost. Paint is really a commodity-based item with good painters typically charging $1.25 per square foot, and excellent painters demanding $1.50 per sqft.
At those prices doing it yourself is typically not worth the hassle, so don’t be a cheapskate. Stay in your lane and let the pros do it! It’s paying for itself by giving you a return, supporting local business, and allowing you to do what you’re good at, which probably isn’t painting.
3. Friend Your Neighbors
No, not the click of a button kind of social media friend. Not the kind you only know from the pictures of their food, cat memes, and all-cap political rants. We’re talking the good ole fashioned, drink a beer in the front yard, babysit the dog, and buy cookies from your kid kind of friend. Get to know your neighbors. The first question most prospective home buyers ask is “how’s the neighborhood?” The problem is while everyone wants a great neighborhood, few try to be great neighbors. If you want to live in a great neighborhood, be a great neighbor. It’s a contagious action lending to building better lives and communities, and if this weren’t enough, it will make your home more valuable. It will do this by making your neighborhood the kind everyone wants to live in.
4. Tidy Up
Back before the expression, “I don’t care what other people think” became popular, there was another phrase that shaped the greatest country in the history of civilization. It went something like, “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you”. Also known as the Golden Rule, this powerful expression was really great for property values. In real estate terms it meant, “Let’s all keep our houses nice so when we’re ready to sell we’ll all get top dollar”. When we replaced it with “I don’t care what other people think” we were forced to create those pesky HOA’s if we wanted to live in a nice neighborhood. HOA’s are unanimously despised, but the reality is HOA-governed neighborhoods hold their value far better than their non-HOA neighbors. The main reason is they enforce exterior maintenance. Tidy up your curb appeal this year. By doing so, when your neighbor sells his house, he’ll get more money for it. Then when you’re ready to sell your home, its value will have risen. That Golden Rule thing really is golden!
5. Support Your Local School
Realtor.com did a survey a few years ago and the results were shocking. The study concluded 73% of home buyers said school quality was a key factor in their home buying decision. Good schools make great neighborhoods. Get involved by offering your time, talent, and/or treasure in whatever capacity possible. If you are qualified, run for a seat on your local school board. They desperately need trained leaders. Think of it as an investment in a kid’s future, or just a great way to make your house more valuable. Either way you win.
6. Charm It Up With Light
Charm is a great word. In real estate it describes a feeling that makes a buyer want to buy. It’s an inexplicable attraction, or a feeling of comfort a buyer gets from being in or around a home. It has several sources, but lighting is a primary source and is affordable and simple to achieve. A good interior lighting plan includes multiple levels and intensities will get you a solid return on your money. On the outside, great landscape lighting will add both charm and security to a home. High security equals low crime. Low crime neighborhoods sell for more money!
7. Pray For It
Wait a second, this isn’t about getting all preachy. This is about proven ways to make more money with your real estate. According to a pew research study, researchers found prayer helps promote the value of sacrifice as well as strengthening relationships. Other studies find prayer inspires forgiveness and reduces anger and aggression. Maybe praying for your neighbor will help you with step number (meet your neighbor), then you might find out the 2 feet tall grass driving you crazy is out of control because they can’t physically do the work. This might result in you sending over your video game-obsessed son to help them out, which could lead to him becoming employable. But wait there’s more - now their yard looks good, your whole street looks better, and your home value just went up. Crazy how all this works!
8. Put Up A Flag
An American flag is an expression of patriotism. It is also a symbol of belonging. It transcends politics and unites us to a common purpose. Homes displaying flags communicate a pride in ownership, dependability and trust. Fly it with pride, and back it up with the civic and personal responsibility it stands for, and your home value will fly high.
9. Pump the Brakes
We live in an online connected world. The first thing prospective employers do when considering an applicant is check out their online profiles. Thanks to apps like Nextdoor, prospective buyers are now doing this as well. They want to believe they are moving into Mayberry, where Aunt Bea brings over hot apple pie. They don’t want to move into a hornets nest of grumps, cranks and jerks who complain loud and often but do nothing to improve the lives of their neighbors. Take part in the online community as a positive force for your neighborhood. Encourage it with tangible action, inspire it through kind words, and defend it with sage wisdom where necessary. Be a voice of encouragement for your neighborhood. It’s the right thing to do and it’s great for your home value too.
No house is an island. It’s part of the fabric of a community. This year take a step to improve your home and your neighborhood. It’s good for your wallet and the world.