Joseph Talbot, Real Estate Broker - HOME IMPROVEMENTS THAT IMPROVE VALUES

than almost any feature. Yet, landscaping is one of the top three investments that yield the biggest returns. According to a survey of 2,000 brokers conducted by HomeGain.com, an online real estate marketing site, an investment of around $400 or $500 in landscaping can bring a return of four times that much. So, make sure you maintain and prune your mature trees and bushes. It will help them remain healthy and looking sharp. Let the Light Shine In. The number one item on the HomeGain survey, lighting — anything from a dimmer switch to the increasingly popular sun tubes — noticeably enhances a home's appeal. For example, dimmers allow you to create a specific mood to fit different situations. Sun tubes are a new home improvement in lighting. Less expensive than framing in a skylight, sun tubes — also known as light pipes, sun scoops, and tubular skylights — use reflective material to funnel natural light from a globe-capped hole cut in a rooftop down through a ceiling fixture and into a room. With tubular skylights, sunlight is nice, and moonlight is even nicer. Here are a few other ways to light things up: fix broken panes, make sure windows open (and do so quietly and easily — try a dry silicone on sticky sliders), and consider installing lights that use motion detectors to turn themselves off. In addition, high-wattage bulbs make small spaces feel larger, and soft lighting can warm empty spaces. Don't put off maintenance. Before other value-enhancing improvements and remodelling projects, address the basics. Insulate the attic, repair plumbing leaks, replace rusty gutters or clean them out, inspect the furnace, ductwork and filters, replace or repair leaky windows, install storm doors, and weed the flower beds. These kinds of fixes go a long way toward increasing value. Investing in maintenance could also be crucial to a sale. Go green. If your heating or air conditioning systems are outdated, new ones are a much better idea, with energy savings of up to 30-40%. Another example: spending $7,000 for the unit

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