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10 ways to improve the value of your home


1. The Yard
Cost: $500-$1,500
Why it's hot: Green and clean. It's the first thing people see when they come to your house, and it's the most cost-effective way to increase the value of your home. Install sprinklers and put them on an automatic timer system.
What to watch out for: Know your climate and seek the advice of a landscaping professional. With so many options it's easy to plant the wrong thing.

2. Home Office
Cost: $3,000-$6,800
Why it's hot: Much of the workforce does some telecommuting. Usually not elaborate to set up, apart from high-speed Web access and furniture.
What to watch out for: If you're replacing a bedroom with a home office and removing the closet, you could be reducing your home's value.

3. Outdoor Fireplace
Cost: $5,000-$6,000
Why it's hot: Outdoor living is a huge trend, increasing your home's amount of usable space without the need for an addition. On the upper end, whole kitchens are being integrated with elaborate entertaining areas.
What to watch out for: Great in theory, but might not be such a good buy if you're never going to use it.

4. Hot Tub
Cost: $1,450-$1,800 (for indoor)
Why it's hot: Little taste of luxury that lasts, whether indoors or out. On many buyers' gotta-have checklists.
What to watch out for: Many owners don't end up using it as much as they predicted. Has to have proper base installed to prevent future cracking and leakage.

5. Hardwood Floors
Cost: $17,850-$25,600
Why it's hot: Looks fabulous and tends to be an attention-grabber. Easy to fix up later so it can look brand-new five years down the road.
What to watch out for: It's wood, so expansion and contraction will always be an issue. Expert installation will cut down on future problems.

6. Personal Spa
Cost: $4,000-$6,500
Why it's hot: The ultimate refuge. Your own luxury getaway with ceramic tiling, glass-enclosed showers, dual vanities and more.
What to watch out for: If you don't have sufficient water pressure to run all those H2O guzzlers, your spa is going to be more headache than respite.

7. Media Room
Cost: $5,000-$7,400
Why it's hot: Tech prices have come down significantly, bringing this project within reach for many homeowners. And don't forget the surround-sound.
What to watch out for: Technology changes so much every year that your fancy media room could look obsolete pretty quickly. Will cost you to keep it cutting-edge.

8. Stainless Steel Appliances
Cost: $2,500-$9,500
Why it's hot: Affordable way to jazz up your kitchen, only about 20 percent more than traditional models. Durable finish and slick look adds fantastic value to your home.
What to watch out for: Little downside, although shiny look may require more cleaning.

9. Granite Countertop
Cost: $8,200-$12,800
Why it's hot: Nothing like the look and feel of natural stone. Increased popularity has upped production and made it more affordable for the mainstream.
What to watch out for: It's a porous stone, so it needs to be cleaned and occasionally resealed, to prevent staining that you won't be able to undo.

10. Cathedral Ceiling
Cost: $3,500-$7,000
Why it's hot: Vaulted look gives entrances and rooms added character and airiness. Areas appear twice as big without having to take down walls.
What to watch out for: Your home's design needs to be able to support it without putting undue stress on the roof. Consult a licensed architect to make sure.

Contact us if you have a specific quesion about how to improve the value of your home.


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