4 ways to improve home value

After a number of years in a down market, homesellers may now find their listing is just one of many in the area.

A burgeoning economy and steady job creation has led to both increased home value and a splurge in selling among homeowners, The Wall Street Journal reported. While there hasn't been a better opportunity to sell a house in the last five or so years, householder's will need to do everything possible to improve their residence's valueand separate it from the competitionbefore hitting the open market. Here are a few ways to do so:

1. Make green-friendly improvements
LEED certification is popular among commercial building owners, but residential homes can receive recognition as well. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED homes leverage safe, environmentally friendly building materials and appliances in an effort to reduce energy consumption, improve air quality and cut back on carbon emissions.

Some renovations are simple, like installing compact fluorescent lightbulbs, which trims electricity usage by up to 75 percent, Bankrate reported. Others, such as incorporating renewable energy or windows that efficiently trap heat in the home, could take more time, but are well worth it in the end.

2. Get advice from an expert
Flashy improvements can get buyers in the door, but a solid foundation prompts them to dot the i's and cross the t's. HGTV recommended getting a home inspection to identify any issues that aren't visible to the naked eye, like water leaks or termite damage.

Don't wait until the house is on the market to get an inspectiongetting out ahead of any minor interior issues can be a selling point to a homebuyer trying to decide between two or more homes.

Make sure the front yard is in pristine condition.Make sure the front yard is in pristine condition.

3. Do some yard work
Buyers looking at a number of different homes might do a drive-by test to narrow down the list. If someone were to give the front of your home a quick glance, would it stand out from the crowd in a good or bad way?

Spend some time cutting the grass, trimming any trees or bushes and giving the exterior of the home a fresh new coat of paint. HGTV reported that these types of improvements are low effort, high reward. For the cost of a Saturday afternoon, you can ensure your home entices any would-be buyers to add it to their list of houses to tour.

4. Find the right price
Often times, it isn't a lack of effort on the sellers part that lowers a home's value, but instead a mistake. According to Consumer Reports, mistakes made when listing a home can cost up to 20 percent of the house's value.

Spend time vetting local real estate agents—jumping into a professional relationship with a bad company could bring on mistakes that ultimately devalue your home. Similarly, the source reported that pricing your residence well above market value could dissuade buyers, and lead realtors to stop showing your home. Conduct research on residential prices in the area and figure out what the right asking price for your place is.