Home improvements that will increase your property value

Sellers are forever hunting for renovations that will increase their property values and net higher offers. Of course, there are plenty of home improvement pitfalls that will accomplish just the opposite. If you're looking to stake a for-sale sign, be sure to focus on fixes with good cost-value ratios.

Create wide-open spaces
Most modern homebuyers gravitate toward homes with open floor plans, This Old House reported. Sellers with homes that feature manifold divisions should think about knocking down some non-structural walls to create interior flow and let in light. One downed wall could open up your living and dining areas and entice feng shui-seekers to take a tour.

While you're at, take some time to address clutter in general. According to Consumer Reports, some simple cleaning and reorganization can garner a 3- 5 percent return.

For most homebuyers, open floor plans are the be-all and end-all.For most homebuyers, open floor plans are the be-all and end-all.

Tweak bathrooms, the kitchen
Buyers often focus on bathrooms and kitchens. In fact, in a nationwide survey of real estate experts, Consumer Reports found that more than 50 percent of respondents believed the kitchen was one of the most important spaces for house hunters. However, many caution sellers against dropping cash on major kitchen renovations.

"Given all the volatility in the real estate market, you can't spend megabucks on any project, even a kitchen, and expect to get that money back," Bill Wilson, an Upstate New York-based realtor, told the publication.

The data bears this out. According to the magazine Remodeling, minor kitchen remodels normally net returns of -4 percent.

Instead of embarking on a serious kitchen renovation, make some small, yet impactful tweaks. Purchase a new faucet – low-flow models will improve your home's energy efficiency – and do away with antiquated or harsh lighting fixtures. Additionally, perform a deep clean and remove food-particle buildup in hard-to-reach areas. To top it all off, add a fresh coat of light paint and switch out the curtains and blinds.

"Complete bathroom remodels often offer bad returns."

You will want to use the same minimalist methodology when making improvements to your bathrooms. Complete remodels in these areas offer bad returns. Remodeling reports numbers ranging from -3.4 to -5.9 percent. So, make conservative tweaks. Re-grout floor tiles and other gaps. Replace cabinet pulls, knobs and bath and shower hardware as well.

"I tell my clients to replace anything with a handle, especially if the home has hard water, since it causes so much metal corrosion," Pennsylvania-based real estate consultant Ginny Ivanoff told Consumer Reports.

Facilitate an entry to remember
As homebuyers tread up the drive to conduct a walkthrough, they are greeted by the front door. According to real estate experts, this seemingly dull encounter can determine the outcome of a sale. 

"Don't underestimate the power of a front door," Kristin Willens, senior manager of Program Development at the Massachusetts-based realty firm ERA Real Estate, told This Old House. "People make up their minds in the first seven seconds of entering a house."

Entry door replacements do indeed pay off. According to Remodeling, most garner returns of over 5 percent. So, be sure to make this key exterior upgrade. Additionally, install a new bell and consider adding a portico. If you don't have room in your budget to accommodate replacement, add a new coat of paint. Choose a color that not only reflects your home's interior aesthetic, but also gives buyers insight into the life you and your family lead within its walls.

Of course, if you're a neon-pink sort of clan, take some time to reconsider more understated alternatives. As you look through swatches, consider the architectural style of your structure.