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4 simple ways to add value to your home

A recent survey by Castle Trust found that two in five homes have sold at a loss since 2007 in England and Wales. According to the firm's analysis of Land Registry figures, of the 41% of homes sold at a loss across the country, the average shortfall was £24,430, while 56% of houses in the same period sold for a profit. This correlates with predications that house prices are likely to continue to rise, however there are mixed opinions, with some predicting that prices will decrease or stay relatively flat across the country. For many homeowners, this creates an air of uncertainty as there is a strong possibility that they may lose money if they sell up.

Don't lose, improve

While an uncertain market could make you feel like you're stuck on the same rung of the property ladder, there is nothing stopping you making changes ready for when you can sell. If the credit crunch hasn't hit your finances too hard, investing in some home improvements could help claw back some of the value your property has lost. As there have been a few indications of recovery in the market recently, now could be the perfect time to get your property into shape and ready for the future market.

Adding significant value to your property doesn't necessarily mean shelling out a fortune on extensions, brand new kitchens or loft conversions. There are simpler and less expensive methods that could add considerably to your selling price. Here are some examples:

Install wood flooring
Installing wood flooring is one of the easiest ways to increase your valuation. The warm, natural tones of oak will bring a touch of style and elegance to any home and can really enhance the existing decor. A study by Woodcare shows that wood flooring can add 5 to 10% to the value of your home. An Abbey National estate agent's survey revealed that, surprisingly, larger projects like extensions or expensive kitchens do not add the most value, in fact, they often these tend to lose money - as much as 50% on their cost!

Wooden flooring is much more affordable than ever before, with high quality oak flooring from top brands now available for as little as £30 per square meter. As wood is an insulator, wooden flooring is more pleasant to walk on with bare feet and will keep your home warmer than laminate which is 4 degrees colder!

Choosing wooden flooring is more environmentally responsible and it will last longer than any other flooring material and so is also the better economical option. Wooden floors are also hypoallergenic and easy to clean. Take a look at the range available at 1926 Wood Flooring, with a wide variety of styles and colours to suit all tastes.

Give your kitchen a facelift
A new kitchen can also add 5 to 10% to your valuation but it isn't always necessary to completely replace everything in order to have the desired effect. If you are happy with the layout then you could consider either re-finishing or re-facing the existing units. The cheapest option is to re-finish your kitchen by painting all your cupboard and drawer fronts, which is an excellent option if you want to compliment any other redecorating of the room. Re-facing is becoming more and more popular and simply requires the purchase of new cupboard and drawer fronts rather than entire units. If your budget can stretch to it, a new worktop to match your newly regenerated units will add a lovely finish.

Re-decorate
It may sound simple but it is easy to underestimate the impact that re-decorating a room can have. A fresh coat of paint on the walls, doors and skirting boards can vastly improve the feel of a room and if you do it yourself the only cost involved is buying the materials you use. The effect a paint makeover can have on your valuation will far outweigh the price of a few tins of paint, a set of quality brushes and some sandpaper. Take your time researching and testing colour schemes for different rooms and remember that lighter, neutral colours provide the illusion of spaciousness and allow potential buyers to easily imagine living in that space. Get started with this comprehensive guide on painting and decorating.

Making the most of the space you have
The number of bedrooms a house has is one of the main selling points and the valuation tends to based around this. Potential buyers won't want to turn one of the bedrooms into a study, gym or nursery, so make use of any other space you may have that could be better utilised.

Making the most of the outdoor space is a great way to add value to your house as it creates an extension to the house and makes the space seem bigger. Why not clear the garden shed out and give it a makeover? It can be used as a study or just a room to relax and get away from it all.

Why not consider creating a patio area or decking as outdoor entertaining is great for summer days and this will create a nice feature in the garden, especially if you have French doors. Also make the most of conservatories, as well as a seating area, they can be great as dining rooms or a child's play area.

If you have some space in your hallway or under the stairs put your computer desk there to free up some space in the living room or bedroom. This will help the other rooms to look more spacious and show that you don't need to have a study to create a great work space. All these things will create the illusion of more space and also tick off boxes for future buyers.

If you have a bit of spare cash and think some extra space would pay off when selling, then now is the time to extend! The Government relaxed planning laws in September 2012*, allowing homeowners to build up to eight metres into their gardens without council planning permission for one year only.

So, if current market conditions have left you unable to move, maximising the potential of your home is the next best thing. With a variety of ways to make improvements, to suit a range of budgets, it is possible to regain some of that lost value and prepare your biggest asset for when the property market recovers. Even if moving is a long way off yet, you can still enjoy the improvements you make whilst you live there.

* http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19496204

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