Increasing your home's value doesn't have to involve large scale and expensive projects - usually a few small, affordable changes will do the trick. Simple tweaks to your home can make all the difference if you're trying to sell your home in a competitive market. Even if you aren't trying to sell, it's still wise to maintain and invest in your property because your home will be worth more after just a few alterations. Check out these ten helpful tips on how to increase the value of your home.

photo by Nancy Hugo / CC BY-ND

1. Upgrade Kitchens

Real estate agents agree: the kitchen is the heart of the home and is the one upgrade that has the greatest return on the home's value. You don't have to spend a ton of money to update your kitchen either. Depending on the state of your kitchen, you can start slowly by swapping out one item at a time like upgrading to stainless-steel appliances, installing a stained sink, getting new faucets, adding new lighting fixtures, or changing knobs and levers on cabinets. It doesn't take a massive kitchen renovation to increase the value of your home.

2. Upgrade Bathrooms

Just like investing in kitchens, bathrooms are also key areas that attract more buyers and increase the home's value. Bathroom updates can be as small as replacing old wallpaper and lighting to installing a shower with body sprays, new grout, or upgrading your faucet. More extensive renovations include installing a new vanity, upgrading countertops with marble or granite, or replacing old drop-sinks with under-mount sinks.

photo by Laqfoil LTD / CC BY-SA

3. Eliminate Popcorn Ceilings

Fewer features make a home look dated more than popcorn ceilings. Luckily, this is an easy fix (but first get a professional to ensure that the current ceiling doesn't contain asbestos). After you're in the clear, you can start by scraping the popcorn texture off the ceiling with a solution from your local hardware store. This small change can make an older home look newer.

4. Paint with Neutral Colors

Painting one or several rooms in your home is one of the easiest and most affordable home improvements you can do on your own. A fresh coat of paint makes the rooms in the home look clean and new. Neutral colors are also more desirable and cheaper to purchase, which means you'll have money left over while your home's value increases with just a touch of grey.

photo by Midascode / CC0

5. New Flooring

If your home has old carpeting or cracked linoleum floors, then it's probably time for new floors. Older carpets tend to hide contaminants and allergens that can affect the air quality in the house. Tile, laminate, wood, and other hard surface floors not only look better but are easier to clean and more environmentally friendly. Avoid carpet at all costs.

6. Deep Clean Your Home

Sometimes it's the simple things that can add value to your property. Cleaning your home makes the space look inviting and comfortable to potential buyers. You only get one shot to impress new buyers so make sure you scrub down every surface of your home to make it look brand new. Organize all your belongings and declutter areas throughout the home so any last minute mess can be cleaned up quickly.

photo by Midascode / CC0

7. Beautify the Landscaping

Remember how you only get one shot to impress potential buyers? It doesn't start in the foyer - it starts when they're parking in the driveway. Curb appeal is crucial when trying to sell your home and if you have overgrown or patchy front lawns then a buyer will think that the home has been neglected. Wild plants, bushes, and tangled trees can promote mold, obstruct views, and make your home look unattractive. Luckily, taming this section of the home is easy and affordable. It's as simple as mowing the yard, trimming the hedges, and planting flowers to make your home look welcoming and properly maintained. If the lawn resembles a jungle, you should hire a professional landscaping service.

8. Keep Up with Maintenance

It's important to keep your house updated throughout the years of owning it, not just in the months preceding a sale. If there's a small problem, it's better to fix it now and stay on top of all the repairs necessary around the house. It will make it easier and cheaper once it comes time to renovate or sell your home.

photo by Home2home / CC0

9. Create Space

A big trend in real estate over the last decade has been open spaces. Buyers are looking for open floor plans with tall windows that splash light across the entire floor. Knocking out a wall or a kitchen island might be expensive projects, but if your home is cluttered or obstructed by walls then it's going to be worth it to dig out that sledgehammer (after consulting with an architect, of course).

10. Improve Your Lighting

Good lighting enhances a home's vibe. Getting rid of fluorescent lighting and installing dimmer switches is an affordable upgrade and can help set the mood in each room. Another, less expensive option is adding tubular skylights or sun tubes, which use reflective material to funnel natural light from a circular hole cut from the ceiling above into a room. It's like having a skylight but without the cost and hassle of framing one into a rooftop. Also keep in mind that low wattage bulbs make rooms feel inviting and high wattage bulbs make small spaces feel bigger.