February signals the start of tax season, a time when many Americans gain nearly $3,000 on average in the form of a tax refund, according to the IRS.
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- Splurging on a vacation or iPhone X is tempting, but as a homeowner, sinking refund cash into your house may be smarter, especially if debts are already under control, says Lisa Greene-Lewis, a certified public accountant and tax expert at TurboTax.
- Even small home improvements can nudge home value — and your quality of life — in a positive direction. But how do you decide what to do?
- The first question to ask, says Craig Webb, editor in chief of Remodeling magazine, is “How long do I plan to stay in the home?” The answer dictates how much you should spend on home improvements and which projects to prioritize.
- If you’re staying put, focus on changes that make your life better and improve value, Webb says. Fix what’s broken before thinking about curb appeal.
- Here are some home improvement ideas in several price ranges so you can put that tax refund to work.
- Replace cabinet hardware. Changing knobs or handles is fairly simple, but gives the whole room a new look, says Colin Shaw, owner of Shaw Remodeling in Niantic, Connecticut.
- Seal the driveway. You’ll reduce unsightly cracks and slow deterioration of the concrete or asphalt.
- Get the HVAC system serviced. Regular cleaning can add 10 years to the life of your system, says Laura Hales, a real estate agent and owner of Hales and Associates in Overland Park, Kansas.
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- Add a tile backsplash. Backsplashes provide an instant transformation at a fraction of what a full kitchen remodel costs.
- Refresh interior paint. New paint in main rooms brightens the whole house, and doing it yourself saves on labor costs, Hales says.
- Insulate the attic. Buyers love energy efficiency, and you’ll love lower utility bills.
- Get a new front door. Shaw recommends fiberglass doors that don’t swell or contract with the weather.
- Replace inefficient appliances like the water heater, toilet, refrigerator or dishwasher.
- Tile the bathroom floor. Heavy foot traffic leaves flooring dingy. Opt for bright, easy-to-clean tile instead.
- Install new kitchen countertops. Almost all buyers want granite, quartz and other solid surfaces, Hales says.
- Replace the garage door. A new garage door recoups around 98% of its cost in improved home value, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2018 Cost vs. Value report.
- Enhance your landscaping. Stone pavers, a fire pit or exterior lighting boost curb appeal and functionality.