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20 things that can alter the value of your home
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Richard "Dick" Gaylord, president-elect of the National Association of Realtors, agrees. "That's a very big feature," he says. "I haven't sold many homes that aren't bright and airy."

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7. Good windows. "People are looking at exposures and windows," says Phipps. "It's been a cold winter for most of the country and energy efficiency is very important."

Insulated windows are always a plus, says Strong. "Typically, they pay for themselves in five years," he says. The cost for an average 2,600-square-foot home is estimated at about $10,000 for new windows, he says.

Well-placed skylights are also a good touch to add value, says Phipps.

8. Landscaping. Mature trees "are worth $1,000," says Strong.

And having outdoor spaces with touches such as pergolas and Victorian garden swings "can be very helpful," says Phipps.

Appraiser John Bredemeyer remembers one $250,000 home in Omaha that had no landscaping at all. "It was stark," says Bredemeyer, former national chair of government relations for the Appraisal Institute, a professional group for real estate appraisers. "It just stood out as unappealing."

Conversely, you don't have to spend a fortune on plants, either. Just keep it "typical with the neighborhood," he says.

9. Lots of storage. Nothing beats an oversized garage, some attic space and plenty of closets. "If you have a two-car garage, do you have extra space for those things we all have -- bicycles, lawn mower, snow blower?" says Hummel. "Space is important."

A nice plus in the master suite? "His and hers walk-in closets," says Irwin.

10. Basement. "If it's dry, it's a plus," says Kenneth Austin, co-author of "The Home Buyer's Inspection Guide." "But it's a negative if it has water problems."

A finished basement adds even more value. "Ten years ago, nobody cared," says Mittenbuler. "Now everybody wants them."

Decrease home's value
Here are 10 things that can reduce value to your home.
1. A pool
2. No garage or small garage
3. Garbled floor plan
4. Outmoded appliances or systems
5. Stale or overly personal decor
6. A bad roof
7. Bad location
8. Poor maintenance
9. Environmental hazards
10. A long list of needed home improvements

1. A pool. Forget what you might have heard. An in-ground pool in most parts of the country doesn't automatically raise the value of your home. "I would stay away from pools if you can at all avoid it," says Irwin.

Having a swimming pool will automatically limit your market when it comes time to sell, he says. "It's constant upkeep, they get cracks, when the equipment goes down it's expensive to replace and the liability is high."

Others consider it a mixed blessing. "For the people who want the pool, they're willing to pay for it," says Austin. "But there are an awful lot of people who don't want a pool."

Consider your home value and location. In a million-dollar house, not having a pool is a detraction, says Irwin. "But they won't give you much more" if you do have one.

2. No garage or small garage. Unless you're living in a condo, a retirement community, or historical or in-town neighborhood most buyers will look for at least a two-car garage. "If you don't have a garage, it's a real negative," says Austin. "If you have a one-car garage, that's a problem, too."

 
 
Next: "Clients ... casually opened the oven door -- and it fell off."
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