An Expert's best home fixes

by Barbara Corcoran

With house prices shrinking, it’s smart to make only the changes that put money back in your pocket. Remodeling Magazine’s latest Cost vs. Value Report identifies the top home improvements that pay back big when you sell your home. Also, here are the best quick fixes today that bring buyers knocking on your door.
Fix up your front yard
Cost: $100
Any improvements you make in landscaping usually pay off. Fertilize and edge your lawn, trim overgrown bushes, put fresh mulch on your flowerbeds. Perennials are cheaper than annuals because they come back year after year, but putting some flowers in window boxes or at your door will make your house look happy. Mulch will cost you about $4 a bag and a flat of pansies will cost about $15.
Add crown molding to your living room
Cost: $800

This easy fix instantly gives your room some flair and a typical living room costs only about $800 including installation.
Change the main entrance
Cost: $200 to $2,000

You can install a new door for $2,000, or take off your existing door and spray it with car paint for a top-grade smooth finish for about $200. Once it’s dingy, you can wax it back to a high shine with auto polish.
Add a new kitchen window
Cost: $2,000

A kitchen with a big window is a happy kitchen and adding a new one will cost about $2,000 and a new set of French doors will cost $3,000 and make your kitchen look two times bigger.
Buy a new stainless steel refrigerator
Cost: $800 to $3,000

When a buyer sees one fancy new appliance, they view the whole kitchen as more modern. You can get a fancy looking stainless steel Maytag refrigerator for only about $800.
Put a Murphy bed in the TV room

Think of a Murphy bed as a bedroom in a box. Installing a queen size bed takes up only 20 inches when closed and it instantly makes any room do double duty as a guest room. With so many kids coming back home to mom and dad today, a Murphy bed is comfortable, but not so comfortable to make them stay. You can customize the size and the style.
Sand your floors
Cost: $9,000

If you must live there while it’s being done, use a new odorless latex finish. It costs about $3 a foot, or $9,000 for a typical 3,000 square foot home.