Owning a home is one of the best ways to build wealth, thanks to home equity. Home appreciation – which is when a property's value simply increases in value on its own – is a magical financial tool. All you have to do is live your life and pay your monthly mortgage. When it's time to sell, chances are your home will be worth a lot more compared to when you bought it.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, in 2018 sellers sold their homes for a median of $55,000 (29%) more than their purchase price. Now that's a return on an investment!

It's not easy to predict a home's rate of appreciation because it's based on factors that are constantly changing. One of the most important factors is inflation, as well as the real estate market that you live in. How many people are looking to buy and the available inventory of homes in your area have a huge influence on a home's value.

There's no guarantee you'll be ready to sell your home when the market is hot, either. Most people think they'll live in their home for 15 years. But, the data shows that recent sellers lived in their homes for an average of just nine years before they were ready to move.

Beyond standard equity appreciation, there are a number of ways to bump up your home's value. No matter if you plan to stay in your home for another few years, or if you are looking to sell ASAP.

If you want to be sure your home will be worth top dollar, here are seven easy ways to increase your property value before you put your house on the market.

1. Home Staging

Beautiful living room in new traditional style luxury home. Features vaulted ceilings, fireplace with roaring fire, and elegant furnishings

Making your home more attractive will not only increase your home value in the eyes of future buyers, but it will make your house more enjoyable for you and your family to live in. According to seller's agents, home staging can increase the dollar value of the offers you receive by as much as 10 percent.

If you own a home worth $200,000, staging it properly can boost your home's value anywhere between $2,000 and $20,000. But that doesn't mean you have to blow a bunch of cash to make it happen.

Things like deep cleaning, getting rid of clutter and increasing storage, steam cleaning carpets, sprucing up walls with a few coats of paint, and better lighting can make a huge difference without breaking the bank.

2. Add Energy Efficiency

handsome young man installing bay window in a new house construction site

Promoting energy efficiency in a real estate listing is extremely valuable, according to professionals. Homebuyers say that features like energy-efficient appliances and lighting are important. Heating and cooling costs are also major factors. To build value in your home, upgrading windows, doors, and siding installations can bring a nice return on your investment.

3. Update the Appliances and Systems

Updated New White Kitchen Remodel Luxury

It shouldn't be a surprise that maintenance is a huge concern for homebuyers. To present your home as more valuable in the real estate market, make sure that all of the systems and appliances are functional and up-to-date.

Things like replacing an old water heater, fixing the HVAC, replacing the roof, and fixing leaky plumbing can boost your home's value by thousands of dollars.

4. Smart Technology

Woman controlling smart home devices using a digital tablet with launched application in the white living room

Americans love their tech gadgets, and that means more and more homebuyers are looking for smart technology. A 2018 survey showed that most buyers prefer to have this smart tech already installed before they move in.

Homebuyers are looking for smart thermostats and lighting systems. As well as smart smoke/fire detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Smart locks and cameras are also attractive to buyers and can easily increase your property value as soon as they are installed.

5. Landscaping

Landscape Gardener Laying Turf For New Lawn

Curb appeal can be just as important as what's on the inside. To increase your property value with outdoor improvements, consider planting trees, shrubs, and colorful plants. Just remember to keep things low maintenance. Purchase plants that are native to your region or those that are drought-tolerant.

Cleaning up your lawn is also important. Overgrown or patchy lawns and oversized bushes are things buyers don't want to see. Hiring a lawn service company to give your lawn a trim and to shape some hedges won't break the bank.

6. Add Space

construction residential new house in progress at building site

This one might be a pricey investment, but the returns could be just as great. Obviously, bigger homes usually sell for more money. The median price per square foot in 2018 was $130, no matter the size of the home. Translation: adding square footage can add some major value.

But you don't necessarily have to add on another bathroom or bedroom. Simply knocking out a wall and opening up a space to make it feel bigger can bring huge returns. Visual space – or how large a home feels–definitely counts. The key is to make each room in your home feel larger.

7. Updating Kitchens and Bathrooms

Interior view of a clean, bright kitchen with hardwood flooring, island and modern lighting

When you want to get a major bang for your buck, update the bathrooms in your home. You can update a bathroom for less than $1,000, and it will make a huge difference when a prospective buyer takes a look.

Simple fixes like replacing an outdated vanity, changing the light fixtures, fixing old plumbing, or adding a new tile floor will give the bathroom a fresh, modern look. Plus, it will make your home more valuable.

The same goes for your kitchen. You don't have to completely gut it and start from scratch in order to get some amazing results. Consider updating just one item, like an old microwave or sink. You can also replace the floor or countertops, paint the cabinets, and update the hardware.

Even small updates to your kitchen can add some serious value.

Bumping up your property value doesn't have to be difficult, and it doesn't always require a huge investment. Doing any one of these seven things will help you get top dollar for your home when you are ready to sell.

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