KitchenAs a Realtor, I have seen hundreds of San Diego houses over the past 8 years.  I've shown and sold homes from Bonsall to Oceanside, all throughout the Hwy. 78 corridor and down the I-15 and I-5 freeways into Rancho Santa Fe (20,000 sq. ft. homes).  I have shown homes in every beach community such as La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Mission Beach and out to East county and down to the border.  So in other words - I've seen every kind of home imaginable.  I've also sold homes ranging in price from $80,000 to over $10,000,000.  I've seen everyone kind of upgrade available from custom movie theater rooms, multi-level pools, a 5,000 sq. ft. kitchen to 8 flat screen TV's in the Master Bedroom!

My buyers and investors always ask me what upgrades provide the most value to a home when it comes time to sell?  Below is a list of what I consider the most important upgrades to add value to your home.

1. Kitchen - This is the most important room in your house to upgrade.  The kitchen has the     highest worth per square foot and will make the difference whether your home is appealing to     buyers or not.  At a minimum, your upgrades should include cabinets, flooring, appliances and     counter tops.

2. Bathrooms - Fixtures are important.  If your plumbing fixtures are more than 10 years old, consider upgrading them. If you have standard grade fixtures, such as chrome finish, opt for higher end finishes and materials. Choose bathtub, shower and sink controls that coordinate for a unified look throughout your home.

The Master Bathroom should feel like a retreat.  Buyers want spa features like an over-sized garden tub.  Similar to the kitchen, install upgrades where you can most afford it.  Upgraded tiled floors and showers will add value over pre-manufactured units.  Jetted soaking tubs, multisprayer showers and large square footage will also add value to your overall home.

3. State-of-the-art Audio and Sound (my favorite upgrade) - Consider adding surround sound systems in your living areas as well as your master bedroom area and the garage.  This will definitely separate your home from your neighbors' homes and put you a notch above your competition (if you decide to sell). Flush mount speakers are a good choice.

4. Eco-friendly upgrades - In this "Green" age, eco-conscious upgrades have a big return on investment.  From water saving plumbing fixtures and tankless hot water heaters, investing in the earth can add value to your home. Choose rapidly renewable resources for finishes like bamboo flooring and opt for systems that save on energy costs.  Regardless of the method, green living upgrades are always worth the investment.

5. Garage - A garage can add usable storage space for the home buyer as well as dry, clean area for parking cars.  All homes don't have garages and therefore having a garage can add value to your home.  If your home is on the market, spend time cleaning and organizing your garage so it can be shown.  Install garage wall or ceiling organizing shelves to fully take advantage of vertical storage space.

6. Front Yard - Invest money in a nice front yard.  A well manicured lawn, trimmed landscaping and clean drive and sidewalks will help bring greater buyer appeal, and in turn will add value to your home.  Keep your flower beds free of weeds and full of thriving and colorful plants. Nothing says 'buy me' or "I'm home" like a front yard that has quality upkeep behind it.

7. Backyard - Have nicely layed out backyard that is easy on the eyes, functional and designed for entertaining.

8. Irrigation System (often taken for granted) - An irrigation system that works properly and covers the full yard can add value.

9. Closet Space - At the top of buyers' lists is always storage. Clean your closets and add more storage to them.

10. Roof - The roof of your home protects and beautifies the structure beneath.  A quality roof will add value to your home and reduce the risk of damage in the near future.  For roofs older than 15 years, consider having a roofer inspect and possibly replace it, if necessary.

11. Windows - Double paned windows, windows with integral window treatments and insulated varieties all equate to saving energy and therefore will add value to your home.

Spend the money now to invest in your home. The value you create now will increase in time. Even if you don't plan to sell your home soon, you will enjoy the upgrades that are made, and in turn, will add value to your own life.