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Improving the look and functionality of your home goes a long way toward boosting its value, which will certainly come in handy when you go to sell your property. However, you don’t want to waste money or effort making changes that won’t yield a good return on investment or, worse, could even hurt your home’s value.

So, which types of upgrades are homebuyers looking for? If you’re thinking of remodeling, a national survey by Consumer Reports reveals some of the most sought-after amenities:

Kitchens top the list. Buyers want a clean, updated and well-organized kitchen. A new coat of paint or modernized lighting can be inexpensive starts. Increasing the value exponentially are quartz counters, attractive cabinetry and stainless steel appliances.

Workable floor plans. Regardless of the size of your home, strategically increasing the living space is sure to boost its value. A more open floor plan, a finished basement, or a dedicated playroom or office space appeals to the needs of young families.

Energy efficiency. Buyers are interested in energy costs and efficiency. Energy Star appliances, high-efficiency windows, and LED lighting help to lower the cost and increase your home’s “green” appeal.

Updated systems and surfaces. Central air conditioning and updated mechanical systems, including water heaters and gas heat, can increase a home’s value by 3 to 5 percent.  A newer roof and hardwood flooring are also much in demand.

Allowance for aging in place. As people are living longer and the number of senior citizens continues to increase, buyers see the long-term value of walk-in showers, comfort-height toilets, and master bedrooms on the main floor.

Color and light matter. Fresh paint, natural color schemes and window treatments that let in the light will improve the look, as well as the value, of your home.

The great outdoors. Up your home’s curb appeal by keeping lawns and shrubbery neatly trimmed. Also high on buyers’ wish lists are a water-smart yard, a deck or patio, and a built-in grill.

Smart technology. Some high-tech features may lose value as technology continues to evolve. But security systems, whole house generators, and programmable thermostats controllable by smartphones will add value for their efficiency and convenience.

If you plan to sell your home sooner rather than later, ask a real estate agent about other types of upgrades that could help you get top dollar from a buyer.

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