10 best home improvements for your dollar
By Michele Lerner of realtor.com
If you’re thinking of selling your home in 2014 or just want to ramp up your home value, it’s important to educate yourself on which improvement projects will bring you the most return on your investment.
A great resource for your research is the “2014 Cost vs. Value Report” an annual collaboration between Remodeling Magazine and Realtor Magazine that breaks down the estimated cost of various remodeling projects and the estimated return on investment for those projects by region and by city, as well as by midrange and upscale projects.
In general, this year’s report shows that exterior replacement projects are the most cost-effective. If you plan to sell your home later this year, remember that the first impression your home makes on buyers is their first glimpse of the outside.
Here are 10 home-improvement projects you should consider:
1. Replace your front door
You may not even notice your front door anymore, especially if you regularly use another entrance, but a new steel front door makes a great impression on buyers and yields an amazing 96.6 percent return on your investment. If your front door doesn’t need replacing or you’d rather spend less money, you can paint it and replace the hardware for a similar impact.
2. Add a deck or patio
No matter where you live, buyers want outdoor living space. You can recoup 87 percent of your investment on a new wood deck. If you already have outdoor space, consider sprucing it up with a water feature, an outdoor fireplace or new landscaping.
3. Add space or an attic bedroom
Depending on your budget and your goals for your home, an addition of extra bedrooms and bathrooms, a finished attic or an expanded casual living space can rapidly increase the value of your home. You can recoup 84 percent of your investment in a new attic bedroom.
4. Replace your garage door
An upscale or midrange garage door recoups 83 percent of your investment. Manufacturers offer a host of styles and choices, from plain steel panel doors to energy-efficient, insulated models with glass windows.
5. Remodel your kitchen
Buyers look most carefully at kitchens and bathrooms, so you should, too. You can recoup 82 percent of a minor kitchen remodel and 74 percent of a major kitchen remodel. If you’re selling soon, don’t overspend on your kitchen. You may be able to do a couple of relatively minor fixes, such as replacing the appliances and painting the cabinets, or just replacing the counters with granite to garner a good offer.
6. Replace your windows
Buyers are interested in how your windows look and their energy efficiency. Whether you’re replacing vinyl- or wood-frame windows, you can get a 79 percent return on your investment. When you’re ready to market your home, be sure to highlight the new windows as a selling point.
7. Replace your siding
If your home’s exterior needs a major makeover, you can typically recoup 78 percent of your investment by replacing vinyl siding. If you replace your siding with a fiber-cement mix, you can recoup a whopping 87 percent of your costs.
8. Basement addition or remodel
These days, it’s all about space for entertaining. Recoup 78 percent of your investment by adding or remodeling a basement. Finish the lower level of a house to create a 20-by-30-foot entertaining area with wet bar and a full bathroom.
9. Update your bathroom
While a full, upscale bathroom remodel project can cost over $50,000 and add only about $32,000 to your home’s resale value, you can make cost-effective minor upgrades.
Get a 73 percent return on your investment with these bathroom upgrades: Replace your fixtures and your mirror, repaint the space and jazz it up with some crown molding (depending on your home’s style), and you’ll have a space that looks new. While you’re there, redo the caulk around your tub and shower and replace the grout on your tile flooring. If your tub is in bad shape, you may be able to have it resurfaced rather than replace it.
10. Two-story addition
For a 72 percent return on investment, add a first-floor family room and a second-floor bedroom with full bathroom in over a crawl space. You can add a new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system to handle the addition, and electrical wiring to code.
No matter which project you choose, be careful not to over-improve your home for the neighborhood. A real estate agent can offer advice about how to spend your money so that your home sells faster and for the best possible price.