A new steel door may not sound like the sexiest addition to your house, but it's one of the financially savviest. According to Remodeling Magazine's 2014 Cost V. Value report, homeowners who install a steel door can expect to recoup nearly 97 percent of the cost when the home sells.
Exterior work on a property, from new siding to replacing windows, dominate the list of projects that offer the biggest bang for your buck. They offer the largest return because a potential home sale can be made or broken on the exterior alone, real estate agents say.
"It's all about first impression, no question about that," said John Kmiecik, regional vice president for the National Association of Realtors and a Chicago-area real estate agent. "When I'm sitting with my buyers in my car and we pull up to a home, if it doesn't look halfway decent, my buyers in many cases say, 'John let's take a pass on this, because I just don't like the outside.' "
Buyers typically assume that if the exterior of the house hasn't been maintained, then the interior hasn't either, Kmiecik said.
So does a steel door really make that big of an impression? Not necessarily, but it improves security and offers energy savings through better insulation. That's the other reason exterior projects also push up the value of a home -- they tend to be practical. Unlike adding luxurious finishes to a kitchen that a new owner may not adore, new siding or new windows generally appeal to any buyer.
Although home exterior projects may deliver a greater return on investment than interior remodeling, all of the 35 home improvement projects listed in the survey returned value this year, thanks to rising home prices that exceeded increasing construction costs