Home Improvement: Remodeling Projects with Biggest Payoff

Last Updated Apr 26, 2011 5:04 PM EDT

Remodeling Magazine and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently released their 2010-2011 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report. The report "compares construction costs with resale values for 35 remodeling projects in 80 markets across the country."

Cost vs. Value Report Top Findings

According to the 2010-2011 Cost vs. Value Report, if you want to boost your home value, start by fixing up the outside of your home.

Nine of the "top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally" are exterior replacement projects. Realtors rated exterior replacement projects the most cost-effective home improvement projects in terms of value recouped after resale of the home (one year after the remodeling project was completed).

The weak economy has definitively affected upscale remodeling projects.

The 2010-2011 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report shows replacement projects are outperforming remodel and addition projects in resale value. The projects are lower cost and actually increase curb appeal. Sounds like a win-win all the way around.

Exterior projects, "not only provide the most value, but also are among the least expensive improvements for a home," said National Association of Realtors President Ron Phipps. "Curb appeal remains king â€" it's the first thing potential buyers notice when looking for a home, and it also demonstrates pride of ownership," Phipps added.

The four most cost-effective remodeling projects (nationally):

1. Entry door replacement.

Cost: $1,172 (steel) or $3,490 (fiberglass)
Estimated recoup upon resale: 102.1 percent

New doors remained the remodeling project that recouped the most money this year. It's also the only project in this year's report expected to raise home value more than it costs.


2. Garage door replacement

Cost: $1,200
Estimated recoup upon resale: 83.9 percent

New to the report this year, an average garage door replacement costs a little over a grand and can impact your curb appeal in a very positive way. It's an easy way to update your house.


3. Wood deck addition

Cost: $10,634
Estimated recoup upon resale: 72.8 percent
The deck addition project actually tied with a minor kitchen remodel. All of the top three are praised for how they add to curb appeal, and a new deck is definitely an amenity that can close a sale.


Honorable Mention:

Some siding and window replacement projects were expected to return more than 70 percent of costs. Window replacements are estimated, nationally, at $10,728 for vinyl windows and $11,700 for wood.
Of the nine regions in the Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, four consistently reported the high percentage of remodeling costs recouped upon resale trend. They were the
  • Pacific region (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington)
  • West South Central region (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas)
  • East South Central region (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee)
  • South Atlantic region (District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia).
To read the full project descriptions, access national and regional project data, and download a free PDF containing data for any of the 80 cities covered by the report, visit www.costvsvalue.com.

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Ilyce R. Glink is the author of several books, including 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In!. She blogs about money and real estate at ThinkGlink.com and The Equifax Personal Finance Blog, and is Chief Content Strategist at RealtyJoin.com, a community for real estate investors.
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    Ilyce R. Glink is an award-winning, nationally-syndicated columnist, best-selling book author and founder of Best Money Moves, an employee benefit program that helps reduce financial stress. She also owns ThinkGlink.com, where readers can find real estate and personal finance resources.