In the past, recommendations to update kitchens and bathrooms ranked as most important. So you may be surprised to learn experts recently suggested focusing almost entirely on exterior projects first.
According to an annual ranking of projects in Remodeling Magazine, this year it may be wiser to spend your money on improving exterior features. Only one of the top five projects is interior. The rankings are used by many remodelers and real estate agents to help guide homeowners about which improvements yield the most value.
Here are the five remodeling projects, ranked nationally, that will bring you the most return on investment:
- Garage door replacement: 93.8% return. Why does a new garage door yield the best return? A first impression matters most with respect to how much prospective home buyers are willing to pay for a home. A two-car garage door is such a large part of a home's facade that it has a major influence on “curb appeal.”
- Manufactured stone veneer: 92.1% return. Coming in at a close second, this dose of eye candy brings an instant, refined element to almost any home. You'll probably want to hire a professional for this investment, even if you're a DIY-er.
- Minor kitchen remodel: 72.2% return. A minor kitchen renovation, which may include replacing cabinet fronts, new hardware, stainless steel appliances and updated countertops; yields a bigger payoff than a major remodel, which yields an average of 53.9% return according to Remodeling Magazine. If an island doesn't fit, try a stainless-steel chef's table. Other ideas for a minor remodel are widening room openings, or removing a non-load bearing wall. The latter can be done at little cost but with big effect—creating a contemporary, open-space layout. Changing wall paint color or adding a tile backsplash are easy updates—and don't forget to take advantage of natural sunlight.
- Replace siding with fiber cement: 69.4% return. Fiber cement is also known as cementitious siding and has been around for decades. It's become quite popular in recent years because it requires no maintenance and is nearly indestructible. It won't warp, cut, rot or check (separate). The material can do anything that wood can do and mimics its grainy appearance even upon close inspection. It comes from the factory primed or painted with a baked finish.
- Window replacement: 68.6% return. Replacing windows with insulated, low-E, double-hung vinyl windows offers a number of advantages, including low maintenance and lower utility costs. They are available in a variety of colors and can be painted. Most of all, they help your house look better during that important first impression.
Resources: The Washington Post, Remodeling Magazine, Build.com, Inc., The Home Depot
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