8 Home Improvement Projects That Pay Off Big


For millions of Americans, a home will be the biggest investment of their lives. So, when it’s time to sell, it’s smart to take steps to optimize the return on that investment.

With the real estate market on a steady climb back to solid ground, more people are feeling comfortable enough to explore the option of selling. If you’re flirting with the idea of listing your home, it’s important to outshine the competition.

Here are eight home improvement investments that offer sellers the highest return, with all figures coming from a 2015 Remodeling magazine survey:

1. Repainting

A coat of paint gives you a lot of bang for your home-improvement buck. Painting a room is economical, and it is a project most folks can handle without hiring a contractor.

If you’re selling, focus on rich neutral colors inside the home. It’s OK to push beyond the standard colors of builder’s beige and off-white. With a little experimentation and a keen eye, browns, greens and grays can become part of a contemporary neutral color scheme that will highlight the best features of your home and impress potential buyers.

2. Replacing Siding

Replacing the siding on your home not only improves its appearance, but also can boost energy efficiency. If you choose vinyl or other siding products with permanent color, gravitate toward neutral shades that will still be classic year after year.

Vinyl siding replacement costs an average of $12,013 and returns 80.7%.

3. Improving the Basement

Few things turn off buyers faster than the smell of a damp basement. If your home’s basement is prone to moisture accumulation, leaks or flooding, call in a professional. Perhaps a simple sealant or patch can solve the problem without a huge budget impact.

However, if a new exterior drainage system is required, that could become pricey.

Although a finished basement will help sell a home, the single most important improvement you can make to the basement is creating an environment that’s clean, dry and ready for further upgrades.

But if you do want to go all out, a full basement remodel costs about $65,442 and will give sellers a 72.8% return on investment.

4. Upgrading the Kitchen

Buyers really do focus on kitchens and bathrooms, and upgrades in these areas pay off consistently. As with any remodeling project, homeowners can choose the level of time, expense and energy they want to devote to a kitchen remodel.

If you’re on a tight budget, keep things simple. Make sure that appliances are in good working order, countertops aren’t chipped or stained, the walls have a fresh coat of paint, and basic fixtures like lights and faucets are updated.

The average minor kitchen remodel costs $19,226 and has an average payback of 79.3%.

5. Remodeling a Bathroom

Like kitchens, bathroom upgrades provide a solid return.

If your budget is limited, try cost-conscious solutions like resurfacing an existing tub or sink, installing new flooring, upgrading faucets, adding a deluxe shower head, or splurging on a glass tile backsplash. Small improvements done in a classic and well-coordinated style can make a big impression.

Typically costing $16,724, you can expect a return of 70%.

6. Adding a Patio/Deck

Decks provide an attractive transition between inside and outside. Especially for smaller houses, well-designed patios and decks can provide much-needed extra space for dining, entertaining and relaxing.

A composite deck addition averages $15,912 and has a 68% return on investment.

A wood deck addition averages $10,048 and has an 80.5% return.

7. Replacing Old Windows

Replacing old windows improves the look and energy-efficiency of a home. New windows let potential buyers check off a major to-do from their home improvement list and can be a big selling point.

Sellers should pay attention to the details when choosing replacement windows and honor the architecture, period and style of their home. Inside, vinyl replacement window finishes should complement existing wood colors.

Vinyl window replacement averages $11,198 and returns 72.9%.

Wood window replacement averages $11,341 and returns 78.8%.

8. Landscaping

Your yard is a key part of your home’s curb appeal, and for would-be buyers, it provides clues (accurate or not) about how well you’ve cared for the home.

If you’re on a limited budget and need to buy and plant strategically, begin by approaching your home from the street to the front door. What areas do you notice first? What might potential buyers be immediately attracted to or disappointed by? What details can be improved upon with materials or supplies you already own?

Focus on simple projects you can do yourself. Plant climate-appropriate perennials that add beauty year after year, design clean borders filled with mulch, and prune existing trees and shrubbery.

New trees and shrubbery not only will freshen the look of your home, they also will help prevent erosion, slow storm-water runoff, filter pollutants, offer shade in the summer, and provide a home for small wildlife.


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