Which Home Renovations Yield the Best Return?

A reader wants to know which home renovations will give him the best return on his money when it comes time to sell. A quick tip: If you want to get the biggest bang for your buck with home renovation projects, step outside.

Q: Which home renovations will give us the best return on our money when we sell?

A: “Return on your money” is not the best way to think of home renovations when it comes to sell. Home-remodeling projects rarely result in homeowners making more money at sale time than the projects actually cost. Instead, consider remodeling and renovation projects that will help put your home in the best light to prospective homebuyers -- your goal should be to sell your home quickly and recoup as much of the money spent on the project as possible.

So which projects yield the greatest value for home sellers? You can’t go wrong with a kitchen or bathroom remodel, though the value of these projects come sale time has been slowly declining. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2010-11 Cost vs. Value Report, the return on a minor, mid-range kitchen remodel (average cost: $21,695) has dropped 72.8% from 101% just five years ago. With a bathroom remodel, with an average cost of $16,634, you’ll recoup just 64.1% of the cost.

If you’re looking for remodeling projects specifically geared toward making your home more appealing to buyers, step outside. This year, “curb appeal is king,” Remodeling magazine says. Seven of the top 10 value-yielding renovation projects on the magazine’s list involved the home’s exterior. All of the projects cost less than $15,000 apiece, and two of the projects with the greatest returns -- a mid-range-priced steel front-door replacement and a garage-door replacement — averaged less than $1,300.

When money for renovations is really tight, experts say simply updating your bathroom and kitchen fixtures (faucets, lights, etc.) will update the look of your home without breaking the bank. You also can’t go wrong with neutral carpets and paint. Just few thousand dollars spent here can reap double the investment come sale time.

HAVE A QUESTION FOR "ASK THE EXPERT"? Email Terri Cullen at tcullen@hcplive.com.