Survey: Exterior Home Improvement Projects Offer Highest Returns

If you're gearing up to put your older home on the market and you think remodeling the kitchen and bathrooms is a top priority, better think again.

According to a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), exterior projects are the most important aspect of home improvement for sellers in this current market.

The reason? Curb appeal.

‘With many factors to consider such as cost and time, deciding what remodeling projects to undertake can be a difficult decision for homeowners,’ says Steve Brown, president of the NAR, in a statement. ‘Realtors know what home features are important to buyers in their area, but a home's curb appeal is always critical since it's the first impression for potential buyers. That's why exterior replacement projects offer the greatest bang for the buck. Projects such as entry door, siding and window replacements can recoup homeowners more than 78 percent of costs upon resale.’

So what are considered the most important exterior home improvement projects, as deemed by Realtors? In terms of offering a high return on investment, steel entry door replacement is the top project. Owners who replace their steel entry doors can recoup an estimated 96.6% of the cost of the project upon resale. Steel entry door replacement is also one of the least expensive projects listed in NAR's Cost vs. Value Report, averaging little more than $1,100.

The project offering the second highest rate of return is the addition of a wood deck. This project offers an estimated 87.4% return on the costs, upon resale.

Two different siding replacement projects also landed in the top 10, including fiber-cement siding, with an expected return of about 87% of costs, and vinyl siding, with an expected return of about 78.2% of costs.

Out of the other top 10 projects, the fiber-cement siding replacement project improved the most since last year, with costs recouped increasing by more than 15%.

Also making the top 10 improvement projects are garage door replacements, with a return of 83.7% on investment, and window replacements, with an estimated return of about 79.3% for wood windows and return of about 78.7% for vinyl windows.

Out of the top 10 remodeling projects ranked, eight were exterior projects while two were interior projects.

The two interior remodeling projects that yielded the highest return on investment were the addition of an attic bedroom, with an expected return of 84.3% of costs; and ‘minor’ kitchen remodel, which is estimated to recoup 82.7% of costs.

The improvement project likely to return the least is the home office remodel, estimated to recoup 48.9% of costs.

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