Resale value: $974
Replacing your front door with a stout, 20-gauge steel entry door is the standout improvement project.The best steel doors are surprisingly good-looking. They add a sense of security to a home, which is undoubtedly why homebuyers value them so highly. A 20-gauge replacement door costs $1,137 on average, nationally. It adds an estimated $974 to a home's sale price, according to the real-estate agents who responded to the survey.
Resale value: $10,379
It's no wonder that fiber-cement siding -- made of cement, wood fiber and sand -- is a hit with homeowners. It's rot-resistant and durable in a wide range of climates. It's often backed by a 25- or 30-year warranty. Manufacturers use it to convincingly imitate cedar shingles, wood clapboard and stucco. The panels are primed and painted at the factory, and the color on them can last 25 years.
Resale value: $7,213
Adding a wood deck is the way to go. You get roughly three-quarters of your money back, on average and, in eight of the 81 cities surveyed, homeowners are earning a payback of more than 100%. In nine other cities, the return averaged 87%. The wood deck project includes pressure-treated joists, 4-by-4-inch posts anchored to concrete piers, pressure-treated deck boards, a built-in bench and planter, stairs, railings and balusters.
Resale value: $1,132
You'll get the best bang for the buck these days from exterior replacement projects including doors, windows and exterior siding, Remodeling Magazine editor Sal Alfano says. This garage-door replacement is a perfect example: It delivers about 76% of the investment back when you sell the home. Exterior replacements give homebuyers a good impression of your home right off the bat, Alfano says. Besides paying back well, these jobs may help a home sell more quickly and for closer to the asking price.
Resale value: $13,977
Your best kitchen remodel for the money is a modest project. This $18,527 project upgrades a 200-square-foot kitchen. Included are 30 linear feet of new, midpriced laminate countertops and new raised-panel fronts and hardware for the cabinets and drawers. You get a new, energy-efficient cooktop and wall oven, new medium-quality faucet and sink, new wall coverings and resilient flooring and repainted kitchen trim. A major remodel of this same 200-square-foot kitchen using modestly priced products runs $53,931, on average. The payback drops to 69%. It includes new, semi-custom wood cabinets and a new 3-by-5-foot kitchen island, laminate countertops and a standard-issue double stainless sink with a single faucet. If you've always wondered what it would cost to go whole-hog on a kitchen remodel, here's the answer: For $107,406, on average, you'll have top-of-the-line custom cherry cabinets with built-in sliding shelves, stone countertops with a backsplash of imported ceramic or glass tile, a new built-in refrigerator, cooktop and 36-inch commercial-grade range and vent hood.
Resale value: $44,034
Among the worst projects for the money, a fancy new garage comes in at fifth place. The two-car garage is a 26-by-26-foot freestanding building with footings and a slab-on-grade foundation. It has a 2-by-4 wood frame and gabled roof topped with 25-year asphalt shingles. It has vinyl exterior siding, five big double-hung vinyl windows and an entry door. The garage door uses a 100-amp breaker connected to the electrical panel in the home and 50 feet of conduit buried in a trench. Inside, the walls and ceiling are finished in drywall. The modular storage system has cabinets, work surfaces and task lighting.
Resale value: $6,014
Superstorm Sandy demonstrated why a backup generator can be a good idea. So why aren't buyers paying big bucks for homes that have them? It may be that the magazine's version is more elaborate than necessary, Alfano says. The propane-fueled generator turns out 70 amps in two 240-volt circuits and six 120-volt circuits.
Resale value: $114,569
We’ll break it to you gently: Your fantasy of adding a divine, private master suite to your home isn’t going to give you back much money if you sell your home. By all means do it. But enjoy it yourself, because you'll get an average of only 52% of the cost back. This is a total dream job, a 32-by-20-foot master bedroom and bath built over your existing crawlspace. The floors are heated and there's a sitting area. You'll have custom built-in storage and bookcases and a high-end gas fireplace. The walk-in closet and dressing area have mirrors, natural light and extra storage for linens. The bathroom has a stone shower with a custom, frameless glass enclosure. A whirlpool tub on a custom stone platform is tucked into a windowed corner. You can scale back the job a bit by spending a mere $101,873 for a 24-by-16-foot addition. This gives you a better return, 63%. You still get the walk-in closet and dressing area, the whirlpool tub with a ceramic tile platform and a separate tiled shower and double sink. There's carpet on the bedroom floor and ceramic tile in the bathroom in this version.
Resale value: $33,529
If you're dying to throw money away, add a 200-square-foot sunroom to your home. With footings and a slab foundation, post-and-beam exposed framing and low-E windows, screens and movable shades, you'll get a very sweet spot to hang out. But buyers aren't likely to see it as an asset for which they'll pay extra. Sunrooms recoup less than half of their value.
Resale value: $11,911
The absolute worst bang for your buck is a home-office conversion. You can find more expensive projects, but, at least among the 35 projects considered in this survey, you won't find a lower return on your money. The home office had its moment as a home-remodeling dream project, but that was years ago. Yours may still pay off, or pay off better, if you work from home and can deduct much of the construction and operating expense from federal taxes. But their popularity with buyers has waned, Alfano says. Buyers tell real-estate agent that what they really want is flexibility. Installing built-in cabinets, drawers and bookshelves could turn your extra room into a liability.
Info from MSNReal Estate