The Home 
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2009-2010 Best Value Home Renovation Projects

I like taking a look at this list every year because it gives me a good understanding of what makes a good renovation project, in terms of ROI, and what makes a terrible one. When it comes down to it, I know it’s not about ROI. You don’t add a deck to your house because of the ROI, you add one because you want a deck. You put a bedroom above the garage not because some book says the ROI is high, you do it because you want a place your guests can stay that beats an air mattress in your study.

However, if you have several projects on the list and you aren’t sure which one to take on first, a list like this could help break the tie.

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 The Home 
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2008-2009 Best Home Value Remodeling Projects

Kivitokki MansionEvery year, Remodeling Magazine publishes a list of home projects, their estimated costs, their resale values, and how much you can expect to recoup whenever you sell your home. I wouldn’t use the list to decide which home remodeling projects to start but if you have two you like equally, their information might present the tipping point.

I looked at Remodeling’s Best Home Renovations list in 2007 (and in 2006) when the housing boom was still happening. Now that we’re in a recession and the value of homes falling, how does the list compare?

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 The Home 
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2007 Remodeling Best Home Renovations List

Kivitokki MansionEach year, Remodeling Magazine works hard to produce a Cost vs. Value Report in which they give you a good idea of the best home renovations from the perspective of resale value. In other words, if you had $10,000 to spend on a remodeling project and wanted the best financial return for your dollar, this list would give you a good idea of where you should spend it.

Remodeling takes it one step further and gives you the ROI based also on your geographic area because different areas enjoy different trends, styles, and comforts. The best example has to be a pool. A pool’s value is significantly higher in temperate climates like the Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic and less valuable in areas that are cooler like the New England states. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll just compare national figures because that’s what they used to do in their surveys.

It’s amazing what happens in one year.

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 The Home 
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Forbes’ Best Home Renovations List

Forbes produced another list of the best home renovations/improvements in terms of their resale value and I thought it would be interesting to compare this list to lists I’ve seen, and blogged about, in the past. With all of these I looked only at the National Average values, since that’s what I’ve always looked at, and tried to pair them up with comparable renovations in past lists. The data they used is from Remodeling magazine’s yearly assessment/survey/magic but one of the lists I used was from a handyman-type site and not a magazine about remodeling.

Overall, Remodeling Magazine makes it sound like a lot of the renovations you make hold a lot of its material and labor value whereas the handyman site doesn’t paint as rosy of a picture. I’m inclined to believe that Remodeling magazine is at least somewhat biased, knowing nothing about it except that it likely sells advertising space to businesses in the remodeling industry, so I’d mark down their resale values a little bit. From a buyer’s perspective, which I was a year ago, I do know that more bedrooms and bathrooms the better (to a point, I’m only one person… I don’t need 8 bathrooms, I don’t even have 8 friends) but a renovated home office means nothing to me. So again, as I approached the other list, I believe the relative rankings of renovation value retention is likely correct though the actual values are subject to a multitude of factors a simple study can’t capture.

The comparative table is available after the jump. (oh, and if you’re going to replace your windows, you might be able to get a tax credit for it because of the latest energy bill)

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 Personal Finance, The Home 
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Seller Tips For A Slow Real Estate Market

It does appear that the real estate market has started to slow down, as expected, so it comes as no surprise that cnn/money has an article listing six tips for all you sellers out there. One thing I think deserves mentioning is that if you want to be successful selling your property for as much as possible, you should’ve been doing all these tips in the sizzling hot market anyway.

Tip 1. Improve Curb Appeal

These are the first impressions of your home, mow your lawn, paint your exterior if it needs it, trim the bushes, and move any trash cans or other debris away. Remember that many times people will be surfing a real estate page and one of the only pieces of physical evidence they see at that point is the photo of the front of your house.

Tip 2. Clean Up and Rearrange Inside

They suggest that you remove your own personal touches so you should move pictures, trophies, diplomas, and anything that makes the home “yours” and not “theirs.” If you can handle it, rearrange or remove some of your furniture so there is more open space, which in turn, will make your place seem bigger. While this is a little harder if you’re still living there, the extra hard work could pay off. If you have already moved, rent some furniture to put in the rooms so it isn’t just an empty space. (Their Tip #3). Also, consider doing a little work such as touching up some of the paint in some rooms because it’ll give it a much better feel.

Tip 4. Smell Test

Own a pet? You might want to consider finding him or her a temporary home while you’re selling. Obviously, clean out all the trash and refrain from smoking. You might want to consider repainting rooms in which you have smoked (if you do) to mask the smell of smoke, though that will take a lot of coats of paint.

Tip 5. Pick A Good Realtor

In a sellers market you can afford to have a weak Realtor, but not now. They suggest reading reviews on Homethinking.com and Hungryagents.com to find the best one.

If you’re thinking about some major remodeling jobs to increase the potential selling price of your home, you may be interested to read about the Best Home Value Renovations and an update to the Best Home Value Renovations.


 The Home 
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Best Value Home Renovations Revisited

Best Value RenovationsBack near the end of July of ’05, I blogged about an article about the best home value renovations which revealed that the only even money proposition was the addition of a second bathroom. A recent report by the National Association of Realtors and Remodeling magazine revealed that some home renovations actually earned you a profit.

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 Personal Finance, The Home 
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Best Value Home Renovations

Over dinner last night the topic of what the best return on investment renovations were and I went with the generally accepted addition of a full bathroom as the highest return. After scouring the internet, I found this great site that listed their opinions – I’m inclined to believe, if not the absolute numbers, that their relative place on the list is probably accurate. Tops is the addition of a full 2nd bathroom, average cost of $12k, and a payback of 100%. The worse is to finish the basement, which my friend correctly identified, at a cost of approximately $8k and an average 15% return.

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