Which home improvement projects pay off the most?

Remodeling Magazine’s annual report on which home improvement projects give the most bang for the buck is either a great guidance for homeowners and flippers looking to maximize their return on investment, or WAGs good for nothing more than a chuckle.

But let’s not underestimate the value of a chuckle.

The big news this year is that “the average return on investment for home improvement projects dipped across the board”, according to Remodeling Magazine.  The reason?  “It’s not clear.”  It might be “nationwide affordability concerns” that make real estate agents “question the value of renovations that would make a house even more expensive”.

Or it might be that when homes are selling like hotcakes across the nation, sellers don’t need to install a fiberglass grand entrance to get buyers excited.

Or it might be that when you ask agents to complete a survey that’s longer than War and Peace and calls for a degree of knowledge about renovation costs that only a contractor could have, you get GIGO and a cost-versus-value report that’s good for nothing more than a chuckle.

Remodeling’s annual report is also good for telling you what’s hot and not in the Great American Heartland, where it pays big to remodel that basement “rumpus room” you live in nine months out of the year because it’s the only warm place in the house, and temperature extremes have you replacing your siding every five years or so.

Want to know which projects increase a home’s value the most here in Silicon Valley?  Go look at a house that’s just been flipped.

New kitchen and baths, new doors and windows, a lick of paint and a quickie landscape refresh in front.  But feel free to leave the back yard just as bare and neglected as it was last week when you bought the house.

Don’t buy the best finishes, but do buy the latest.  New finishes in dated styles–what agents euphemistically call “tastefully remodeled”–don’t cut it.  Bling is in.

Key your finishes to the neighborhood.  Cheap stuff in a top-end neighborhood is just as much a waste of money as top-end finishes in an affordable neighborhood.

Even if you’re remodeling for yourself, and not necessarily for resale, look at everything you do through the judging eyes of a potential buyer.

Don’t install fire-engine red countertops in your kitchen and expect them to do anything more for buyers than remind them of a ’70s pizza parlor.

Don’t bust your bank account swathing the interior of your home with expensive imported English wallpaper–“you can’t get this stuff here” (and there’s a reason)–that only your grandmother–or maybe your grandmother’s grandmother–could love.

Yes, friends, I’ve seen it all, and lived to tell about it.

copyright © John Fyten 2018









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