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What are the Top Home Renovations That Pay Off?

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Money Public Domain: Petr Kratochvil
Question: What are the Top Home Renovations That Pay Off?
A reader asks: "We plan on selling our house in about six months and want to do some renovations to make it more attractive to buyers. What are the top home renovations that pay off when you sell your house?"
Answer: This is a great question because too many homeowners are short-sighted about their renovations, without thinking about long-time ramifications like: What happens when we sell? It's good to strike a balance between things that you personally want to do with your house...and things that potential buyers might find attractive.

Top 7 Home Renovations That Pay Off

To sum it up: everything is backwards this year. Estimates come from Remodeling Online's annual Cost vs. Value Report, and this year categories that usually are at the bottom of the scale (wood decks, in particular) are higher up on the list.

7. Wood Window Replacement - Midrange
Replacing windows is always a good idea, but replacing with wood gives your house greater aesthetics to attract potential buyers. Wood windows have warmth and a timeless quality.

6. Vinyl Window Replacement - High Range
High class vinyl windows? That may seem like an oxymoron, but vinyl replacement windows are no longer just the staple of late-night infomercials and junk mail circulars. As the old saying goes, "vinyl is final."

5. Minor Kitchen Remodel - Midrange
It hardly ever pays to do a huge, major gut-out-and-redo-with-granite type of kitchen remodel. Kitchen remodels, as you might guess, can get really expensive, really fast. So, keeping your kitchen remodel costs reasonable will pay off better when it comes time to sell.

4. Foam-Backed Vinyl Siding - High Range
Believe it or not, just like vinyl replacement windows, vinyl siding too is going upscale. Colors are richer and textures more convincing. Foam-backed vinyl siding gives you an extra "R" insulation value point or two--not much, but every bit helps.

3. Vinyl Siding - Midrange
Midrange cost vinyl siding pays off fairly well, too. Because siding quality is trickling down to all levels of siding, you can expect decent value with the mid-level vinyl siding, as well.

2. Wood Deck - Midrange
Wood decking returning value at sale? Personally, this one surprised me, but I'm just reporting the numbers, folks. According to the Cost vs. Value Report 2008, wood decking returns nearly 82% of its cost at sale.

1. Fiber-Cement Siding - Upper Range
Now, fiber-cement siding is something I believe in. Fiber-cement (Hardiplank is one brand name) will put back nearly 87% of its initial cost in your pocket at sale time. Not only that, but the stuff looks fantastic while you still own the house!

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