Luxury real estate market trends, developments and marketing.

To Remodel or Not to Remodel

Despite a slow market and a slight decrease in the resale value of most remodeling projects, Realtors report that the smartest home improvement investments may also be some of the least expensive. Results from the 2009 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report show that small-scale exterior projects are the most profitable at resale, according to estimates by Realtors who completed a recent survey, by RIS Media.

On a national level, eight out of the top 10 projects in terms of costs recouped were exterior replacement projects that cost less than $14,000. Certain types of door and siding replacements, as well as wood deck additions all returned more than 80% of project costs upon resale. A steel entry door replacement–a new addition to this year’s list–recouped 128.9% of costs, followed by upscale fiber-cement sliding replacements at 83.6%.

“Once again, this year’s Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report highlights the importance of a home’s first impression,” said NAR President Vicki Cox Golder, owner of Vicki L. Cox & Associates in Tucson, Ariz. “With exterior projects returning a high percent of project costs upon resale, Realtors can help give your home curb appeal while adding value to the real estate transaction.”

The 2009 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report compares construction costs with resale values for 33 midrange and upscale remodeling projects comprising additions, remodels and replacements in 80 markets across the country. Data are grouped in nine U.S. regions, following the divisions established by the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the 12th consecutive year that the report, which is produced by Hanley Wood, LLC, was completed in cooperation with Realtor Magazine, as Realtors provided their insight into local markets and buyer home preferences within those markets.

On a national level, the project with the biggest improvement from 2008 was the attic bedroom addition, recouping 83.1% of remodeling costs compared to 73.8% in 2008. These types of additions are considered less expenses additions to overall square footage. The only other interior project that landed in the top 10 was a minor kitchen remodel with 78.3% costs recouped.

Other exterior projects in the top 10 include midrange vinyl and upscale foam-backed vinyl sliding replacements, which returned more than 79% of costs. In addition, several types of window replacements–midrange wood, midrange vinyl, and upscale vinyl–all returned more than 76% of costs upon sale.

Similar to last year’s report, the least profitable remodeling projects in terms of resale value were home office remodels and sunroom additions, returning only 48.1% and 50.7% of project costs.

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