Some home improvements have better resale value than others, just like some cars have better resale value than others. Here are some of the best home improvements:
People spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so upgrades in that area are both visible and valuable. It's not just aesthetics. A kitchen has many working parts, like a refrigerator with a water and ice dispenser, a built-in microwave and a double oven. But it doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing deal. If your counter top is scratched and stained, but the cabinets are still in good shape, just replace the counter top, and maybe add new cabinet hardware. And new appliances by themselves add both utility and sparkle to your kitchen. Rule of thumb: Expect to recoup about three quarters of the cost of a kitchen remodel when you resell your house.
People like big, expansive bathrooms, so any fix-up that adds space – a vaulted ceiling, a skylight or stealing space out of an adjacent closet – is likely to pay off. Big, bright mirrors, modern lighting and extra cabinets are also desirable features. But don't get carried away on plumbing fixtures and expensive tile. You can spend a lot of money on fancy faucets and special shower heads, and that money will go right down the drain.
Outside the House
Landscaping is the first thing any visitor, or potential buyer, sees at your house, and this type of first impression matters. You don't have to hire an expensive landscape architect. Just spruce up the lawn, clip back the bushes and add a few strategically placed shrubs. Decks, patios and screened-in porches are all highly desirable add-ons that are not that expensive in the overall scheme of things. Rule of thumb: You recoup almost 100% of the first thousand dollars you spend on landscaping, but close to zero on anything after that.
Roofs and Windows
No one will want to buy your house if the roof leaks or if plants are sprouting from your gutters. New windows can be expensive, but they bring in natural light to your home and often save money on heating and air conditioning bills. Rule of thumb: Look to recoup 30 to 40% of the cost in utility bills, and 60 to 70% at resale.
Don't underestimate the value of a simple paint job. It's relatively inexpensive, especially if you do it yourself. Ditto with cleaning and de-cluttering, as well as a few new lighting fixtures.
All of these improvements return at least as much money as you put into them.