The Best Home Improvements That Pay Off

Our friends at Money crunched the numbers on the top ways to boost your home's value.

Home Improvement Value Illustration
Gracia Lam

1. Don't overdo kitchen and bath updates.

"The more you spend, the less the return on your investment," says Dan DiClerico, HomeAdvisor's home expert. Instead of gutting the entire kitchen, keep the layout, refinish the cabinets, replace appliances, and update decor (hang new curtains or add a fresh coat of paint) for a like-new kitchen at a lower price. Apply the same rules to your bath. Instead of replacing a tub, refinish it, and get the grout and tile cleaned by a pro.

2. Add insulation.

Professionally installed attic insulation recoups almost its entire price at home sale, according to Remodeling magazine's Cost vs. Value report. The EPA said this can also save you an average of 15% on your heating and cooling bills.

3. Install new windows.

The National Association of Realtors' (NAR) 2019 Remodeling Impact Report said that new vinyl windows will get you 71% of their initial cost back when your house sells.

4. Expand outdoor living.

The average wood deck costs $10,000 to build and returns $8,000 of that at sale, according to the NAR's Outdoor Features Remodeling Impact Report: 2018.

5. Give the door a face-lift.

A 2018 Zillow analysis found that houses with black front doors sold for $6,000 more than expected. The NAR's 2019 Remodeling Impact Report stated that homeowners who replace their front doors see an average 75% return when they sell.

Best Place to Buy Now

Clarksville, Tennessee

This city of about 150,000 offers a charming downtown, a state university, and a future Google campus. In 2018, the average home sale price was just $155,898, according to Attom Data Solutions.

Round Rock, Texas

Dell Technologies is headquartered in town, Austin is only 20 miles away, and the median household income is $82,229, with homes selling for a median $274,579 in 2018.

Bentonville, Arkansas

You might know Bentonville as the base for Walmart, but there's more to love about this city of 50,248. For starters, the median household income is about $85,000, and it has a realistic median home sale price: $222,313.

Bowling Green, Kentucky

Boat through the Lost River Cave or explore the walkable downtown in this affordable spot. The median home sold for $180,995 here in 2018.

Winter Garden, Florida

The Sunshine State's hidden gem has a historic downtown, warm weather, and homes that are within reach: $310,402 (median sale price).

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