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Have you checked out HSH's new Home Value Tracker? See what's happening with home values in more than 400 metro areas!

Have you checked out HSH's new Home Value Tracker? See what's happening with home values in more than 400 metro areas!

Can't Move? Improve! Best Home Renovations in 2021

best-home-improvementsSometimes it makes to sense to stick with the home you have, even if your needs change. Your kids don't want to leave their school district. Or the costs of selling, moving and buying again make changing houses too expensive. But some home renovations can make you more comfortable today and provide a decent return on investment when you sell.

See today's mortgage rates for home improvements

When it's all about you

Some homeowners only care about how a home improvement will affect their quality of life now. The return on their renovation investment doesn't matter to them.

If that describes you, your only concern about your home improvement is affordability. And finding the right contractor to make it happen. That's fine, of course, but it would be nice get what you want or need today and also get at least some of your money back later on. For most homeowners, the return on investment is a factor in their home renovation choices.

Build this, not that

Which home improvements add most value when you sell? This depends on your region and even your neighborhood. But here are the general principles to keep in mind when evaluating the best home improvements.

  • Curb appeal is king. Exterior improvements that don't cost an arm and a leg return a high portion of your investment back to you. That means new paint or siding, new exterior doors and cleaning up the yard pay off handsomely. However, over-the-top landscaping and in-ground pools usually do not.
  • Bedrooms sell houses. That's why real estate agents list the number of bedrooms first when they advertise properties. Everyone expects homes with more bedrooms to cost more. One of the best remodeling projects you can undertake is turning attic space into a bedroom. Converting empty space into "living space" instantly creates a lot more value per square foot.
  • Some of the best return on investment comes from modest projects. It's always easier to recoup the cost of refaced kitchen cabinets, new flooring and paint than it is for a high-end kitchen gut job.
  • It's smart to correct obvious deficiencies. Buyers notice outdated kitchens and worn flooring. Freshening up your space without going overboard makes your property more marketable.
  • Be careful with energy-related improvements. While Energy Star appliances, efficient windows and siding costs can largely be recouped, more unusual upgrades like geothermal heating systems may be risky. It depends on what's normal in your area and the degree of acceptance that system enjoys.

Related: Most Homeowners Need Loans to Pay for Home Improvements, Says Study

Top home improvements by region

Which renovation projects offer the highest return on investment depends on where you live. Here's a rundown of the best home improvements for adding value, according to Remodeling Magazine's 2021 Cost vs Value Report, which compares costs versus returns at the time of sale for 22 remodeling and home improvement projects.

New England

  • Garage door replacement, cost recouped: 95.3%
  • Manufactured stone veneer, cost recouped: 90.6%
  • Siding replacement, fiber-cement, cost recouped: 71.2%

Mid Atlantic

  • Garage door replacement, cost recouped: 93.0%
  • Manufactured stone veneer, cost recouped: 91.9%
  • Minor kitchen remodel - midrange, cost recouped: 75.6%

South Atlantic

  • Manufactured stone veneer, cost recouped: 93.0%
  • Garage door replacement, cost recouped: 92.8%
  • Minor kitchen remodel - midrange, cost recouped: 69.8%

East South Central

  • Garage door replacement, cost recouped: 93.4%
  • Manufactured stone veneer, cost recouped: 90.3%
  • Minor kitchen remodel - midrange, cost recouped: 71.4%

West South Central

  • Garage door replacement, cost recouped: 93.2%
  • Manufactured stone veneer, cost recouped: 91.1%
  • Minor kitchen remodel - midrange, cost recouped: 69.6%

East North Central

  • Garage door replacement, cost recouped: 94.4%
  • Manufactured stone veneer, cost recouped: 91.0%
  • Siding replacement - vinyl, cost recouped: 70.0%

West North Central

  • Manufactured stone veneer, cost recouped: 94.1%
  • Garage door replacement, cost recouped: 91.9%
  • Minor kitchen remodel - midrange, cost recouped: 69.4%

Mountain

  • Garage door replacement, cost recouped: 93.7%
  • Manufactured stone veneer, cost recouped: 92.1%
  • Siding replacement - vinyl, cost recouped: 73.5%

Pacific

  • Garage door replacement, cost recouped: 95.2%
  • Manufactured stone veneer, cost recouped: 93.5%
  • Minor kitchen remodel - midrange, cost recouped: 78.8%

You might be surprised to learn that some common improvement projects don't add as much future value you might think. Adding a bathroom to your home, for example, might only return about 50% of your cost to you when its time to sell.

Home improvements can add to the "basis value" of your home. "Basis" is the value of your home used for the purposes of calculating future capital gains taxes. Essentially, when you sell your home, your gain (profit) or loss for tax purposes is determined by subtracting its basis (original calculated value when you bought it) plus the cost of any improvements from the sales price (plus sales expenses, such as real estate commissions). Because of this, it's important to keep good, accurate records when you are doing home remodeling projects.

Related: How Does Owning a Home Affect Taxes Now?

If return on investment is your prime consideration, find your region in Remodeling Magazine's report. That breaks down the most and least popular improvements by region, state and even city. And it can help you decide which home renovations add most value.

See today's mortgage rates

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