Three Home Upgrades Worth Your Money

What upgrades that are worth your money, and what upgrades that you should avoid.

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A blue and gray concrete house with an attic during twilight
Image by Binyamin Mellish. Source: Pexels.

If you don’t care about blowing tens of thousands of dollars on upgrades that add little to nothing to your home’s value, you might as well stop reading and Google what’s currently going on with Kim Kardashian and clan. But if you do care— and you should if you ever plan to sell — then Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs Value Report for 2016 is a must-read.

Still interested? Of course your are.

Let’s begin by acknowledging the report’s biggest takeaway: All the academics and real estate pros are right to “tout the value of projects that promote curb appeal.” Read on to see why, and where else you money is or isn’t well spent.

WORTH IT: A new front door:

You’re looking at ROIs (return on investments) of 91.1 percent for a steel one, and 82.3 percent for a more upscale (and expensive) fiberglass one. Of course, a fresh coat of paint on your existing door can help spiff things up too.

NOT WORTH IT: Upscale bathroom remodeling:

You may think everyone shares your vision of a huge bathroom with a whirlpool tub, heated towel bars, and stone countertops. Not so, warns Patsy O’Neill, a sales associate with Sotheby’s in Montclair, New Jersey: “You could spend $60,000 or so on it, and it still might not suit a buyer’s taste.” Which helps explain why it had one of the worst ROIs.

WORTH IT: Fiberglass attic insulation:

A huge win for green enthusiasts. The magazine finally agreed to add an energy-efficiency project, and it topped the list by recouping 116.9 percent of its cost.

NOT WORTH IT: Composite deck addition:

Sadly, this is another also-ran, and not worth the money. But be aware that sometimes even the seemingly coolest upgrades may simply be out of whack for a particular neighborhood. “You can turn your house into a palace, but the payoff will be small if it’s the only mansion on the block,” Craig Webb, Remodeling’s editor-in-chief, tells Time.com.

WORTH IT: A new roof:

“Buyers pay a premium for one already in place,” according to credit.com. A perennial Remodeling Magazine A-lister, it’s the ultimate curb appeal enhancer when you consider that your roof is the first thing potential buyers notice even before getting out of their cars.

And if your roof likes something out of “Twister”? “It’s a huge turn-off,” says O’Neill, “and makes buyers predisposed to find even more things they don’t like.” If your roof needs replacing, check out the Value Collection Lifetime Designer Shingles from GAF (gaf.com), North America’s largest roofing manufacturer, which have the look of luxury shingles at an affordable price. And remember: Don’t be afraid to use a new roof as the “negotiating tool” with buyers that Credit.com says it is.

NOT WORTH IT: An upscale master suite:

Those same “taste” issues aside, returns of only about half your investment make this yet another expensive swing-and-a-miss.