It’s a question real estate agents often are asked by clients, friends and family members: What types of remodeling and home improvements are worth doing? For those who don’t plan to sell their homes anytime soon, the answer is to do the projects that will increase your enjoyment of your home or yard, with return on investment being something of a secondary concern (though try not to go overboard compared to similar homes in your neighborhood lest you transform it into the most expensive house on the block.)
If a home sale is in your near future, however, you may want to consider data from two new surveys to decide what projects to tackle. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2013 Profile of Buyers’ Home Feature Preferences, central air conditioning was the most important feature to the most buyers (65%), followed by a walk-in closet in the main bedroom (39%). Nearly 80% of the 2,000+ households that participated in the survey bought homes with garages. In the Northeast, hardwood floors were one of the top features sought by buyers.
For another perspective on this topic, Remodeling magazine offers its Cost vs. Value Report 2013 and even breaks down data by region. The study compares the average cost for 35 popular remodeling projects with the value those projects are likely add at resale. Here are some of its top findings for the Mid-Atlantic region, which includes Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.
Doors – both a new front door and new garage doors – had the highest return on investment for home sellers. Note that the type of replacement front door mentioned in the survey was steel, not exactly a good fit for the many historical homes in the greater Philadelphia area. Selected other projects that provided a more than 50% return were a wood deck addition, a minor kitchen remodel ($20,000 is the average cost of a minor remodel) and converting an attic into a bedroom. See the complete chart here comparing average costs, how much in value the project might add to a home’s sale price, and how much of the cost is recouped by the seller. For those who want this information on the go, the folks at Remodeling magazine have a handy cost vs. value phone app so you can mull over the data wherever you are.