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Focus on Curb Appeal for the Highest Return on Investment

The Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report for 2015 analyzed home improvement projects to see which would give homeowners the biggest return on their investments when it came time to sell. The top five investments that put the most cash into sellers' pockets were all visible from the curb.

Upgrade Your Front Door
Replacing an old front door with a new steel one was the most affordable renovation on the list, with an average cost of $1,230. But for the third year in a row, this simple upgrade brought buyers the greatest returns on their investments; the resale value of a steel door upgrade averaged $1,252, a return of 101.8 percent. An upgraded front door makes a home seem well-cared for, a good first impression that will stay with a buyer throughout the rest of their viewing.

Garage Door Replacements
Thanks to their large size, garage doors are the focal points of many homes. Replacing a dated, non-functioning door with a new, more decorative one will attract buyers. But sellers would be wise to stick to their budgets. A mid-range garage door replacement with an average cost of $1,595 recouped sellers 88.5 percent of their investment. A more upscale garage door, averaging $2,944 to install, only had an 82.5 percent return on investment. While both upgrades made it on the shortlist of top five renovations, sellers who didn't over-improve for their area likely saw the biggest gains.

New Trends in Siding
Fiber cement siding has been popular for years, and 2015 was no exception. Replace your old siding with fiber cement and you'll recoup 84.3 percent of its cost. But when it comes to cladding your home, siding is no longer the biggest earner. Manufactured stone veneer, with an average cost of $7,150, is cheaper to install than fiber cement, a job which costs on average $13,378. Yet stone veneer recoups 92.2 percent of its initial cost at resale time. Stone veneer is well-suited to both modern and traditional home facades, making it a trend with staying power.

Indoor Improvements that Attract Buyers
While it failed to break into the list of top five investments, a minor kitchen remodel will still attract buyers. An economical renovation with an average cost of $19,226 will recover 79.3 percent of its initial cost. Other cost-conscious renovations include replacing older windows with new windows (wood)-recouping 78.8 percent-and adding an attic bedroom-recouping 77.2 percent.

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