Across most of the US, there has never been a better time to sell a house. The average sales price of existing single-family homes rose 22.9% to $357,900, according to a quarterly report released Aug. 12 by the National Association of Realtors. With the exception of Springfield, Illinois, home prices rose in all 183 US metro areas.
Regardless of the, there are always things you can do to optimize the (and enhance its aesthetic and comfort while you’re at it). Many home renovation projects can increase the value of your property and yield a high return on investment — or the ratio of the money invested compared to the cash you recoup in home value.
Renovations with the highest average ROI
In May, Zonda Media released its 34th annual Cost vs. Value report in partnership with Remodeling Magazine. The interactive report compiled a list of home renovation projects with the greatest ROI. Here are the top 10.
Garage door replacement (94%)
- Average job cost: $3,907
- Average home value increase: $3,663
The average garage door lasts between 15 and 30 years, which means that it’s probably time to trade up if you live in an older home. The good news is that whatever you spend, you’ll likely add to your house’s value thanks to the functionality and aesthetic of replacement doors. If you want the most up-to-date look, consider gray tones or natural wood for the finish.
Manufactured stone veneer (92%)
- Average job cost: $10,386
- Average home value increase: $9,571
Stone veneer is a lightweight, artificial product that looks like natural stone. Modern home designs tend to incorporate stone veneer on the bottom third of a home’s front facade. According to a 2021 survey conducted by Pro Builder and the New Home Trends Institute, buyers preferred contemporary (79%), farmhouse (58%) and craftsman (53%) home styles — all of which typically incorporate stone veneer into their designs. No matter your home’s age, there’s a good chance that this curb appeal element will pay off.
Minor kitchen remodel (72%)
- Average job cost: $26,214
- Average home value increase: $18,927
Families spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and it’s no surprise that function and form are essential to the average buyer. That noted, a deep rehab can quickly become unaffordable and impractical. But a smaller and targeted project can usually provide a high ROI. Start with replacing old appliances with high-efficiency models. The average buyer said they would pay an additional $8,728 on a home purchase to save $1,000 a year in utility costs, according to a 2019 National Association of Home Builders survey. Bonus: New cabinet hardware and a fresh coat of paint can brighten worn-out surfaces for a modest price.
Fiber cement siding replacement (69%)
- Average job cost: $19,626
- Average home value increase: $13,618
Fiber cement siding is a low-maintenance material that mimics the look of natural wood, but its synthetic makeup resists warping over time. According to Home Bunch, an interior design collective, the most sought-after siding designs include vertical board and batten and shingles — two styles that benefit from fiber cement’s look and durability.
Vinyl window replacement (69%)
- Average job cost: $19,385
- Average home value increase: $13,297
Vinyl windows are affordable and require little maintenance, making them a popular choice for renovation upgrades. Although they aren’t as energy-efficient as wood windows in cold weather, vinyl windows continue to be the most popular choice for homeowners.
Vinyl siding replacement (68%)
- Average job cost: $16,576
- Average home value increase: $11,315
Vinyl siding offers a few significant benefits: it’s low maintenance and stands up to extreme weather. Even better, it can be painted and can last up to 40 years. If you plan to paint before selling, consider Better Homes and Gardens’ exterior color picks to make your property listing stand out.
Wood window replacement (67%)
- Average job cost: $23,219
- Average home value increase: $15,644
Wood windows are less common than they used to be, but they still have a place in the remodeling market. Older homes with classic charm may benefit from the traditional wood look, especially if you haven’t made drastic changes elsewhere. However, keep in mind that wood windows are typically more expensive than vinyl and may require painting or sealing to prevent rotting.
Wood deck addition (66%)
- Average job cost: $16,766
- Average home value increase: $11,038
As COVID-19 narrowed the opportunities for leisure outside of the house in 2020, people built decks. Deck additions increased by 14% in 2020, according to a Houzz study. Adding a wood deck is an attractive feature for interested buyers, and it’s likely the cheapest material option with the highest ROI for you as the seller.
Steel entry door (65%)
- Average job cost: $2,082
- Average home value increase: $1,353
First impressions are essential, and your front door is the first thing a prospective buyer sees. Steel entry doors offer security and durability, and designers manufacture them in almost every style. Check out HomeAdvisor’s list of popular door colors to make the most of your efforts.
Composite deck addition (63%)
- Average job cost: $22,426
- Average home value increase: $14,169
Composite decking is more expensive than wood for one crucial reason: durability. Unlike wood that requires maintenance and sealing, composite material is weather-resistant and more stainproof. That said, a buyer may not care about the material of a newly installed deck as much as other home upgrades, so it’s worth considering whether a wood deck is a more cost-effective option.
How to increase your ROI
Here’s the best part about home renovation: Everything is negotiable. Whether it’s material cost or labor, there’s usually a way to save money on every project. Keep these strategies in mind as you move forward.
Shop for deals
Most building materials are manufactured in China and sold in the US through third-party vendors — from big-box chains like Home Depot to local mom-and-pop hardware stores. These vendors get a discounted price from the manufacturer and what they charge customers ultimately determines their profits. Here’s your opportunity to save: After deciding which product you want, copy down the SKU number and do an internet search to compare competitor prices. If your favorite retailer isn’t the cheapest, consider calling them to ask if they’ll price match.
Build relationships with subcontractors
When I hired a building company for a big project in 2014, I formed a friendship with Brian, a subcontract carpenter, to complete finishing work. After completing the job, Brian offered to take on additional projects at a 50% discount in his spare time. Networking can save you thousands throughout a remodel. If you don’t know any tradesmen, ask for firsthand recommendations through Facebook community groups or your local Chamber of Commerce.
Do it yourself
Labor is often the most expensive part of home renovation, and going the DIY route can help you cut costs and secure a bigger profit when you sell. Years ago, a general contractor quoted $60,000 to remodel my kitchen. I wasn’t confident that a renovation was worth such a steep investment, so I took a free cabinet painting class at Home Depot and watched videos detailing how to tile a backsplash. Even after hiring Brian to complete some minor carpentry work, the DIY remodel came in at just under $9,500. Weigh your willingness to tackle projects against the money you’ll save. You may surprise yourself.