Boston’s suburbanites are using home remodeling and improvement projects to get ahead in a competitive real estate market. But are the average homeowner’s upgrades actually worth the return on investment?
Middlesex County ranks sixth in the entire country for loan renovation applications, according to Bankrate.com and federal statistics, especially in the western and northern suburbs.
Additionally, experts from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies report that the Boston area’s spending on home improvements could rise by as much as 4% over the next few months.
Abbe Will, a research analyst in the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center, explained the link between home improvement costs and a soaring housing market. “Rising home prices means rising home equity, which should encourage improvement spending by a growing number of owners,” Will said in a press release.
But which home improvement projects will yield the best returns for sellers?
Remodeling magazine put out its annual list of the most popular renovation projects by return and region.
For Boston-area homeowners, the surprising winners were attic remodels and the addition of a new deck or new doors to the home.
Decks are probably a good return because they can create some unique hardscapes to add curb appeal. An earlier report from Money magazine also found that landscaping can bring a return on investment of 100 to 200% when homeowners go to sell.
According to the Huffington Post landscaping and exterior updates can give sellers the most “bang for the buck in a resale.” Decks, especially, are an ideal improvement for “lifestyle enhancement” when homeowners go to sell, and Remodeling says that they can recoup about 99% of the cost, which averages out to about $12,608.
One area, however, that doesn’t add greater value to the outside of a home is a swimming pool, says HuffPo.
Other desirable changes, according to Boston.com and the Remodeling study, include a new steel entry door, new windows, and even adding a second story to a ranch home. All of these can earn at least a 76% ROI, with new steel entry doors earning a resale value of almost 120%.
Remodeling a home office or building a sunroom only yield homeowners returns worth 62% and 54%, respectively.