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Still Many Happy Returns for Home Rehabs

Despite home price drops in many cities, remodeling projects are holding their own as a way for owners to add value.

Many people are wondering where their money will be safest during these uncertain economic times. Experts still advise investing in your home still pays off.

National Association of Realtors® (NAR) statistics show that home prices have fallen by an average of 7 percent nationally in the past year. But the value of home owners’ investment in remodeling projects has declined only 3.86 percent on average between 2007 and 2008, according to Remodeling’s 2008–2009 Cost vs. Value Report.

Remodeling produces the Cost vs. Value Report each year in cooperation with Realtor® magazine. Realtors responding to a survey in midsummer said home owners could expect to recoup a national average of 67.3 percent of their investment in 30 different home improvement projects. At the height of the housing boom in 2005, home owners could expect to recoup a national average of 86.7 percent on projects.

Remodeling remains hot in 10 cities, where, on at least some projects, home owners can recover 100 percent of their costs. In Charlotte, N.C., for example, decks, midrange kitchen remodels, vinyl siding, and window-replacement projects all would net more than they cost, in respondents’ estimation. High rates of recovery were seen in both strong real estate markets and weak ones.

Many cities with the highest rates of recovery were smaller—Jackson, Miss., and Billings, Mont., for example—which may point to lower labor and materials costs that are easier to recoup.

Seattle also made the list of cities with a cost recovery of more than 100 percent on decks and minor kitchen remodels. In fact, Pacific Coast cities recorded the best payback on remodeling by a wide margin, as they did in 2007. Although construction costs on the Pacific Coast are nearly 17 percent higher than national averages, the value of renovations at resale more than makes up for those higher prices.

The result is an average cost-recouped percentage that’s 14.8 percent higher than in the rest of the country. The toughest place to get your money back: Midwestern cities such as Chicago, Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee.

Top 10 Project Paybacks

Once again, exterior remodeling projects lead the way for recovery on dollars spent in this year’s Cost vs. Value survey. When you compare the national averages, replacement projects that boost curb appeal—siding, windows, and decks—give you the greatest chance of recouping your money. Inside, only kitchen remodels can compare, at least on a national level.

  • Upscale fiber cement siding (86.7%)
  • Midrange wood deck (81.8%)
  • Midrange vinyl siding (80.7%)
  • Upscale foam-backed vinyl (80.4%)
  • Midrange minor kitchen remodel (79.5%)
  • Upscale vinyl window replacement (79.2%)
  • Midrange wood window replacement (77.7%)
  • Midrange vinyl window replacement (77.2%)
  • Upscale wood window replacement (76.5%)
  • Midrange major kitchen remodel (76.0%)

Written by Realty Times Stafffor www.RealtyTimescom. Copyright © 2009 Realty Times All Rights Reserved.