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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’