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Top 5 Home Renovations for Your Money in 2017

Investopedia logo Investopedia 3/20/2017
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After a definite home equity has nearly recovered. Existing home sales are also on an uptrend. All of this is good news if you're a homeowner thinking of plunging some money into your home with an eye toward resale value down the road. (See also: Top 5 Must-Haves for Flipping Houses.)

But not all home renovation projects are equal. In fact, few of them even come close to recouping their costs when it's time to sell your home. The average home renovation returns just 65 percent at sales time – and that's if the sale occurs soon after the project is complete. 

For most people, home renovations answer a family need – perhaps a finished basement for the kids' playroom or an upgraded master bath. And these are worthwhile projects if you plan to remain in your home for more than a couple years.

On the other hand, if you're looking to add value right away, your dream renovation may not be a sleek new kitchen with granite counters and stainless steel appliances or a fabulous inground pool. Remodeling Magazine recently released its 2017 Cost vs. Value Report, and once again, projects that boost curb appeal fare far better than improvements inside the home, with very few exceptions.

Take a look at the top five home renovation projects for return on investment (ROI). Click ahead to see them.

Man installing insulation in attic © Gary Ombler/Getty Images Man installing insulation in attic

1. Install fiberglass insulation in the attic

Average cost: $1,200 to $2,000

Expected Recoup: 107%

There's nothing exciting about beefing up your attic insulation, but from a purely utility bills in the interim. 

Project popularity: 18 percent upgraded their home's exterior doors.

Cost details: The reported overall average spent on door upgrades was $2,000. © Gage/Getty Images Project popularity: 18 percent upgraded their home's exterior doors. Cost details: The reported overall average spent on door upgrades was $2,000.

2. Replace your front door

Average cost: $1,500 to $2,500

Expected Recoup: ~90%

An automatic win when it comes to curb appeal, a new front door will return about 90 percent of its value in sales price. The most popular replacements for 2017 are stately stone veneer models and sensible steel doors. A welcoming and attractive front entrance was a winning feature with potential buyers and real estate professionals alike. 

An adult male inspects residential vinyl siding. © SLRadcliffe/Getty Images An adult male inspects residential vinyl siding.

3. Install new vinyl siding

Average cost: $12,000

Expected Recoup: 80-84%

This is probably not the project you want to tackle just before you sell your home unless your existing siding is a real eyesore.

That's because it only returns about 80 to 84 percent at resale, although that is still excellent compared to that major kitchen remodel at just 65 percent. Just be sure to give some thought to your color selection – a nice taupe or beige with dark shutters, for example, disguises dirt and still looks elegant. 

A family washes their car in the driveway of their home on a sunny summer afternoon in Portland, Oregon, USA © Radius Images/Getty Images A family washes their car in the driveway of their home on a sunny summer afternoon in Portland, Oregon, USA

4. Upgrade your garage door

Average cost: $2,300 to $3,000

Expected Recoup: ~80%

Another curb appeal home improvement, upgrading your garage door to an attractive wood or carriage-style garage door delivers about 80 percent of its cost when you sell your home.

Garage doors with plenty of windows tend to do a little better than those without. Use one of the new remodeling preview apps to get an idea of what different doors will look like before you take the plunge. 

Beautiful New custom Entryway upscale home hardwood floors © Ann Marie Kurtz/Getty Images Beautiful New custom Entryway upscale home hardwood floors

5. Switch to hardwood floors

Average cost: $5,000 to $6,000

Expected Recoup: 78-91%

Depending on where you live and the style of your home, upgrading your carpet or laminate floors to hardwood flooring can return between 78 and 91 percent of the cost when you resell your home.

Keep in mind that engineered wood products don't fare nearly as well – so go for the real thing unless you're not planning to sell right away. Look for a universally appealing finish, and keep in mind that oak is a perennial favorite among homebuyers. 

The bottom line

So why aren't kitchen and bath remodels big winners when it comes to recouping your investment? These tend to be more labor-intensive projects, and simple is better when it comes to ROI. That doesn't mean you shouldn't tackle them if your heart is set on glass-fronted cabinets and an eye-catching tile backsplash – especially if you're staying put for two years or more.

But if your goal is improving your home, boosting resale value and seeing return on your renovation dollars, stick with these five home improvement projects for 2017. 

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