Home improvements that increase the resale value of your home

For parents whose last little bird has finally flown to coop, the combination of available space at home and expanded cash flow offers potential for a new kind of nesting. While the home improvement possibilities are many, the current state of the housing market demands projects that'll deliver both immediate enjoyment and a strong return on investment down the line.

Before making a move toward the local home improvement center, wise empty-nesters should review Remodeling Online's Cost vs. Value Report, which delivers recent data on popular improvements and the return on investment you can count on when it comes time to sell. The size of the project, elements and costs are included among the categories, and can help you judge just how far to go with your plans.

For instance, a Major Kitchen Remodel may be tempting, especially when you see that 78.1 percent of the cost could be recouped at selling time, but the less-is-more route of a Minor Kitchen Remodel actually nets a higher return on investment at 83 percent.

According to the National Association of Realtors whose members participated in the survey, other projects that saw national cost recovery rates of more than 80% in the most recent survey included an upscale siding replacement using fiber cement materials (88.1%), a wood deck addition (85.4%), midrange vinyl siding replacement (83.2%), and upscale vinyl and midrange wood window replacements (81% and 81.2%, respectively).

Bottom line, whether a master suite, spa-like bath or home theater is in the works, keep both future needs and a future sale in mind. In other words, avoid anything that's too dramatic design-wise, too personalized to appeal to the general home-buying public, or reconfigurations that subtract precious living or storage space.

Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and co-author of My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. He delivers expert tips for buying or selling a homeeach week as host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program.

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