Home Upgrades That Pay Off

These 10 around-the-house improvements are well worth the investment.

By Allegra Muzzillo
Yellow front doorAimee Herring
No sugar coating here: The housing market is in trouble. But some experts say that it will start turning around as early as 2010. So while you’re waiting for it to recover, you might want to reconsider putting off that kitchen redo or landscaping job. “Any changes you make on your house now should increase your home value later,” says Kermit Baker, project director for the Remodeling Futures program at Harvard University. But which projects will yield the most bang for your buck? Take a look at this list, starting with the upgrades most likely to recoup your investment, and then enjoy that gleaming new kitchen.

1. Painting

Why it pays off: Paint provides dramatic results with little investment. If you decide to hire a professional to do the work, expect to pay $3,600 to $6,000 for the interior of an average American house (about 2,400 square feet). An exterior paint job will run $5,000 or more. Can’t decide on a color? Gerri Willis, the anchor of Open House on CNN and the author of Home Rich (Random House, $25, amazon.com), says that pale yellow homes tend to sell faster and for more money. Barbara Richardson, the director of color marketing for Glidden and a noted color-trend forecaster, explains, “Yellow is optimistic and inspirational. It gives people joy and the sense that brighter times are ahead.”

2. Adding Siding

Why it pays off: According to the 2007 Cost vs. Value Report, a study conducted by Remodeling magazine, fiber-cement siding (which is made of sand, cement, and cellulose fibers and costs an average of $13,200) is estimated to recoup about 88 percent (or $11,635) of a home owner’s initial investment. While vinyl can crack, split, and warp and aluminum tends to dent and fade, easy-care fiber cement holds up well against the elements and is resistant to fire, rotting, and termites.

 
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