The results of Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value home-improvement report are in, and they provide encouragement for homeowners looking to make their homes more attractive to buyers.
The 2014 version of the annual report says homeowners in the Middle Atlantic Area — including New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania — are recouping much of their investment when they complete one of several projects. In addition, the magazine found most projects are seeing more of their cost recouped compared to last year.
Local remodeling industry professionals agree that a remodel can help get a home sold, but opinions are mixed on whether a remodel represents a wise investment.
Alex Lam, partner at L & Z Kitchen and Bath in Egg Harbor Township, said the still-slow real estate market has meant a brisk business. He said he was recently told by a family for whom he’d done a kitchen remodel that the job helped them sell a home that had been on the market for awhile.
“(They) put in $20,000, and people just walked in and they took the house,” Lam said. “(Before the remodel) they wanted to sell the house for $220,000 and everybody just walked in and walked out, and nobody said anything, but after they did the repair and upgrade, they just sold the house real quick.”
Among midrange renovations, the replacement of an entryway with a steel door was the top individual project for recouping costs. According to the report, homeowners in the region are recouping 93 percent of the cost of that project at resale. However, this trails the national average of 96.6 percent recouped for the entryway upgrade.
Garage door replacement — costing an average $2,842 — was the top upscale renovation, with homeowners recouping 78 percent of their project costs. Again, that number trails the national average by about 5 percentage points.
Midrange garage door replacements (averaging $1,567) were second in that segment, with homeowners getting 84 percent of their investment back, in line with the national average of 83.7 percent.
Lam said a kitchen remodel is among the best renovations for getting a home off the market, but according to the magazine report, MidAtlantic homeowners get back relatively little of that project’s average cost, with a recoupment of 64 percent for midrange projects averaging $56,254 and 55 percent for upscale projects averaging $111,758. Both recoupment figures trail their respective national averages by several percentage points.
Dario Block, of Northfield-based Dario Block Home Improvement, said while he agrees remodels can help move houses off the market, he believes in most cases homeowners won’t recoup enough of the cost to make them worthwhile.
“It’s only a wise investment when and if you can buy property for cheap and you are able, you as a buyer, are able to do most of the work,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re going to get the value.”
Block said the cheapest way to improve a home’s value is repainting. He also said relatively cheap projects to troubled areas — such as new laminate flooring for a single room in poor shape — can generate a good return on a case-by-case basis.
While the magazine found all 35 projects it studied saw more dollars recouped in resale nationally compared with last year, seven projects declined in dollars recouped in the Middle Atlantic region. The midrange projects that declined were additions of a master suite, sunroom or second story, and vinyl siding replacement. The upscale projects were vinyl siding replacement, master suite addition and wood window replacement.
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