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3 Unsexy Upgrades that Really Increase Home Values

Major kitchen and bathroom upgrades look fantastic, but do they really add home value? 

Alison Martin
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Courtsey of Frankel Cuilding Group and Custom Builder Magazine
Courtsey of Frankel Cuilding Group and Custom Builder Magazine

When home values come into question, isn't it the age old adage that kitchens and baths sell the house?

Maybe so, but that's not the most effective update you can make according to the 2016 Cost vs. Value Report, which found that the remodeling projects that yield the best results don’t include granite countertops or rain showerheads.

What really increases a home’s value? Here are three unsexy upgrades that may seem unexciting, but pack a lot of punch.

1.    Attic Insulation (fiberglass)

By far the best investment with a cost recoup of 116.9 percent on investment, attic insulation provides homeowners with the best bang for their buck. The insulation keeps heating bills down and closes up any air leaks in the attic.
How it’s done: A professional remodeler will air seal the floor to look for any air leakage in conditioned and unconditioned spaces. The pro will then add fiberglass loosefill insulation and place it on top of any existing insulation until the thickness reached a R-30 insulation value.

2.    Garage Door Replacement

Curbside appeal means everything to prospective buyers, and garage doors pull double duty. A good door looks nice, fits the style of the house and provides security. Replacing the garage door shows a 91.5 cost recoup on the expense.
How it’s done: The old door is removed and disposed. A new door is installed on galvanized steel tracks and hooked up wo the existing motorized opener, if possible.

3.    Entry Door Replacement (steel)

Like garage doors, a front entry door looks nice and adds security to the home. If the front entry door is looking a little dated and flimsy, replacing it may be the best option. This improvement shows a 91.1 percent recoup on its cost.
How it’s done: Homeowners choose a 20-gauge steel door, which includes a clear duel-pane half-glass panel, jambs and an aluminum threshold with a composite stop. The lockset with also be replaced.


So what does this tell us? For homeowners who want to increase home values, big remodeling projects may not deliver the best return on investment. The Cost Vs. Value report shows us that the biggest gains in home values come from energy-efficient and security upgrades.

That’s not to say that kitchen, bath and bedroom renovations don’t matter. Fully upgraded kitchens, for example, often entice buyers, and they can be a tipping point if a buyer is between two homes. Instead of launching a full kitchen remodel, consider a minor remodel. The Cost vs. Value report says that a minor kitchen remodel ($20,122 and lower) has a cost recoup value of 83.1 percent.

Do you often get questions about home values from clients? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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