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6 house upgrades to do now for a better listing price later

Whether you want to flip your house in a few months or you just want to use your remodel money wisely, the most beneficial home upgrades are not a matter of chance.

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And they "aren't particularly sexy," according to Bank Rate's Holden Lewis. 

Except for a minor kitchen remodel, according to Remodeling magazine's 2018 Cost vs. Value Report, you'll gain the highest returns from getting work done on the exterior of the house (hello, garage door!), not interior renovations of the sort that you can enjoy yourself (goodbye, dream rec room).

Developing the discipline to put your budget into the remodeling projects that deliver the highest return, instead of, say, your dream outdoor kitchen or super-size MIL quarters, will pay off when you sell, Remodeling said.

The magazine compared the average cost of 21 popular remodeling projects completed by pros in 149 metropolitan areas. Then it surveyed real estate pros in 100 markets to find out how much each project would increase a home's resale value a year after each project was completed. (Note that none of the projects actually added value to the final sales price of a home. Instead, they were the projects that paid back the highest amount of the initial investment, either in actual dollars or percentages).

The projects that yielded the most bang for the buck from Remodeling's findings included these top six, based on national average:

1. Garage door replacement

Job cost: $3,470

Value added: $3,411

Cost recouped: 98.3 percent

2. Manufactured stone veneer

Job cost: $8,221

Value added: $7,986

Cost recouped: 97.1 percent

3. Wood deck addition

Job cost: $10,950

Value added: $9,065

Cost recouped: 82.8 percent

4. Minor kitchen remodel

Job cost: $21,198

Value added: $17,193

Cost recouped: 81.1 percent

5. Siding replacement

Job cost: $15,072

Value added: $11,554

Cost recouped: 76.7 percent

6. Window replacement, vinyl

Job cost: $15,955

Value added: $11,855

Cost recouped: 74.3 percent

The most sensible indoor remodel project after the minor kitchen remodel was a Universal Design bathroom, which Remodeling concluded would cost about $16,393 and add about $11,581 in value, for 70.6 percent.

For 2018 and on into future years, Remodeling expected a continued gain in costs for remodeling projects, like the 3- to 5-percent increase in costs experienced in 2017. "Fall hurricanes and fires began fueling what one building products distributor calls 'a freight train of extraordinary demand' — demand certain to keep elevating the prices for many building materials," noted the publication. "Expect, as well, an even greater shortage of skilled workers in disaster-struck markets as those workers struggle to fix up their own homes and employers feel pressure to respond with pay hikes."

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