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Hard news on remodeling ROI

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ February 10, 2011

The good news last year was that several home remodeling projects still delivered solid returns in home valuation for the investment. It's less so right now, according to Remodeling Magazine in its annual Cost vs Value Report. For 2010-2011, the magazine shows a downward trend on increased valuation when you hold last year's improvements against the realities of a depressed economy.

Last year, I wrote in this blog about Remodeling Magazine's statistics for 2009-2010, which showed positive home remodeling trends that delivered a decent ROI for home attic bedroom conversions, basement remodeling and roofing replacements. However, this year's Cost vs Value Report reveals that an attic bedroom that brought a 83 percent ROI in 2009 only drew a 72 percent return last year.

The same holds true for remodeling your basement, which enjoyed a positive upswing in ROI to 75.4 percent in 2009-2010, but now has dropped to a 2010-2011 return of 70 percent. The figures aren't necessarily show stoppers when it comes to undertaking home improvement projects, but reveal the staggering loss of home value for many people over the real estate plunge in the past two years.

What now for remodeling?

Every year, Remodeling Magazine compares the same 35 home improvement projects--based on midrange and upscale expenditures--and tags the projects that bring a higher trend than the previous year. However, for 2010-2011, only one project showed an increase, while the rest fell by varying percentage points. Where last year's winners included entry door replacement projects, this year's single ROI percentage increase went to garage door replacements.

Earlier this year, I wrote about finding a solid ROI for your money--before the latest numbers came out from Remodeling Magazine. And there are still some projects that bear attention, even as the overall percentage of return has dropped. Let's face it, as the market begins to improve, buyers will be able to cherry pick for features that appeal to them most.

For example, a steel entry door replacement last year brought an ROI of nearly 129 percent and this year still fetches 101 percent. A small bathroom renovation dropped from an ROI of 75 percent to 70 percent, still a decent improvement in value for your money when you consider the bitter realities of the economy and home valuations.

For upscale remodeling, a fiber-cement siding replacement home improvement can bring an 80 percent return for the $13,382 investment. Last year, it brought an 83 percent ROI. I'm not trying to put lipstick on a pig here; I just want to say that in the long sweep of things, it's better to look at home remodeling trends and do what you can afford to do under times that test us all.

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