Florida Realtors®: Which Home Improvements Offer the Best Return?

Florida Realtors®: Which Home Improvements Offer the Best Return?

ORLANDO, Fla. – Before tackling a home improvement project, Florida Realtors® recommends that a homeowner do a little research first. For example, if a home improvement project costs $1,000, how much money will the homeowner get back if he sells the home – what is the return on investment (ROI)? For 2019, a garage door replacement offers the best return, at 97.5% of costs recouped at resale, according to Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report.

The 2019 report surveyed more than 3,200 real estate professionals about returns for 22 projects in 136 U.S. markets, an increase from 100 markets last year. It compares the cost of popular remodeling projects to how much the investment will improve a home’s resale value.

For all projects, the overall cost-to-value ratio is 66.1 percent, which is slightly ahead of last year but well below the decade-high of 71.2 percent in 2014.

As in prior years, there are significant variations in different regions. The average payback nationwide for the 22 projects in the 2019 Cost vs. Value report ranges from a high of 123.8 percent for a garage door replacement in the Pacific region, to a low of 45.0 percent for an upscale master suite addition in the mid-Atlantic region.

Due in part to sharp increases in material costs, the percentage of costs recouped at sale time is trending downward for all the replacement projects. Material costs tend to comprise a greater proportion of replacement projects compared with larger indoor remodels, however, which have a higher percentage of labor costs.

2019 top 10 projects by percentage of cost recouped

  1. Garage door replacement (97.5%)
  2. Manufactured stone veneer (94.9%)
  3. Mid-range minor kitchen remodel (80.5%)
  4. Wood deck addition (75.6%)
  5. Siding replacement (75.6%)
  6. Steel entry door replacement (74.9%)
  7. Vinyl window replacement (73.4%)
  8. Fiberglass grand entrance (71.9%)
  9. Wood window replacement (70.8%)
  10. Composite deck addition (69.1%)


Highlights from 2019 report

  1. Rising materials costs impact rates of return
    While the overall changes are modest, the latest Cost vs. Value report reflects the robust market the remodeling industry has enjoyed over the past year. But costs have correspondingly increased, and in some cases, significantly so. These increases are likely due to the tariffs that have roiled commodity markets, which have led to a slight downturn in the percentage of costs recouped for some projects; but overall, returns are up slightly compared to last year.
  2. Curb appeal projects continue to provide the highest returns
    Nine out of the top 10 high-return projects are exterior replacement – or high curb appeal – projects. The three exterior projects with the highest recoup on investment are garage door replacement (97.5%), manufactured stone veneer installation (94.9%), and a wood deck addition (75.6%). Siding replacement and window projects also provided high returns, with the highest recouping interior project being a minor kitchen remodel (80.5%).
  3. New for 2019
    Two new projects were added to the 2019 Cost vs. Value Report. The first is a roofing replacement job that adds standing-seam metal roofing. Compared with asphalt shingles, metal roofing costs significantly more but brings with it much greater durability. The second project is a revamp of the universal design bathroom, which was first introduced to Cost vs. Value in 2017. While the overall dimensions and features of the current project are comparable, the finishes and mechanicals – including tiled walls and shower, humidity-controlled ventilation and radiant-heat floors – are more consistent with an upscale project than the previous specs allowed.
  4. Think like a broker
    The reason for high returns on exterior projects, and especially façade facelifts, stems from the valuations set by the real estate community. “Curb appeal” and “first impressions” are central to a real estate professional’s estimation of resale value. Granted, a home’s exterior will only persuade potential buyers to see more, and first impressions can vary from one individual to the next. But the impact these impressions make is critical in setting the stage for what a buyer is willing to pay for a home.


Florida Realtors® serves as the voice for real estate in Florida. It provides programs, services, continuing education, research and legislative representation to its 187,000 members in 52 boards/associations. Florida Realtors® Media Center website is available at http://media.floridarealtors.org.

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