A common question that anxious homesellers will ask me is   what home home remodeling project will pay off. The last thing a homeowner wants to do is invest money into their property which will not pay off in the end. So which home improvements really pay off--and which don’t?

Each year, Remodeling magazine and REALTOR magazine produce one of the real estate industry’s top tools: “The Cost vs. Value Report.” The 2008 edition  ranks home improvements around the nation. The clear winners overall for resale value v. job cost: exterior replacements like windows, siding and decks. Inside, midrange kitchen and bath remodels and attic-to-bedroom conversions led the pack. Buyers love kitchen, bathroom and bedroom upgrades!

To make the most of your remodel, Carl Vogel of This Old House magazine recommends the following:

* Invest in the right projects. Kitchens and baths get the job done; swimming pools and home offices don’t. And minor projects may fare better than more expensive remodels.

* Choose the right styles. Think “classic” and “neutral” for interior finishes--and don’t overpersonalize. Adding on? Make sure the addition blends with the rest of the house.

* Match your renovations to the neighborhood and the region. Make sure your remodel matches the value of your house and the value of other houses in the area. And make sure you’re not investing in an improvement that buyers may not consider much of an improvement. Will they really appreciate that deck in Anchorage? Or that fireplace in Phoenix?

* Keep real estate demand in mind. Buyers will pay more for remodels in a pricey, active market than they will for those in a softer market. Don’t “over-renovate.”

The bottom line is that remodeling can add value--if you know what buyers want and you’re willing to play by industry rules.

Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have on remodeling values and trends in your community.