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Not All Home Remodeling Pays Off When You Put Your Home On The Market

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Home for sale, file. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Home for sale, file. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Dorothy Tucker Dorothy Tucker
Dorothy Tucker has served as a reporter for CBS 2 Chicago since 1984....
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CHICAGO (CBS) – If you are in the market to remodel your home, you might be surprised to learn that what you do on the outside is a better investment than fixing up the inside.

But if you are longing to knock out a wall, or add a room, CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports on just how much you can expect to recoup if you ever decide to sell.

Joyce Judah recently finished a $10,000 upgrade to her kitchen. The remodeling job wasn’t her first; not long before that, she gave her bathrooms a $6,800 makeover.

The price was steep, but Judah thinks that, in time, she will earn back some of what she spent.

The two rooms that get the most attention in the house — kitchens and bathrooms — return money after remodeling, according to Remodeling Magazine. A homeowner who spends $22,000 to redo a kitchen will earn back 63 percent of the cost when the house is sold. Fixing up bathrooms also pays: A $21,000-makeover will return 50 percent of its cost.

But the economic climate has forced remodelers to scrimp and save, rather than splurge. Many homeowners are thinking small, adding knobs to cabinets instead of replacing them entirely, or painting over tile rather than ripping it up, says Don Van Cura.

“With the economy changing, people are a little more practical, and they’re looking at, ‘What do we have to do to not let the house devalue?’” says Van Cura, who helps clients remodel their homes.

Homeowners also want to ensure they are paying to overhaul the right parts of their houses. Some of them turn to real estate developers like Ron Abrams, who advises homeowners on what is worth it and what is a waste.

“I think a really good place to spend money is on flooring. … Carpet doesn’t always wear the best,” Abrams says.

To maximize returns on remodeling jobs, Abrams recommends adding closet organizers, using neutral-colored paint and buying stainless steel — not white — appliances.

Jacuzzis are “somewhat out,” he says.

Also out? Building in extra rooms, converting attics into home offices, installing solar panels and adding in-ground swimming pools.

While remodeling may seem to carry many pitfalls, with strategic investments, homeowners can see not only their houses but also their savings accounts benefit.

After overhauling her garden, Carol Apfelbaum spent $26,000 to replace the siding on her house. When she sells the house, she anticipates seeing a 76-percent return on that investment.

“I think when we go to put the house up for sale, it will still look nice, and we won’t have to do anything before we put it on the market,” Apfelbaum says.

Also on the “worth it” list are simple window treatments like blinds, as opposed to curtains. And on the “waste” list: chandeliers and other big electrical lights.

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