Posted in: Selling a home, Homeowner tips

Five home improvements with the best ROI

Home improvements with ROI

Key insights:

  • Historically, home sellers invested in improvement projects before listing to generate more interest in their property.
  • Today’s sellers hold a keen advantage in the market, so they should be sure to update only what is necessary before listing their home for sale.
  • Data shows that some of the least expensive projects — such as a new garage door or a new front door — can have the greatest impact on a sale.

You’ve likely seen the headlines: Today’s sellers are getting 103% of their asking price, which means that they hold a big advantage in today’s market. With this news, you may not plan to update anything on your property before you list it for sale. If your home is in the right neighborhood and in good condition, this may be just fine! But if your home is outdated, you may get an even higher bid if you give it a little polish before selling.

But which projects can have the biggest impact for sellers? Shouldn’t some updates be reserved for homeowners who plan to stay in their homes and enjoy them for a few years?

These are the questions we asked as we dove into the 2021 Cost vs. Value Report ( This exhaustive report details the cost and value of home improvement projects across the country, and they even break the data out by region and city.

Here are the projects Twin Cities homeowners should take on if they want to recoup the most on their initial investment.

1. Manufactured stone veneer

Cost: $10,923

Resale value: $10,158

Cost recouped: 93.0%

If you’ve seen new construction homes over the last few years, you know that partial stone veneers are all the rage. Current homeowners can also freshen up an aging exterior by adding a stone veneer accent to the bottom third of their home.

To complete this project, you’ll first remove the bottom third of siding from the street-facing side of your home exterior (a 300-square-foot continuous band). Next, you’ll replace this area with a stone veneer, including 36 linear feet of sills, 40 linear feet of corners, one address block and a detailed faux-stone archway around the front door. The installation also includes protection against water damage and corrosion.

You’ll be amazed at how this easy stone addition gives your home’s exterior a modern facelift!

2. Garage door replacement

Cost: $3,930

Resale value: $3,537

Cost recouped: 90.0%

If your garage door has dings and dents, it may pay off to replace it; the average homeowner sees a return on investment of 90% when they replace their garage door.

For this project, you’ll remove and properly dispose of your existing garage door (16x7 feet) and its tracks. You’ll then install a new steel garage door with top-panel windows on new, galvanized steel tracks. You can continue to use your current motorized opener. The cost of this project includes a lifetime warranty on the garage door.

When buying the door, pay attention to your own moving plans and timeline. You may be able to pay less if you forgo the lifetime warranty or opt for a one-year warranty, which is more common.

3. Steel entry door replacement

Cost: $2,107

Resale value: $1,500

Cost recouped: 71.2%

You’ve probably heard of painting a front door an exciting color to add interest to the front of your property when selling your home. But if your door is made of wood or another outdated material, it may be time to consider an upgrade.

For this project, you’ll replace your current door with a new 20-gauge steel door that includes a dual-pane, half-glass panel. The door’s factory finish-color is the same on both sides, and the project also includes a new casing that matches the door color. Last, the cost for this project includes a budget for a brand-new lockset to accompany the door.

4. Window replacement (vinyl)

Cost: $19,516

Resale value: $13,615

Cost recouped: 69.8%

Quality windows are built to last 15 to 20 years. If you’re coming up on that timeframe, you may want to consider a vinyl window replacement. Begin by replacing 10 existing windows (3x5 feet) with new, insulated vinyl windows. This project accounts for custom-color exterior finish and exterior trim. The interior trim can remain in place.

If you’d prefer to replace your existing windows with wood windows, the 2021 Cost vs. Value Report shows a slightly higher cost of $23,324, and an ROI of 68.2%. However, with today’s rapidly-rising cost of wood, we think this estimated pricing may now be out of date; it seems likely that vinyl windows will be significantly less expensive for all of 2021.

5. Minor, mid-range kitchen remodel

Cost: $26,839

Resale value: $18,345

Cost recouped: 68.4%

To take this project on, you’ll need to start with a functional kitchen in need of some cosmetic updates and appliance upgrades. Keep 30 feet of cabinets in place, replacing only the fronts with new wood panels, drawer fronts and fresh hardware.

A few major appliances — refrigerator, stove and oven — will be replaced, while the dishwasher (if you have one) is not included in this budget. Floors and countertops can be replaced with new laminate options. Finally, freshen the space by painting the walls, trim and ceiling. Voila! A not-too-expensive update that saves you the cost of all new cabinetry.

Want more info on the ROI of home projects?

We’ve detailed the five projects with the highest return on investment, but the 2021 Cost vs. Value Report also shared the five projects with the lowest ROI in the Twin Cities. If you plan to move soon, you may want to avoid adding an owner’s suite or a brand-new bathroom.

Here are the home improvement projects with the lowest ROI locally:

  • Upscale owner’s suite addition (45% recouped from budget of $338,083)
  • Upscale bathroom addition (47.6% of $108,912)
  • Asphalt roofing replacement (48.8% of $35,946)
  • Mid-range bathroom addition (49.1% of $61,026)
  • Mid-range owner’s suite addition (50.3% of $166,011)

Wondering what other remodeling projects were reviewed for the Minneapolis region? Check out the complete 2021 Cost vs. Value Report for our area.

Get expert guidance before you sell

Keep in mind that it may be smartest to take on higher-cost, lower-ROI projects only if you plan to be in the home for a few more years. After all, your own enjoyment of these projects can certainly count as a return on your investment!

However, if your updates are solely intended to sell your home faster or for more money, be sure to consult your agent before you begin renovations. Reach out to Edina Realty or your agent, who can advise you on the most cost-effective, impactful changes you can make to your property.

©2021 Zonda Media, a Delaware corporation. Complete data from the 2021 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at

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