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THESE HOME RENOVATIONS WILL PAY OFF

If you’re planning to do some home improvement projects this year, it’s important to spend your money wisely. What you'll get back on your investment when you eventually sell your home depends on a variety of factors: the value of your house, the value of houses in your immediate neighborhood, how soon you sell after making improvements, and the quality of the project itself. Installing a $10,000 stove in a $200,000 house, for example, usually isn’t a good idea.

While it’s possible to over-customize your home or to spend more money than is wise on renovations, research by the housing industry shows that these projects — when done well — practically guarantee a full return on your investment. They’ll also increase your enjoyment of your home, the findings show. And keep in mind: return on investment values and remodeling costs cited here are subject to change.

Home improvements3A MINOR BATHROOM REMODEL

It costs about $10,500 to replace the tub, tile surround, floor, toilet, sink, vanity and fixtures in your bathroom. You’ll get back an average of $10,700 at resale, a recoup rate of 102 percent. There also are a few easy projects you can take care of yourself that will go a long way in revamping the look and feel of your space.

If you can pipe a child’s name on a birthday cake, you can re-caulk a tub. Use a softener like Caulk-Be-Gone to get rid of the old caulk, and then fill the tub with water after you’re done to stretch the caulk while it dries. Re-glaze the tub for a like-new finish. Also remove dated wall coverings and apply a fresh coat of paint. For damaged walls, spray-on texture provides quick coverage.

ENHANCE YOUR LANDSCAPING

The average homeowner spends about $3,502 on landscaping and $1,465 on a designer, according to the American Nursery Landscape Association. Not sure where to start? Local garden centers often offer free design services — or ask your neighbors what works for them.

A splash of color at the front of the house is an eye-catching plus. For maximum impact, use one color and vary the height of plants. If your doorway is overwhelmed by greenery, get out the shears and start pruning.

Home improvements4

CAMOUFLAGE UNATTRACTIVE VIEWS 

Hide unsightly views such as air conditioning units, pool heaters or deck storage by hiring a contractor to build a service yard or buying a pre-built structure. Make sure it matches or complements the siding of your home.

SPRUCE UP THE FRONT VIEW

Making your home look better on the outside can be simple as upgrading your mailbox, installing new light fixtures on the porch, replacing tired porch railings or adding a splash of color by painting the front door a bold hue.

PLANT THE SEED 

Trees are one of the few things that truly appreciate over time. You can buy a sapling for just $10 at the nursery, and once it has grown, a mature tree can add thousands to the value of your home — not to mention the value of added shade, privacy and cooling in the summer and heating in the winter. Trees also add charm. Make sure you know how large the tree will get over time, and be sure to leave enough space for growth. To maximize attractiveness and minimize yardwork, choose a tree that keeps its leaves in the winter.