People seem to have the idea that if they put money into their home, they will certainly get it back. That is the right idea but you can't just make ANY improvement and assume it'll make money. In fact, some can actually decrease the value of your home. Money Magazine suggest putting your money in anything but...
Swimming Pools. Obviously states with a hot climate you can't find a house without one. But if you live someplace where a pool is not needed then buyers will completely avoid houses with a pool. If you live in Illinois or Oregon people only see the cost of insurance and maintenance for something you can only use 3 maybe 4 months out of the year. Parents with small kids are particularly wary.
Additions. This too has exceptions but for the most part home additions end up being eye sores. If you really need to add square footage, pay the extra for design that makes it look natural. It needs to seem as if it's always been there. You will get that money returned to you on the back end.
Trendy Finishes. As with clothes, some thing that is hot today people can be making fun of tomorrow. Although it's been said that custom wood paneling on your kitchen appliances to match your cabinets is a trend that should last a while. Generally though, when doing a renovation, sticking to classics is your best bet.
Jacuzzis. This one doesn't seem right but it turns out, not everyone loves giant tubs with jets. What everyone does love is a good shower. If you are throwing money at your bathroom try some of the new fancy shower heads.
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