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When remodeling your kitchen for resale, stick with traditional materials and appliances, such as all-wood cabinets, commercial-look appliances, natural wood or stone floors and stone countertops.

 When setting money aside at the beginning of the year, Thining about granite counters and steam showers; Think again... my suggestions are make sure the furnace is sesrviced and in good working order or if it is over 20 years old think about replacement...Make sure all basement areas are dry which means having gutters and downspouts routing water away from the house and make sure the roof is not leaking! Once you have all that in order then painting and replacing the old formica counters are in order!

According to Remodeling Magazine  you're less likely to recoup your investment in a major kitchen or bathroom remodel than you are to get back what you spend on basic home maintenance such as new siding. Siding replacement recouped 92.8 percent of its cost, according to the study. The only home improvement likely to return more at resale was a minor (roughly $15,000) kitchen remodel, which returned 92.9 percent. Replacing roofs and windows were also high on the list, returning 80 percent or more at resale.

"Buyers want to take the basic systems for granted," says Sal Alfano, Remodeling's editorial director. "They assume the roof doesn't leak and the air conditioning and plumbing work. Maintenance can chew up a lot of cash quickly, and people are afraid of that."

That's not to say that granite counters and steam showers don't pay off; kitchen and bathroom remodels continue to be two of the best investments you can make in your house. "They're always right up there at the top of the list," says Alfano. "They're the big, sexy rooms that new home builders splurge on, so when buyers are shopping around that's what they want in an existing home, too."

If you're thinking about sinking some money into home improvement projects this year, keep a few things in mind. What you'll get back on your investment depends on the value of your house, the value of houses in your immediate neighborhood, the housing market where you live, 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, "just doesn't compute," says Ron Phipps. Nor does it make sense to update your kitchen if your house is the only house in the neighborhood with just one bathroom. Here, the scoop on home improvements that will give you the biggest bang for your buck:

 

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Bathroom additions have twice the resale value of a new bedroom.

Kitchens and Baths

In the hottest housing markets, springing for a kitchen or bath remodel is a sure-fire investment, often returning more than 100 percent of the cost. In Baltimore, for instance, a $9,400 bathroom remodel recouped 182 percent of its cost at resale, according to Remodeling's 2004 study. 

Kitchens and baths are the areas in a home "where you can tell if money has been well spent or not, "They're the most expensive areas of the home in terms of construction. And they're where people spend time in their homes."

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