Real Estate

These home renovations provide the biggest returns


A home improvement contractor works on a house in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Suzanne Kreiter | The Boston Globe | Getty Images

Americans are moving much less frequently. Mobility is actually at a record low, and that is fueling strong growth in the home remodeling market.

But not all renovation investments yield equal payback.

Overall remodeling returns are shrinking. The cost-to-value ratio for 2020 stands at 63.7%, down from last year and below the last decade’s high of just over 71%, according to an annual report from Remodeling Magazine. That’s because the costs to do the project are rising — mostly labor and material costs.

“The cost part of it is working against us, but the values are down as well,” said Clayton DeKorne, editor-in-chief of Remodeling Magazine.

While home value gains are accelerating on the lowest end of the market, where demand is strongest and supply is leanest, value gains in the move-up market are slowing.

So which particular project yields the best return in resale value? Exterior improvements. Nine out of the top ten leading investments are outside.

Manufactured stone veneer leads all renovations with a nearly 96%…

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