BAM Key Details: 

  • According to Zonda’s 37th annual Cost vs Value (CVV) report, exterior improvements yield the greatest return on investment (ROI) as buyers favor homes with curb appeal. 
  • Eight of the top 10 projects in the report are exterior projects, with near 200% returns on a garage door replacement and steel entry door replacement. 

Every homeowner should have at least some idea of the ROI of any big-ticket home renovation project. After all, if you’re investing in something to increase your home’s value—and potentially reap a higher sale price—you want to know you’re spending money on the right things. 

Zonda just released its 37th annual Cost vs Value (CVV) report—with some insights that might surprise you. And they’re worth sharing with the homeowners in your database. 

To make that even easier, BAMx members get a weekly collection of fresh templates—email, video, social media, and blog—with insights from the latest news in real estate. 

According to Zonda research, exterior improvement projects rank at the top of their list, continuing a multiyear trend of helping homeowners reap the greatest possible return on their investment. 

Eight of the top 10 projects were projects aimed at improving a home’s curb appeal. The two exceptions are low- to middle-budget interior renovations: 

  • Minor kitchen remodel at number five
  • Mid-range bathroom remodel at number nine

So, if you want to be the go-to knowledge broker in your community for home sellers looking to maximize their home renovation returns, this is one report you’ll want to dig into. 

Read on for the highlights. 

Home renovation projects with the biggest ROI

According to the CVV report, the home improvement project with the biggest ROI is a garage door replacement, with an estimated job cost of $4,513 and an estimated value of $8,751, resulting in a cost recovery of 194%. 

Next up is a steel exterior door replacement, with an estimated cost of $2,355, a value of $4,430, and a cost recovery of 188%. And sitting at number three, a manufactured stone veneer comes with an estimated cost of $11,287, a value of $17,291, and a 153% recovery. 

An upscale fiberglass grand entrance remodel is at number four, with a cost of $11,353 and a value of $11,054, resulting in a 97% cost recovery. 

Sitting at number five is the one interior project: a minor kitchen remodel. What that generally involves is a modest facelift of kitchen surfaces, including countertops, cupboards and drawers, backsplashes, etc. The estimated cost is $27,492, compared to an estimated value of $26,406, resulting in a 96% cost recovery. 

Next on the list are three more exterior projects, with ROIs ranging from 80% to 88%: 

  • Siding replacement (fiber-cement) at #6
  • Deck addition (wood) at #7
  • Siding replacement (vinyl) at #8

At number nine, sellers who invest in a mid-range bathroom remodel—with a cost of $25,251 and a value of $18,613—typically recover 74%. 

And coming in 10th place is a deck addition with composite materials, costing the seller an estimated $24,206 with a value of $16,498 and an ROI of 68%. 

When it comes to adding resale value to a home, exterior replacement projects continue to make the most sense.

Clay DeKorne

Zonda’s chief editor

Hotter returns compared to last year

Compared with last year’s data, 2024 is experiencing a surge in a number of renovation project values. The average values of the top two projects (garage door replacement and steel entry door replacement) are worth double what they were in 2023.

Sellers focusing on these two features can recover nearly 200% of the money they’ve invested. The average ROI for the addition of manufactured stone veneer is more than 150%. 

These returns are the hottest in the history of Zonda’s CVV report. To explain why, we can look at the factors behind today’s market for existing homes—including mortgage rates and equity-rich existing homeowners. 

For homeowners looking to sell, the shortage of existing homes works in their favor; move-up buyers have fewer homes to choose from, meaning they’re more likely to offer more to lock in homes with the “love at first sight” factor. 

A new garage door or new entry door can make a pronounced difference. It could be the thing that makes one house stand out against all the others, making the home worth a higher price.

Todd Tomalak

A principal of Zonda Advisory

That said, not all home improvement projects have grown in value. 

Case in point: An HVAC conversion—which involves replacing a fossil-fuel-burning furnace or boiler with an electric heat pump—sat in the number one spot last year with an ROI of 104%. This year, an HVAC conversion has dropped to number 12 with an ROI of 66%. 

2024 brought a turnaround in annual ROI trends

It’s no surprise the costs of home renovation projects have increased consistently over the past 10 years. Meanwhile, the perceived values of different projects have fluctuated. 

That fluctuation has led to a drop in the overall ROI of home improvement projects since the pandemic. But the data for 2024 shows a clear turnaround with a 5.2% increase in the average ROI for the first 15 projects, which have been in the CVV report since its first release in 2002. 

Zonda-Cost-vs-Value-Annual-Trends-chart

Regional Variations in ROI

“Location, location, location” is the number one principle of real estate sales. And the Cost vs Value report provides further evidence of this rule with data for 162 U.S. metros, resulting in the most detailed regional assessment of home renovation ROI in the history of CVV. 

The chart below provides a broad overview of regional diversity in home project returns. 

Zonda-Cost-vs-Value-Regional

Regional variations in ROI:

  • Sellers in the Pacific are seeing the highest returns, followed by New England. Agents in both regions report higher values on home renovation projects with only modest increases in costs. 
  • Sellers in South Atlantic metros are seeing stronger returns compared to the Middle Atlantic
  • The Mountain region, which averaged the highest returns in the 2023 report, is one of the three regions with the lowest returns in 2024—along with the East North Central and East South Central regions. 
  • The East South Central region averaged the lowest returns for all 23 CVV projects. 

Read the full report for more information