Remodeling Realities: What Home Renos Bring Greatest Joy, Biggest Returns?

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Remodeling Impact Report
The new Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors looks at renovation “joy scores,” as well as reasons for doing remodeling jobs and which ones Realtors say get the biggest ROI. Photo: Ebby Halliday Realtors

Americans are crazy about renovations. Entire entertainment mediums are dedicated to our love of home improvement, like DIY Network and HGTV Magazine.

In the first ten months of October 2015 alone, Americans spent $326.1 billion on remodeling their homes. The big goals were to upgrade worn-out surfaces, finishes, and materials; add features and improve livability; and just because it was time for a change.

That’s according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors, the 2015 Remodeling Impact Report. It examined reasons homeowners tackle renovations, as well calculating a “joy score” from each project. The report also details Realtors’ opinions of home renos, how they add value to a property, and what projects are most likely to attract a buyer.

This report is the first of its kind from NAR, surveying Realtors, consumers, and members of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

“Realtors know that certain home upgrades and remodels can be beneficial to get more buyer eyes on a property, potentially bring in more offers or gain more equity from a home,” said NAR President Tom Salomone. “But remodeling projects are just as valuable to homeowners who simply want to get more joy out of their dwellings. Regardless of the situation, Realtors know what remodeling projects bring the biggest bang for the buck and what projects are most likely to improve a homeowner’s impression of their current place.”

Remodeling Impact Report

Remodeling Impact Report
Source: 2015 Remodeling Impact Report from the National Assoc. of Realtors

When Realtors ranked interior projects in their terms of appeal to buyers, select kitchen upgrades, a complete kitchen overhaul, bathroom remodels, and new hardwood floors topped the list. When asked which projects would most improve resale value, Realtors listed kitchen renovations, kitchen upgrades, bathroom renovations, and a new bathroom as top projects.

When looking at interior projects that had the biggest impact on resale value of a home, Realtors ranked refinishing hardwood floors (100 percent of cost recovered), improving insulation (95 percent recovered), and adding new hardwoods (91 percent recovered) as the top three.

But most people aren’t renovating in order to sell immediately—they want to enjoy their home. The NAR report’s “joy score” says adding a new bathroom, doing a complete kitchen reno, adding a new master suite, and refinishing hardwood floors make homeowners happiest.

“Remodeling projects can greatly improve both the value of and satisfaction with one’s home, which are great things no matter the reason for a project,” said Judy Mozen, President of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. “This report highlights the best projects to consider in either situation and showcases just how much of a difference a good and professional remodel can make in real numbers.”

Fear of remodeling was also highlighted in the new report, which says 35 percent of U.S. homeowners would rather move than deal with renovations. A lot of the people surveyed, 38 percent, were DIY renovators, with 28 percent hiring a professional to do it all, and 33 percent have a mix of DIY and professional involvement.



Leah Shafer

Leah Shafer is a content and social media specialist, as well as a Dallas native, who lives in Richardson with her family. In her sixth-grade yearbook, Leah listed "interior designer" as her future profession. Now she writes about them, as well as all things real estate, for

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