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Money Fix: Fixing up to sell a house

Remodeling experts say a project that pays in

Remodeling experts say a project that pays in the sale of a house is replacing the current door with a steel one. Photo Credit: Fotolia

With the real estate market showing signs of life, maybe you're considering sprucing up your home for sale. What renovations will get you the best returns on the dollars you spend?

Don't go overboard. "Spend as little as possible to get the house and property in good order," says Diane Saatchi, a Saunders & Associates vice president in Bridgehampton. "Don't spend money to make changes the next owner might redo." While new baths and granite kitchens make a home sell faster, the return on investment is poor, says Seth Lesselbaum, territory manager for Carrington Real Estate Services in Great Neck.

Projects that pay you back. According to Craig Webb, editor of Remodeling magazine, in the New York, Long Island, New Jersey metropolitan area the highest resale value comes from replacing your current door with a steel one -- you'll recoup roughly 85 percent of the cost of the job. Adding a wood deck and a minor kitchen remodel also offer good returns. "All indications are that home prices are rising. When home prices go up, the payback for renovations go up as well," says Webb.

Think small. Improve curb appeal, spruce up landscaping, make sure the outside is clean with no peeling paint or dry rot, says Lesselbaum. Sand and refinish hardwood floors. Replace old carpeting. Paint interiors in neutral colors and declutter.

Truth is, says Michael Corbett, consumer spokesman for real estate site, "There isn't always a direct relation between how much you put into a renovation and how much you get out of it."

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