Cost vs. Value: The Home Improvement Projects With the Highest ROI in 2019

Cost vs. Value: The Home Improvement Projects With the Highest ROI in 2019

Remodelers across the country took a hit last summer as the cost of building materials spiked dramatically, and the picture for 2019 isn't much rosier. 

The percentage of return on investment (ROI) is projected to trend downward for all the replacement projects listed in Remodeling magazine's newly-released Cost vs. Value Report.

Related: 6 Costs Homeowners Overlook and How to Pay for Them

Larger indoor remodel projects took a hit as well, but weren't impacted as greatly as replacement projects as they rely more on labor costs rather than material costs.

"With the increasing costs of building materials and labor, we urge remodelers to think like real estate professionals first,” says Clayton DeKorne, editor-in-chief of Remodeling magazine. "When you adjust your focus to think like a broker first, you can dull clients’ No. 1 pain point—cost—with a discussion of the amount that can be recouped."

Nationally, here are the five projects with the greatest ROI in the report's mid-range cost category:

Manufactured Stone Veneer (94.9% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $8,907
  • Average Resale Value: $8,449

Minor Kitchen Remodel (80.5% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $22,507
  • Average Resale Value: $18,123

Deck Addition (Wood) (75.6% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $13,333
  • Average Resale Value: $10,083

Siding Replacement (75.6% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $16,036
  • Average Resale Value: $12,119

Entry Door Replacement (Steel) (74.9% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $1,826
  • Average Resale Value: $1,368


Nationally, Five projects with the greatest ROI in the report's upscale cost category are:

Garage Door Replacement (97.5% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $3,611
  • Average Resale Value: $3,520

Window Replacement (Vinyl) (73.4% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $16,802
  • Average Resale Value: $12,332

Grand Entrance (Fiberglass) (71.9% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $8,994
  • Average Resale Value: $6,469

Window Replacement (Wood) (70.8% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $20,526
  • Average Resale Value: $14,530

Bathroom Remodel (60.2% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $64,743
  • Average Resale Value: $38,952

Nationally—and on the other end of the spectrum—here are the five projects with the lowest ROI in the mid-range cost category:

Backyard Patio (55.2% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $56,906
  • Average Resale Value: $31,430

Master Suite Addition (59.4% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $130,986
  • Average Resale Value: $77,785

Bathroom Addition (60.6% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $47,427
  • Average Resale Value: $28,726

Roofing Replacement (Metal) (60.9% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $38,600
  • Average Resale Value: $23,526

Major Kitchen Remodel (62.1% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $66,196
  • Average Resale Value: $41,133


Nationally,  Five projects with the lowest ROI in the upscale cost category are:

Master Suite Addition (50.4% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $271,470
  • Average Resale Value: $136,820

Bathroom Addition (58.1% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $87,704
  • Average Resale Value: $51,000

Major Kitchen Remodel (59.7% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $131,510
  • Average Resale Value: $78,524

Bathroom Remodel (60.2% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $64,743
  • Average Resale Value: $38,952

Window Replacement (Wood) (70.8% ROI)

  • Average Cost: $20,526
  • Average Resale Value: $14,530


The 2019 Cost vs. Value Report surveyed more than 3,200 real estate professionals about returns for 22 popular renovation projects in 136 different U.S. housing markets—up from 100 markets last year. View the full report, including project descriptions and city-level data, here.

Fed Says Student Debt Has Hurt the U.S. Housing Market

Fed Says Student Debt Has Hurt the U.S. Housing Market

Student loans prevented 400,000 young Americans from buying homes, Fed says in paper covering 2005 to 2014

The effect of student debt on the economy has been debated in recent years, as the total has soared to $1.5 trillion, surpassing Americans’ credit-card and car-loan bills. Congress and various White House administrations have pointed to federal student loans as a key way for Americans to pay for college and boost their career earnings. Critics have said the debt is damaging the economic prospects of a generation of Americans.

The Fed research published Wednesday didn’t offer a verdict on those assertions. But it showed that student debt is linked to key life decisions for some—including whether to buy a home and where to live.

Homeownership among people ages 24 to 32 fell 9 percentage points, to 36% from 45%, between 2005 and 2014, the Fed said. While many factors affected the homeowner rate, the Fed said 2 percentage points, or about a fifth, of the decline was tied directly to student debt. That translated into 400,000 borrowers who could have owned a home by 2014 but didn’t because of student loans.


The Fed researchers pointed to at least two effects. First, many borrowers fell behind on their student loans and damaged their credit, hurting their ability to qualify for mortgages. Second, many others have good credit but are unable or unwilling to save for a down payment on a home because they funnel a chunk of their disposable incomes toward student debt. 
A separate Fed paper Wednesday showed Americans with student debt are leaving rural areas in droves. Half of all student-loan borrowers in rural areas moved to urban areas within six years of taking on their debt, according to the study, which used a sampling of data from a credit-rating firm and Social Security numbers to track the borrowers.

“While investing in postsecondary education continues to yield, on average, positive and substantial returns, burdensome student loan debt levels may be lessening these benefits,” the Fed researchers wrote.

The reports shed light on two of the economy’s biggest puzzles in recent years. The housing recovery has been historically weak and the fortunes of rural communitieshave lagged behind those of urban areas. 

Research on the effect of student debt on homeownership has been mixed. Some economists have found that even with the burden of debt, the wage boost from getting a college degree still makes it easier for many borrowers to buy homes.

“Basically the only way to get your foot in the housing door is to have a degree, even if it comes with debt,” said Ralph McLaughlin, deputy chief economist atCoreLogic Inc.

College graduates are far more likely to be employed and earn more than workers with only a high-school diploma. The typical American between ages 22 and 27 with a bachelor’s degree earned $42,000 in 2017, according to the New York Federal Reserve. The typical worker with just a high-school diploma earned $28,000. 

Skylar Olsen, director of economic research and outreach at Zillow, said student loans are combining with high rents and rising home prices to make it difficult for younger households to save for down payments. “It’s a one-two punch,” she said.

Over the past couple of years, lenders have been making a larger share of loans to borrowers who spend more than 45% of their monthly pretax income on their mortgage payment and other debt, including student loans. The mortgage industry is experimenting with various initiatives to address concerns that student loans make it difficult for millennials to purchase their first homes. 

The new Fed paper studied borrowers during a period—2005 to 2014—when delinquencies on student loans soared. Since then, many borrowers have enrolled in plans that reduce their monthly bills by setting payments as a share of their incomes. These income-driven repayment plans have been linked to a decline in delinquencies. The Fed research doesn’t address whether this development has diminished the effects of student debt on homeownership, which has picked up among young Americans in the past year.

Write to Josh Mitchell at and Laura Kusisto at


Essex County Housing Reports January 2019

Essex County Housing Reports: December 2017 vs December 2018; Q4, 2017 vs Q4, 2018 and Year 2017 vs Year 2018

Inventory fell, unit sales fell and sale prices rose across all property types for the December, Q4 and Year EXCEPT for Single Family Homes whose prices fell 1.1% in December.

Here is breakdown by property type:

Single Family: December: Inventory Down 3.6% and Sale Prices Down 1.1%:  3 Months Inventory Down 3.3% and Sale Prices Up 1.4%

Condo: December Inventory Down 4% and Sale Prices Up 7.4%:  3 Months Inventory Down 2.1% and Sale Prices Up 10.1% 

Muilti-Family: Decmeber Inventory Down 12.2% and Sale Prices Up 5.9%: 3 Months Inventory Down 7.2% and Sale Prices Up 3.8% 

To view data for every Essex County town, go to: 

To dowload the full Housing Report go to:


New Short-Term Rental Laws in Massachusetts - 31 days or less

New Short-Term Rental Laws in Massachusetts Q&A

Today, Massachusetts adopted a new law taxing and regulating the short-term rental market. The following information should help Realtors® navigate the short-term rental market under these new laws and regulations.

What does this new law require? 
The new law expands the state's hotel and motel tax to include the short-term rental of homes (condominiums, single family, multifamily, etc.). Massachusetts is one of the last states to adopt this type of tax. The tax applies to all rentals for a period of 31 days or less, regardless of whether the rental is for recreational, personal, or business use. At the insistence of MAR, the new law only applies to short-term rentals, meaning ordinary tenancies, such as an annual lease or a tenancy-at-will, are not covered by this bill. 

Tax Structure
The short-term rental rate varies by locality and is the total of the following rates: 
  • State: 5.7%
  • Local: up to 6% (Boston 6.5%)
  • Cape Cod & Islands: includes additional 2.75% to fund Cape Cod and Islands Water Protection Fund 
  • A community impact fee of up to 3% may be assessed locally on professionally managed properties (Owners of two or more units in one town).
The law requires regulations to minimize the administrative burden on tax filings for those who only rent their unit five (5) months or less each year. 

Are there any exemptions in the law?
The tax imposed by the new law does not apply to properties rented for fourteen (14) days or less per calendar year. It is important to note that these properties are still subject to the other requirements of the law, such as insurance and registration. 

When will this law take effect? 
Rental contracts that were signed on or after January 1, 2019 for stays on or after July 1, 2019 will be subject to the tax. We anticipate that the Department of Revenue will issue guidance on how to handle the tax on bookings made on or after January 1, 2019. The law exempts from tax any 2019 rental contract that was completed on or before December 31, 2018.  

Does this apply to the units I rent? 
As stated above, the new law applies to all rentals for a period of 31 days or less. Ordinary rentals, such as an annual lease or a tenancy-at-will are not covered. The new law applies regardless of whether the owner rents the property themselves, hires a Realtor® to rent the property, or uses an online platform to facilitate the rental. 

Do I need to collect the tax? 
Most likely, yes. The law requires intermediaries (which includes Realtors® who post the property for rent online) who enter into a written agreement with the owner or operator to collect rent or facilitate the collection or payment of rent on behalf of the operator to collect and remit the tax. The Department of Revenue will issue regulations to clarify how often the tax should be remitted to the Department. This also means that a Realtor® who does not collect or facilitate the collection of rent on behalf of the owner or operator does not need to collect and remit the tax. 

Do I need to carry insurance for the listed properties? 
No. Although part of earlier versions of the legislation, the final law does not include a requirement that Realtors® provide any liability insurance for listed properties. This requirement was removed due to the advocacy of MAR. Owners, however, are required to maintain $1 million dollars in liability insurance to cover each short-term rental. Realtors® should be sure to confirm that any property they list for rent is properly insured by the owner.  The coverage is required to defend and indemnify the owner or operator and any tenants in the building for bodily injury and property damage. Realtors® may elect to offer insurance coverage as part of their services but are not required to. 

Before offering a property for short-term rentals, a hosting platform (including Realtors®) must provide notice to the owner or operator that standard homeowners or renters insurance may not cover property damage or bodily injury to a third-party arising from the short-term rental. 

Do the properties need to be registered with the state or city/town? 
Each rental unit will need to be listed with the state short-term rental registry. Additionally, each city and town is permitted to create a registration requirement for short term rentals. Check with your municipal government office for details. 
Are there any inspections required? 
Cities and towns may implement a health and safety inspection requirement and set the frequency of inspections. Short-term rental operators are required to cover the cost of inspections and will likely face a fee to cover registration costs as well. 

What are some best practices I can apply as the new law gets implemented? 
  • Realtors® would be wise to disclose to prospective renters that any booking made on or after January 1, 2019 may be subject to a tax and that the tax rate may change before the rental period. Realtors® may want to postpone the collection of rent until the community tax rates are finalized. 
  • Develop a policy to verify the number of units owned by each client in a municipality and that those units are properly insured.

Important Documents - Link on MAR:

Community Impact Disclosure

Insurance Disclosure

14 Day Exemption Form

Short Term Rental Lease


Top Renovations To Complete Before Selling Your Home

Surprisingly Good December Jobs Report

U.S. December Nonfarm Payrolls Grew by 312,000; Jobless Rate Rose to 3.9%

Employers added an average of 220,000 jobs a month in 2018, the best growth since 2015