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Are you thinking that it might improve the value of your house for resale if you fix it up a bit, say with a bathroom or kitchen renovation? Forget it. In the past five years, the costs of renovation have increased while the value of real estate has decreased. Even a kitchen remodel, which used to be very effective, now recoups only 78 percent of its value on resale. But home offices are hot, right? Actually they have about the lowest return of any item, recouping only 57 percent of the investment.

Stick to things that have a payback in operating costs because you won't get it in resale value. A good place to start is with our "Green Your Home for Winter " series, starting with a programmable thermostat.Here is a summary of the national averages; more specific local estimates are available at ::Cost vs. Value.

2007 © Hanley Wood, LLC. Reproduced by permission. Complete city data from the Remodeling 2007 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded for free.

::Cost vs. Value

[Via ::Green Key Real Estate]

Difficulty level: Easy