Will This Home Renovation Pay Off?

A guide to deciding which investments are worthwhile, and which are not.

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Think like a buyer. "I tell sellers to walk into their homes as if they were the buyer. What are the things they see walking up to the home?" Hale says, adding that they should focus on the kitchen, appliances, and curb appeal. Today's buyers are especially interested in common spaces for the family to gather, such as screened porches and family rooms, as well as open-floor plan kitchens. That way, parents who are preparing meals can keep an eye on their children as they play or do homework. Buyers also care less about formal spaces today, which means a formal dining room could offer more value as a study or playroom.

The bottom line: Home renovations aren't just about the numbers, but a few basic guidelines can help buyers decide where to put their cash.

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