BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Spring is a popular time for home-renovation projects, but a recent study by Remodeling magazine and the National Association of Realtors found that not all upgrades are created equal when it comes to reselling your place. "I always recommend making very wise use of your remodeling dollars to get a good return on investment," says Judy Moore, a suburban Boston real estate agent and a National Association of Realtors board member.
Remodeling recently estimated costs of 35 popular home-renovation projects in 81 major cities, then polled some 3,900 Realtors to calculate how much each upgrade would add to a property's value. That allowed the magazine to create the Remodeling 2012-13 Cost vs. Value Report -- national and local rankings of which projects offer the best and worst ROI when homeowners later sell their properties. For example, the study found that you'll recoup 102.9% of the $3,014 that adding upscale garage doors costs in Los Angeles -- but only 32.9% of the $29,370 you'll pay for a home-office remodeling in Detroit. "You don't want to put something in that a buyer isn't going to want to pay extra for," Moore says. None of the projects studied offer a 100% or better return on their average nationwide price, meaning most U.S. homeowners will theoretically lose money on any job. But some projects do provide at least a 100% ROI in certain cities, while Moore adds that you "have to look at the total package" when calculating an upgrade's overall value.
"If I walk into a house that has and old kitchen or an old bathroom that needs a ton of work, that might be a problem to sell 'as-is,'" she says. Here's a look at the five best projects Remodeling found offer the best nationwide average returns on investment. (The Remodeling 2012-13 Cost vs. Value Report is copyrighted by magazine publisher Hanley Wood, but data from the study can be downloaded for free at www.costvsvalue.com.)