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Home improvements that should pay off in the long run

Sell or stay, these home improvements pay off in the long run. Homeowners undertake home improvements for two basic reasons: to please themselves or to please others who may one day buy their home.

Certain types of improvements are for a speedier sale, such as planting shrubs between your backyard and a busy street behind your home. Others are for your own enjoyment, like painting that rec room a favorite shade of orange for your favorite team.

The best home improvements, however, pay off in the long run whether you're staying or selling.

Here are a handful of projects that are worth the investment:

Add skylights

Buyers love balanced natural light. Adding Energy Star-qualified no leak skylights is a cost-effective improvement that enhances a home's appeal to potential buyers, as well as its livability for the people currently occupying it. They're particularly popular in bathrooms (where fresh air and privacy is a concern) and kitchens (where they also provide passive ventilation of cooking odors and excessive heat), but skylights can go in any room where you want more natural light, an open, airy feeling and a brightened appearance.

Solar powered fresh-air skylights, like those from VELUX America, can help improve indoor air quality while brightening things up and cutting down on the need for artificial light. Add solar powered blinds to boost the energy performance rating by as much as 45 percent and you'll love your skylights even more. Solar-powered skylights and blinds are operated by a touchpad programmable remote control and are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit, as is the cost of installation.

And skylight blinds can help you decorate while boosting energy efficiency. Available in a variety of designer colors and patterns to coordinate with décor, they give you complete control of the light that enters your rooms. The choices include light diffusing, light blocking, and light controlling Venetian blinds, all of which can be operated manually or by remote control.

To further differentiate home spaces such as hallways and closets, which never seem to have enough light, consider Sun Tunnel tubular skylights which are inexpensive and easily installed in a matter of hours. They also offer light kits for 24/7 functionality. Visit
www.whyskylights.com to learn more.

Add or upgrade a deck

When the weather warms, your family will want to spend more time outdoors and a deck is the perfect platform for outdoor enjoyment.

Potential buyers also perceive it as a benefit, and adding or upgrading a deck can boost your home's value. In fact, a wooden deck will recoup 75 percent of its installation costs at time of resale, and a composite deck recoups 64 percent, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report.

Bigger is better right now in the world of deck building, with more homeowners looking to increase the size of their decks. Multi-level decks are also on trend, with many people dedicating different deck levels for different functions, such as an outdoor kitchen, spa area with hot tub, and entertainment seating.

Exterior paint

Repainting the exterior of your home is a big job, but one that's well worth the investment, whether you're trying to impress potential buyers with great curb appeal, or simply make your house a more enjoyable place to return to each day.

Exterior paint greatly affects the overall look of a home, plus quality paint helps protect siding from the elements.

Your color choice could also affect your utility bills; if you live in a hot environment, lighter colors will help reflect heat away from your home. If you're selling, a fresh, attractive paint job could increase your home's purchase price.

Kitchen cosmetics

Great kitchens sell homes, and the kitchen is also the room where many families spend the greatest amount of time, so anything you do to improve a kitchen is well worth the investment.

Taking care of basic items like replacing old cabinet hardware, upgrading faucets and lighting, and investing in quality countertops can be cost-effective ways to elevate your home's value and boost the usability of the kitchen.

Even a minor kitchen remodel can recoup more than 83 percent of its cost at the time of resale, according to Remodeling Magazine.

Whether you plan to put your home on the market this spring or summer, or intend to stay put for years to come, it pays to invest in home improvements that enhance both resale value and your enjoyment of your home.

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