Home $weet home ... or financial folly

There are tempting ways to use your home for potential financial gain. The line isn't always bright, but there are some guidelines for when such moves can be smart ... or dopey.

RENOVATION WIZARD
Type of Project:
Avg job cost
(2006 Natl Avg):
 
What will you get back?
% Cost recovered  %
Value at sale  
Get your local results from
Remodeling Online's 2006 Cost vs. Value Report
Smart home improvement move
When renovating makes good sense
The beauty of owning a home is that you can customize it to your desire. Of course, doing so takes time, money, vision, talent, and a good sense of value.

Here's when the move can be smart:

The best reason to renovate is two-pronged: You'll enjoy the improvements you make and those improvements add value to your home. Those most likely to boost equity include most kitchen and bathroom renovations and backyard decks.

It's also a good move when you're realistic about the cost and effort required. You've set aside an extra 10 percent to 20 percent for the inevitable overage costs (delays, pricier-than-expected materials, etc.).

Unless you plan to live in your home for at least five years after renovating, don't plan to get back the full average return on your renovation investment if it boosts the value of your home to more than 125 percent of current market price, according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

(Here's when it's not a great idea.)

Prepay mortgage? Yup

Prepay mortgage? Nope

Tap equity? Yup

Tap equity? Nope

Renovate? Yup

Renovate? Nope

Get an ARM? Yup

Get an ARM? Nope
A wall of windows and skylights can open up a dark and gloomy living space. Here's a list of "dos" and "don'ts" for adding light. (more)
Forget the upscale remodel. You can get a whole new look for a few thousand dollars. (more)
The Midwest has the most affordable housing. California has the least. (more)
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.