Retirement & Financial Planning Report

Kitchen and bathroom work tends to have a high payback, especially if you get to enjoy the improvements for a while.

If you are thinking of selling your home and moving in retirement, however far ahead that action might be, you can take steps now to improve its value—and better yet, you can benefit from those improvements until that day comes.

* Kitchen and bathroom improvements tend to rate the highest, in terms of payback. Creating more space through additions such as sunrooms—or even more extensive additions—also can return as much as you invested, or maybe more, especially if your home is on the smaller side.

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* Built-in additions are preferable to anything movable. Consider built-ins for kitchen appliances, bookshelves, bench decks, and home theater systems.

* If security is a concern, install a sophisticated home security system connected to a central station, which will call the police in case of an emergency. Extreme steps such as putting bars on windows can detract from its value, though.

On the low end in terms of payback: swimming pools and customized spaces such as wine cellars, fancy home offices and home theaters that would not be of much value to some potential buyers.

Also, don’t neglect the outside—“curb appeal.” Your home’s exterior should create a desire to own the home so it’s vital not to skip regular paint jobs and yard work. Edging your lawn, mulching, and planting shrubs are all worthwhile activities.