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No. 6: New vinyl siding
Replacing old siding with new vinyl siding costs about $12,000 on average, according to the report. At resale, homeowners get back about 83 percent of what they spend, the study finds.
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"New siding adds to home curb appeal and is a recognizable feature," says Carasso.
While it's something that can improve the home's appearance, it's probably not the kind of thing you'd do just before putting the home on the market -- unless it's damaged, says Katie Severance, author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Selling Your Home" and Realtor with Re/Max Village Square in Upper Montclair, New Jersey.
Often, "if it's just dirty, a good power washing is all you need," she says.
Her advice on replacements: Think carefully about the colors. While white tends to show the dirt, taupe with black shutters looks "stately and rich," says Severance.