Remodeling projects that help enhance a home's value are a priority for homeowners, particularly in today's highly competitive housing market.
When considering an improvement, especially with an eye towards resale, recent surveys indicate the garage doors are a good place to start to increase a home's curb appeal and value. That's because many buyers judge a house by its exterior.
"A remodeled kitchen and bath can help sell a home, but curb appeal is what gets buyers through the door. If they don't like what they see from the street, chances are, they won't waste time going inside," says Betty Jane Garrett, a licensed realtor in Oklahoma City.
"The garage door is a major exterior design feature, especially if it faces the street," adds Garrett. "A worn and outdated door on even the cutest house makes a bad first impression, and can change 'Honey, stop the car' into 'Keep driving' in an instant."
Realtors in a nationwide survey say replacing the garage door prior to listing a home can increase the asking price by up to four percent. That's an increase of anywhere between $3,500 and $14,000 on a $350,000 home just because of the garage door.
Stratamark Research and Clopay Building Products fielded the study to determine if garage door appearance made a difference in the listing price they would assign to a house. Nearly all of the 300 agents interviewed agreed that a new garage door enhances curb appeal and 75% believes it adds value to a home.
In fact, most realtors have recommended that a homeowner replace their garage door when listing their house for sale because of the condition of the door. Half cited appearance as the reason because the age or style of the door detracted from the home's curb appeal.
When it comes to adding value to a home's list price, the right garage door does make a difference. Realtors were also shown before and after images of several homes featuring a variety of garage door styles ranging in price from inexpensive to high-end. Respondents were asked to assign a selling price to each house and were alerted that the only difference in the photos was the garage door.
Depending on the style of the door, and how it fit with the architectural style of the home, realtors increased the list price anywhere from one to four percent.
"Homeowners thinking of upgrading their garage appeal may want to consider something fashionable, as well as functional," says Pat Lohse, vice president of residential marketing for Clopay. "Results of the 2007 Remodeling Cost vs. Value study indicate a mid-range to upscale garage addition can be expected to return anywhere from 65 to 70 percent nationally and up to 88% in western states."
Buyers, too, seem to want upscale doors to adorn their upscale garages, according to a Professional Builder magazine survey, which names designer garage doors as one of the "50 Must-Have Features."
Even if a homeowner is not selling a house, replacing a garage door can yield big returns terms of energy efficiency and setting a new standard in the neighborhood. And with the average age of the U.S. housing stock at 34 years old, according to a Harvard University study, a great deal of today's homes are candidates for a new garage door.
The average price for a new garage door ranges from $300 to $10,000 depending on the size of the door and the material it's made from. Today, homeowners can choose among wood, steel or composite garage doors, and add numerous design features such as windows, decorative hardware, faux paint treatments or stains to personalize the look even further.