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If there’s one thing we’ve learned from binge-watching real-estate shows (an essential part of the job, obviously), it’s that the fastest way to sell your home is to make sure it has curb appeal, aka landscaping, a colorful door, or a wraparound porch. You know, outer beauty. Turns out, the whole idea is just a myth. A new report compares the average costs of remodeling with the actual value of those improvements—and everything we’ve read says that grand entrances literally aren’t worth it.

According to the study, homeowners who replace a standard front door with an upscale fiberglass one (picture decorative glass, a lockset, and color) only end up recouping 50 percent of their investment. Typically, an entryway makeover costs around $9,200. But when it comes time to sell the place, the swap is only worth $5,000. 

Lesson learned: Not all upgrades are worthwhile. But that’s not to say you should just stand by and do nothing. These three exterior changes will give you the most bang for your buck.

Add: Manufactured Stone Veneer

Got vinyl siding? Simply remove it on the street-facing facade and replace it with stone to immediately elevate the value of your home (you’ll get 95 percent of your original investment back in the end). Plus, you’ll achieve that coveted cozy-rustic vibe. 

Replace: The Garage Door

People want to be able to get into their garage with ease, so while you’d never think to touch this part of your home, buying a new door with heavy-duty steel tracks, foam insulation, and thermal seals between panels is a major plus in the eyes of potential buyers. Not to mention, you’ll almost break even. 

Swap Out: The Windows

Get rid of double-hung windows and your utility bill will thank you. Installing insulated, energy-efficient vinyl windows is the ultimate move—just don’t touch any of the existing interior trim, the report suggests. Original character still reigns supreme.

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