Renovating Gets You the Biggest Home Value Boost in These 10 Cities

Time to live out your HGTV fantasies.
Samantha Weiss-Hills Avatar
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Photography by Max Burkhalter; Styling by Julia Stevens

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Listen up, Midwesterners: Frontdoor, an app for home repair and maintenance, recently published a study that revealed the major U.S. cities where renovating fixer-uppers boosts home value the most. Toledo, Ohio, took the number one spot on a top-10 list that includes several other Midwestern cities, as well as Southern and Great Plains capitals (with a dash of Eastern Seaboard in there). To analyze the data, the brand zeroed in on median size and price of homes listed as a fixer-upper on Zillow for the 130 most populated cities in the U.S. Using Kukun’s home remodeling cost estimator, it accounted for the Zillow home listing data (like the cost and added value of renovating main rooms) and local remodeling costs to see which cities came out on top.

Get this: In Toledo, you’ll get a whopping 66 percent increase in value, on average, after renovation. Actually, a refreshed fixer-upper in any of the top-five cities will net you a 50-plus percent boost. Here’s the full list:

  1. Toledo, Ohio
  2. Detroit, Michigan
  3. Springfield, Illinois
  4. Jackson, Michigan
  5. Cleveland, Ohio
  6. St. Louis, Missouri
  7. Wilmington, Delaware
  8. Lansing, Michigan
  9. Montgomery, Alabama
  10. Topeka, Kansas

Toledo isn’t just a place to flip houses—it’s also a great location for first-time buyers. Zillow rates it as the second-best metro for newbies among Zillow’s other choices, thanks to extremely low mortgage payments (we’re talking just 26 percent of the average local income).

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Photography by Molly Rose

The study was filled with other nuggets of real-estate wisdom. For example, you’ll get the highest return on investment—the home value you’re adding with the cost of modeling factored in—for a renovation in Miami to the tune of almost 18 percent. Charleston, South Carolina, and Los Angeles aren’t far behind in that category. On the low end, don’t expect to get as much ROI from a fixer-upper renovation in Bismarck, North Dakota, or Augusta, Maine, where renovating is more expensive.

When it comes to the renovations themselves, we weren’t surprised to read that kitchen cabinet upgrades made the biggest difference in value (an increase of about $7,000, or nearly 4 percent). But even just replacing standard lighting with energy-efficient LED bulbs will gain you a thousand or so extra bucks. 

Samantha Weiss-Hills Avatar

Samantha Weiss-Hills

Managing Editor, Home & Shopping

Samantha Weiss-Hills is the managing editor of home and shopping for Domino. She edits and writes home tours, shopping guides, and features, and she’s the friend who everyone texts for glassware, sofa, and sheet recommendations. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Alex, and their beagle-corgi, Elsa.

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