Zonda Media, previously Hanley Wood, has released its 34th Cost vs. Value Report on the REMODELING magazine website. The annual report measures the home remodeling projects that provide the greatest return on investment for homeowners.

Garage door replacement topped this year’s list, with a national average job cost of $3,907 and national average value at sale of $3,663, or a 94% return on investment. Manufactured stone veneer installation came in second, with a 92% recoup on investment.

Continuing the trend of the last several years, exterior improvement projects made up the majority of the leading investments in 2021, filling in nine of the top 10—with the exception of a minor kitchen remodel at No. 3. The majority of the projects in the top 10 are siding projects, including manufactured stone veneer, and windows.

“The trend of exterior replacements outperforming larger discretionary remodeling projects has been accelerated, no doubt, by a year in which COVID has made people reluctant to have contractors inside their homes, but wanting to improve outdoor spaces,” says Clayton DeKorne, editor-in-chief of REMODELING and JLC magazines. “Exterior facade face-lifts improve the curb appeal and make a great first impression as buyers approach the home. That translates to real dollars at the closing table, which is why we see such tangible returns on those investments.”

The combined cost-to-value ratio stands at 60% for 2021, down from 2020 and well below the decade high of 71.2% in 2014. Project costs have risen consistently over the years, with particularly sharp increases in the past year from supply-chain disruptions and global trading tariffs. The value-over-cost has also steadily declined over the same years, with a -3.7% decline last year—the sharpest in 13 years.

The Cost vs. Value Report is derived from surveys of real estate professionals. For 2021, Zonda has revised the report’s methodology to consider a number of data variables, including housing starts, existing home sales, existing home values, and changes in existing home sales and existing home values.

Click here to view the full results, including geographic averages and more information on the results.