Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but when it comes to homes, a number of design elements hold almost universal appeal. The National Association of Realtors® released a report on which remodeling projects attract buyers based on real estate sales trends.

Here’s the first of a two-part look at remodeling projects that topped their list, beginning with home interiors.

  1. Flooring Upgrade

In the 1960s, shag carpeting was considered the height of contemporary style. By the 1980s, design aesthetics were shifting back to hardwood floors. Thanks to their sleek appearance, durability and low maintenance, hardwood floors remain popular today.

Flooring projects are by far the most cost-effective changes a homeowner can make. Cost recovery on refinishing existing hardwood floors is 147 percent while installing new wood flooring can see a recovery of 118 percent.

  1. Insulation Upgrade

Insulation has little to do with a home’s aesthetic, but it has a significant effect on the environment. As people continue adopting a more green lifestyle, insulating a home with state-of-the-art materials improves energy efficiency.

At an average cost of $2,500, upgrading insulation is a relatively inexpensive project. According to the NAR report, homeowners generally recover the full cost.

  1. Basement Conversion to Living Area

Data from Pew Research Center indicates that 20 percent of Americans live in a multigenerational household, a share that hasn’t been seen since 1950. Converting the basement to a living area makes a home more attractive to buyers living with extended family.

Of course, this project requires a significant investment. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s estimate comes in at $57,500. But almost all of it comes back, as NAR estimates an 86 percent cost recovery.

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