I., Miami, New Orleans and, of course, San Diego, where a $17,928 investment netted $27,000 on resale.
The only home improvement likely to return more at resale was a minor (roughly $15,000) kitchen remodel, which returned 92.9 percent.
Replacing roofs and windows were also high on the list, returning 80 percent or more at resale.
"Buyers want to take the basic systems for granted," says Sal Alfano, Remodeling's editorial director.
"They're always right up there at the top of the list," says Alfano.
"They're the big, sexy rooms that new home builders splurge on, so when buyers are shopping around that's what they want in an existing home, too." If you're thinking about sinking some money into home improvement projects this year, keep a few things in mind.
Nor does it make sense to update your kitchen if your house is the only house in the neighborhood with just one bathroom.
Here, the scoop on home improvements that will give you the biggest bang for your buck: In the hottest housing markets, springing for a kitchen or bath remodel is a sure-fire investment, often returning more than 100 percent of the cost.
In the first year my husband and I lived in our house, we spent almost $20,000 on home improvements.