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Will a backup generator boost a home's resale value?

March 18, 2013: 5:30 AM ET

For $7,000, I can get a backup generator installed. Will it help my home's resale value? — Paul Ballas, Blue Bell, Pa.

It depends where you live, says Carolyn Cedar, a broker at Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Brooklyn. A permanent generator at that price — typically running on propane or natural gas and able to power a large house — may be seen as a plus in an area prone to blackouts. In other areas, it may look like overkill.

Partly because of its inevitable depreciation, don't expect a full return on your generator when you sell, says Ben Scaturro, an appraiser in Point Pleasant, N.J. He suggests you consider a portable unit. (A gasoline-powered model able to run your fridge and some lights for a few hours a day costs less than $1,000.) If you do buy a permanent one, he says, it can raise your home's tax basis, potentially cutting your capital gains levy when you sell.

— Walecia Konrad

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