I would not put your extra laminate outside. It will not hold up to the moisture and humidity. Other than that, all of your ideas are good. Keeping the house up to date with flooring and paint and redo kitchen and bath will get you the best return on investment. Also landscaping to add curb appeal will help with selling.
For a 100% return, I would probably sell it to use the extra equity as a downpayment on a new house, but it is tempting to rent when you will own it free and clear very quickly. Then you have the extra monthly income plus the equity is still there shoudl you decide to sell later.
I got my quote from Lowes and I'm wondering if that's the same company. What's interesting is my realtor said go with good blinds instead because the return on shutters is just not there. I think I'll heed her advice. I think I can use the net difference of almost $1,700 better in other places.
Might be. That brand is also available wooden, which are much more costly. You are doing the right thing going with blinds. We eventually replaced the faux wood with real wood, but we have been in our house 15 years and have no plans to move.