Don’t Lower Your Homes Value With These Improvements
Is it really true that some improvements could lower your home’s value? How can that be possible?
When you want to add value to your home, making improvements seems like the most obvious answer. After all, you can make improvements right now—you don’t have to sit around and wait for the market to turn in your favor.
But too often homeowners get excited about making improvements and move forward with renovations without verifying that those renovations will add value to their home.
In fact, some renovations may hurt your home value.
How can an “improvement” hurt your home value? Well, there are a few ways. First, the work you do on the home could literally lower your home’s value—as in making it less desirable than it was before the renovation.
For instance, if you were to eliminate a bedroom to enlarge the master bedroom, it could possibly lower the value. Buyers like extra bedrooms, and would generally prefer more rather than an unusually large master bedroom. Going from a four bedroom home down to a three bedroom is not wise.
Second, the work you do could cost more than you will get back in your sale. If you spend $20,000 on a home improvement, but your home sells for only $10,000 more, then you lost $10,000 by making the improvement.
So, before you call the contractor or break out your toolbox, learn about the renovations that are more likely to hurt than improve the value of your property. You can expect that these so-called improvements will probably bring you back less than you spend on them.
Take a look at the twenty home improvements that could reduce your house value. All of these things have a low return or no return on investment.
20 Home Improvements that May Hurt Home Value
1. Wallpapering rooms in your home
You might have heard that wallpaper is coming back. Yippee, you think to yourself. NOT when it comes to selling a home. Wallpaper has been and always will be a very personal choice. Whenever you make a home ultra-personalized, it’s going to be harder to sell.
Don’t bet on the fact that there will be buyers that love your wallpaper. The odds of that happening are slim. Now if you only have a room or two with wallpaper that might not be the end of the world. If you have more wallpaper than that, expect selling your home to be difficult.
There is a reason why most real estate agents will recommend removing wallpaper in a home to make it more salable. It doesn’t matter that you spent thousands from an interior decorator either. The buyer isn’t going to care if the wallpaper is ultra expensive or is leftovers from a clearance sale at Walmart.
2. Non-neutral paint colors
When you sell a home what you don’t want is the buyer thinking “I need to paint all the rooms in this house”. You can bet your bottom dollar that the buyer will be calculating the cost to repaint into something neutral. They will then offer you less money to cover the cost.
So while painting is one of the best improvements to increase a home’s value, that’s not the case when the colors are outrageous. This is covered in things that can bring down property values.
Painting is in fact one of the improvements that offer the best return on investment when selling a house. You can almost always expect to get your money back and often times more.
3. Painting the trim something other than white
In the land of crazy ideas, painting the trim in your home a color other than white is a BIG mistake. There are very few people who are going to enjoy the candle apple red trim you decided to paint the living and dining rooms.
While painting the walls, a crazy color is a mistake; painting trim a different color is even worse. Painting walls are easy. Painting trim is a much more laborious and expensive task. Painting trim with a color is an excellent way for a buyer to want to low ball the price of your home.
4. Texturing your ceilings and walls
Texturing is not as popular as it once was for a variety of reasons. If you decide that you love texturing—like popcorn ceilings—and you make improvements that add texture, you could be causing your home to be less appealing to buyers. A textured ceiling can be quite tricky to remove.
If buyers look at your home and decide that they will need to remove texturing that you just added, they may lower their price to account for all that hard work ahead of them. There is a reason you see smooth ceilings in luxury homes. They look much better!
Note: How to remove a popcorn ceiling.
5. Full carpeting
Buyers love hardwood flooring and other hard flooring options like engineered wood. These hard flooring options can increase the value of your home. In contrast, buyers are not as interested in carpeting as they once were.
Carpeting is nice in some parts of the home, but spending the money to fully carpet your house might be a waste of money since buyers will probably be searching for properties with at least some hardwood flooring.
The rooms where you should really avoid putting carpet include entryways and formal rooms such as dining or living rooms. Buyers would much prefer hardwood in these areas. Carpet screams “I ran out of money” when it is everywhere in a home.
6. Pergo flooring
Pergo is a type of laminate flooring. You would not believe how many sellers I have come across while selling in Metrowest Massachusetts who proudly tell me they just added Pergo to their kitchen. Of course, in their mind, they think it is a big plus.
Unfortunately, what so many people do not realize is that most people hate Pergo. While there can be many grades, it screams CHEAP. If you are going to change the floors in your home, do not put in Pergo, especially if you own a moderately priced home or higher.
Pergo is a home improvement that could bring down your house value. The problem is magnified even further if your home is expensive.
7. Unusual tiling
When selling, a neutral home sells, quirky does not. So while you may love the checkered kitchen floor that reminds you of the diner that you visited as a kid, the end buyer may not appreciate it. If you are going to be replacing floors go with something tasteful that the mainstream population will love.
8. Luxury kitchen renovations
Kitchen renovations are usually a shoo-in for increasing the value of a home—but there is such thing as going too far with such improvements. Buyers like nice kitchens, including new countertops and new appliances. However, they are not likely to be willing to pay for really high-end improvements in the average home.
Avoid spending too much on new appliances, cabinetry and countertops could lose you money. If you are selling a moderately priced home renovating with a luxury kitchen isn’t smart. You will end up losing money.
Here are some ways to save money on your kitchen shared via HGTV.
9. Luxury bathroom renovations
Bathroom renovations are also a great way to add some value to your home. But again, the average buyer will not be interested in paying for truly luxurious renovations.
Buyers want a bathroom to be clean and functional, which often means re-tiling, adding new grout, painting the walls and getting new lighting and fixtures.
Buyers do not want to pay for the finest in bathroom flooring and whirlpool tubs. If you have a choice between adding a Jacuzzi tub or a large custom tile shower, opt for the latter. Quality tiled showers are in when it comes to selling homes!
Better Homes and Gardens offers an excellent page for looking at potential bathroom remodeling ideas. Enjoy the variety of bathroom projects.
10. Turning two bedrooms into one
If your kids have grown up and moved out, or if you do not have kids, then having multiple small bedrooms might not be too practical. It can be tempting to knock down a wall and make two small bedrooms into one, so you have a bigger space.
But buyers may not feel the same. Many of them will be looking for a place to raise children, and ideally, they will want a home that has enough bedrooms so that each child can have his or her own room.
For example, usually, it does not make sense to go from a four bedroom down to a three bedroom. The one time it might make sense is if you only have one full bath upstairs and are looking to add a master bath. Sometimes eliminating a bedroom is the only way to acquire the space to do it.
Make sure you speak to a local real estate agent to get their input on this one.
One special note about bedrooms: Make sure you only market your home for the legal amount of bedrooms you have. You can see the legal requirements for a bedroom here.
Lots of people have no idea you cannot market a home for more bedrooms than the septic system capacity. Those with public sewer do that have this worry.
11. Themed children’s bedrooms
A themed children’s bedroom always looks good the day it’s finished. It is like driving a new car off the lot. Months later after the newness has worn off, it can look just like another highly personalized space that only a small percentage of people will like.
Sure your kid’s fascination with Sponge Bob was cute but is the next buyer going to share their enthusiasm? Will the buyer have kids of the same age group or gender? Will they even be able to stand to look at some odd cartoon? This is the kind of home improvement mistake that can impact your value and not in a good way. It is even worse when the theme was done in harder to remove wallpaper.
When it comes time to sell the house, you might want to think about a good can of neutral paint.
12. Eliminating closets to make another improvement
Closet space sells homes. It’s that simple. Don’t make the mistake of removing an essential closet because you wanted to make some other improvement. It could come back to bite you.
13. Adding a sunroom
A nice sunroom can be wonderful when you want to enjoy the outdoors without sacrificing comfort. But adding a sunroom is a reasonably expensive home improvement—and many buyers will not be interested in paying enough for your home to pay for that improvement.
They might not imagine themselves using the sunroom very much, or maybe they would just prefer to put renovation money elsewhere.
14. Home theaters
The technology available now for home theaters is quite amazing. If you are the type of homeowner who appreciates such technology, you may be interested in building your own theater at home.
But be careful. If you plan to sell the home in the next few years, you might not get your money’s worth. Many buyers will not be interested in paying for the theater.
You can drop over a $100,000 in a luxury home theater in a heartbeat. Don’t do it expecting to get all your money back. You probably won’t. Other types of built-in electronics can also date themselves pretty quickly, as new technology arrives on the scene.
15. Hot tub
Relaxing in a new hot tub certainly sounds nice, but if you are planning on selling shortly, it may not be a good investment. While you may get a lot of use out of a hot tub, many home buyers will not be interested in having a hot tub in the home they buy.
Hot tubs are expensive and time consuming to maintain. They are also considered a safety hazard by many parents who have small children. If you really want a hot tub, look into getting one that can be moved relatively easily to your new home when you sell your current home.
If your hot tub is in tough shape get rid of it before listing your home for sale.
16. Swimming pool
It has been shown over and over again that pools do not have a good return on investment. This is magnified ten-fold when you live in a part of the country where the pool season is minimal. For example, where I am in the Northeast, you would be lucky to get half the money back you spend on a pool.
Pools are expensive to install and not every buyer will want to keep up with maintenance or even be interested in using a pool. There is also the issue of safety.
Parents of smaller children, or people who are thinking about having children in their new home, may not want a house with a swimming pool specifically because of the hazard it presents.
Realistically, only buyers with children in a specific age range are searching for homes with pools. Just about every other group of buyers is going to be less excited about your new pool than you are.
Swimming pools have a low return on investment. Obviously, some people don’t care and install a pool strictly for enjoyment and entertainment value.
17. Garage conversions
The garage offers so many possibilities. You could turn it into a gym. You could turn it into a living space. There are numerous things you could do with it—but remember that most buyers are looking for homes with garages because they want to use the garage to store their car or other items.
They may prefer going to the gym rather than working out at home, or they may not even like working out. They may have no use for more living space. Keep your garage as it is if you are going to sell your home.
A garage conversion will be an even greater mistake in cold weather climates. Many buyers will not even buy a home that does not have a garage. Think about having to go out and shovel the snow off a windshield and you will understand why. Anyone who has had a garage won’t be willing to sacrifice this amenity.
18. Special landscaping
Everyone likes a home with excellent curb appeal. However, it is easy to go overboard with your landscaping in pursuit of an aesthetic that you are fond of. Everyone has different tastes, which means the more elaborate your landscaping becomes, the less likely buyers are to find it appealing.
Really lovely landscaping is also difficult and expensive to maintain, which may not be attractive to buyers who want to have an easy-to-care-for lawn and home exterior.
19. Built-in fish tanks
Okay, I’ll admit it – I love the look of a built-in fish tank. The buyer in me thinks it’s real cool. The real estate agent thinks otherwise. Why? Lots of buyers might not give a darn about making tending to fish a part of their daily routine. The odds are that most people won’t want the maintenance headaches.
20. Do it yourself projects, and it shows
For many homeowners doing things themselves is a great way to save some money. For others, it is a huge mistake because it is clearly apparent that a professional should have been hired to do the work.
Don’t be the homeowner that thinks a lack of quality is acceptable. The more expensive the home, the more shoddy workmanship will become evident to a buyer. Doing work when a pro should have been hired can hurt the value of your home.
Why? The buyer is going to be thinking that they will need a professional to either rip it out or make a significant upgrade.
It should be painfully obvious that not every home improvement is worthwhile. Some improvements are real losers both regarding money and making your home harder to sell.
If you are going to be selling your house be careful what improvements you make.
Additional Helpful Home Selling Resources
Use these additional references to make the best decisions possible when buying or selling a home.
About the Author: The above Real Estate information on improvements that could lower your home value was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 32+ years.
Are you thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!
I service Real Estate sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Natick, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.