It's nice to read posts on home improvements that will add value and how to stage your home so that it will sell faster. This gives you a great idea of what to consider when you're ready to stick that big "for sale" sign in your yard.
But, you're likely making improvements to your home over the entire time you're living there. If you know you're going to sell eventually - there are actually home improvement decisions that you should avoid.
Fact is, you can waste a lot of money making upgrades to your home in the hopes that you will get a handsome return on that investment - only to be disappointed when it doesn't actually bring home the big bucks when you sell.
It can be tough to have these conversations with hopeful home sellers. It's never easy to tell someone that the 30k they plopped down for that fancy upgrade is not going to add to their listing price.
So, to help you prepare your property to sell for top dollar and avoid the home improvement mistakes that won't actually help you do that, we are going to share the home improvements that typically do not add value.
1. Removing a Room:
We know, we know, it's easy to think that the owner's suite expansion that creates a giant closet or lounge space is worth losing a bedroom.
Or, maybe you just want an open concept on the ground floor and nobody uses that guest bedroom anyway.
Fact is, the extra bedroom is going to add more value to the home and make it more attractive to buyers than an expanded space somewhere in the house.
In fact, reducing the number of bedrooms will usually lower the selling price, even if removing it makes more sense for the overall flow of the house.
If you're going to sell, leave all of the bedrooms, rooms and garage as is and perhaps suggest alternatives to potential buyers who may consider renovating themselves.
2. Installing a Pool:
This is a touchy subject here in the Sacramento area, where there are almost 300 sunny days a year. People here love their pools and feel very passionate about them!
But, putting in a pool is not a small expense. The average pool installation price in this area is around $75,000 with many backyard resorts costing upwards of $100,000.
So, you can imagine that nobody wants to hear that their beloved backyard oasis is not going to give as much back to them when they sell. Sure, a finished pool could be an incentive for a family looking for a pool already installed, but you will likely not see a dollar for dollar return on that expense.
Bottom line: put in a pool if it's something your family plans to enjoy and anticipate that it may help a future family fall in love with your home, even if you don't see a total return on the financial investment.
3. Expensive Landscaping:
Similar to that pool, expensive landscaping will often cost more than you will see returned. The reason is simple: landscaping is very expensive. Adding concrete, gardens, plants, drip system, retaining walls, and any other type of yard landscaping required to take that dirt patch to glorious escape is an investment in both time and money.
In fact, Landscaping for a property with approximately 10,000 sq. feet could cost six figures or more!
So, while future buyers may fall in love with your property in part because of the ambience that landscaping creates, you will probably not see it add that much to your selling price. If you think you may not be at that address for long, you may want to consider more affordable, but still attractive, landscaping options.
4. Expensive Light Fixtures:
It's totally okay if you want to import that hand-crafted chandelier from Italy and install those custom lanterns along the entire exterior of your home. They'll certainly be something that you, and everyone who visits your home, will admire and enjoy.
But, not only does everyone have different taste in fixtures, but also the value of items like fixtures does depreciate over time. So, don't expect these fancy fixtures to up the selling cost of your home.
In fact, if you're especially attached to them, you may want to consider swapping out your favorites for more affordable lookalikes and take the ones you can't live without to your next home. You'll see a lot more return on your fixture investment by enjoying the lighting yourself than anticipating a higher selling price on your property.
5. Bright or Patterned Paint:
When it comes to home decor, neutral choices are always going to sell your home faster and for more money than anything bright, patterned or overly done.
Of course, you can and should decorate your home with colors and details that bring you and your family joy, so don't let this stop you from trying out that new paint trend or investing in the perfect floral wallpaper for your pantry.
Just know that when it's time to sell, you may want to invest in giving your home a nice, neutral coat of paint that will appeal to the majority of buyers. Check out our post on things to do before your listing your house, for more ways to prep your home for selling.
6. Expensive Kitchen Upgrades:
Yes, a kitchen upgrade is often one of the home improvements that will actually improve and add value to your home, but this comes with some caveats.
Kitchen finishes, from cabinetry to appliances, are available in a wide range of options. Past a certain point, you will just not see a dollar to dollar return on your investment.
So, put in those hand-crafted cabinets and super expensive appliances if you're a home chef and want to enjoy that with your family, but please don't be disappointed if you don't see potential buyers value them the way that you do.
If you're looking to flip a home and want to upgrade your kitchen, check out our post on how to profitably flip houses.
7. Built-In Expensive Electronics:
We know that home theater was state-of-the-art and top-of-the-line when you had it installed. Maybe that home surveillance system was the best one on the market.
Unfortunately, any electronic or technological home improvement is going to date faster than almost anything, especially with how fast technology is advancing today.
So, if possible, don't pay to have anything built-in, unless it's easy to upgrade or very important to you. Chances are good that when you choose to sell, the new buyers may want to rip out said system and install the one that they prefer, making those expensive electronics not a selling point, but an added cost to buyers.
8. DIY Home Upgrades:
With everything on YouTube and shows like Fixer Upper, everyone is picking up their measuring tapes and sledgehammers and getting to work on their houses.
There's definitely something to be said about sweat equity and taking ownership of your own home. But, when it comes to DIY home upgrades, unless you are a skilled contractor, it will often show in the finished product.
You may love the quirks and mistakes as proof that you worked hard and learned a lot while making those upgrades, but a new buyer may not find charm in those details.
In some cases, so much work is done by the owner that potential buyers just see a lot of renovation in their future. So, especially when embarking on home upgrades that are important to adding value, consider bringing in the professionals unless you are really confident in your work.
9. Quirky Tile & Decor:
Have a love affair with Moroccan tile? Absolutely obsess over the styling of the 70s? These home decor flourishes can be really fun to design and bring to life when you're enjoying your home.
But, oftentimes, it is the more neutral tile and decor choices that appeal to buyers.
You shouldn't make all your choices with a future buyer in mind, unless you know you're leaving soon, so get that lime green tile if it makes you happy - but just know that when it comes time to sell, most buyers might say they feel that bathroom needs some work.
10. Installing Solar Panels:
Everybody wants solar panels now, but nobody wants to pay for them. So, if you're installing solar panels, know that you will likely not see a huge increase in your selling price - although the inclusion of them will be attractive to buyers.
In some areas, solar panels may be even more of an incentive, whereas in others - you can pretty much count on those panels being more of a benefit to you while you live there than an asset when you sell.
When it comes to enjoying your home, you should always make the choices that are in your budget and will improve your quality of life while you enjoy the property.
But, if you are thinking of selling in the near future, these are some of the home upgrades and improvements that won't actually translate to a higher selling price.
We hope this list gives you a good idea of what adds value to your home and what doesn't - although, at the end of the day, you should love your home while you live in it, so don't shy away from making it your own.
Thanks for reading!