Written by Anne Reagan
As a homeowner, you should be spending money on remodeling projects, repairs, and maintenance that help keep your home operating well and looking great. Of course many cosmetic upgrades, like updating the kitchen, add beauty to the home, make it more attractive to potential home buyers, and add functionality. But sometimes homeowners want to add features to the home that provide enjoyment and whimsy and hope that these features will add perceived value at the time of sale. Unfortunately, some of these projects might be seen as unattractive, an eyesore, or too expensive to upkeep – thus becoming a project that detracts value. So before you start calling contractors and scheduling appointments, you may want to make sure you’re not doing one of these low-value projects, especially if you are planning on selling anytime soon.
1. Adding a swimming pool
Swimming pools are nice for hot summer days and occasional swims, but they are a high-maintenance feature that not all homeowners appreciate. In fact, most home buyers look at homes with a pool as too costly to consider — after all, they have to pay to maintain it, heat it and could be a disaster if a family has small children. So, you might be surprised to see that a swimming pool doesn’t add much value to your home if you install one. Also, considering how much they cost (anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000) plus their annual maintenance, that is a large amount of money to pour into a specialized activity. That being said, there are certain parts of the U.S. in which having a swimming pool is expected, like Arizona and Florida. Before installing a pool, you’ll want to carefully consider the neighborhood comps and understand your local housing market. And if you still want to add a swimming pool, just keep in mind that the next buyer may not appreciate it as much as you do
2. High-end upgrades in a modest neighborhood
Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are attractive, but if a kitchen is overbuilt for the neighborhood you’re not doing your home any favors. Overbuilding or over-upgrading your home compared to the neighborhood may not attract the right buyers for your home. This is because home sales are based on market comparisons — comparing similar-sized homes in the neighborhood. So if the homes around you are selling for $150,000, it may be unrealistic to expect to ask twice that amount. If you are unsure about how much to spend on a particular project, read through our budget articles and return on investment articles.
3. Too much carpet
Carpet is a lot more comfortable than hardwood floors but before you start ordering that carpet, consider the value. Carpet can easily look dingy, trap allergens, and doesn’t have the longevity of hardwood floors. If you have tile, wood or another solid surface flooring, think carefully if you are considering laying carpeting over it. Typically prospective homebuyers like to see solid flooring – in fact, many homebuyers would love to know if any valuable flooring can be salvaged underneath carpeting. So if you already have a solid flooring surface, invest your money into refinishing the hardwood floors and tile you already have. If you already have to carpet rooms (like bedrooms) then thoroughly cleaning or replacing the carpeting is a good idea.
4. Rooms that are too specific
Unless you live in a mansion, no one expects to see a bowling alley, wine room, yoga studio or craft room. If you are among the millions of homeowners living in a typical detached single-family home, you’ll want your rooms to have both a clear purpose and be relatable to the widest audience possible. For example, if you have a bonus room or rec room, it’s a good idea to make it look as if it is currently serving a purpose (like watching t.v.) but not so specific that a prospective homebuyer couldn’t picture themselves living in it. Home stagers are experts at helping homeowners see their home through the eyes of a potential homebuyer. You may be using your extra bedroom as a painting studio or sewing room, however, a professional home stager would recommend turning it into a room that would be the most appealing to the widest audience – like a bedroom.
5. High maintenance landscapes
Everyone loves a beautiful garden, but not everyone wants a landscape that requires a large amount of money, water or time. Water, both the conservation and cost, are of primary concern for many potential buyers. Yards that look like they might require weekly maintenance, or appear as though expert landscapers are paid to attend to it, maybe perceived as too high maintenance for the average owner. The same may be said of complex water features or other specialty landscape items. It’s a good idea to have a healthy and well-manicured yard that has curb appeal. But it may not be worth installing expensive landscaping and plants that won’t be valued by the next owner.