Homeowners often assume that upgrades and renovations always increase their place's value and make it more sellable. But while many home improvements can add to a house's appeal, they may not, in fact, add value and, in some cases, could even act as a detriment when the property goes on the market. Here are seven of the most common home improvements that could turn out to be mistakes.
Extensive Professional Landscaping
You can build an entire amusement park in your backyard and it won't bring you big bucks upon resale. If you want to put in a waterfall that cascades down into a koi pond, do it because you enjoy the water feature, not because you're hoping to recoup the investment. Landscaping choices are a personal preference, and all the hand-crafted bridges and unique pergolas in the world won't dramatically boost your bottom line. And some buyers will inevitably see only the money required to keep that beautiful backyard well maintained.1
Upgrading the Utilities
Although you may have paid thousands to install new copper or PEX plumbing, replace your sewer lines or septic system, or upgrade the electrical wiring to Romex or conduit, it's unlikely to bring you more dollars. These types of utility improvements are considered home maintenance—and your neighbors probably made them years before you. Of course, getting everything state-of-the-art isn't a bad idea: In certain areas, top-of-the-line is considered the standard, and without it, you could take a hit when selling time comes.
Many buyers in the marketplace appreciate a home that features a brand-new furnace or HVAC system, but they won't pay you much extra for having replaced it. However, if the HVAC system is particularly energy-efficient, you should use that as a selling point; it may make a potential buyer more excited about purchasing your home.3
The same holds true regarding a new roof: Replacing a roof past its average life expectancy of 30 years is considered a maintenance issue and won't necessarily enable you to up your asking price. But giving buyers who are on the fence the peace of mind that they won't have to make that costly repair anytime soon could spur them to make an offer.2
Swimming Pool or Hot Tub
The TV commercials for pools and hot tubs depict children having a blast splashing around and adults sipping cocktails in the bubbling water. Sadly, though, the cost and expense of aquatic amenities almost never find their way back into your pocket.4 Many people won't buy a home with a swimming pool. They don't want to deal with the upkeep or safety issues. In fact, as part of negotiations, a buyer might insist that you tear out the pool or whirlpool. If you want to install a pool or hot tub, do it because you will enjoy it, not because it will pay off when it's time to sell.
Making Quickly Dated Decor Changes
You might like white appliances and white ceramic counters, for example, but young home buyers do not. They are no longer "in." And don't go down the road of rose gold bathroom fixtures and door hardware. Even 12-inch-by-12-inch ceramic flooring has lost its appeal to some. The point is, don't deliberately decorate in the latest style for resale reasons. Fashion just changes too fast.5
Sure, the salespeople at the solar panel company tell you that installing solar panels will enhance your home's value, but that's often not true. Going solar may be an admirable thing for the environment, but it usually does nothing for your residence's selling price. Moreover, if you have financed the solar panels, you probably can't sell the home without paying off the balance at closing, something that often is not disclosed.6
The Bottom Line
Some homeowners are devastated to find out that the improvements they invested in—and perhaps borrowed money for—not only do not improve the value of their property but might actually detract from it. Fortunately, while most of these enhancements won't help you turn a bigger profit, they probably won't hurt, either—and they might make it easier to sell your home by giving the buyer peace of mind. Just don't confuse buyer peace of mind with an elevated price tag.
Source: The Balance