Don’t let your desire to upgrade your home downgrade your home’s market value. Before you make a renovation fantasy a reality, consider whether the project will pay off when you’re ready to sell. Plenty of home improvements add value, but others — like these five — can hurt it.
A chef-quality kitchen
If you love to cook, a high-end kitchen could be the ultimate gift — for you. But if you think a massive overhaul will majorly impact resale value, you might be in for a surprise. An upscale kitchen renovation recoups just 54% of its cost in added value, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2020 Cost vs. Value report.
Smaller kitchen upgrades could yield a bigger payoff: think granite rather than marble, and GE instead of Sub-Zero.
A bold statement wall can say the wrong thing to potential buyers if the workmanship is questionable. Streaky, chipped, or low-quality paint can knock $1,700 off a home’s sale price, according to Opendoor data that looked at home offers made from June 2018 to June 2019. A good paint job is not easy. Hiring a professional to paint can help ensure a more attractive result.
An expanded master suite
Knocking down a wall to create an oversize master bedroom or stealing closet space to build out a spa-style bathroom may sound dreamy. But how about as a selling point? If you go from five bedrooms to four, and you can make it work, no big deal. But losing a bedroom in a smaller house could mean a lower selling price.
As for cutting into closet space, residential building codes don’t mandate that bedrooms have closets. But, once you take the closet out of a bedroom, to a buyer, that no longer looks like a bedroom.
Plush wall-to-wall carpeting
Carpet can be especially unattractive to first-time home buyers, who may be used to landlords updating carpet between renters.
It can also ding your sale price. Carpet as the primary flooring in a house drops the value by 3,900 — and carpeting in the master bedroom causes a $3,800 plunge, according to Opendoor. Conversely, a 2019 report from the National Association of Realtors estimated that sellers could recoup the entire cost of refinishing hardwood floors. New wood flooring could actually add value, with sellers getting 1.06 for every dollar spent according to NAR.
A swimming pool
It doesn’t matter if it’s infinity edge or above-ground: Any pool can be seen as a drawback by buyers who don’t want to deal with maintenance or insurance. Even here in sunny North Texas, a pool doesn’t add value. If you’re thinking resale, it’s not worth it — you’ll never recoup the cost. But if you’ll use it and enjoy it, put in a pool.
How to decide if a renovation is worth the cost
To ensure you’re making an informed decision:
Consider your timeline. If you’re going to be in the home for 30 years, you can do anything, because at that point, your mortgage is paid off. Looking to sell in the near future? Pay closer attention to whether your choices will appeal to a potential buyer.
Consult an expert. Talk to a professional so you aren’t making misinformed choices that are going to work against you in five to 10 years. A designer can help you tell fleeting trends from future classics; a contractor can explain what kind of work a proposed renovation would entail.
Compare home features in your area. Look at comparable homes for sale near you and going to open houses to make sure your improvements align with the norms for your neighborhood. Even better, get an appraisal. A licensed appraiser can do a feasibility study to estimate your home’s current value and its likely value after the improvements.