Some home renovations that could decrease your property value include installing a swimming pool or hot tub. Other renovations, such as luxury bathrooms and kitchens, may increase the value of the property but are expensive and have a negative return on your investment. Before remodeling, consider whether you intend to sell your property soon and how personal your renovations are.
Homeowners spend approximately $400 billion on home renovations every year, according to a report by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. In 2020, that figure increased by about $20 billion. Clearly, many homeowners are interested in either improving their living space for their own use or preparing it for resale.
But before you get started on a home renovation project, take a few minutes to consider your goals. Most importantly, are you planning to live in the home for a long time or sell it within a few years? That critical question will help determine the type and scale of projects you should take on. Read on to learn more about home renovations that may not help you sell your house or significantly add value to your home.
Home improvement projects to avoid
Sometimes knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what you should do. Also keep in mind that while there are home renovations that will decrease your property value, some may just make your house more difficult to sell.
Here are a few home improvement projects to avoid if you don’t want to make a potentially costly mistake.
1. Over-the-top landscaping
Nice landscaping can do a lot to improve the curb appeal of your home. If the outside of your home looks neat, tidy, and well cared for, homebuyers are that much more likely to want to have a look inside. Having said that, if the landscaping is too elaborate and requires a lot of upkeep, it could turn off prospective buyers.
2. Over personalization
You might think bold paint colors really make a room pop, but future homeowners may not see it that way. Buyers want a blank canvas so as to envision themselves in the house without being distracted by brightly-colored walls. If you want to sell your house faster, put up a fresh coat of paint in neutral colors before listing it.
The same goes for too much wallpaper. Not only is this a very personal choice, but it’s also notoriously difficult to remove. If a room or two has wallpaper in good condition, this might not be a deal breaker. But if the house is covered in wallpaper, it might turn off potential buyers who see removing excessive wallpaper as a giant chore and prefer a more move-in ready home.
3. Garage conversions
If you’re tempted to convert your garage into a home gym, office, or other living space, think again. When most homeowners seek houses with a garage, they want to use it to store their cars, lawn equipment, and other things they don’t want in the house. A completely converted garage that’s unusable for its intended purpose may actually detract from a home’s resale value.
Still, if you want to use your garage as a gym or home office, go ahead. Just make sure that it can easily be dismantled by a prospective buyer if they want to use it for other purposes.
4. Swimming pools/hot tubs
You might think that having a swimming pool or hot tub is a homeowner’s dream. However, many buyers disagree with this idea. For starters, swimming pools (and hot tubs to a lesser degree) require frequent and expensive maintenance, which new homeowners may see as a nuisance rather than a bonus. This is particularly true if you don’t live in an area where it’s warm most of the time, like Florida or Arizona.
In addition, a swimming pool or hot tub comes with safety issues, especially if there are young children in the household. Finally, a swimming pool may also add to the cost of homeowners insurance, which could deter potential buyers even further.
If, on the other hand, you’re still looking for homeowners insurance to cover your property, get a better idea of what you may qualify for by using the tool below.
5. Lavish light fixtures
When you buy a house and realize the light fixtures are from the 1950s, changing them out can be fun. It’s a relatively simple fix that you can do by yourself or with a competent assistant, and it makes a big difference in the style of your home.
To that end, it can be pretty tempting to choose something new and exciting. But keep in mind that something that’s trendy now might look dated in five years. Better to choose something classic and simple that can stand the test of time and won’t turn off potential buyers.
6. Wall-to-wall carpeting
Too much carpeting isn’t something most buyers want to see, and it doesn’t result in added value. Plus, colors and textures are very much a personal choice, and what looks good to you may not appeal to the new owner. Carpeting can also get worn out pretty quickly and can be difficult to keep clean
Neutral-colored tile or hardwood floors are much more desirable, easier to clean, and will contribute to the resale value of a home. To put your individual stamp on the house, consider area rugs in your desired style, which can easily be taken with you when you move.
7. DIY projects
Home renovations are expensive, so doing the work yourself can seem like a good way to save money. But if it’s not a professional-looking job, buyers will notice and it may turn them off. And, in most cases, DIY projects do not add value to the home.
“Poorly executed renovations can make a home look shoddy and unappealing to potential buyers,” says Stacy Elmore, Co-founder of SEE Home Improvements. “This can lead to a decrease in value as buyers may be turned off by the perceived lack of quality. Using low-quality materials in renovations can also negatively impact a home’s value.”
8. Elaborate kitchen remodel
Going overboard on a kitchen remodel is a common home improvement mistake, though you shouldn’t ignore upgrades altogether. If the appliances are outdated, the countertops are in bad shape, and the floor is covered in linoleum, making some updates may help sell your home. But remodeling a kitchen is incredibly expensive, and you can’t expect to recoup all that money when it comes time to sell.
According to Remodeling Magazine in its 2022 Cost vs. Value report, the mid-range cost of a minor kitchen remodel costs about $28,000. Of that, you can expect to recoup about 71% in increased home value. By contrast, a major kitchen remodel will set you back about $80,000 but you might only recoup around 56% — a significant difference.
9. Luxury bathrooms
Similar to a major kitchen remodel, excessive remodeling of your bathroom might be a mistake when you go to resell the home. This is particularly true if you customize it in such a way that your individual tastes are permanently attached to the character of the bathroom.
Instead, it might be better to go with simple flooring, neutral paint, and classic fixtures. Think about letting unique decor, artwork, and other details showcase your personal style instead.
Extreme upgrades compared to the rest of the home can also cause problems. Specifically, if you’re adding a very unique and eclectic bathroom to a home that doesn’t need it, this can decrease the overall value of the home if you’re not careful,” says Forrest McCall, a real estate investor and owner of Mama Needs a New Project.
10. Built-in electronics
A home theater can be a nice bonus room, but adding built-in electronics can take up needed space and could be unattractive to potential buyers. Add to that the fact of ever-changing technology, and those high-end customized electronics will become outdated pretty quickly.
11. Removing storage
Renovating your closets, like adding shelves or organizers, is a great home renovation project, but don’t even think about tearing out closets to make a bigger room. People want and need their storage areas, and decreasing closet space will definitely not increase the value of your home. Depending on the housing market, it could even make it more difficult to sell.
12. Combining bedrooms
The number of bedrooms you have is an important factor when trying to sell your home and affects the sale price. For example, if you have a three-bedroom house and you knock down a wall to make a bigger room, your house is now listed as a two-bedroom.
In that case, you won’t be able to list the house for as much as you could with a comparable house that does have three bedrooms. Plus, most homebuyers with families want their children to be able to have their own rooms even if they’re relatively small.
13. Home-office conversion
Refinishing an attic or basement can be a great idea because you’re adding living space, which adds to your home value. However, be wary of other room conversions, such as outfitting an extra bedroom into a home office. This can put off the next owners who may need it as a bedroom. Instead of installing a built-in desk and shelves, put in a freestanding desk and bookshelves that can easily be removed to convert the room back into a bedroom.
14. Adding a sunroom addition
A sunroom can be a lovely addition to the home, but it’s an expensive undertaking and may not add much value to your home. This is because sunrooms aren’t usually included in the home’s square footage like a full-room addition.
Still, a sunroom addition is a nice feature to enjoy and, if built well, shouldn’t detract from the home’s property value like some renovations.
15. “Renovating” historic homes
If you have an older, historic home, some of the characteristics of that house are what make it valuable and desirable to many buyers. Think carefully before you remove elements of the house that make it authentic.
“Removing original architectural characteristics is another example of a renovation that might reduce a property’s value,” points out Artem Kropovinsky, interior designer and Founder and Principal at Arsight.
Removing historic elements such as hardwood fireplaces, crown molding, or wood flooring can make a home feel less authentic and attractive. Original architectural characteristics are frequently one of the unique and intriguing components of a home, and eliminating them can make the property feel less remarkable.”
Financing your home improvements
If you’re ready to sell and want to make improvements first but aren’t sure how to pay for the work, there are a few options you could explore.
- Personal loan. An unsecured personal loan could be a great option to consider if you don’t want to put up your house as collateral. While this may mean higher interest rates, personal loans are also relatively easy to apply for.
- Credit card. Paying for home renovations with a credit card isn’t always a good idea due to the high interest rates. However, if you recently received a credit card with a 0% APR introductory period and think you can pay off the balance in time, you can pay for your renovations without worrying about interest.
- Tapping equity. Using your equity for a home renovation may be your best option when it comes to financing. Whether you choose a home equity loan, line of credit (HELOC), or home equity investment, these financing options could provide the money you need at a low interest rate.
Related reading: To learn more about how to use your equity and which choice may be best for you, check out our articles on each option.
- How Much Equity Do I Have in My Home?
- How to Tap Into Your Home Equity Without Getting Into Debt
- How To Get Equity Out Of Your Home
- Pros and Cons of a Home Equity Loan
- Cash-Out Refinance vs. Home Equity Loan
- Home Equity Loan vs. Line of Credit: Which Should You Choose?
- Fixed-Rate HELOC: How Does It Work?
- The Complete Guide to HELOCs: Everything You Need to Know About Home Equity Lines of Credit
- How to Get a Home Improvement Loan with No Equity
Just because the next buyer might not like your tastes doesn’t necessarily mean you should curtail all of your remodeling ambitions. That said, you should take into consideration when (or if) you might want to resell the property.
“Consider how your sale timeline can dictate stylistic decisions,” says Greg Larson, CEO and Co-founder of Dwellify. “If you’re looking to move quickly, then doing an update that’s neutral is best, since more of your potential buyers will be able to envision themselves in the space. If you don’t have plans to move on the calendar, then you can take a freer hand in really making the space your own.”
What renovations will add more value to the home?
Now that you know what not to do when making home renovations, here are some of the best renovations you can make that could add value to your home and/or increase the salability of the property, according to the National Association of Realtors.
|New hardwood and laminate floors||Roofing|
|Refinishing the basement or attic||Siding|
|Kitchen and bath upgrades||Windows|
|Updated insulation||Garage door replacement|
|Adding a bathroom||Simple, tasteful landscaping|
|Adding a new master suite|
- When considering home improvements, think about when (or if) you want to sell and what will be most appealing to a potential buyer.
- Things to avoid when making home improvements include lavish lighting fixtures, wall-to-wall carpeting, bold paint colors, elaborate kitchen and bath remodels, and combining bedrooms.
- Projects that can add to your home value include new hardwood floors, minor bath and kitchen remodels, upgraded insulation, and new windows, siding, and roof.
View Article Sources
- Healthy Home Remodeling: Consumer Trends and Contractor Preparedness — Harvard University | Joint Center for Housing Studies
- Remodeling Impact Report — National Association of Realtors
- A Guide to Financing for Home Improvement — SuperMoney
- Home Improvement Financing: How to Finance a Home Renovation (Updated 2023) — SuperMoney
- How Much Equity Do I Have in My Home? — SuperMoney
- How to Tap Into Your Home Equity Without Getting Into Debt — SuperMoney
- How To Get Equity Out Of Your Home — SuperMoney
- What Does It Cost to Build an Outdoor Kitchen? — SuperMoney
- Kitchen Remodel Financing: How to Finance Your Dream Kitchen — SuperMoney
- How Much Does a Kitchen Remodel Cost? 4 Most Expensive Features — SuperMoney
- How to Use Home Equity to Fund a Home Renovation — SuperMoney
- Can You Add Renovation Costs to Your Mortgage? — SuperMoney
- How to Get a Home Improvement Loan with No Equity — SuperMoney
- How to Finance a House — SuperMoney
- Best Shared Equity Alternatives to Home Improvement Financing — SuperMoney
- Mortgage Industry Study — SuperMoney