Homeowners looking to sell soon or sometime down the road often invest in home renovations to boost their home's value for a resale. Some home improvements, however, can actually hurt your home's value.
Sometimes, these home renovations are done particularly with a resale in mind. Other times, they’re simply done to suit a homeowner’s personal preferences. Either way, it’s important to keep your home’s resale value in mind, and do your research before investing in any home improvement updates.
If you want to increase your home's value instead of hurting it, click through to see the top home renovations to avoid.
1. Lavish Lighting Fixtures
One common home improvement mistake is falling in love with unique or lavish light fixtures, said Alon Barzilay, founder of real estate development company Barzilay Development.
“Whether it be ceiling-mounted lights in a dining room or a hanging pendant, there is a psychological phenomenon that happens when you go to a lighting store … you're going to pick something exciting and new instead of picking a new addition that suddenly matches the big picture,” Barzilay said.
Furthermore, the passage of trends works against homeowners. “Whatever is in vogue today will look dated 10 years down the road when you are ready to sell," he added. "Simple is best. Fortunately, lighting can easily be switched out at a low cost."
2. Too Much Wallpaper
With its patterns and texture, wallpaper can be an overwhelming design choice. Plus, it's notoriously difficult to remove. Homebuyers might view wallpaper removal as a potential headache, and it could be the tipping point for someone who wants a more move-in ready home.
Fresh paint and neutral colors are always a good idea to help stage your home when it’s on the market. If you do have wallpaper, think about whether it's beneficial to remove it and repaint the walls before any showings or open houses, so your potential buyers never have to think about it.
3. Texture on the Walls and Ceilings
Just like wallpaper, texture on walls and ceilings is difficult to remove. Simply knowing that a timely project lies ahead might cause homebuyers to decrease their offer. Think twice before deciding on a fancy textured painting technique, and play around with textured wall décor instead.
4. Quirky Tiling
Any over-personalized renovation can hurt the value of a home, especially something like tiling, which requires more effort and money to replace, according to Bob Gordon, Realtor and blogger at BoulderRealEstateNews.com.
“Many buyers like to upgrade the floors in their homes," he said. "Adding tile or wood can make an improvement in value — unless you get that person that wants the 1950s diner look and installs black-and-white tile. For their vision, this is the pinnacle of cool. But for a resale value, most homebuyers will see it as a distraction and something they will need to rip out."
Instead, consider going with a traditional white tile floor, and buy a rug with the style you're going for, he recommended.
5. Too Much Carpeting
Most homebuyers, 54 percent, are willing to pay more for a home with hardwood floors, according to USA Today, citing National Association of Realtors data. Compared to hardwood and laminate floors, carpet can quickly show signs of damage. Plus, colors and textures are highly based on personal preference, and any overly personal touches can decrease a home’s value.
6. Bright and Bold Paint Colors
Bright and bold paint colors can turn off any potential buyer who might lack a bit of vision. Fortunately, repainting a room before putting your home on the market is an easy fix, albeit an important one. Choose neutral colors to present buyers with a blank canvas, which can help them envision the home in their own style, HGTV recommended.
7. An Extremely High-End Kitchen
The kitchen is often the heart of a home, and it’s a project many homeowners save up for. However, the resale value of a major, high-end kitchen remodel is actually less than what you'll invest in it. In 2015, the national average for a major kitchen remodel cost $56,768, but the resale value was only $38,485, according to Remodeling.hw.net.
To avoid spending too much on a project that won’t give you a return on investment, try to focus on which aspects of the kitchen are most outdated or worn. And as tempting as it might be, consider selecting mid-range appliances rather than the expensive high-end options.
8. A Luxury Bathroom
An upgraded bathroom can certainly add value to a home, but it’s easy to get carried away and take the idea of luxury a little too far. Potential buyers could be scared off by over-personalized finishes and over-the-top whirlpool tubs that are hard to clean and hard for some people to climb into. Instead, consider a walk-in shower to appeal to a wider audience, DesignBasics.com recommends.
9. A Home Office Conversion
Thanks to improved technology, more professionals have the opportunity to work from home, and some might consider creating a dedicated home office space to get the job done. If the new office space was formerly a bedroom, this could be a costly mistake, according to Jamal Asskoumi, real estate agent and owner of homes listing website CastleSmart.com.
“A home office is usually a conversion from a bedroom," he said. "This already is wrong. Never convert a bedroom into anything other than a bedroom. It will devalue your property immediately. Losing a bedroom could see a 10 percent [drop] in price."
If you must use a bedroom space for a home office, be sure to avoid any bulky built-in desks or shelving units. That way, when it's time to sell, you can easily stage the space back into a bedroom for potential buyers to see.
10. Combining Bedrooms to Create a Bigger Room
Combining two small bedrooms to create a bigger room might seem like a good idea to a young couple with no children or to empty nesters whose children have left the house. But this is a bad move if you don’t plan on staying in that home forever, according to Brian Davis, real estate investor and co-founder of renting resource SparkRental.com.
“Even small bedrooms add value to homes, as most families want children to have their own rooms but don’t mind if they’re on the small side,” he said. “In my experience, each bedroom can add about 15 percent to the value of a home.”
Instead of knocking down walls, try simple tricks to make your bedroom space look bigger, like lighter colors and modern, slim furniture.
11. Removing Closets
Michele Silverman Bedell, chief executive of residential agency Silversons, told MarketWatch that she’s seen firsthand how removing a closet to make room for another upgrade, such as a larger bathroom or bedroom, can hurt a home’s resale value.
“People need closets,” Bedell said. “They’ll walk in and count the number of closets per room.”
12. A Sunroom Addition
A sunroom can be a great space to enjoy the outdoors away from the elements, but according to Remodeling, a sunroom addition is one of the worst home renovations when it comes to return on investment. In 2015, the national average mid-range sunroom addition cost $75,726 and only had a resale value of $36,704.
Think carefully about how often you’ll use a sunroom before committing to this costly renovation, especially if your home might be on the market anytime soon.
13. A Built-In Aquarium
A built-in aquarium can make a home feel fancy and upscale, but it requires constant maintenance and can be costly to remove. Not all potential buyers will want to care for a large tank full of fish or pay for the maintenance that comes along with it. Instead, opt for a standard fish tank to avoid any issues down the line.
14. Built-In High-End Electronics
An in-house theater is perfect for any movie buff, but built-in or customized electronics that take up space in an otherwise usable room could be off-putting to potential buyers, according to BobVila.com. As with all home renovations, personalization can lead to a decrease in home value, and built-in technology that can quickly become outdated is no exception.
15. A Swimming Pool
Contrary to popular belief, a swimming pool addition is not the best way to add value to your home. In fact, according to HouseLogic, a swimming pool could increase a home’s value by only 7 percent at most — and that’s only in certain circumstances.
“Unless you live somewhere that’s hot at least six months out of the year, pools are generally more trouble than they’re worth,” said Davis. “The only people who really want them are families with a certain age range of children, so it limits the potential buyers.”
With the cost to build a pool, maintenance expenses and a very minor potential value increase, a swimming pool addition simply isn’t worth it for most homeowners.
16. A Hot Tub
Similar to swimming pools, hot tubs are a gamble — they take up space and require constant maintenance. Plus, homebuyers with children might consider a hot tub a safety hazard. Many homebuyers won’t want one and will need to consider the cost of completely removing the hot tub when making an offer, according to Asskoumi.
If a hot tub is on your list of must-haves for your home, consider a portable hot tub versus a built-in hot tub. You could potentially take it with you when you move, or your home’s new owners can easily remove it when they choose to.
17. A Garage-to-Gym or Living Space Conversion
For a fitness lover, a garage-to-gym conversion might seem like a wonderful idea. To parents of a millennial who just moved back home, a garage-to-apartment conversion probably seems like a genius idea. But keep in mind, your future homebuyers might not agree.
Many people search for houses with a garage, and what they’re looking for isn’t a gym or an extra living space — they’re looking for a garage to serve its primary purpose of housing cars and storage items. In fact, in a recent survey of 7,500 people, 74 percent of recent buyers said that having a garage is extremely or very important, according to MarketWatch.
If you must use your garage space as a gym or as extra living space, be sure future homeowners can easily and inexpensively remove the renovations.
18. The Wrong Landscaping Investment
Homeowners are prone to certain devaluing landscaping mistakes in the name of “curb appeal," said Theodore Beasley of Landscaping London. “Costly landscaping decoration will not increase the value of your home, but rather increase the maintenance required for it. A potential buyer sees this, and it may turn into a concern. Fancy decorative additions that you find attractive are pretty much subjective, as well — including your personal DIY projects.”
Keep your gardens beautiful but simple and easy to maintain, and be sure any decorative additions can be easily removed.
19. Beautiful But Messy Trees
Trees are an important part of any home’s landscape, but it’s important to do your research before planting anything. Beasley recommended homeowners particularly look out for any trees with leaves or flowers that might create a mess in the yard.
“Some trees just tend to be more messy than others," he said. "Constant leaf rain is not something that will positively attract a potential homebuyer. When fall comes, they will just know it will give them a hard time."
Trees to stay away from include oak, female Ginkgo biloba, sweet gum, locust tree and Eastern white pine. These messy trees can decrease your curb appeal, and removal can set you back a hefty sum, depending on the tree's size, Beasley said. Instead, choose an alternative tree, like an Eastern red cedar, crepe myrtle or Colorado blue spruce.
20. DIY Repairs
Always think twice before getting into the do-it-yourself home improvement game. Gordon said he’s seen several examples of DIY jobs that have decreased a home's value.
“I've seen plenty of houses where you can tell the owner did the work," he said. "The owner probably feels she made all the right improvements, but buyers quickly see the shoddy workmanship and unusual finished product."
“Overcoming these mistakes is simple: Don't try to do the work yourself," Gordon added. "Hire a pro, then ask to be a part of the process and learn from the professional as they do the job."
The bottom line is that any over-personalization of your home can lead to a decrease in value. Yes, you want to live in a space you love, but think twice before investing in any major or costly renovations. And always make sure your home improvements are completed with the proper permits by licensed professionals.