Sometimes, making an improvement to your home could actually hurt you when you try to sell it. Here are the top 10 home improvements that can make your home harder to sell:
1. Kitchen Renovation. Any renovation of a kitchen that is too taste-specific or extreme in design. For example, a kitchen equipped with a restaurant-level stove or multiple refrigerators may not appeal to the buyer who is a simple cook. You want to appeal to the broadest range of buyers when selling a home, and if a buyer thinks they need to spend money re-doing what you’ve done, they will offer less.
2. Bathroom Renovations. The same can be said for bathroom renovations. Any design that is over the top could detract from the value of the home. It is best to avoid garish sinks, faucets, and tiles. And skip the heart-shaped bathtub!
3. Painting. Painting the walls is a great way to freshen up a space prior to putting your home on the market, but painting with bold colors such as red, orange, purple or even black (I’ve seen this) is a sure way to turn off a potential buyer. Buyers want to feel like they can move right in and not have to re-paint the walls to match their own tastes and their existing furniture. The same goes for painting the exterior of the home – no bright blues, yellows or greens please!
4. Water Features. Having an in-ground pool, hot tub, waterfall or pond can also devalue a home, as buyers may perceive these as extra maintenance expenses they don’t want to incur. Also, buyers with small children may be fearful of these as well. The only exception of an in-ground pool definitely adding value is if the home is an investment property in a resort area where renters find homes with a pool to be more desirable.
5. “Wasted” Square Footage. Taking valuable square footage in a house and using it for a specific, personalized purpose can make the house harder to sell and/or detract from its value, for example, turning a garage into a gym. Also, on the Bravo TV show, Nine By Design, the hosts of the show were trying to sell their NYC townhouse. The ground floor was taken up by a basketball/squash court because the owners liked to play these games. However, most buyers would see this as wasted space and an expensive project ahead to change.
6. Redecorating. Redecorating in a highly taste-specific style, such as Asian, country clutter or extreme modern can turn-off potential buyers. When selling your home, you want to appeal to the broadest range of buyers, so it’s important that the furniture and decor is neutral and broadly appealing.
7. Illegal home improvements. Decks, driveways, expansions, etc. not approved by the local town authorities can devalue the home as you will probably be forced to correct the situation prior to selling which could result in something as extreme as actually removing it.
8. Laminated Wood Flooring. Installing laminated wood flooring instead of solid wood in an upscale home can also cause a buyer to think “I’ve got to rip this out”! Better to refinish existing hardwood floors, if any, or cover floors with new but inexpensive wall-to-wall carpeting.
9. DIY (Do It Yourself) Home Repairs. While needed repairs and maintenance should be done to a home before putting it on the market, doing these yourself could end up costing you money in the end as buyers perceive your shoddy workmanship as something they have to spend money correcting, and therefore offering you a lower price.
10. Gardens and Landscaping. A high-maintenance garden and landscaping could also lower the value of a home. If buyers are not avid gardeners or don’t want to spend money watering or on hiring someone to constantly weed, trim and rotate your plantings, this could be a real turn-off.
So, before you decide to make that improvement to your home, stop and ask yourself: “Will most buyers find this desirable so that they would be willing to pay for it, or is it just to satisfy my own needs and tastes?”.
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