5 Home Improvements That Won’t Sell Your House

Shopper at Home Depot
Photo by Belen Strehl / Shutterstock.com

Homeowners upgrade their homes for two reasons: They always dreamed of having a walk-in shower, or they think remodeling will boost their home’s value when it comes time to sell.

While the emotional value a remodeling project adds to a home usually pays off, unfortunately the monetary value rarely does.

Let’s face it, you’re not always going to recoup the money you spent on a remodeling project when it comes time to sell. Check out these examples to get an idea of what you shouldn’t do before you sell…

1. Adding a new facade to the exterior of your home

I live in a historic neighborhood comprising mostly of turn-of-the-century Craftsman Bungalows. A few years ago, adding a brick front over the original wood became all the rage in my neighborhood. Now it just looks out of place in the area. Last month, three houses went up for sale on my street – two with the brick facade and one with the original wood. The wood house sold right away while the brick fronts are still sitting there.

I’m not saying that was the reason why one house sold and the others didn’t, but spending the extra money sure didn’t seem to help. According to MSN, homes that stick out – like brick facades nestled among wood bungalows – won’t do anything for their value.

Alternative: While you should update the exterior of your home before you sell, stick with the original plans. For example, replacing weathered siding with the higher-end fiber-cement siding returned an average of 78 percent of what homeowners paid, according to Remodeling Magazine.

2. Putting in a pool

According to SmartMoney, adding an in-ground pool to your backyard won’t add any real value when it comes time to sell. In fact, large outdoor projects don’t typically appeal to a wide range of buyers. Most buyers would rather see an open yard space than a koi pond or 16-seater hot tub.

Alternative: Clean up the yard and add some basic landscaping to the front and back. Having a nice yard gives your home curb appeal, and it’s one of the cheaper remodeling projects you can do. In fact, a study by HomeGain shows that the average landscaping job costs $540 and adds $1,932 to your home’s value.

3. Converting your attic to a home office

Converting attic space into a useable room will appeal to buyers – if it’s the right kind of room. Rooms like home offices only appeal to buyers who consider working from home a plus. In fact, HGTV reports that a home office remodel only recoups 60 to 73 percent of the cost on average.

Alternative: Converting your attic space into something that appeals to everyone, such as a bedroom. On average, homeowners saw up to a 90 percent return on this project, according to HGTV.

4. Overhauling your entire kitchen

Kitchens are the one room in the house that will appeal to the most buyers, so you want it to be eye-catching. But, that doesn’t mean you need granite countertops, wood floors, and a double Viking oven to sell your house. On average, homeowners spent $110,938 on an upscale kitchen remodel. But the new kitchen only increased home values by $63,731 on average (or about 57 percent), according to MSNBC.

Alternative: Do a smaller-scale kitchen remodel, and focus on the areas that are the most outdated. As a comparison, MSNBC found that a smaller kitchen remodel cost $19,588 on average but raised the home’s value by an average 72 percent.

5. Installing solar panels

Green homes are becoming more popular, so making your home more energy-efficient will appeal to buyers. But the big greening projects are costly. For example, The New York Times reports that while the cost of solar panels has gone down by about 40 percent, one homeowner still paid a whopping $77,000 to install a solar panel system. It would be nearly impossible to recoup that investment in this housing market.

Alternative: Upgrade your windows with energy-efficient models – you’ll make your home more energy-efficient without the hefty price tag of those huge greening projects. Double-pane energy-efficient windows provide better insulation, which lowers utility bills – improvements that appeal to every buyer. And if you buy Energy Star-rated windows, you’ll qualify for a tax credit.

Questions to ask yourself

Before starting a remodeling project, consider these points…

1. Will this upgrade add value to my house? If you’re remodeling because you plan to eventually sell your home, run your ideas past a real estate agent or professional contractor. Not every project automatically adds value to a house.

2. How will my house compare to other homes in my neighborhood? If you put your house on the market the same time as five of your neighbors, your house needs to stand out – but not too much. Most buyers won’t consider your house if it’s priced much higher than others in the same area – even if your upgrades are worth the higher value.

3. Does this upgrade appeal to a wide range of buyers? If you’re going for a standard kitchen remodel, odds are it will appeal to almost every buyer who comes through your house. But, if you’re planning to break the mold with your home remodel, you might be wasting your money. Run your idea past a few friends and see if they’d buy it.

Still want to remodel? Check out Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report to see the average resale value in your area for different projects. Then read these 16 Tips to Save Money on Home Remodeling to get started.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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