17 Home Upgrades That Rarely Help Close a Sale

A real estate agent posts a for sale sign in front of a brick house that is under construction
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We all like to think that making positive changes to a home can make it more attractive to buyers. However, some renovations that might make you feel more comfortable, actually might not help you sell your home in the long run.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently released its latest Remodeling Impact Report, finding that some renovations are less effective than others in convincing buyers to move forward.

Surveying real estate agents, NAR looked at 20 types of projects and asked agents which they’d suggested homeowners do before selling a home. The survey also asked agents whether completed projects had helped close a sale.

Following are the renovations this survey identified as least likely to close a home sale. Specifically, fewer than 10% of real estate agents said these projects helped close a sale.

17. HVAC replacement

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Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 7%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 20%

According to the National Association of Realtors report, the estimated cost of completing an HVAC replacement is about $8,200, and the cost recovered in a home sale is about $7,000. So, even though you might be able to recover much of the cost of doing the project, it’s not one that is likely to help you close the sale.

16. New wood flooring

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Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 5%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 16%

The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University reported earlier this year that indoor flooring replacement is the most common upgrade, as we detail in “The 15 Most Popular Home Upgrades – and What They Cost.”

And yet, real estate agents indicate that this project is unlikely to add much to a home’s appeal to buyers.

15. Hardwood flooring refinish

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Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 5%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 27%

New flooring isn’t recommended by as many real estate agents as refinishing the wood flooring that’s already there, according to the NAR report.

Even though it doesn’t help much to close a home sale, the report indicates that those who invest in the project see a recovery of 100% of their investment.

14. Bathroom renovation

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Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 4%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 33%

A third of real estate agents suggest homeowners make this change before they sell, even though this project doesn’t usually help close a sale.

Additionally, you might only see a 57% return on value when you complete a bathroom renovation, according to the NAR report.

13. New vinyl windows

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Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 4%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 12%

With new vinyl windows, homeowners can expect to retain about 73.4% of the cost when they sell the home, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value Report. Believe it or not, that’s a relatively good cost recouping.

12. Basement conversion into living area

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Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 2%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 5%

Only 5% of real estate agents suggested this renovation to homeowners looking to sell, and for good reason, since it doesn’t contribute much to the ability to close a home sale. However, it does offer homeowners relatively high satisfaction, as we recently reported in “19 Home Renovations That Give Owners the Most Joy.”

11. New garage door

Luxury home
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Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 2%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 16%

While this home improvement project might not do much to help close a home sale, it can return nearly all of the cost when reselling your home.

Remodeling magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value Report shows that a garage door replacement retains 97.5% of its value upon resale of the home, as we report in “These 10 Home Improvements Offer the Highest Returns.”

10. Add a new bathroom

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Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 1%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 5%

Very few real estate agents suggest this renovation, and even fewer find that it helps with closing a home sale.

It might be best to skip this one since it can cost as much as $60,000 — and only return about 50% of its cost, according to the NAR report.

9. New steel front door

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Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 1%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 4%

While replacing your front door isn’t something that closes a home sale, it can help boost the value of your home — especially if you paint it black, as we report in “Painting With This Color Can Boost Your Home’s Sale Price by $6,000.”

Additionally, this project is likely to bring homeowners joy. The NAR report gave the project what it calls a “Joy Score” of 9.7 out of 10.

8. New vinyl siding

Red and black house
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Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 1%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 4%

While it’s not a project much-recommended ahead of selling, new vinyl siding is one of those renovations that offer a relatively high return on value. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value Report, the replacement of siding retains 75.6% of its value when the home is sold.

7. New wood windows

Woman with dog in house
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Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: 1%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 2%

The NAR report gave new wood windows a “Joy Score” of 9.6 out of 10, as we detail in “19 Home Renovations That Give Owners the Most Joy.” But these windows aren’t likely to help close a home sale and agents aren’t likely to recommend them as a pre-sale renovation.

6. New master suite

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Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: Less than 1%

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 3%

Not only is this project unlikely to help close a home sale, it’s also unlikely to pay for itself.

Both a midrange master suite addition and an upscale master suite addition made the list in our article “The 10 Worst Home Renovations for Your Money.”

5. Attic conversion to living area

Attic bedroom
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Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: None

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 2%

This project costs up to $80,000 to complete, and it returns only about 56% of the investment, the National Associations of Realtors report states.

4. Insulation upgrade

Worker insulating an attic
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Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: None

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 4%

Even though this project isn’t one that agents say could help close home sales, the NAR reports that it offers homeowners a relatively good recovery (83%) on the money spent.

3. Closet renovation

A woman picks clothes out of her closet
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Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: None

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 4%

A closet renovation earned the highest Joy Score possible — a 10 out of 10 — in the NAR’s study.

Even if it won’t help you sell your home, you might enjoy this renovation while you still live in the home.

2. New fiberglass front door

Woman opening a door
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Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: None

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 4%

Even if you don’t close a home sale by replacing the front door, choosing the right color for that front door may add to your home’s sale price.

Plus, as with a new steel front door, a new fiberglass front door is likely to bring homeowners joy. The NAR report gave both projects a Joy Score of 9.7 out of 10.

1. New fiber-cement siding

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Surveyed real estate agents who said this project helped close a home sale: None

Agents who have suggested that homeowners do this project before selling: 2%

While fiber cement siding can return 76% of the cost and give homeowners satisfaction, it’s not a project that real estate agents say they find helps close a home sale.

What home renovations have you been considering? Share your thoughts in a comment below or over on our Facebook page.

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