Your home might be your biggest asset — and yet, you could be inadvertently making it less valuable. Some updates and renovations can backfire when it comes time to sell.
“What I have seen a lot of people do is rip out a closet,” says Steven Gottlieb, a licensed real estate salesperson with Warburg Realty Partnership in New York City.
Where he works, space is at a premium. That means eliminating a closet can be a costly mistake.
“I don’t know that it detracts from the [appraised] value,” he tells Money Talks News, “but it inevitably shrinks the [buying] audience.”
And with fewer people interested in a property, the chances of a quick sale or a full-price offer can decrease.
From removing closet space to painting walls garish colors, here are some dumb ways you could be dragging down your home’s resale potential.
1. Selecting the wrong color paint
You may think neutral is boring, but buyers could be turned off by brightly colored walls.
That may seem silly, since it’s relatively easy to repaint. But some people don’t want the hassle, says Keri Rizzi, a real estate salesperson with HomeSmart in White Plains, New York.
“Buyers will judge based on paint alone,” she tells Money Talks News.
So, consider yourself forewarned if you decide to paint your rooms every color of the rainbow.
2. Using bold and busy designs
It isn’t just colorful walls that can derail a potential sale. Busy or bright patterns on wallpaper, tiles or flooring can be a problem for some people.
“Those are much harder to change than just paint and can have more of an effect on value,” says Amanda Rogers, a Realtor with Rogers Real Estate Group in Ada, Michigan.
If you don’t have any reason to think you’ll be moving, go ahead and be creative. Otherwise, think twice about loud designs and bold colors.
“Always choose neutral options for permanent items, and add your personal style with accessories, furniture pieces, wall art, etc.,” Rogers tells Money Talks News.
3. Removing closets
“In an urban setting, especially New York City, space is at a premium,” Gottlieb says. An apartment with minimal closets might not get a second look from buyers.
Even in a suburban or rural setting, storage space often is highly valued. Consider carefully before converting closets to living space or removing a rarely used pole barn from your property.
4. Ripping out bathrooms or laundry rooms
If you have a small household, you may be tempted to rip out a rarely used bathroom for closet or living space. Don’t do it, Gottlieb says.
“A bathroom is worth a lot,” he explains.
Even in urban areas, bathrooms and laundry hook-ups trump closet space.
5. Making trendy updates
Renovating a home with the latest trends can backfire if the look becomes dated or is not the preference of a potential buyer. Rizzi has seen this happen when sellers install new wall-to-wall carpeting only to find that buyers really want hardwood flooring.
If parts of your house are looking tired and worn, consider giving buyers a credit to do their own work. Don’t sink money into updates that may not boost value.
6. Adding too much tech
Technology changes quickly, which means an expensive smart home system may be obsolete in just a few years.
“People invest too much for the most current electronic system,” Gottlieb says. “Then, they are often disappointed in five to seven years when [buyers] are not impressed.”
Go ahead and install the latest bells and whistles for your own use and enjoyment. Just don’t expect such upgrades to boost your home’s sale price down the road.
7. Lowering ceilings
Some people might want to lower their ceilings to accommodate lighting, but avoid that if possible, Gottlieb says. Ceilings on a main floor of 9 feet or more were among the most desirable features and design trends for 2020, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
By some estimates, high ceilings can add as much as 25% to the value of a home.
8. Failing to control landscaping
Curb appeal isn’t necessarily reflected in a home’s appraised value, but it can make or break a sale, according to real estate professionals.
“Make that first impression the best impression,” Rizzi says.
Clear out debris, trim overgrown bushes and pull weeds to create a clean exterior.
9. Letting your home fall into disarray
Keep a home’s interior clean and well maintained.
“If something breaks, fix it,” Rogers says. “If you don’t know how to fix it, hire it done.”
Neglecting plumbing and electrical work could have dire consequences to your home’s value if it leads to structural damage.
Bottom line, according to Rogers: “Clean sells.”
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