Home Renovations that Hurt Resale

Point of Interest

If the time has come for upgrades to your home, you need to keep in mind how the changes will affect resale value. Some home renovations are known to increase your home’s value, but there is a lengthy list of the worst home renovations that can hurt your resale value, and the entries may surprise you.

If you plan to stay in your current home for decades, the home renovations you make are likely to be focused on what you want, what best suits your needs and what makes you and your family happy. In reality, though, people move around because of life changes, job prospects, downsizing and upsizing, so if you’re making changes to your home, it’s important to find a balance between your needs and wants and what will increase the value of your home.

Home renovations that hurt resale

When considering what renovations to make to your home, it’s important to keep in mind that what may appeal to you may not appeal to buyers.

“Across the board, people will always tell you that renovating your home is a quick way to add value. While this holds true for most instances, it is very important to remember a few key facts when getting ready to renovate,” Daniele Kurzweil, a licensed real estate salesperson with the Friedman Team in NYC, said. 

“As a rule of thumb — if something you desire in a renovation is going to be considered a custom renovation, there is a reason for that. The fact that what you are looking for is not a request that other people have made means that there is no demand for it. That translates to a costlier renovation, which, in turn, will most likely not be appreciated by any buyers. This is adding insult to injury. Not only will your renovation cost more, but it will also be worth less in the end,” Kurzweil said.

Renovations that may hurt resale value include:

  • Pools

A pool may seem like a worthwhile investment, especially when you and your family plan to get a lot of use out of it, but the upkeep costs and time commitments needed to maintain it can be a turnoff to prospective homebuyers. Some buyers with small children may also be worried about safety risks, and other buyers could be concerned about the added liability a pool brings with it.  Not only can a pool hurt your home’s resale value, but it can turn away otherwise interested buyers.

  • Trendy tile

Home remodeling shows often incorporate intricate and wild tile designs in bathrooms, pools and kitchen backsplashes. While you may be in love with the uniqueness of the pattern and colors, the tile may be a big turnoff to buyers with different tastes. Tile upgrades can add value, but only when they’re chosen from a neutral color palette.

“Any renovation that is personalized is also a big no-no. While having a hand laid mosaic at the bottom of your pool with your initials might seem like a lovely customization, you have to think if the buyer of your home will want to look at your initials every time they take a dip in their new pool! No permanent monogramming,” Kurzweil said.

  • Unique personalization

All of us are unique creatures with our own set of likes and dislikes. If you want to add something permanent to your home that could be described as funky, off-the-wall or unique, you may be inadvertently hurting your home’s future resale value. Personalization is fine as long as it’s easily removed when it’s time to sell.

“If you have always wanted a rock-climbing wall in your home and this is your forever place, go for it! This is the kind of renovation that will bring you joy in your space, and it is something completely custom to you and you alone. This type of renovation will not add value to your home or even retain its value in a monetary sense. The value in this type of renovation is the joy it brings you,” Kurzweil said.

  • Bold color choices

You should avoid using permanent bold colors during renovations — unless you’re prepared to repaint your home before you put it on the market. You may be a fan of these colors and they might even coincide with a current trend, but not everyone has the same tastes and trends eventually die off. You don’t have to stifle all your creativity, but you do need to be prepared to reverse the bolder choices before you put your home on the market.

  • Too fancy of a kitchen

The key to upgrading your kitchen is in the details. Kitchen upgrades can be some of the most profitable additions to a home, as long as they are not too far over the top. You’re most likely to see returns on new countertops, cabinets and even some upgraded appliances. However, if you spend $100k and upgrade to the latest and greatest appliances with four Viking ovens, you are probably not going to recoup your entire investment.

  • Combining rooms

Combining two smaller rooms into one larger room may seem like a great renovation because it increases the size of some of your more important rooms without compromising the total square footage of the home. The problem is many homebuyers search from a new home based on the number of bedrooms. Many buyers also associate value with the number of bedrooms and bathrooms a home has. While fewer rooms and more square footage may be a better fit for you, it could be a turnoff to a lot of buyers.

  • Garage conversions

Turning your garage into an additional living space or a man cave might be the most optimal use for you and your family, but many homebuyers want a traditional garage where they can store tools and park their cars. Converting your garage to more living space may damage the potential resale value, especially when weighed against other properties in the area that still have a functional garage.

  • Lavish landscaping

There are two main reasons lavish landscape upgrades may be some of the worst home renovations you can make for resale value. First, lawns with intricate landscaping or delicate plants require lots of upkeep. Many homebuyers are not ready to spend hours in their yards every week or pay an outside company to keep the property looking nice. Does improving your landscape to a level on-par or slightly above the rest of the neighborhood add value? Probably. Will adding the most expensive trees or intricate water features add value dollar for dollar? For most buyers, probably not.

  • Hot tubs

Unless it’s a time machine, a hot tubs may not provide as much value to potential homebuyers as it did for you. They don’t require as much maintenance as a pool, but there’s still a cost and time commitment that buyers may be turned off by. If you need a hot tub, look into an option that you can take with you when you move.

  • A Bathroom fit for the gods

Bathroom upgrades can add a ton to your home’s resale value, up to a certain point. Much like the kitchen, there’s a point where you’ll start to see diminishing returns on upgrades. Research your area and find out what people are willing to pay for upgraded bathrooms.

What types of renovations are best for resale?

If you’re looking to add value to your home through renovations, there are plenty of upgrades you can make. The two most advantageous are kitchen and bathroom remodels, but only up to a certain point. You’ll need to research your area and determine how much more buyers in your area are willing to pay for these upgrades. If you spend above that threshold, you’ll be losing value.

Outside of the kitchen and bathrooms, minor, neutral upgrades can add tremendous value. Consider upgrading or changing outdated tile to muted choices or upgrading to nice appliances. You can make minor improvements to landscaping, exterior upgrades for curb appeal or turn a basement or attic into useable space.

If you aren’t concerned about resale, make the changes you want in your home, but don’t be surprised when buyers are not on board with your upgrades.

The Final Word

When it comes to home renovations, it’s important to find a happy medium between the changes that will add value and the changes you want in your home. While you may want that rock wall, you also need to consider your future goals rather than focusing solely on what you’re currently looking for. If you end up selling your home in the future, you may lose value over the choice of your upgrade. Even worse, you may find yourself having to remove or reconvert something to complete a sale at any price. 

Do your research, ask around and make sure your renovations are going to be something that serve you well in the future, whether you sell your house or not.

Jason Lee

Personal Finance Contributor

Jason Lee is a seasoned copywriter with a passion for writing about banking, tech, personal growth, and personal finance. As a business owner, relationship strategist, and officer in the U.S. military, Jason enjoys sharing his unique knowledge base and skill set with the rest of the world.