6 Home Renovation Projects that Don’t Pay When it’s Time to Sell

by Dan Lesniak

Sometimes, renovating your home is unavoidable. If your refrigerator dies, you’ll need to replace it; a leaky roof needs to be fixed to prevent more damage. Other renovations are purely for your own enjoyment. Painting a room, new flooring, or a new lighting fixture can go a long way to making your house feel more like home. 

Of course, all renovations can also impact the value of your home. And if you’re planning to sell your house, in the near future or down the line, you should make sure that your renovations have a positive impact. While most renovations will improve your home’s value, there are several that will not. So before starting your next project, put down the sledgehammer and read these renos to avoid.

1. Think twice about eliminating rooms. 

Sure, creating your dream master suite by absorbing that small, useless extra bedroom sounds like a great idea now. But when you’re ready to sell, less bedrooms is almost always an issue. If your 3-bedroom is suddenly a 2-bedroom, you automatically lose all potential buyers who need 3 or more. 

You should also be cautious when making any other major renovations that change the footprint of the house. Eliminating a small bathroom to expand your main living space is still eliminating a bathroom. Closing in or opening up your kitchen at the expense of a pantry may make sense to you, but buyers might have different priorities. If you’re changing the layout of the house to fit your needs, don’t expect a high return when you go to sell – because not everyone has the same needs as you.

Of course, remodel your home to work for you and your family. But be aware that these changes won’t necessarily work for other families…and may not have the impact you’d want when you go to sell.

2. About your bathroom… 

Yes, a luxurious walk-in shower might seem like a selling point to you. But if your potential buyers have young children, they need a tub. Similarly, if your buyers are older or have accessibility concerns, your gorgeous claw-foot tub won’t work for them. In other words, these features can be just as much of a problem as a selling point. So don’t trade out the tub for a shower and expect to see a higher sales price as a result.

3. …and that hobby room… 

Look, using an extra bedroom as a hobby room or office makes sense. But when you have a hobby that requires a specialized space, expect that to hurt your sale more than helping it. Having a dance studio in your basement with a wall of mirrors and bars mounted to the wall isn’t going to appeal to most. You still love film? Awesome, but your dark room is going to be an issue for most buyers. 

In other words, if you’re going to create these highly customized spaces, enjoy them while you’re living at the house. But when it’s time to sell, count on needing to remodel again to make them more all-purpose…because your unique space will probably turn a lot of buyers off.

4. Skip absurdly high-end finishes. 

Just because you love that expensive slab marble in the bathroom and feel it was worth thousands doesn’t mean buyers will feel the same way. They might appreciate the high-end finish, but if that’s the reason your property is above other similar options, they probably won’t pick yours. It’s a fine line between upgrading the space and going overboard. Which brings us to…

5. Don’t renovate yourself out of the market. 

If you make so many renovations that your house is now valued way beyond the rest of the area, you’re going to have a hard time selling it. Because even if the property is beautifully crafted and remodeled, the location remains the same.

6. Remember: not everyone shares your taste.

When you’re ready to sell, don’t be insulted if your agents suggests painting the walls neutral colors and removing your fun accent wallpaper. It’s not personal – it’s just that people have different tastes. Your style may be bold and colorful, but when you’re trying to find a buyer, they need to have a kind of blank slate to imagine what the space would look like with their style.

So while you’re living at the house, absolutely have fun customizing the space to fit your taste. Then trust your agent when they tell you those customizations need to go before selling.

Bonus: Don’t fall into a DIY money pit.

Yes, DIYs are a great way to save money and update your space. BUT you need to DIY with caution. If you saved some money by installing your own dishwasher and there are issues with it, that “upgrade” has now become a liability for the new owner. Redoing tiles floors is great…but if you DIY it and the tiles are poorly installed, broken, or uneven, that’s something the new owners will have to redo yet again.

In other words, really be honest with your DIY skillset and call in the professionals to make sure that your renovation increases your value rather than tanking it.

Ready to sell?

Ready to find out if your renovations are going to pay off? Our sales team knows the DC market inside and out and will work tirelessly to get you the most money in the least amount of time, so give us a call today!

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