Published June 03, 2013
Unlike the homeowner of 25 years ago, today’s typical buyers plan to live in their homes for just five to seven years. So it’s more important than ever to consider resale when making home improvements.
Even if you’re a buyer, it’s important to think like a seller, too, from the time you sign the purchase contract through any home improvement or renovation projects. The goal: Think about how your improvements might affect the sale of your home down the road.
Below are five home renovation/improvement projects that could actually hurt your home’s resale.
1. Going overboard on landscaping or gardens
A homeowner/seller may have a green thumb and be really proud of the time spent on the garden, the hedges or landscaping. But the next buyer might see it as too much maintenance, especially if you went overboard with your green thumb. Potential buyers may not be willing to pay for it (as part of the home’s overall price), hire a gardener or do the work themselves. This is especially true with Millennials and Gen X-ers. Of course, your property needs curb appeal, and nice landscaping does sell. But it could be just as easy to do a quick, inexpensive yard once-over before going on the market.
2. Converting a garage into a family room
Converting a garage into a family room may make sense if you don’t have a nice car or you simply want a bigger family room. Some people think a driveway is enough. But this is a huge “no-no” in real estate. A garage is expected, especially in the suburbs. If you take it out, you lose a huge chunk of buyers who simply won’t consider a home without a garage.
3. Taking out a bedroom
It’s common today for people to transform a bedroom into a huge master closet or into a home office with a built-in desk and cabinet. If you do, make sure the room can be easily turned back when you put the home on the market. Buyers with kids may need that bedroom. They’ll see the room you converted into a home office or closet as more money they’ll need to spend to turn it back into a bedroom.
A home office is the easiest to undo, as long as you haven’t built in intricate desks, shelves and cabinets. A large closet generally goes within a master bedroom, which includes taking out a door or putting up a wall -- all of which is harder to undo.
4. Adding a swimming pool
Similar to landscaping, a pool requires maintenance and is an even bigger liability. This is very particular for certain parts of the country. If you’re in the South, in a warm environment, you can get away with it much more easily. A pool would be a common “must-have” on many buyers’ wish list.
If you’re in an area where it’s only warm a few months a year and pools aren’t common, adding one could be a big mistake. Then again, it’s your home, and if you plan to be there a long time, add the pool. Just know that it may be a turn-off to future buyers. When in doubt, consult your agent.
5. Adding highly personalized colors, finishes or fixtures
Often, homeowners put in tile, sinks, vanities, countertops and floor coverings that are hard to replace, and yet are specific to their tastes.
For example, you may be obsessed with the Moroccan tile from your Marrakesh vacation last year and want it in your kitchen. But the next buyer may not be so enthusiastic. Similarly, installing ceramic or marble tile all over the floors may be a costly mistake that others won’t want to pay for. Some homeowners assume that because they spent $50,000 in such upgrades, their homes will be worth so much more. But what may be a highly personal touch could make your home look like a “fixer-upper” to others. The end result: You’ll turn off a lot of buyers who don’t like your taste and don’t want to do the work to undo it.
Brendon DeSimone is a Realtor and one of the nation’s leading real estate experts. He has collaborated on multiple real estate books and his expert advice is regularly sought out by print, online and television media outlets including FOX News, CNBC, Good Morning America and Forbes. An avid investor himself, Brendon owns real estate around the US and abroad and is licensed to sell in California and New York. You can find Brendon on Facebook or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.