The Top 10 Home Improvements That Could Devalue Your Home

By
Home Stager with Designed to Appeal, LLC

Sometimes, making an improvement to your home could actually hurt you when you try to sell it. 

Here are the top 10 home improvements that can make your home harder to sell: 

1. Kitchen Renovation. Any renovation of a kitchen that is too taste-specific or extreme in design. For example, a kitchen equipped with a restaurant-level stove or multiple refrigerators may not appeal to the buyer who is a simple cook. You want to appeal to the broadest range of buyers when selling a home, and if a buyer thinks they need to spend money re-doing what you've done, they will offer less. 

2. Bathroom Renovations. The same can be said for bathroom renovations. Any design that is over the top could detract from the value of the home. It's best to avoid garish sinks, faucets, and tiles.  And skip the heart-shaped bathtub!

 3. Painting. Painting the walls is a great way to freshen up a space prior to putting your home on the market, but painting with bold colors such as red, orange, purple or even black (I've seen this) is a sure way to turn off a potential buyer. Buyers want to feel like they can move right in and not have to re-paint the walls to match their own tastes and their existing furniture.  The same goes for painting the exterior of the home - no bright blues, yellows or greens please!

4. Water Features. Having an in-ground pool, hot tub, waterfall or pond can also devalue a home, as buyers may perceive these as extra maintenance expenses they don't want to incur. Also, buyers with small children may be fearful of these as well. The only exception of an in-ground pool definitely adding value is if the home is an investment property in a resort area where renters find homes with a pool to be more desirable.

5. "Wasted" Square Footage. Taking valuable square footage in a house and using it for a specific, personalized purpose can make the house harder to sell and/or detract from its value, for example, turning a garage into a gym. Also, on the Bravo TV show, Nine By Design, the hosts of the show were trying to sell their NYC townhouse. The ground floor was taken up by a basketball/squash court because the owners liked to play these games. However, most buyers would see this as wasted space and an expensive project ahead to change.

6. Redecorating. Redecorating in a highly taste-specific style, such as Asian, country clutter or extreme modern can turn-off potential buyers. When selling your home, you want to appeal to the broadest range of buyers, so it's important that the furniture and décor is neutral and broadly appealing.

7. Illegal home improvements.  Decks, driveways, expansions, etc.  not approved by the local town authorities  can devalue the home as you will probably be forced to correct the situation prior to selling which could result in something as extreme as actually removing it.

8. Laminated Wood Flooring.  Installing laminated wood flooring instead of solid wood in an upscale home can also cause a buyer to think "I've got to rip this out"!  Better to refinish existing hardwood floors, if any, or cover floors with new but inexpensive wall-to-wall carpeting.

9. DIY Home Repairs. While needed repairs and maintenance should be done to a home before putting it on the market, doing these yourself could end up costing you money in the end as buyers perceive your shoddy workmanship as something they have to spend money correcting, and therefore offering you a lower price.

10. Gardens and Landscaping. A high-maintenance garden and landscaping could also lower the value of a home. If buyers are not avid gardeners or don't want to spend money watering or on hiring someone to constantly weed, trim and rotate your plantings, this could be a real turn-off.

So, before you decide to make that improvement to your home, stop and ask yourself: "Will most buyers find this desirable so that they would be willing to pay for it, or is it just to satisfy my own needs and tastes?".

Do you know of any home improvements that could devalue a home?

© Copyright 2010 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

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Re-Blogged 26 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging 08/07/2010 07:25 PM
  2. Chris Webster 08/08/2010 04:20 AM
  3. Chris Webster 08/08/2010 04:46 AM
  4. Charles McDonald 08/08/2010 07:53 AM
  5. Rita Gibbons 08/08/2010 07:57 AM
  6. Gabe Sanders 08/08/2010 08:00 AM
  7. Wallace S. Gibson, CPM 08/08/2010 08:01 AM
  8. Cheryl Ritchie 08/08/2010 10:50 AM
  9. Jerry Morse 08/08/2010 11:13 AM
  10. Billie Hillier 08/08/2010 01:15 PM
  11. Erica Ramus 08/08/2010 01:31 PM
  12. John Pusa 08/08/2010 02:16 PM
  13. Kristen Wheatley 08/08/2010 03:15 PM
  14. Randy Prothero 08/08/2010 04:20 PM
  15. Susan Emo 08/08/2010 04:27 PM
  16. Lanre-"THE REAL ESTATE FARMER" Folayan 08/09/2010 12:14 AM
  17. Lanre-"THE REAL ESTATE FARMER" Folayan 08/09/2010 12:14 AM
  18. Steve and Jan Bachman 08/09/2010 10:10 AM
  19. Stanton Homes 08/09/2010 10:19 AM
  20. Heather Cook 08/10/2010 10:43 AM
  21. Gabriela Agostinelli 08/10/2010 10:46 PM
  22. Diane Williams 08/10/2010 11:31 PM
  23. Sandi Gerrard 08/11/2010 07:22 AM
  24. Karen Hubert 08/11/2010 09:23 AM
  25. Chris Smith 08/17/2010 11:59 PM
  26. Cindy Jones 09/01/2010 07:29 AM
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Rainmaker
44,585
Donna Dazzo
Designed to Appeal, LLC - Manhattan, NY
Home Stager in the Hamptons & New York

Thank you all for your comments, compliments and re-blogs.  I love hearing about your personal experiences that validate things on my list.  Keep them coming!  And I also like hearing from anyone who disagrees with what I've said, so don't be afraid to disagree.  A spirited debate is also interesting.

Aug 08, 2010 06:11 PM #46
Rainmaker
156,802
George Bennett
Inactive - Port Orford, OR
Inactive Principal Broker, GRI

I have 2 listing with elaborate landscaping including spectacular gardens and the feedback on both of these homes has been that there is much to much maintenance work in keeping the gardens as they are and too much guilt for letting them go.

Aug 08, 2010 06:37 PM #47
Rainmaker
351,538
Damon Gettier
Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert - Roanoke, VA
Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE

I actually found your post through Erica's re-blog.  As I stated on Erica-s re-blog, I love number 8.  Too many times we walk into a house with "hardwood floors" to find out they are laminates....just so we can turn around and walk out.

Aug 08, 2010 07:09 PM #48
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Jeff Dowler CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
Carlsbad CA Homes for Sale (760) 840-1360

Donna - this is an excellent list. So glad you wrote it and that it got featured. I hope you don't mind me sharing this with folks who should know about this.

Jeff

Aug 08, 2010 07:29 PM #49
Rainmaker
44,585
Donna Dazzo
Designed to Appeal, LLC - Manhattan, NY
Home Stager in the Hamptons & New York

Jeff, thanks.  No I don't mind you sharing this post at all.

Aug 08, 2010 08:13 PM #50
Anonymous
Anonymous

Tks for this update. I was aware of most, but the large garden one was new to me. The laminated wood flooring can be cheap looking but the engineered flooring is fine-- easier to install & maintain, and chepaer too.

Aug 08, 2010 09:13 PM #51
Rainmaker
229,431
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis Home Inspections

How about peel n' stick tiles?  Most of my clients actually seem to get offended when they see those. Oh wait, you said home 'improvements.'  Never mind.

Great list.

Aug 08, 2010 09:38 PM #52
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Bryan Robertson
Catarra Real Estate, Inc - Los Altos, CA
Broker, Author, Speaker

Very good points.  I agree with them all.  I've seen many homes improved by sellers either beyond what is needed or desired.  I've also seen additions overdone resulting in homes too big for an area and thus overpriced.

Aug 08, 2010 11:05 PM #53
Rainer
53,127
Eric Lee
Realty Executives - Phoenix, AZ
e-PRO, SFR - Phoenix, AZ

Someone else mentioned it but converting spaces into something other than their intended use is a tricky deal. A biggie here in the desert is people converting their garage into living space but I've seen living rooms converted to bedrooms, bedrooms converted to dance studios (complete with floor to ceiling mirrors), & another big one: patios converted to office space. Too often these spaces don't have the AC ducted in so they never really cool properly in the hot summers and of course, sometimes they are not permitted either.

RE: Laminates - you qualified this with regards to upscale homes and I agree with you there, however some of the newer laminates look a LOT like real wood and are a great idea in homes up to a certain price range.

Aug 08, 2010 11:07 PM #54
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500,428
Stanton Homes
Stanton Homes - Our family designs and builds custom homes for your family - Raleigh, NC
Design/Build Custom Home Builder in North Carolina

These are great points to consider when BUILDING a home too.  It might be your forever home, but then again you may need to move in a few years.  Think ahead to possible resale when deciding what to include in your new home.

Aug 09, 2010 10:13 AM #55
Rainmaker
1,143,913
Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

Such a good list...the issue with strong colours can be a "break" in buyer attention.   

Aug 09, 2010 07:28 PM #56
Rainer
107,859
Heather Cook
Rooms in Bloom Staging & Design Inc. - Kitchener, ON
Quality Home Staging

Donna - fantastic post and I'm going to re-blog as well!! I was at an open house on the weekend and I was turned off by all the 'improvements' the home owners had done according to the realtor who followed me through. All carpets had been torn up and cheap looking laminate put down in all the bedrooms, living room and family room. All walls were freshly painted in 'neutral colours' ... since when is bright yellow and pea green neutral colours? In the kitchen the cabinets were nice but the granite was garish and not to my taste .. so all I could think was that I would have to spend a mint trying to get this place to fit what I like. Yes, we always face re-painting to some extent but re-modeling an already re-modeled home which is significantly more expensive because of the renovations? No thanks!

Aug 10, 2010 10:42 AM #57
Rainmaker
151,483
Sandi Gerrard
Toronto, ON

Excellent information here, Donna.  Thanks for sharing.  I have re-blogged it to help spread the word.  Thank you.

Aug 11, 2010 07:24 AM #58
Rainer
44,025
Karen Hubert
Center Stage Design-real estate staging, Ancaster/Hamilton - Ancaster, ON
Home Stager

This is a great list Donna.  I love the pictures.  Very cute.

Aug 11, 2010 09:22 AM #59
Ambassador
1,760,349
Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty - Baltimore, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Donna, I remember a heart shaped tub. It was RED...and...it had the owner's initials in the tile work.  That did not add any value to the house and as you can imagine...  it was not a real fast sell!

Margaret

Aug 11, 2010 06:26 PM #60
Rainer
2,868
Teresa Ramey
ReDecorating with Style - Florence, SC

Great blog.  Thanks for posting it.  Sometimes people get excited about reinventing their homes and may not realize that it could be hurting more than helping.

Aug 11, 2010 07:19 PM #61
Rainmaker
44,585
Donna Dazzo
Designed to Appeal, LLC - Manhattan, NY
Home Stager in the Hamptons & New York

Thank you all for your comments and support.  Just today I went to an owner occupied apartment here in Manhattan to do an estimate for bringing in some furniture and in the kitchen was a purple Viking Stove (the owner said it was blue) and granite countertops in a terrible shade of Hunter green.  The real estate agent told her that he had received many comments such as "why did they put that thing in here?".  She said, well I like color.  I explained to her that this will not appeal to most buyers and they will just think they have to spend money replacing it.  This is a perfect example of a homeowner making an improvement (Viking stoves are expensive) to satisfy themselves without a thought to the future resale value. I also had to tell her to remove the wall of family photos.

See the picture for yourself. 

Aug 11, 2010 09:03 PM #62
Rainmaker
832,683
Marc Swartz, CPA, CA, Real Estate Broker
RE/MAX Vision Realty Inc., Brokerage, Direct: (416) 737-9800, Office: (416) 321-2228 - Toronto, ON
Toronto, Durham & York Regions, Ontario, Canada

Donna - It is rare to see articles written from the perspective of renovations that can DEVALUE home value.

Aug 18, 2010 06:48 AM #63
Ambassador
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Patricia Kennedy
Evers & Company Real Estate, Inc. - Washington, DC
For Your Home in the Capital

Donna, you certainly earned your gold star with this one!  Excellent advice!

Sep 01, 2010 12:24 PM #64
Rainmaker
981,145
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - Fleming Island, FL
Your Fleming Island Relocation Agents.

Donna, here in Florida a pool is usually a plus but I can certainly understand that in colder climates it wouldn't be as desirable. Great list!

Oct 23, 2010 11:42 PM #65
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Donna Dazzo

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