The 6 Dumbest Upgrades to Make When Selling Your Home

by Bobbie PrestonSeptember 15, 2015

Some Upgrades Just Don’t Pay

When you’re selling a home, you want to maximize your profits (or in some cases, minimize your losses). And in order to do this, you might be tempted to perform some routine upgrades on your home to increase its appeal to potential buyers. But some home upgrades don’t offer a worthwhile return on the investment, and a few can even cost a lot more than they are worth to the average buyer.

Let’s take a look at six of the dumbest upgrades you can make when selling your home, and hopefully – you’ll heed the warning, and think twice about spending the money!

Home Office

A well-appointed home office may appeal to the work-from-home set, but to the average buyer, there’s nothing sexy about industrial carpeting or built-in file cabinets. The more you spend on creating the perfect at-home workspace, the more you can expect to lose on the investment. Expect to only get back about half of whatever money you spent.

Swimming Pools

If your home already has a swimming pool, then make the most of it. Use it often, and be sure to keep up on the maintenance. To some folks, having a backyard pool is a huge bonus. But not everyone sees it that way. Pools are maintenance intensive and can also be quite costly to keep up. They’re also huge energy hogs. Whenever possible, don’t even think about putting in a new swimming pool before you sell your home.

Quirky Renovations

To the right buyer, a recording studio, wine cellar, or photography darkroom can be a big plus. But to most other buyers, they’re just a remodeling project waiting in the wings. Don’t get us wrong: if you want to install a slide connecting the kids’ bedrooms to the main floor, go ahead and do it. Just don’t expect to recoup the construction costs when you go to sell.

Outdoor Kitchen

If you’re the consummate BBQ master, then building an outdoor kitchen might seem like a no-brainer. And for you, it might also be well worth the cost. But most people prefer to cook indoors the vast majority of the time. So while outdoor kitchens may be fun, the ROI is typically pretty dismal.

Garage Conversion

So, you had to have a man cave. That’s all well and good, and you should enjoy it to the fullest. But if you’re thinking of converting your garage to a rec room or she-shed to attract potential buyers, you’d better think twice. Sure, a few potential purchasers might go gaga, but an equal or greater number might be dismayed at the missing garage.

The Sunroom

In theory, sunrooms are great. They’re safe, indoor spaces where you can enjoy the sunshine and outdoor vistas without dealing with bugs, rain or noise. They’re ideal spaces for entertaining guests, and during colder months, plants love them. But they typically have to be custom built, and that can get costly in a hurry. If you want to create a fun, outdoorsy space, you’re better off building a deck instead.

Does It Fit the Neighborhood?

Before doing any improvements on your home, you should ask yourself: “Do other homes in the neighborhood have similar features?” If not, your ROI may take a hit simply because local home values don’t support the features you’ve added.

And as nice as your improvements may be, you’re unlikely to recoup your investment when you overdo it. Sure, a professional-grade kitchen is a wonderful thing to have, but in a neighborhood full of $200,000 homes, it’s probably not the smartest way to spend your money.

When It Comes to Improvements, Go for Bang for the Buck

If you want to build value into your home before a sale, then consider updating the kitchen and bathroom, but make sure all the basic necessities are in place before you think about cosmetics. After all, a new tile backsplash isn’t worth much to your home’s value if the home has a leaky roof!

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Bobbie Preston

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