One of the best things about owning your own home is that you are free to make renovations or additions that suit your style. The downside? Many of these changes don’t appeal to others, making it harder to sell your house when the time comes. Here are a few to avoid.
Home renovation projects and upgrades are a great way to bring your own personality into your home. But that’s usually the problem when you go to sell your house — it’s way too “you.” We asked a designer and a few real estate agents what renovations and updates to avoid if you plan to sell your home soon, or a few years down the road.
An oversize outdoor deck
“Some people build decking that dwarfs the house, makes it look smaller and usually has little appeal,” says award-winning artist and designer Pablo Solomon. “Most decks require so much maintenance that you should build the smallest deck possible that fits your needs and the scale of your house and yard.”
What to do instead: Build a deck that’s useful for outdoor dining or entertaining, but keep the size in line with the house. “I also suggest using materials that last forever with little maintenance, like salvaged bricks, stone, concrete, etc.,” Solomon adds.
These have somehow become the go-to addition on the outside of your house. “This can be expensive and, unless your house is colonial style, often just looks less than flattering,” says Solomon.
What to do instead: Install nice new windows that have a decorative element that’s timeless, like crosshatching or double-hung windows. Not only will they improve the look of the house from the curb, you’ll enjoy energy savings if replacing older windows.
“A major home improvement to stay away from would be the addition of an in-ground pool,” says Chad Dannecker of Dannecker & Associates in San Diego, California. “Not only are they expensive to install and maintain, in-ground pools usually take away from the home’s overall value,” he adds. “While everyone dreams of a beautiful pool, the cost is usually not recovered in the sale,” says Solomon. “The exception would be a fabulous infinity pool that takes your eye to an amazing backdrop of mountains or the ocean.”
What to do instead: Focus more on having a backyard that’s easy for entertaining, with areas for outdoor dining furniture, a barbecue grill and maybe even a small water feature like a fountain. If you really want a pool for the short term, an inexpensive above-ground pool for a few hundred dollars might be the best solution.
There are some incredible materials and designs out there for your home’s driveway, but do they really add value to your home? “Elaborate driveway concrete patterns do not raise the price in most people’s eyes,” says Mike Rohrig, real estate broker with Park Place Real Estate in Beaverton, Oregon. Another driveway mistake? Turning your whole front yard into a parking lot. “While you may prefer to park three pickup trucks and two cars on what was once a front lawn so you can use your garage to work on motorcycles, most people prefer a yard and a garage,” says Solomon.
What to do instead: Keep the driveway design and materials simple, but add impact with flowerbeds or other plantings along the sides of the driveway.
Unique bathroom or kitchen remodels
Bathroom or kitchen remodels are some of the most popular upgrades, but it’s best to keep your choices modern and not too over-the-top. “Do not do anything over-stylized,” says Rohrig. “No buyer wants to buy a home with a new kitchen or bathroom that looks horrible to them.”
What to do instead: Stick with modern choices for tile, backsplash, countertops and cabinets. “I’ve had several clients say, ‘I can’t pay that much for a house when I want to rip out their new kitchen.’ Neutrals are best because it will fit more of the buyers that are looking,” adds Rohrig.
An overdone, oversize entry door
Solomon says that a great door is a great improvement if it fits the decor and the scale of the home. “It is like here in the Texas Hill Country, where I have a wonderful historic 1856 ranch,” he shares. “The millionaires with thousands of acres have entry gates that are usually tasteful and modest. The people with three acres and a single-wide trailer home have a gate fit for a Roman villa.”
What to do instead: Focus on making the entry to your home welcoming. Choose a pop of color for the door that adds interest, then add potted plants, a trellis, a rock pathway or other details that draw your visitors right to your door.
Call it a safe room or a doomsday prepping shelter, but experts call it a no-go if you plan to resell your home anytime soon. “Prepping is a lifestyle that has recently garnered a lot of momentum; however, in terms of home value, it will not help and also often detracts from the final valuation,” says Dannecker.
What to do instead: Looking for ways to increase your feeling of safety in your home? Install a burglar alarm system with a security camera outdoors, which may be a selling point when it’s time to move.