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Renovations That Don't Add Resale Value To Your Home
Renovations must make dollars and sense.
PHOTO BY RUSTIC VEGAN ON UNSPLASH
Amanda Lauren Contributor
I write about real estate, décor and design.
While your home is the place you live, it’s also the most expensive investment that most people will ever make. And when you're trying to re-sell, the wrong renovation can have a long-term cost you probably didn't think about at the time.
The number one mistake sellers make when renovating, says Broker Alex Lavrenov of Warburg Realty, is only considering their own taste and needs within the home and choosing renovations that do not provide any value or benefit to the future homeowner.
Anything too personalized or stylized can really turn off future buyers, especially if they will need to do an additional renovation. “A buyer may not want such a traditional scheme or a super sleek modern kitchen. They often see what the seller sees as upgrades as something they need to fix or undo, therefore taking away the value,” explains agent Allison Chiaramonte of Warburg Realty.
Many homeowners have a tendency to go overboard when it comes to creating their dream space, especially if they are renovating a fixer-upper because they don’t believe they’ll sell their home anytime soon. But it’s important to keep the value of renovations in mind no matter what. A job transfer, major life changes, the economy and unforeseen events can mean homeowners need to sell faster than they originally anticipated. Here are the renovations that likely won’t add resale value to a home.
Changing the layout of a home can be a short-term expense that's a gamble when it comes to long-term value. For example, one major design trend that has dominated in recent years is creating a large master suite. But Jean Brownhill, who is the CEO and founder of startup Sweeten, which matches property owners with contractors, suggests thinking twice in some instances. “In the moment, creating one big master suite from two neighboring bedrooms sounds like a good idea, but it'll take buyers who are looking for a certain number of bedrooms out of the running. For resale, it's always better to have more designated bedrooms, not less.”
Chiaramonte has also seen sellers run into trouble when it comes to changing the layout of a space. “Layout choices such as removing a bedroom or a bathroom for extra living/entertaining space or opening/closing a kitchen can be a gamble from a value-add perspective since the next buyer may not need or want a double-sized living room, but want that bedroom you removed.”
Getting Rid Of The Bathtub
While large, luxurious showers have replaced soaking tubs for luxury bathroom renovations, getting rid of all bathtubs can turn off potential buyers. Depending on a neighborhood’s demographics, it’s important to at least consider keeping one bathtub.
“Families with small children will most likely want a bathtub. Older homeowners will more likely want a walk-in shower for accessibility's sake,” says Brownhill. “Think about your neighborhood demographics and who has been moving in and out. If it's largely an older demographic, building a walk-in shower is probably a good idea. If it skews younger, keep that bathtub.”
While being passionate about a hobby will enrich your life, it won’t do anything for the price of your home. Broker Gerard Splendore of Warburg Realty shares, “Specialized hobby spaces will only appeal to other hobbyists who share your passions, whether jewelry making, pottery, or woodworking. I don’t know if anyone includes a home darkroom anymore but, if it is in the listing description, it may deter buyers from even coming to see the property.”
Overly High-End Renovations
While it's easy for a homeowner to fall in love with a $10,000 fixture, it’s unlikely they’ll see any return on that investment, explains Chiaramonte. “While everyone loves a luxe renovation, sometimes you can go too far from a value creation perspective. Choosing the most expensive door hardware, internal light fixtures, etc, are examples of upgrades that you don’t get your money back on because people can’t see and feel the value added.”
Chiaramonte also says that homeowners often overspend on choices that no one else will notice but them. For example, an all slab marble bathroom doesn’t have a high return in comparison to a bathroom with one slab focus wall and matching tile throughout. “Buyers often can’t see the little details and differences (like slab on one wall, versus throughout) that add a lot to the cost line of the renovation,” she says. “Instead, they are only willing to pay a set premium for the overall effect which can be achieved in a more cost-effective manner. When you do these all out upgrades, they really are personal choices, not true investments.”
Renovations That Are Too Costly For The Location
While sellers can be overly enthusiastic about renovations to set their property apart from comps, this isn’t always a smart investment. “If you buy an apartment in a building or a house on a block that has never had a home sell above a certain price point (whether that is $1 million or $10 million), doing a renovation that puts your home far above that high watermark is a risky move,” states Chiaramonte.
Too Much Customization
Lavrenov recommends avoiding drastic cosmetic or custom renovations, such as wallpaper, fixtures made from expensive materials, or painting the walls with designs. “These types of features tend to be very personal to the current homeowner and don’t necessarily translate into added value for the next homeowner. My recommendation would always be for the seller to save their energy and money because these cosmetic renovations probably will not add any resale value,” he says.
Broker Gerard Splendore of Warburg Realty recently sold an apartment with a closet that was so customized, it devalued the property. The seller worked in retail and likely used one of the store’s designers to come up with a layout that was really only appealing to her. “It no longer felt like a home or a dressing area—it felt like a shop. Drawers covered one wall from floor to ceiling and a ladder was required to see what was in the drawers above eye-level. The new buyer tore everything out,” he says.
Then there are those cringe-worthy renovations that are red flags not to buy a property. Splendore inadvertently took a buyer to the home where the master bedroom featured a prefab redwood sauna in one corner, sitting on top of the wall-to-wall carpeting next to the bed. “The listing agent enthusiastically told us that it was included in the sale. We were not interested.”
But keep in mind that even subtle custom renovations can be a bad idea. Shelving, media consoles, and Murphy beds aren’t worth the price in the long run. “You want to steer clear of adding fixtures that the buyer/future homeowners might actually want to do away with as soon as they move-in or renovations that they feel actually take away from the living space,” says Lavrenov.
DIY is a great way to save money on more temporary aspects of a renovation such as painting, switching out hardware, etc, but not for more complex projects. “If you plan to sell your home down the line, avoid completing work yourself that should be done by a professional, whether that's tiling your bathroom or skim-coating your walls,” says Brownhill. “These projects take a level of attention and detail that the average DIYer does not have. If not done professionally, a future buyer will surely notice.”
DIY can also go horribly wrong, turning a home into a money pit. For example, even a project as simple as installing your own dishwasher can be a disaster. If it leaks, it can damage flooring or worse, cause structural damage to the home.
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I am a writer, podcaster, and comedic performer, but more so, an aspiring Eames chair owner. Originally from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, I currently live in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles with my husband and our two dogs, Lulu and Milo. I am absolutely fascinated by all aspects of décor and design. It once took me six months to choose a soap dispenser and I can’t even remember what it looked like. I like bright prints, southern exposure and any location you can call a “village or town.” There are currently over 100 episodes of House Hunters on my DVR.
These are the Most Popular Rooms to Remodel – And the Cost for Each
Homeowners are recreating designer kitchens. ImageFlow/Shutterstock
A new report by Houzz reveals that kitchen renovations are still the most popular remodel – and also the most expensive. In 2018, the kitchen was the top interior room renovation among homeowners who renovated last year.
The report also notes that costs are rising. “Last year’s 10 percent increase in tariffs on imported building materials is clearly hitting consumer pockets in areas such as kitchens and bathroom remodels that are heavily dependent on imports of cabinetry, countertops, ceramic tile, plumbing fixtures and vinyl flooring from China,” Nino Sitchinava, Houzz’s principal economist, tells Freshome. “We expect similar effects to take place in 2019.”
Below, Freshome breaks down the most popular rooms to remodel, along with Houzz’s median cost data and the percentages of homeowners who did a remodel vs. an addition.
28% remodel/30% addition
“Kitchens remained the most popular and most expensive room to renovate in 2018. In fact, the median spend on kitchen renovations jumped 27 percent in 2018, following a 10 percent increase in 2017,” Sitchinava says.
Some homeowners are looking for ways to expose concrete walls in their home, but Josu Gaubeka, President of La Cuisine Appliances also recommends concrete countertops in the kitchen. “Concrete is definitely in when it comes to kitchens. Even though marble and quartz countertops will never go out of style, what is currently trending is the industrial touch that cement adds to the designs.”
There’s plenty of room in this Kitchenaid Built-in French Door Refrigerator. Image courtesy of La Cuisine Appliances.
No matter the style of kitchen that you have, from the most elaborate in terms of sophistication to the simplest and utilitarian, if you have a stylish appliance in the kitchen, the appliance will certainly make the difference,” Gaubeka says.
Another trend that Gaubeka has observed is having everything out in the open. “Obviously, kitchens with open shelves or storage areas require a lot of order, but it’s also a simpler way to optimize time in the kitchen, since everything is on display.”
The 2019 faucet trends include vintage styles. “Even though the use of vintage faucets is a matter of taste, they are frequently found in many current kitchen designs. It’s part of a new country chic trend that recently became very popular, and works well with farmhouse styles, Gaubeka says.
Guests are no longer relegated to small powder rooms.
Guest/other bathroom: $3,500
25% remodel/27% addition
“Median spend on guest bathroom remodels, the most popular type of bathroom to renovate, grew by 17 percent,” says Sitchinava.
If you’re remodeling your home for resale, the best return on your investment will come from focusing on bathrooms and kitchens, according to Jonathan Self, a realtor at Center Coast Realty in Chicago. “Using a reputable designer can be a smart money saving – and possibly money making – move. Also, depending on how large the scope of work, my pro tip is to factor in the cost for a project manager.”
Even if you have a general contractor and a great designer, Self warns that neither position is really tasked for project management. “Both of them end up getting roped into the job of project managing, and you end up adding more chaos to a chaotic process.”
Bathrooms recreate spa experiences. Image: Beyond Time/Shutterstock
Master bathroom: $8,000
22% remodel/23% addition
“Median spend on master bathroom remodels, the third most popular room to renovate, grew by 14 percent,” says Sitchinava. Homeowners want spa-styled bathrooms with natural light, open showers, and bathtubs that make you want to soak for hours.
According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, transitional bathrooms are the most popular design style. It’s a mix of traditional and contemporary styles, with clean lines.
Homeowners are also incorporating some of the 2019 bathroom technology trends, including Wi-Fi/cloud-based digital showers with personal presets to control the temperature, outlets, and shower time. Intelligent toilets with personalized cleaning and dry functions, and a heated seat, can help to create the ultimate master bathroom.
Living areas can recreate the elegance of hotel suites. Image: Pai/Shutterstock
Living/family room: $3,400
21% remodel/23% addition
Whether a formal living room or a more casual living/family room where everyone – including the family’s pets – can feel right at home, homeowners are updating these spaces. Open floorplans that create clean sightlines to the kitchen are also popular for entertaining and keeping an eye on the kids.
Bedrooms are luxurious and comfy. Image: Beyond Time/Shutterstock
Master bedroom: $2,000
14% remodel/15% addition
Master bedroom remodels continue to be popular as homeowners strive to create a sanctuary. Sometimes, this entails a master suite addition. Other times, it involves remodeling the area, and may include knocking down walls to open up the room. This allows homeowners to create an area for lounging on a sofa or large chairs. Other upgrades include painting the walls, ceiling, and trim, adding a ceiling fan and lighting, and changing out the flooring.
Closets are as glamorous as bedrooms.
13% remodel/15% addition
Closets, in general, and walk-in closets, in particular, are increasing in popularity, according to Claudio Faria, Director of Ornare USA, which offers luxury kitchen, baths, closets and cabinetry. In fact, he says he’s seeing the highest rise in closet orders. “People are putting more importance into them as the home for all their most valuable possessions. Many are looking for a more retail/boutique design with clear glass doors to showcase their favorite items,” Faria says.
“Others are looking for new solutions for more efficient storage with a more glamorous experience for themselves. That might include dedicating an entire room to also work as a dressing lounge or integrating it with the master bedroom to make it part of the design.”