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Renovations That Can Make Your Home Harder to Sell

pool with view of living room

You've just purchased your new home, and you can't wait to renovate. Finally, you can create exactly the home you've been envisioning. The house is yours; you own it. You have the power to do what you want, to design it to fit your exact tastes and preferences.

Not so fast.

While owning your own home is exciting and does enable you to make any choice you want, there are important things to consider when deciding what changes to make. Every renovation, large or small, has the potential to either add or detract from your home's resale value.

While selling your house might seem a long way away, it is important to be prepared and not make irreversible changes that could hurt your chances of selling when you're ready. Here are a few renovations that could hurt your home's property value:

1. Removing Existing Living Space

It may seem like a great idea to knock down a wall and turn two small bedrooms into one large one, but in general, a home's value increases when it has more bedrooms.

"When you start eliminating bedroom space, you've completely changed the comparable value of your home in the neighborhood," David Pekel, president of Pekel Construction and Remodeling in Wisconsin, told MarketWatch.1

When he says comparable value, Pekel is referring to the fact that home prices are determined by comparing them to other homes for sale in the area. Oftentimes, the number of bedrooms in a home is a key factor in determining the comparable value.

People want homes that can not only accommodate the greatest possible number of people, but can do so in a way that gives everyone privacy. Pekel said it is more common to see buyers who want to turn one large bedroom into two rather than the other way around.

If you do have a bedroom you're not using and really want to convert it into something else, Zillow said to simply make sure it can easily be changed back should you decide to sell. Buyers who need that extra bedroom will not be interested in making costly renovations to turn it back.2

The same rule applies for powder rooms and closets. Both of these add value to a property because they allow more people to live there. Removing them for more space may feel like a good idea, but the fact of the matter is people need closets and bathrooms more than they need room to move around.

Essentially, any renovation that will result in the home accommodating less people will likely reduce the home's value and make it harder to sell.

2. Converting Your Garage into a Bedroom or Living Room

U.S. News & World Report insisted that, despite the cost-effective nature of turning a garage into living space, doing so is a huge turn off to buyers.3 Zillow emphasized that buyers have come to expect homes to offer covered spaces for their vehicles. That expectation rises if that home is in the suburbs.

In addition, MarketWatch said transforming a garage into living space eliminates key storage space, which is another important consideration for buyers. If you do want to use your garage for something other than cars, MarketWatch suggested leaving the garage doors in place. That way, it can be turned back into a garage without huge hassle or cost.

3. Adding Elements That Require a Lot of Maintenance

Unless your property is in a place where it is warm year-round, pools decrease home value. U.S. News & World Report said buyers who are shopping in places where pools are only used in summer generally see them as more of a hassle than anything else. The work required to maintain them during the season is not appealing.

Zillow also cautioned against excessive landscaping, which buyers will not want to pay to maintain.

4. Personalizing Too Much

Sabrina Booth, a real estate agent at Seattle's Redfin, told U.S. News & World Report that adding too many characteristics specific to your own tastes will not appeal to a broad range of buyers.

Zillow said making any uber-personalized, hard-to-replace changes—such as changes to tiles, countertops and floor coverings—will decrease your home's value because buyers will not want to make costly changes so those things fit their taste.

If you want to make your house feel like your own, do it through mediums that are easy to change, such as paint. Paint your walls whatever color you want, and when it comes time to sell, you can easily change those walls to neutral colors that will appeal to many buyers.

While these are good general rules to keep in mind, what adds or detracts value from a home can greatly vary by location. Make sure to consult an agent in your area for more specific advice.


1 MarketWatch
2 Zillow
3 US News & World Report

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