Find out which home upgrades are least likely to return their full investment when you sell your home.
Some renovation upgrades, such as kitchens and bathrooms, are usually fairly reliable for adding to a home’s resale value. But there are others (and if you’ve gone househunting in the last few years, perhaps you’ve seen a few) that are just plain bone-headed. What’s worth the cost and what isn’t?
Kathy Monahan, an agent with Forest Hill Real Estate Inc. in Toronto, has seen some real eye-rollers in her time. We asked her which home upgrades are least likely to return their full investment (or close to it) when you sell, or can even turn buyers off. Some of her answers might surprise you.
Once considered a selling feature, this is now a liability in many buyers’ eyes. Broadloom is incompatible with pets and people with allergies, and is perceived as hard to clean. If you have hardwood floors, have them refinished or consider installing them if you don’t.
Whirlpool baths, saunas and indoor hot tubs
Once considered chic, these are now often seen as just expensive, energy-guzzling extras. Kathy says she once saw a home with a hot tub installed in the living room!
Expensive built-in sound systems and home theatres
Some buyers will be attracted to this, but not everyone is an audio/cinephile, nor will they pay a premium for a house with this feature.
Colourful bath fixtures
These went out with poodle skirts. Chances are the buyer will just see them as a renovation to-do and will plan to get rid of them after the purchase.
Ornate chandeliers, wallpaper and paint treatments
Taste is very individual and idiosyncratic decorating can turn buyers off; stick with neutral, simple decor.
Odd rooms and walls
A wall bisecting a large bedroom into two unusably small ones or a cramped powder room under the stairs or in a closet … many buyers will see these as merely a future renovation expense. (Same goes for inexplicably missing walls, such as a bathroom that is open to the adjacent bedroom.)
Overly fancy appliances
Stainless steel-finish appliances are worth paying a few more dollars for (compared to equivalent white or colour models), but six-burner professional stoves, double dishwashers and a fridge big enough for a restaurant rarely recoup their initial cost.
Cheap laminate or vinyl tile flooring
Some types of laminate are attractive and practical; others just look cheap and fake. Especially avoid peel-and-stick vinyl tiles or be prepared to replace them when you put the house on the market. For not much more money, choose hardwood, stone, bamboo or cork.
There is some debate about this among realtors; to some buyers, a swimming pool is a selling feature. But a pool rarely recoups its entire cost, and it will reduce the number of potential buyers interested in your home.
Finally, Kathy’s number-one renovation no-no:
Turning a three-bedroom into a two-bedroom home
Even if that third bedroom is miniscule, it’s still a bedroom. No matter how spacious your newly enlarged master bedroom or how luxurious that new spa bath, the demand for two-bedroom homes is significantly smaller than for three-bedrooms, and they command considerably lower prices.