7 Things That Won't Increase Your Home Value

modern backyard
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You might be amazed at the things that do not increase the value of your home. The reason I say this is because I work primarily with sellers, which means I hear those mistaken beliefs all the time and can pretty much count on a seller coming up with a list of home improvements that do not increase the value in the way the seller had hoped.

It can be a bit devastating to find out from your Realtor that the stuff you invested in, perhaps borrowed money for, not only does not improve the value of the home but, horrors, might actually detract from it.

Fortunately, it most cases, the improvements that do not add value might make it easier to sell your home or give the buyer peace of mind. Peace of mind does not come with its own price tag, though. It's an intangible quality.

1. Extensive Professional Landscaping

You can build an entire amusement park in your back yard and it won't bring you big bucks upon resale. If you want to put in a waterfall, coupled with a flowing river dumping into a Koi pond, for example, do it because you enjoy the water feature, not because you're hoping to recoup the investment. Landscaping choices are a personal preference, and all the hand-crafted bridges and unique pergolas in the world won't dramatically boost your bottom line.

2. Upgrading Electrical or Plumbing in an Older Home

Although you may have paid thousands of dollars to install copper plumbing or replace the sewer or upgrade the electrical from aluminum wiring to Romex, those types of modern improvements are considered maintenance.

Your neighbors probably made those improvements years before you. In fact, it could be considered a standard improvement and, without it, you could take a hit on the price when selling. Yet, it's unlikely to bring you more dollars upon sale solely because of it.

3. New Roof, Gutters, Sprinklers or HVAC

There are certainly buyers in the marketplace who appreciate a home that features a brand new furnace, but they won't pay extra for the home because the furnace has been replaced.

Ditto regarding a new roof. The life expectancy of average composition types of roofs is about 30 years. Again, replacing a roof that is past its life expectancy is considered a maintenance issue. It's like expecting to get paid more because you swept off the front steps.

4. Swimming Pool and/or Personal Spa

The TV commercials for water-related improvements make it seem like non-stop frolicking among kids in the pool (zero focus on drownings) or late-evening soirées in the spa sipping adult beverages, but the cost and expense of installing a pool or spa never finds its way back into your pocket. If you want to put in a pool or spa, do it because you will enjoy it. Realize that at resale time, a buyer might insist that you tear out the spa and, further, some buyers will not buy a home with a swimming pool.

5. Making Dated Improvements

You might prefer white appliances or white ceramic counters, for example, but young home buyers do not. Those are considered dated improvements and are no longer in style. Same thing with carpeting, unless it's exotic and high-end. Even 12-inch by 12-inch ceramic flooring has lost its appeal. Don't get me started on the gold-toned bathroom fixtures and door hardware.

6. Painting Your House

Although painting is the single most cost-effective improvement you can make before selling your home, it won't return any bang for your buck unless you do the painting yourself. Painting the exterior or interior of the home certainly makes any home more saleable, but an appraiser will not give you a credit boost because the paint is fresh.

7. Solar Panels

Unfortunately, the Kool-Aid the sales people at the solar panel company handed you to drink is spiked. Sure, they tell you that solar panels will improve the value of your home and add to your bottom-line profit, but that's just not true. You get zero improved value for solar panel installation. On top of this, if you have financed the solar panels, you probably can't sell the home without paying the balance at closing, something else that most likely was not disclosed.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.