Musings from a life of chances and changes
It seems like a simple concept. Make improvements in your house and it will sell. But, as we know, nothing in life is simple. Certain "improvements" are not going to increase the value of your home. You may find them to be more attractive, or better than what was replaced, but the point is to spend money on updates that will help your bottom line. Here are 6 "upgrades" that are not worth the money:
1. Laminate Flooring
Installing laminate flooring is a practical alternative for many homeowners. Obviously, the number one reason is cost. It can be 50 percent less expensive than hardwood installation. Laminate flooring also resist scratches (great for pets,) moisture and general wear and tear. But even though faux wood has come a long way, some buyers can't get past it being artifical. They believe it's not as appealing and will not repair like hardwood. When the price range is at $500,000 or above, it is a safer choice to install hardwood. Buyers in the luxury market want high-end finishes. Your flooring choices impact the value of your home. Solid wood has longevity and it's eco-friendly. Frankly, when nicely maintained, no comparison between these two exists.
2. New Carpeting
Promote your new wall-to-wall carpeting throughout, and your Buyers may quickly disperse. It's expensive to install and does not translate into a higher sales price. The one exception may be in bedrooms. Many buyers like the warmth and feel of carpeting and when it's new, depending on the quality, it will not be a waste. It is a risk...think chemicals and dust mites.
3. Swimming Pools
Yes, it is nice to go to your friend's house where you relax by a magnificent pool. It is quite another thing to upgrade your home to put in a swimming pool. A swimming pool is better left to warm or hot climates, and Chicago is not one of them. Again, at higher price points buyers may admire a beautiful swimming pool in a backyard designed for entertaining. But on average, and particularly in colder weather climates, it is a hassle. One of my neighbors recently filled in their pool and I have seen it in the Evanston area on multiple occasions. Buyers view it is a liability or a lawsuit waiting to happen, not to mention the cost to maintain. If it's not maintained, it's just an eyesore. And, speaking of eyesores, don't even get me started on above-ground pools.
4. Hidden Improvements
Many homeowners have a similar gripe. They put money into upgrades that no one sees. If you tell a buyer that the furnace is new, they will be happy, but show them brand new kitchen appliances and you'll get a greater return on your investment. Most buyers have the expectation that upgrades to the infrastructure of your home are simple necessary maintenance. Let's say you live in an area that loses electricity often. The average cost you will recoup for installation of a midrange generator is about half of the amount you spent, and it's far from sexy.
5. Sunroom Addition
First, I tell you to forget a swimming pool and now I say that a sunroom addition isn't worth your money? I'm not talking about a cheesy sunroom kit, but an insulated 200 square foot addition with a new foundation, new roof, energy efficient windows etc. If the projected cost of this improvement is $75,000, expect to get a return of approximately $36,000. But don't take my word for it. Remodeling Magazine analyzes specific home improvements using a cost to value ratio for regions throughout the US.
You have all seen it. Your neighbors' fabulous house goes on the market and seems to have a for sale sign on the front lawn forever. Chances are...it's too fabulous. Is there such a thing as too much of a good thing? Yes! If you are in an area where the houses are in a price range and style that has attracted buyers to it for a variety of reasons, don't be the seller that has a home that is beyond the norm for the neighborhood. You may decide to add an improvement to make your house more appealing, but it needs to respect the home's architecture. In Chicago, the historic bungalows have become a treasure. When you go down the street, you will see the architecture repeatedly. If you are the only one that bumped up to add a second story addition, you may be the only one perched high while the buyers drive by.
7. Inconsistent Upgrades
Walking into a house for sale I notice that the hardwood floors are refinished and beautiful. I turn the corner and peek into the powder room to find the pink toilet with a furry cover sitting on top of the brown cracked tile next to a moldy, corroded sink. Not to be dissuaded, I am relieved to see a newer high-end kitchen. Now I know it could be a work in progress type of remodel. Why put the house up for sale without putting in a powder room update? Some sellers balk at the smaller projects, assuming the bigger ticket items will sell the house. If you fall victim to the belief that the larger renovation will carry the rest of the house, you will be disappointed.
In the last analysis, each homeowner knows their budget and their needs. Getting advice from a Realtor before improvements are made can make these decisions easier.
Any questions about upgrading your home? Contact me and I will be glad to help!
Judi Berger is an attorney and real estate broker who is blogging as she begins a new chapter in her life.