4 Home “Improvements” That Could Actually Reduce Your Home Value


7 min read

Once you actually own a home, you’re free to make it into the space that’s perfect for you. It’s exciting to survey your new rooms and think about all the ways you can turn them into the perfect home for you. But when the day comes for you to move, some of those changes could come back to bite you. We asked several real estate agents which home updates actually reduce your home value. Here are five things to avoid as you redesign your home.

1. Combining Two Rooms into One

You may like the idea of doubling the size of a bedroom by knocking down a wall, but that’s a decision that could hurt you when it’s time to sell.

According to Evan Roberts of the AE Home Group, “The single most common mistake I run into is when clients have decided to eliminate a bedroom in an effort to expand another room.”

Evans explains further, “when comparables are pulled for a market, the number of bedrooms can have a serious impact when it comes to determining a home’s value.” This makes sense when you think about it. When you were house hunting, didn’t the number of rooms influence the price you expected to see on a listing?

Your real estate agent will feel they have to slot the home into a lower pricing category based on the price typical in your neighborhood for homes with the same number of rooms in order to get anyone through the door.

2. Installing a Pool

Being able to hang out in a pool on a hot day seems like an amazing luxury to some, but before you make a move to add a pool to your backyard, you should know it’s not the dream for everyone.  

Steve Laret of The Laret Home Group explains, “Pools can be problematic. Many homeowners have to have them and many homebuyers do not want them.”

Pools are also considered a safety risk, so they can actually raise your homeowners insurance premium or get you dropped from your policy altogether, so many homebuyers may be unwilling to take on that risk.

Where you live matters in this case, but even some southerners will bristle at the idea of the extra work and safety concerns of a pool. This is a clear case where one man’s treasure just looks like an annoyance to another.  

Eric Bowlin of Ideal Real Estate Investing adds, “In northern areas, the swimming season can be very short and the majority of home owners do not want pools because the cost isn’t worth the benefit.”

do pools decrease your home value

3. “Creative” Decorating

You want to personalize your house to make it a home – that’s your prerogative. But when it comes to selling your house, you have to acknowledge that buys may not share your taste, and many customizations actually reduce your home value. What are we talking about?

  • Unusual wall colors
  • Adding wallpaper
  • Covering floors in carpet

Bruce Ailion of the Ailion Team says one of the biggest mistakes he sees is when a seller paints a room an unusual color, or puts in unusual color flooring or counter tops.

“You may love solid black granite or pink quartz 10K counter tops,” he said. “Rather than increasing the price a new buyer considers the cost of removing these items.”

Adding wallpaper to your rooms is often a turnoff for potential buyers. According to Denise Supplee of Spark Rental, “While it may be a wonderful addition to you, it is all about individual taste. And I have seen buyers look at a home they love and see it chock-full of wall-papered walls and chalk the home off of their list.”

Wallpaper designs often look outdated quickly and your personal taste is unlikely to be in line with what the next owners like. Removing or replacing wallpaper is a costly pain that you’re probably not going to want to deal with before selling and your buyer definitely won’t want to be tasked with.

Fortunately, painting the walls is a relatively inexpensive update to make when you’re getting a house ready for market, so if you don’t mind the idea of painting them all over again later, go for the colors you like now. For something like flooring and countertops though, you might consider sticking with more neutral colors.

4. Going Nuts with the Landscaping

One word: maintenance. You might have a green thumb, or you might love your expensive garden with custom-shaped shrubbery, or you might have nurtured your beloved vegetable garden. BUT, as with just about everything here, you can’t assume other homeowners will feel the same.

Landscaping can be incredibly expensive, incredibly time-consuming, or both. So if a buyer sees a home overwhelmed by gardens, they see lots of work and dollar signs in their head.

landscaping reduce your home value

Plus: What Can You Do to Improve Value?

General preventative maintenance can keep your home in great shape for future buyers, and there are plenty of other improvements you can make that will help – not hurt – your resale value:

  1. Remodel Your Kitchen – As the experts say, kitchens and bathrooms sell homes! Adding nicer floors and countertops and a modern look to your kitchen can make a big difference in how attractive a home is to buyers. According to Consumer Reports, it can bump up the sale price by 3-7%.
  2. Modernize Your Bathroom – Bathroom improvements are another good way to increase value. Zillow has found that updates like Shaker cabinets and quartz counters frequently help homes sell faster and over list price.
  3. Replace Old Appliances – General preventative maintenance can keep your home in great shape for future buyers, or practical buyers, trading in your old appliances for new ones will have a big appeal. They’ll know they won’t have replace them as soon and can enjoy the water and energy savings that new appliances often offer. As one example, homes on Zillow that have upgraded to a tankless water heater sell 4% over expected price and 43 days faster.
  4. Increase Energy Efficiency – Making energy-efficient home updates are good for the earth, will save you money now, and can help you make more when you sell. Consumer Reports finds that including buzzwords like high-efficiency windows and LED lights in a listing can make a home more attractive.

At the end of the day, the home is yours and you can do with it what you want (at least staying within legal and HOA restrictions). But if you want it to sell easier when the day comes, be thoughtful in the choices you make now.