10 Home Renovations That Will Decrease Your Property Value

  • Some renovations are simple ways ways to increase the value of your home.
  • But design tweaks that some believe to be upgrades can cost homeowners money when it’s time to sell.
  • A new report from GoBankingRates identified 10 home renovations that hurt property values.

For homeowners, making investments in your property is a great way to build long term wealth. 

From large-scale renovations to small fixes, upgrades can increase property value, sometimes by hundreds of thousands of dollars. But before you break ground, beware. Big payoffs from remodels aren’t always a sure thing. 

The average return from a home’s resale is 56% of the cost of the remodel, CNBC reported. Which means homeowners making big changes to their properties could have a lot to lose if they’re not intentional about the changes they make. Large-scale projects like new windows, roofs, and complete kitchen renovations, for example, are fixes the National Association of Realtors say can go a long way, and are more likely to generate a profitable return. 

Being smart about home improvement is more relevant than ever amid today’s hot housing market, where buyers and sellers make all kinds of demands and concessions to win homes or find good deals. While some settle for more affordable fixer-uppers, others are opting for move-in ready spaces. But across the board, buyers and sellers should be thinking about what they want to see at home, and what renovations they’ll want to make or avoid.

With that in mind, a new report from personal finance news site GoBankingRates identified the home renovations that hurt property value the most, from bright paint colors to lavish light fixtures to swimming pools. And Insider unpacked the top 10.

1. Lavish lighting fixtures

Light fixtures easily fall victim to trend, and can get outdated fast. Especially ones priced at the high end.

But falling in love with lavish light fixtures is a common home improvement mistake, according to Alon Barzilay, founder of real estate development company Urban Conversions. “Whatever is in Vogue today will look dated 10 years down the road when you are ready to sell,” he told GoBankingRates. 

Luckily, light fixtures can be swapped inexpensively, he said. But to make a safe investment, keep it simple rather than splurging on a lavish piece.

2. Too much wallpaper

From a design perspective, wallpaper can be a nightmare. Often overstated, the prospect of having to remove it could be intimidating to homebuyers looking for a move-in-ready home.

Rather than choosing wallpaper (which is also known for being difficult to remove), homeowners should decide on a shade of neutral-colored paint to optimize their future resell potential.

Two people each taking the corner of a strip of floral wallpaper in preparation of removing it

Gary Houlder/Getty Images

3. Texture on walls and ceilings

Textured walls and ceilings are difficult to change and can be costly renovations for potential homebuyers.

Expensive and time-consuming, the looming premise of removing it could incentivize potential buyers to make low-ball bids on a home.

Homeowners should avoid elaborate, expensive textured paints, and, if they feel so inclined, opt for textured wall decor instead.

4. Quirky tiling 

Homes with too much personalization aren’t always easy to sell, and homeowners adding in fixtures like custom tiling can be costly to replace in the case of a resell, Bob Gordon, a realtor and blogger at Boulder Real Estate News, told GOBankingRates.

When it comes to resale value, most homebuyers will see details like quirky tiling as distracting fixtures they’ll need to rip out.

Homeowners should consider traditional white tile floors, instead, and use a rug to add a sense of personality or style you’re going for, he said.

A bathroom with large mosiac tiles and a freestanding tub

Jon Lovette/Getty Images

5. Too much carpeting 

Hardwood floors are in, and carpet is way out. There are too many downfalls to carpeting, from it looking too used and damaged to it being too personalized to the current homeowner’s taste. 

Instead, opt for hardwood floors, which can ramp up the value of your home. In fact, home remodeling expert Alex Biyevetskiy told Realtor.com that new hardwood floors can increase a home’s sale price by up to 2.5%.

6. Bright, bold paint colors

Paint is important — and bright, bold shades can be major turn-offs for potential homebuyers who can’t envision a space’s renovation potential.

But repainting is a quick fix. According to HGTV, homeowners looking to list should choose neutral colors if they want to impress potential buyers with a living space they can more easily envision themselves in.

Wide shot of a bed with night stands on either side.

Get a bed with a headboard to foster security in your bedroom.

Bulgac/Getty Images

7. An extremely high-end kitchen

Most homeowners or eager homebuyers have a dream kitchen —  but the resale value of expensive, luxury kitchens is actually less than what homeowners put into the project for themselves.

In 2020, the average cost of a kitchen remodel was $68,490, according to home improvement site Remodeling, while the resale value was only $40,127.

Rather than reap a low return on investment, homeowners should prioritize updating old or worn appliances and fixtures instead of shelling out thousands for luxe options.

8. A home office conversion

Even though remote work is seemingly here to stay and more professionals are embracing working from home, transforming what was once a bedroom into office space could be an expensive mistake.

There are costs that come with transforming a bedroom into an office, from removing furniture to adding outlets or making larger improvements. Overall, building a custom home office could run up a bill of between $15,000 and $80,000 according to HomeAdvisor — a cost that could be for nothing if a prospective buyer prefers extra bedroom space instead.

business professional using laptop in home office

Morsa Images/Getty Images

9. Combining bedrooms to create a bigger room

Combining rooms for the sake of creating a larger living space might seem like a good idea, but it could mean bad news for homeowners who don’t plan on staying put long term.

“Even small bedrooms add value to homes, as most families want children to have their own rooms but don’t mind if they’re on the small side,” Brian Davis, a real estate investor and the director of education of renting resource SparkRental, told GOBankingRates. “In my experience, each bedroom can add about 15% to the value of a home.”

Rather than tearing rooms apart, design hacks could go a long way in amplifying your space, from light wall colors to modern decor.

10. A swimming pool

Unless you live in a location where summer-like weather exists year round, a swimming pool isn’t actually a strong value-add to your home.

Best case, a pool could increase a property value by only about 7%, according to HouseLogic. Costly to build and maintain, the minor potential value increase a swimming pool represents simply isn’t worth it for most homeowners.

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