The Top 10 Home Improvements That Could Devalue Your Home

Home Stager with Designed to Appeal, LLC

Sometimes, making an improvement to your home could actually hurt you when you try to sell it. 

Here are the top 10 home improvements that can make your home harder to sell: 

1. Kitchen Renovation. Any renovation of a kitchen that is too taste-specific or extreme in design. For example, a kitchen equipped with a restaurant-level stove or multiple refrigerators may not appeal to the buyer who is a simple cook. You want to appeal to the broadest range of buyers when selling a home, and if a buyer thinks they need to spend money re-doing what you've done, they will offer less. 

2. Bathroom Renovations. The same can be said for bathroom renovations. Any design that is over the top could detract from the value of the home. It's best to avoid garish sinks, faucets, and tiles.  And skip the heart-shaped bathtub!

 3. Painting. Painting the walls is a great way to freshen up a space prior to putting your home on the market, but painting with bold colors such as red, orange, purple or even black (I've seen this) is a sure way to turn off a potential buyer. Buyers want to feel like they can move right in and not have to re-paint the walls to match their own tastes and their existing furniture.  The same goes for painting the exterior of the home - no bright blues, yellows or greens please!

4. Water Features. Having an in-ground pool, hot tub, waterfall or pond can also devalue a home, as buyers may perceive these as extra maintenance expenses they don't want to incur. Also, buyers with small children may be fearful of these as well. The only exception of an in-ground pool definitely adding value is if the home is an investment property in a resort area where renters find homes with a pool to be more desirable.

5. "Wasted" Square Footage. Taking valuable square footage in a house and using it for a specific, personalized purpose can make the house harder to sell and/or detract from its value, for example, turning a garage into a gym. Also, on the Bravo TV show, Nine By Design, the hosts of the show were trying to sell their NYC townhouse. The ground floor was taken up by a basketball/squash court because the owners liked to play these games. However, most buyers would see this as wasted space and an expensive project ahead to change.

6. Redecorating. Redecorating in a highly taste-specific style, such as Asian, country clutter or extreme modern can turn-off potential buyers. When selling your home, you want to appeal to the broadest range of buyers, so it's important that the furniture and décor is neutral and broadly appealing.

7. Illegal home improvements.  Decks, driveways, expansions, etc.  not approved by the local town authorities  can devalue the home as you will probably be forced to correct the situation prior to selling which could result in something as extreme as actually removing it.

8. Laminated Wood Flooring.  Installing laminated wood flooring instead of solid wood in an upscale home can also cause a buyer to think "I've got to rip this out"!  Better to refinish existing hardwood floors, if any, or cover floors with new but inexpensive wall-to-wall carpeting.

9. DIY Home Repairs. While needed repairs and maintenance should be done to a home before putting it on the market, doing these yourself could end up costing you money in the end as buyers perceive your shoddy workmanship as something they have to spend money correcting, and therefore offering you a lower price.

10. Gardens and Landscaping. A high-maintenance garden and landscaping could also lower the value of a home. If buyers are not avid gardeners or don't want to spend money watering or on hiring someone to constantly weed, trim and rotate your plantings, this could be a real turn-off.

So, before you decide to make that improvement to your home, stop and ask yourself: "Will most buyers find this desirable so that they would be willing to pay for it, or is it just to satisfy my own needs and tastes?".

Do you know of any home improvements that could devalue a home?

© Copyright 2010 Designed to Appeal, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

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Re-Blogged 26 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
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Donna Dazzo
Designed to Appeal, LLC - Manhattan, NY
Home Stager in the Hamptons & New York

Thank you all for your comments, compliments and re-blogs.  I love hearing about your personal experiences that validate things on my list.  Keep them coming!  And I also like hearing from anyone who disagrees with what I've said, so don't be afraid to disagree.  A spirited debate is also interesting.

Aug 08, 2010 11:11 AM #46
George Bennett
Inactive - Port Orford, OR
Inactive Principal Broker, GRI

I have 2 listing with elaborate landscaping including spectacular gardens and the feedback on both of these homes has been that there is much to much maintenance work in keeping the gardens as they are and too much guilt for letting them go.

Aug 08, 2010 11:37 AM #47
Damon Gettier
Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert - Roanoke, VA
Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE

I actually found your post through Erica's re-blog.  As I stated on Erica-s re-blog, I love number 8.  Too many times we walk into a house with "hardwood floors" to find out they are laminates....just so we can turn around and walk out.

Aug 08, 2010 12:09 PM #48
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

Donna - this is an excellent list. So glad you wrote it and that it got featured. I hope you don't mind me sharing this with folks who should know about this.


Aug 08, 2010 12:29 PM #49
Donna Dazzo
Designed to Appeal, LLC - Manhattan, NY
Home Stager in the Hamptons & New York

Jeff, thanks.  No I don't mind you sharing this post at all.

Aug 08, 2010 01:13 PM #50

Tks for this update. I was aware of most, but the large garden one was new to me. The laminated wood flooring can be cheap looking but the engineered flooring is fine-- easier to install & maintain, and chepaer too.

Aug 08, 2010 02:13 PM #51
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

How about peel n' stick tiles?  Most of my clients actually seem to get offended when they see those. Oh wait, you said home 'improvements.'  Never mind.

Great list.

Aug 08, 2010 02:38 PM #52
Bryan Robertson
Intero Real Estate - Los Altos, CA
Broker, Author, Speaker

Very good points.  I agree with them all.  I've seen many homes improved by sellers either beyond what is needed or desired.  I've also seen additions overdone resulting in homes too big for an area and thus overpriced.

Aug 08, 2010 04:05 PM #53
Eric Lee
Realty Executives - Phoenix, AZ
e-PRO, SFR - Phoenix, AZ

Someone else mentioned it but converting spaces into something other than their intended use is a tricky deal. A biggie here in the desert is people converting their garage into living space but I've seen living rooms converted to bedrooms, bedrooms converted to dance studios (complete with floor to ceiling mirrors), & another big one: patios converted to office space. Too often these spaces don't have the AC ducted in so they never really cool properly in the hot summers and of course, sometimes they are not permitted either.

RE: Laminates - you qualified this with regards to upscale homes and I agree with you there, however some of the newer laminates look a LOT like real wood and are a great idea in homes up to a certain price range.

Aug 08, 2010 04:07 PM #54
Stanton Homes
Stanton Homes - New Home Builder, with thousands of floor plans and almost unlimited customization available! - Raleigh, NC
Design/Build Custom Home Builder in North Carolina

These are great points to consider when BUILDING a home too.  It might be your forever home, but then again you may need to move in a few years.  Think ahead to possible resale when deciding what to include in your new home.

Aug 09, 2010 03:13 AM #55
Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

Such a good list...the issue with strong colours can be a "break" in buyer attention.   

Aug 09, 2010 12:28 PM #56
Heather Cook
Rooms in Bloom Staging & Design Inc. - Kitchener, ON
Quality Home Staging

Donna - fantastic post and I'm going to re-blog as well!! I was at an open house on the weekend and I was turned off by all the 'improvements' the home owners had done according to the realtor who followed me through. All carpets had been torn up and cheap looking laminate put down in all the bedrooms, living room and family room. All walls were freshly painted in 'neutral colours' ... since when is bright yellow and pea green neutral colours? In the kitchen the cabinets were nice but the granite was garish and not to my taste .. so all I could think was that I would have to spend a mint trying to get this place to fit what I like. Yes, we always face re-painting to some extent but re-modeling an already re-modeled home which is significantly more expensive because of the renovations? No thanks!

Aug 10, 2010 03:42 AM #57
Sandi Gerrard
Toronto, ON

Excellent information here, Donna.  Thanks for sharing.  I have re-blogged it to help spread the word.  Thank you.

Aug 11, 2010 12:24 AM #58
Karen Hubert
Center Stage Design-real estate staging, Ancaster/Hamilton - Ancaster, ON
Home Stager

This is a great list Donna.  I love the pictures.  Very cute.

Aug 11, 2010 02:22 AM #59
Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Donna, I remember a heart shaped tub. It was had the owner's initials in the tile work.  That did not add any value to the house and as you can imagine...  it was not a real fast sell!


Aug 11, 2010 11:26 AM #60
Teresa Ramey
ReDecorating with Style - Florence, SC

Great blog.  Thanks for posting it.  Sometimes people get excited about reinventing their homes and may not realize that it could be hurting more than helping.

Aug 11, 2010 12:19 PM #61
Donna Dazzo
Designed to Appeal, LLC - Manhattan, NY
Home Stager in the Hamptons & New York

Thank you all for your comments and support.  Just today I went to an owner occupied apartment here in Manhattan to do an estimate for bringing in some furniture and in the kitchen was a purple Viking Stove (the owner said it was blue) and granite countertops in a terrible shade of Hunter green.  The real estate agent told her that he had received many comments such as "why did they put that thing in here?".  She said, well I like color.  I explained to her that this will not appeal to most buyers and they will just think they have to spend money replacing it.  This is a perfect example of a homeowner making an improvement (Viking stoves are expensive) to satisfy themselves without a thought to the future resale value. I also had to tell her to remove the wall of family photos.

See the picture for yourself. 

Aug 11, 2010 02:03 PM #62
Toronto, ON

Donna - It is rare to see articles written from the perspective of renovations that can DEVALUE home value.

Aug 17, 2010 11:48 PM #63
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Donna, you certainly earned your gold star with this one!  Excellent advice!

Sep 01, 2010 05:24 AM #64
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Donna, here in Florida a pool is usually a plus but I can certainly understand that in colder climates it wouldn't be as desirable. Great list!

Oct 23, 2010 04:42 PM #65
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