Mom & Pop may have lived their entire lives in the same cozy home in Pleasantville, but chances are good the home you live in now may not be your forever home. The average American will move 11.4 times in their lifetime (maybe that “.4” is just switching bedrooms!), although figures vary depending on age and income level. When you are considering a permanent update to your home (flooring, appliances, structural changes or additions, landscaping, etc.), you should consider not only your budget and preferences, but the likes and dislikes of future buyers. Not every improvement will net you a 100% return, and some renovations may even hurt your chances of a top-notch home sale down the road. Here are a few home improvement mistakes to avoid:
- Painting over desirable vintage surfaces. If you’ve got ugly wood paneling from the seventies and can’t afford to replace it, by all means bring out the paint. If you have charming exposed brick, think long and hard before you paint if white for your preferred “shabby chic” look. Many people love the look of exposed brick, and paint is nearly impossible to remove from brick. If you will likely move in less than 10 years, consider leaving it alone and focus on other updates.
- Choosing a garish shade of paint or siding. There are ways to win the color war in terms of your home’s exterior. Brick red with crisp white shutters, sunny yellow in the right neighborhood, navy blue … these shades can be winners in the right settings, but in the long run your safest bet is neutral shades like taupe, gray or neutral greens.
- Covering up hardwood flooring. If your home has hardwood flooring in refinishable condition, consider going that route rather than covering it up with wall to wall carpeting. More than half of buyers prefer hard surface flooring to carpet, and a professional refinishing job will last for years. If you love the feel of carpet underfoot, buy the largest rug you can afford. You’ll enjoy the soft texture on your tootsies and protect your hardwood floor as well.
- Installing a backyard pool. Pools make for all kinds of family fun – but they also come with liability concerns and increased homeowners insurance. Buyers that are initially lured in by the cool factor may have second thoughts when they consider the upkeep and undesirable extras that can accompany poolside living. The same goes for hot tubs. A small percentage of buyers will see it as a bonus, but buyers with germaphobia (or small children) will only see it as a headache.
- Forgetting to let the light in. You may enjoy blackout darkness in your bedroom when the sun rises and you’re trying to catch a few more zzz’s, but prospective buyers will best picture themselves in a sunny, well lit home. Don’t neglect lighting in your interior projects. Include plenty of ambient and task lighting in the form of dimmable overhead lights, undercabinet lighting and lamps. When your house is on the market, lighten up window treatments if necessary and keep them open to let in as much natural light as possible.
- Go easy on accessibility. If you have outfitted your home with stairlifts, step-in bathtubs or entryway ramps to accommodate your own needs or those of a loved one, consider minimizing these elements at the time of sale. For individuals or families who don’t require or desire these items, they can be a distraction and add age to the feel of a home. In some cases these elements may be necessary to the safety or comfort of the people living in your home. If that’s the case, renovate as necessary – but do so knowing you may need to undo these changes at the time of sale or accept a longer period of time on the market or lower price at the closing table.
- Ignoring outdated fixtures. Gleaming brass is so 1989 – and not in a fun retro way, either! Replacing dated knobs and fixtures on doors, bathrooms and in kitchens can add up, but if you know you’ll sell in the future, pick a classic finish like polished chrome or satin nickel and replace your knobs and fixtures over time as you can afford to do so. Start with most-used spaces (master bedroom, public bathroom, kitchen faucet) and work your way through the home a room or space at a time.
- Splurging on high maintenance countertop materials. You may love high end carrera marble or soapstone countertops, but these materials have a high level of maintenance to match their hefty initial price tags. Consider instead engineered quartz or granite counters, or if you have your heart set on marble, use it as a bathroom tile backsplash rather than a kitchen counter that will see a lot of use. Future buyers will thank you for this wise decision.
- Nixing a bedroom in favor of a larger master suite. Three bedroom homes will almost always command a higher sales price than two bedroom homes of similar square footage. If you can afford to build the master suite of your dreams and can live without the additional bedroom, consider renovation options that will allow you to turn the additional space back into a bedroom for a future sale, such as adding a door without removing an entire wall to turn the guest room next door into a killer closet. You’ll likely save on reno costs and be glad you set yourself up for success when it is time to list.
If you have questions about buying or selling in Metro Denver, give me a ring. I’m here to help however I can, and I’ve been helping people buy, sell and invest in Denver for over 21 years.
The Meyers Group