Most people labor under the disillusion that every dollar they put into “improving” their home will pay off when they go to sell it. This is especially true of people who buy a home expressly for the purpose of flipping it and selling it for a profit. For the most part, it is true that “upgrades” equal a higher selling price. Granite countertops in the kitchen, energy-efficient windows, and a great paint job are all investments that will amount to dollar signs. On the other hand, the pros have discovered that some “upgrades” don’t actually help sales, and can actually hinder them in some cases. Are you “improving” your home to your own detriment? Read on and find out. 

Swimming Pools

Let’s talk about swimming pools. Who doesn’t love to swim, right? When you look at a home’s listing and you see the dazzling blue waters of a well-maintained pool, your heart automatically skips a beat, right? Well… not all of the time. For parents of young kids, a pool can actually be a turn-off, as it’s a safety concern. Some buyers with growing families will consider a pool a deal-breaker. There is also the fact that this is a home feature that requires a lot of maintenance, some of which is expensive. In short, some people just don’t want the hassle. It’s one thing if you own a house that already has a pool attached, but think twice before you drop five digits on that in-ground, because it might not be the dynamite selling point you’re assuming. 

Flooring

Now for another hot topic: flooring. Upgrading the flooring in your home is a sure mark in your column when listing your home’s amenities, yes? If you just invested in really nice wall-to-wall carpeting, you could end up disappointed. While good carpeting was once a prized feature in a home, a lot of 2018 buyers dislike it, as even the poshest carpet is a fertile breeding ground for bacteria and it will need to be replaced sooner rather than later. Pretty much any other type of flooring is easier to keep clean and lower-maintenance. If you are going to put the money into flooring, consider tile or a nice-quality laminate that mimics the look of hardwood.

Invisible Upgrades

Lastly - and this is a tricky one - think twice about upgrading features of the house that aren’t readily visible. Just put in a top-of-the-line air conditioning unit, replaced the roof, or installed a new garage door? That’s great for you, but it won’t necessarily convince a buyer that your home is worth extra money because of it. Let’s be real here: buyers expect the roof to not be leaking and the air to blow cold when they buy a house, and they don’t especially care what money you had to put into making sure that those things happen. If your HVAC is on its last legs and you absolutely have to replace it, you definitely should. Same goes for a roof that is about to become a liability. Just don’t assume that these costs are an “investment,” because your buyers may not see it that way. 

In short, buying a home is a process full of psychological tricks, and as a seller it is impossible to win all of them. Of course you want to put your best foot forward when you are about to sell your house, but don’t make the mistake of making “improvements” that don’t do you any favors in the end, when it counts… and I’m talking about dollars and cents, on the bottom line. Do your research before delving into any pre-listing home improvement projects, and consider consulting with a real estate agent who knows your neighborhood well and can tell you which home upgrades are actually valued where you live.