Published Date 10/13/2020
You can look everywhere online for small-to-large projects to add value to your home. However, articles about how you can unwittingly LOWER your property value are a little bit harder to find.
While it’s true we should be able to do virtually anything we want with our homes to suit our own tastes, any Realtor can tell you that property values fluctuate as a result of many factors, including what can take value away. Of course, some factors are out of your control —such as market conditions, interest rates, the economy, or the rezoning of the property across the street for commercial uses.
What is within your control, however, can make a huge difference. According to Redfin’s Julia Weaver, “From unappealing renovations to neglecting maintenance on your home, some projects, or lack thereof, can negatively impact your property value. It’s best to be aware of what hurts property value so you can protect your home and get the most ROI when it comes time to sell.” Keeping that “return on investment” should become top of mind for anything you do to your home.
While making a change to your floor plan may make your life easier, some changes are not wise ones in the long run. Converting a garage to a living space, especially if garages are everywhere in your area, is one of the bad ones. People will look for homes in your neighborhood expecting garages — not driveways that lead to nowhere. On the flip side, a bathroom addition, adding a deck, or extending parts of your house to gain square footage will increase the value of the home. An above-ground swimming pool? It can be a blessing to YOU on hot days, but an eyesore to a potential buyer.
The first thing a prospective homebuyer will do (with or without a Realtor in tow) is drive by your home. “Your curb appeal should entice prospective buyers and help your home sell faster,” says Weaver. “If you’ve noticed the exterior paint is chipping off or your trees and shrubs have seen better days, chances are potential buyers will notice too. Luckily, you can achieve great curb appeal with some minor adjustments such as updating exterior paint, replacing outdated light fixtures, switching out an old fence, replacing your front door and/or adding new landscaping. Even small fixes such as a power wash and clean windows can help.
The interior of your home can be a bit more complex. Just because your favorite color is a sunny yellow doesn’t mean the average buyer wants to be blinded by your light. Same thing with accent walls painted in creative colors. “A fresh coat of neutral paint on the cabinets, walls, and trim can make all the difference,” says Weaver. “Consider leaving the painting to the professionals. She adds, “Busy and bright wallpaper, tiles, or flooring can also divert the attention of the buyers away from your home. The best rule of thumb is to always choose neutral options for permanent items. Then incorporate color with your decor and furnishings.”
How many HGTV episodes do you have to watch to convince you that wall-to-wall carpeting is no longer an attractive feature to anyone except parents with toddlers? While the carpet may have stayed in great condition during the first few years of owning your home, it will start retaining odors, showing wear, and become difficult to keep clean. “Not only will buyers be wary of wall-to-wall carpeting because it can be expensive to replace, but it can also collect indoor allergens,” says Weaver. “If your home does have carpet, be sure to get it professionally cleaned periodically to prolong the life of it. It’s also a good idea to have it deep cleaned before listing your home for sale.”
Another bad omen is clutter. Visuals are everything when selling your home. Take all the stuff you’ve accumulated through the years, box it up and either pile it in your garage or get a short-term storage unit. “Just as dirt and grime build-up, so can clutter,” says Weaver. “If your room is overcrowded with stuff, it’s a good idea to clear some of your belongings out. Donate items you no longer need or want, and find hidden, permanent homes for the items you use just once in a while.” Decluttering is an inexpensive way to add value, while clutter makes many buyers just say, “next!”
If you can smell it, you might not be able to sell it. Buyers will remember the house that “smelled like dog” or the heavy potpourri in the “smoker’s house.” Weaver advises routinely vacuuming and dusting, wiping down countertops and surfaces, and deep-cleaning the bathroom and kitchen. “Consider having your home professionally cleaned as you see fit. Most services allow you to choose the frequency of visits to suit your needs.”
The rule of thumb here is that future property value is always an important consideration whether you have plans to sell or not. Life changes on a dime, and that house you were convinced would be your “forever home” may receive a sign swinging in the front yard when it was never in your plans to sell.