Photo: © Valentinrussanov - iStockphoto
It might seem obvious that home improvements are a good investment and will increase a property's value. Unfortunately, that's not always true. Many improvements don't raise a home's value enough to repay their costs, leaving you out of pocket. Even worse, some projects can actually lower your home's value.
If you're about to improve your home with an eye on raising its value, make sure you avoid these six mistakes.
Always keep in mind the average property types and values in your neighborhood. If you improve your home too far above your neighborhood's level, you'll have difficulty charging the premium your improvements might deserve.
However luxurious and attractive your home, if it doesn't fit well into its area, many buyers will be turned off by a price that's noticeably out of line. They're more likely to spend the money for a more basic home in a higher-value area and make their own improvements later.
When carrying out improvements, try to do it consistently across your home. A shiny, modern kitchen may be a great selling point, but if your bathroom looks like it's fallen out of a time warp, most buyers will be put off.
It's much better to have a good-but-not-exceptional standard throughout your home than patchy improvements.
For anything except the most straightforward improvements, hire an architect or remodeling expert who can advise on how the improvement fits into your home. A poorly planned renovation can cause more problems than it solves, and it takes experience to spot many potential issues.
Just as importantly, a professional will make sure your improvements stay on the right side of the local building codes. No buyer will want to take on a property that goes against regulations.
Poor execution of a project can be even worse than poor planning. This is especially true for substandard DIY projects. You may well be happy with your work, but an impartial eye might not see things quite so favorably.
If a potential buyer sees a lot of obvious DIY work, they'll tend to have doubts about the property as a whole. And of course, work you've done yourself carries no guarantees or warranties for a future buyer.
Think twice before adding expensive, luxury features, such as a swimming pool or hot tub. Not everyone will appreciate these features as much as you might think. The thought of time-consuming and expensive maintenance will discourage a large proportion of potential buyers, unless they're specifically looking for that feature.
Lastly, converting a spare room into a home office, sunroom, or dedicated playroom can actively reduce your home's value. Unless these rooms fit straight into a buyer's requirements, they'll likely have little use for them, and they'll need to spend time and money reconverting the rooms to other more suitable uses. This will be a strong negative against your property's desirability.
If you're planning to stay in your home for years to come, then go ahead and make improvements that will increase your quality of life. But if a future move is a possibility, keep in mind that not all improvements will pay for themselves, and some may actually make your home harder to sell.