One major advantage of owning a home is to build equity; to increase the value. When the times comes to Sell, you the seller hope to make a profit. At the very least, you want to retain the value of the house, so that you won’t lose money when you sell it.
Regrettably, some homeowners make poor choices when it comes to remodeling, improvements, additions, or maintaining the house. Instead of preserving or increasing the monetary value of the house, the opposite occurs – the house loses value!
The 13 items below are common mistakes that Owners make. The value is decreased, the house may be less appealing to potential Buyers. Think long and hard before doing any of these things to your house!
13 Mistakes Homeowners Make that Decrease Value
1. Enclose the Garage
You house is no longer big enough for your growing family. Perhaps you want a family room, or maybe an extra bedroom. It won’t hurt if your cars are parked in the driveway. So, you decide to enclose the garage.
You and some buddies remove the garage door, and wall it in. Carpet or vinyl is laid over the concrete slab. Now you have the space you need!
But when it comes time to sell, that enclosed garage may be a turnoff to Buyers. Maybe they want their cars in a garage. The enclosure that you and your friends completed may have an amateur, do-it-yourself look. Perhaps you failed to pull the required building permits.
2. Not Adding a Second Bathroom
Most Buyers expect a minimum of two bathrooms, even in a small house. One of the best investments that you can make is to install a second bathroom. Hire an architect or designer to help you determine the best location and plan; then use a licensed contractor to build the new bathroom.
3. Illegal Additions, Failure to Get Permits
If you choose to remodel or add on, you must get permits and use licensed Contractors (consult your local building or zoning department; see an Attorney for legal advice).
If you do not get required building and environmental permits, you could be cited, fined, or otherwise penalized by Governmental Authorities for failure to comply. You may also void or compromise your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy. The Buyer’s Lender, after receiving the Appraisal with notations regarding the lack of permits, may decline the mortgage loan.
4. Poor Home Maintenance
Neglecting to perform regular, simple maintenance can devalue your house by thousands of dollars. For example, allowing the rain gutters to clog up with leaves and debris can lead to a rotten roof (the rainwater wicks up under the shingles and soaks the underlying wood). Not changing air conditioning filters can strain the system, and shorten the life of the equipment. Failure to conduct an occasional “wood destroying organism” inspection may lead to extensive wood rot or termite damage. Neglected maintenance can be a Red Flag to home inspectors and to Buyers!
5. Losing Bedrooms
Removing a wall between two bedrooms to make a larger master bedroom? Converting a bedroom into a gym or workspace? Taking out a closet to make the room deeper? If you remove walls between bedrooms, or eliminate closets, or make other structural changes that eliminate a bedroom, you may decrease the value of your house.
This is an especially bad decision if your house is a 2 or 3 bedroom home. Once the walls come down, your 3 bedroom house is now a 2 bedroom house! This makes a huge difference to Buyers (and to real estate Appraisers).
6. Not Updating Old or Worn-out Flooring
If your carpet or other floor coverings are worn or out of date, replace them. Wood floors may need to be refinished. Old vinyl or cracked tiles may need replacing. If you will not or cannot pay for updating your floors, then be prepared to offer an allowance (give up money at the time of the sale) to the Buyer.
7. Old or Dilapidated Kitchen Appliances
A Seller told me that her 1980’s kitchen range was still working perfectly, why should she replace it? Because it looks like a 1980’s range, that’s why! It was dented, the knobs were chipped, the inside of the oven had that black-burned-grease appearance. Get a new range!
8. Out-Dated or Worn Draperies, Counter Tops, Light Switch Covers
What about the counter tops in your bathrooms and kitchen? You don’t have to go with granite, but if they are cracked and chipped, then replace them with something new.
What about the light switch cover plates and electric outlet cover plates? Are they scratched, cracked, yellowed? Replace them!
Take a look at your draperies and blinds. Are they dirty, torn, out of style? Take them down, install some new window treatments. Even new inexpensive mini-blinds look better than tired old curtains.
9. Cigarette Smoking Indoors
50 years ago smoking indoors was acceptable. People smoked in their homes, they smoked in their cars, in their offices, and in restaurants. Today, smoking is considered passé.
Cigarette or tobacco odor is offensive to most Home Buyers. Ridding a house of smoke odor can be very, very expensive. Do not smoke inside your house!
10. Painting the House the Colors of your Alma Mater
Tallahassee, Florida is a College Town. I have seen houses painted in Florida State University colors (garnet and gold), and in Florida A&M University colors (green and orange). No, no, no! Use neutral, off-white, or subtle paint colors for both the interior and exterior of your house. The same thought applies to any trendy or gaudy paint colors. Neutralize it!
11. Landscape Over-Kill
I know a house for sale in Tallahassee where the yard is covered with exotic trees, bushes, and foliage. There is no grass, no lawn. That’s fine, except that the neighboring houses in that subdivision all have grass lawns.
The house with all of the plants and foliage stands out like a sore thumb. Clear the lot! Donate the extra plants to a nursery, or hire someone with a bush hog.
12. Too Much Outdoor Living (too many Outdoor Improvements)
A Tallahassee home owner spent $100,000 on an incredible pool, patio, a firepit, and an outdoor kitchen. That backyard could be on the cover of an Upscale Living Magazine.
The problem is that this house is in a neighborhood of $300,000 houses. This Seller is pricing his house at $399,900 (to recoup the money spent on the pool and the outdoor area). There is not a chance that it will sell at that price!
13. Trampolines and Above-Ground Pools.
They were fun when you bought them, now they are a visual eyesore. Even though you paid expensive prices for these items, a trampoline or above-ground swimming pool may cheapen the appearance of the property.
Doing (or failing to do) any of the 13 Items listed above may decrease the value of your house! These mistakes can make your house less appealing to Buyers. They can lead to costly repairs.
Take care of your house. Think long and hard before making major changes to either the house or the yard. Maximize you return on investment when you sell your house!