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6 Least Efficient Ways to Increase Your Home’s Value

Today’s Real Estate Market is Tougher than Ever; Choose Improvements Carefully

© 2012 by Nick Simpson; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without written permission.

Bathroom remodel preparation; photo courtesy Mike Miley

This article was updated on 01/19/19. Happy National Popcorn Day!

There are many things you can do to increase the value of your home. You can remodel your kitchen and bathroom, replace your blinds, repaint your walls, replace your carpet, and even add on a new room like a walk-in pantry to increase storage space in your kitchen.

Some of these activities will pay off almost immediately (in terms other than your increased comfort and satisfaction); others take more of an investment, and really aren’t a particularly efficient way to increase your home’s value.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t want to do them, of course; if you’re going to continue living in the home, it may well be worth it to you to make those changes so you can enjoy a higher quality of life.

Here are some of the projects that may increase your home’s value, but that won’t give you the bang for your buck that you want if you’re going to be selling soon:

  • Replacing the Roof or Siding.

    Unless there is a compelling reason, you need to stay away from these massive (and massively expensive) projects.

    As long as the siding looks good, isn’t rotten in the case of wood, and seems to work properly, the appraisers (and buyers) aren’t likely to worry about it too much. If you have vinyl siding, a good power washing will give you the new look you are looking for.

    Now, if your roof or siding doesn’t conform to necessary specifications or if they’re in visible distress, that’s a different story. But otherwise, replacing them isn’t going to increase your home’s value.

    As far as your roof goes, you can and should do an annual roof inspection anyway.

    The exception to the case of siding replacement would be when you add an energy-conserving layer of insulation under new aluminum or vinyl siding. This is great for lowering utility bills, boosting home equity, and increasing the likelihood of a sale.

  • Ripping Out Carpet Midway through its Life Cycle.

    As long as your carpet isn’t butt-ugly—that’s another matter altogether—or damaged, you should be able to leave it as-is. A good steam cleaning will serve you well.

    If you’ve got pets who have contributed their territorial markings and you are trying to sell your home, you’ll probably need to replace the carpet in your home in order to remove the odors and stains that go with it.

    The amount that this affects the value of your home may or may not be enough to justify the cost, but it will most certainly affect your ability to sell the home, and help you sell it faster.

    If you are taking up the carpet, you might consider going back with laminate flooring or floor tile. They are both currently in fashion and may be the one thing that seals the deal.

  • Remodeling the Kitchen.

    One of the best and most efficient ways to increase your home’s value is to make improvements to your kitchen. One of the least efficient ways to increase your home’s value is to remodel the entire kitchen.

    Replacing cabinets, appliances, lighting, wall décor, and more will increase your home’s value, but rarely will it increase the value enough to justify the expense.

    Some changes—such as repainting or refacing cabinets and switching out cabinet knobs or replacing an outdated stove—might be more appropriate, and will certainly be more affordable than a major overhaul. For ideas, check out Rockler's exclusive Custom Cabinet Door and Drawer program.

  • Remodeling the Bathroom.

    With the bathroom, you’re more likely to break even on your changes—provided you can do much of the work yourself.

    The kitchen and the bathroom are the two most important rooms in the home when it comes to buyers. However, if you have to shell out thousands of dollars to replace a tub, re-tile the floor, switch out the sink and toilet, chances are pretty good you’re going to lose money on the deal overall.

    While this is true if you go back with standard, contractor-grade fixtures, you do stand to do well if you upgrade to more upscale items. A whirlpool is an exception since they are rarely practical.

  • Window Replacements.

    By replacing your windows with similar grade models, you probably aren’t going to increase the appraisal price or the sales price of your home.

    However, with high-efficiency windows, you can realize significant energy savings and pass future savings along to a prospective buyer, which can be a very good selling point indeed. A more frugal approach is choosing some high-end window treatments, as they’re a much more obvious draw to the eye than the windows themselves will ever be.

    While window treatments likely won’t factor into the appraisal all that much, they will almost always make the home look more attractive and valuable to a prospective buyer; eye candy has its benefits.

  • Adding a Swimming Pool.

    This is the big one. A swimming pool can help a home sell better. However, it’s a tremendous expense for what it returns.

    A swimming pool is one of those items that is perfect for you if you’re going to continue living in the home and are willing to do the necessary maintenance and are serious about using it on a regular basis.

    However, if you’re trying to get someone else to buy the home, installing a swimming pool is one of the most inefficient ways to go about drawing in buyers and increasing the sale price of your home.

Ultimately, there are a plethora of factors that will determine how, when, and for how much your home sells. Focus on those areas that provide a significant increase in value and that have a relatively low price point.

Fix the big things that need to be fixed, or they’ll cost you more money in the end, but don’t go overboard on what needs to be changed in order to sell the home. Do you have any successful, wrong-headed, or downright embarrassing remodeling ROI stories?

Please pass them along to our readers in the comment section below. Did you find this article helpful? If so, please pass it along to your friends. Thanks for visiting.

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About the Webmaster:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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