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5 Home Renovations That Are a Huge Waste of Time

By Barbara Bellesi Zito – Dec 30, 2021 at 10:15AM

Key Points

  • Potential buyers want space that’s easy to maintain and live in.
  • DIY projects are not usually a hit with buyers.
  • Homeowners should avoid highly custom design choices unless they plan to stay put for the long term.

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Not all renovations result in actual home improvement.

Are you looking to list your home in 2022? It's a smart move to spruce it up first to attract more buyers -- as long as you make upgrades they'll like, of course. 

"People tend to think that any home renovation is a good home renovation, but that's not always true," said Mischa Fisher, Chief Economist at Angi, in a statement provided to The Motley Fool. If you want to sell your home, Fisher recommends skipping these five projects: 

A person wearing a hard hat and holding a sledgehammer looks through an opening in a wall.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Sacrificing utility for space

More square footage is typically a good thing when it comes to wooing buyers, but not if you have to give up something useful, like closet space, to get it. Open floor plans are spacious and inviting, especially when they're staged well for an open house. But when daily living gets messy, storage comes in clutch. Removing closets makes it harder for buyers to see themselves realistically living in the space, according to Fisher.

2. Adding elaborate landscaping

Curb appeal can certainly attract buyers. But when faced with actual upkeep, it's not so appealing anymore. So unless you enjoy gardening and lawn care as a hobby, you might want to save some money and stick to the basics here. This isn't to say you've got to ditch the grass and pave over your entire yard -- that's not as low maintenance as you think, anyway. But you could opt for shrubs and plants that do well with little maintenance and normal rainfall. As for adding that koi pond, understand that not everyone will be as into marine life as you are.

3. Installing swimming pools or hot tubs

I love a pool, so it physically hurts me whenever I mention that installing one can sink your chances at a return on investment. But unless you live in a region where it's pool weather all year, or you're the only home on the block without a saltwater in-ground in your backyard, you're not going to see the return on investment you're hoping for. Many people see a pool as too expensive and time consuming to maintain. In fact, according to the 2018 Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors, you'll only recoup 43% on an 18 x 36 ft. in-ground pool. What's more, only 2% of agents said that a new pool sealed the deal on a sale. While a hot tub seems like a smaller and easier-to-maintain option, it's only good if the buyer will actually want to use it. 

4. Completing low-quality DIY projects

If popular TV home improvement shows gave us the boost of confidence we needed to tackle some projects, then the pandemic gave us the time to do them. But here's something that might make you press pause on future projects: Angi discovered that only about half of buyers would trust small DIY projects completed by the seller, whereas 15% wouldn't trust any amateur jobs. So unless you've got the tools and the know-how, it's better to pick up your phone and call a professional contractor if you've got an itch to do any reno work.

5. Hyper-personalizing anything

You might love your design choices, but not everyone else will. Potential buyers want to see themselves in your space, which means staying away from design choices that are difficult and/or expensive to undo. This means you should think twice before hanging heavily patterned wallpaper, laying down boldly colored tile, or installing wall-to-wall shag carpet. 

None of this is to say that you can't adapt your home to the way you like it. It's your home, after all. But unless you've got plans to stay put for the long term, you'll want to make any reno decisions with an eye toward resale. 


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