5 Home Improvements That May Not Pay Off

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Think twice before sinking money into these upgrades.

Key points

  • Improving your home could increase its value when you try to sell it.
  • Some renovations like basement carpeting may not be worth the money from a resale perspective.

Homeowners typically have two reasons to renovate their homes: either to enjoy those renovations themselves, or to increase their properties' resale value. Some homeowners are motivated by both. If you're thinking of renovating and your primary goal in doing so is to be able to command a higher sale price, here are five home improvements that may not pay off for you.

1. A swimming pool

If you live someplace where the weather's warm all year round, then a pool could be a solid investment. But if you live in a part of the country where a pool can really only be used a few months out of the year, then it may not be worth it.

Not every home buyer wants a pool, and some buyers would rather not have one. That's because pools take a lot of work -- and money -- to maintain, and they can make homeowners insurance more expensive. Also, families with young children may not want a pool due to the risks involved.

2. High-end bathroom countertops

It's one thing to invest in really nice countertops for your kitchen, where visitors are likely to see them and admire them. But splurging on marble countertops for your bathrooms may not be a good use of your money.

When guests visit your home to use the facilities, they generally want to get in and get out without stopping to admire their surroundings. While some buyers may appreciate higher-end bathroom countertops, chances are, you won't get all of your money back at resale.

Now this isn't to say that you can't upgrade your bathroom countertops if your current ones are dated or have seen better days. But you don't need to buy the most expensive marble or granite. Consider settling for a less expensive stone as a compromise. You can compare different choices at your local home improvement or home design store.

3. Expensive kitchen appliances

If you cook a lot, then a high-end oven and stove may be worth it to you. But if your goal is to get the most resale value out of your renovations, then it's probably not the best idea to spring for ultra-expensive kitchen appliances. The average home cook may not know the difference or care whether they're using an $800 stove or a $4,000 one.

4. Basement carpeting

Carpeting can make a finished basement look nice and seem cozier. But basements are notorious for flooding, which makes carpet a poor choice, since it's harder for carpet to dry out than laminate flooring. Also, potential buyers might take one look at that carpet, anticipate problems, and run the other way.

Many people consider the basement their rec space -- and they'd rather have flooring that's easier to clean and less prone to stains. Granted, you can get around the staining issue somewhat with a darker colored carpet. But for the most part, laminate floors may be a better bet. And these days, you can find laminate that's made to look like wood for a nicer appearance.

5. Exotic landscaping

It's definitely worth it to spend some money to boost your home's curb appeal. But do yourself a favor and don't load up on exotic shrubs that cost a small fortune. Chances are, future buyers won't care what plant species are taking up real estate on your front lawn. They'll only care that it looks nice.

Don't go overboard with home improvements

Renovating your home is a great way to appeal to buyers and command a good price when you're ready to sell it. But some home improvements may not be worth the investment.

Before you sink money into any upgrade, talk to a real estate agent in your area if your primary goal is to increase your home's value. You may find that in some cases, it pays to skip expensive updates and go for simpler ones instead -- improvements that won't lead you to empty your savings account or take out a huge loan in the process.

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