Home Improvements That May Not Increase Value

Real Estate

How do you know which home improvement projects will yield the highest rate of return on investment?


In a previous blog post titled, “Home Improvements and Return on Investment” we discussed some of the most cost-effective home improvements.  Now, let’s look at some of the least cost-effective according to experts in real estate investment.


 Swimming pool

Swimming pool 

o   While a swimming pool may be fun for you and your family, many buyers view swimming pools as possible hazards with high maintenance tags.

o   For instance, pools need PH balancing, heating, filtering, skimming, repairing, and maintenance.  These take time and money that some buyers may not be willing to take on.


Wall to Wall carpet



o   Awww that new carpet smell and the feel of new fluffy carpet under your feet…

o   Before you invest in new carpet, consider that some people are concerned about that new carpet smell because it contains chemicals that are being released in “off-gassing.”

o   Carpet is notorious for trapping dust and allergens, which some folks may find problematic.

o   Then there is the carpet style and color to consider.  What you and your family love another family may not.

o   Experts say that a better investment is removal of carpets and the installation of wood floors.


Overbuilding for the neighborhood

overbuilt house

o   Before you add that second story or other expansion to your home, check the neighborhood.  Do other homes have what you are adding?  If so, it may be a great investment.  If not, you could be overbuilding for your neighborhood.


Extensive landscaping or gardens

Extensive landscape


o   Exotic landscaping such as Koi ponds and water features may be your cup of tea, but many buyers may be turned off by the amount of work involved in maintenance. 

o   As far as resale goes, modest and tidy are the name of the game for landscaping.  Overcrowding, overgrowth, and high-maintenance specialty items can be seen as more of a burden to potential buyers.


Overhauling an office area or creating “specialized spaces.”

Cork Board


o   Having your own home is fun because you can do what you want to it to make it your very own, subject to local zoning laws and homeowner’s associations.

o   Before you put in that specialized wine cellar or spend loads of money turning a bedroom into a stellar office space, consider that most buyers need to be able to visualize a bedroom unless that space is designated an office. 

o   Even if it is designated an office, upgrades in the office tend to give a return on investment of only about 50%, if that. 

o   In addition, some people may regard a wine cellar as just taking up space that could be used for something else.


New roofing (unless it needs repair)



o   Roofing is viewed as necessary and therefore will not bring a return on investment of the cost of the roof. 

o   By all means, fix a leaky roof and replace old worn out roofs, but don’t think that a $5,000 roof will allow you to raise the price of the home by $5,000.

o   However, roofs that are in need of repair will cause buyers to discount their offers so roofs are still an important maintenance item to maintain the value of your home.


Inconsistent upgrades

stainless fridge


o   If you start out with black appliances and then start upgrading piece by piece to stainless steel, it may not look good to potential buyers.

o   For resale purposes it’s best to do all or nothing.

o   For instance, if you extensively remodel the kitchen but the bathrooms are stuck in the 1970s, it may not yield as high a return on investment as it would if both the bathrooms and the kitchen are updated along with the rest of the house. 

o   If you have hardwood floors in the great room and vinyl floors in the kitchen, the project will look unfinished.

o   It’s best if you can budget a little for each room when it comes to resale value.


New HVAC systems, water softeners, electronic air cleaners.

Air Conditioner


New HVAC systems are a wonderful addition to a home and may save you money in the long run as they tend to be more efficient than the older models. 

o   Just be aware that the buyer may not see $5,000 in additional value.  The buyer may just think, “Wow, how cool the house I want comes with a new HVAC.”

o   The same holds true for water softeners and electronic air cleaners – while they are a wonderful feature, you should purchase them to enjoy yourself and not expect to get back what you paid for them as others may not value them like you do. 


As mentioned in our previous blog, a lot of what you should or should not spend money on for home improvement has to do with how long you plan to stay in the house.  The longer you are planning to stay, the more enjoyment you will get out of the upgrades.  However, if you are planning to sell soon, then more careful planning may be in order so that you don’t lose money making the house better for someone else.


With that being said, it is still a great time to invest in real estate in the Vancouver, Washington area.  It’s a very competitive and fun real estate market!


If you are planning to purchase soon, you may be interested in our blog titled “Buying a Home in a Competitive Real Estate Market.”


Also, be sure to check out our “Market Insider” page on our website so you can monitor the activity where you are or where you want to be!


For a list of communities we serve, check out our “Communities Served” page.


If you have questions regarding home improvements or other real estate topics, reach out to us and we will be happy to assist you.


Home ownership is a wonderful privilege and with the right decisions can be a fantastic investment!


Ron and Sherry Patterson