Americans put a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and money into home renovations. According to a 2018 study by Houzz, the typical homeowner spends $15,000 per year on home improvements, while the top 10% invest $85,000 or more.
When you spend that kind of money on your home, you expect to be rewarded with a boost in your home's resale value. Unfortunately, not every remodeling project delivers a return on investment – some even repel future buyers. So how can you avoid springing for updates that send potential buyers running? We asked a few experts for advice on which home improvements to tackle and which to avoid at all costs.
Renovate like this
Here are a few home projects that buyers tend to appreciate.
John Myers, the owner and broker of Myers & Myers Real Estate in Albuquerque, N.M., says a fresh coat of paint can provide one of the highest returns on investment, but cautions that homeowners tend to overestimate their DIY skills.
“Most homeowners aren't qualified to do the prep work, such as repairs to the walls, masking and removing wallpaper," Myers says. “You can tell an amateur paint job by paint roller marks on the ceiling and paint on doors and baseboards. If you can't do a professional paint job, hire someone who can."
Kitchens and bathrooms
Stefano Grottoli, owner and CEO of Orange Sun Investments, a real estate investment company located in Montclair, N.J., recommends giving your kitchen and bathrooms a face-lift but says it doesn't have to be a major overhaul.
“You can buy new drawer pulls, new faucets, resurface the cabinets, or even buy alternate-colored face-plates to tie mismatched appliances together," Grottoli says.
But there's a limit to frugal kitchen updates that make sense. Tiled kitchen counters are a cheaper alternative to granite or marble countertops. But Kevin Yarbough, a home inspector with KEY Inspector in Nokesville, Va., says they're one of the least well-received home improvements he sees.
“In some cases, it may look nice, but that's rare," Yarbough says. “It creates an unsanitary food prep area and lighter grout colors become stained over time. High-use areas look substantially dirtier than less-used areas.”
That's one area where you might want to spring for more expensive materials.
Think twice before taking on these home projects that can be a massive waste of time and money.
Dramatic wall treatments
Instagram and Pinterest images may be awash in vibrant, textured walls, but Sacha Ferrandi, founder and Principal of Source Capital Funding and Texas Hard Money, an equity-based real estate lender in San Diego, Cal., recommends finding inspiration elsewhere if you want to increase the value of your home.
“Please, please, please stop customizing walls with outlandish wallpaper and textures," Ferrandi says. “While you may love the idea of a basket-weave brick wall panel on the main living room wall, the chances of the next owner feeling the same way is slim."
Nicola Croughan, a Home Design Specialist with Blinds Direct agrees. “Wallpaper has seen a resurgence recently, but it's important to decorate with your potential buyers in mind," Croughan says. He recommends sticking to simple, neutral tones and patterns that allow potential buyers to envision their own styles and belongings in the space.
Too much customization
That unused bedroom in your home might seem like the perfect spot for a home gym, theater room, luxurious walk-in closet, or library. But Croughan recommends approaching uncommon renovations with caution.
"While the odd home buyer will love these quirks and consider them a real benefit, the majority of buyers will feel much more comfortable with a traditional home that they can adapt to their own tastes and requirements," Croughan says.
Of course, remodeling your home is a personal decision. Make your home a place you want to live in, without always worrying about resale. Just think before you break out the toolbox, as you might need to renovate a second time to bring your home back in line with sellers' tastes. If you want even more ideas for how to renovate to increase your home's values, check out our home improvement guide.