15 Home Upgrades That are Actually Downgrades

8 min read

If your ultimate goal is to eventually sell your home, then you’ll want to avoid these upgrades.

1. Putting Up Wallpaper

Source: Pixabay

Wallpaper can be a nice addition to any home. But, styles and patterns that are suited to your tastes may not fit the tastes of potential homebuyers. Sure, they could just remove it, but wallpaper is difficult to remove. The same thing goes for murals. Not only are they tough to remove, they’re also expensive to remove. If you want to give the walls in your home a new look, stick to fresh paint and neutral colors instead. If, however, you have your heart set on putting up wallpaper, consider removing it yourself and repainting the walls before you put your home up for sale.

2. Lavish Lighting Fixtures

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Lavish lighting fixtures can give your home an upscale look and feel. The problem is that when picking out lighting fixtures, we more often than not “pick something exciting and new instead of picking a new addition that suddenly matches the big picture,” Alon Barzilay, founder of real estate development company Barzilay Development, told GOBankingRates. Because of this, there’s a good chance that new and exciting light fixture you installed in your kitchen or dining room will look outdated a few years down the road. It’s best, then, to forgo the lavish designs and stick to something simple.

3. Adding Square Footage

Home Construction
Source: Pixabay

The bigger the house the more value it has, right? Not necessarily. According to MSN, real estate expert Robert Taylor says that it really depends on the neighborhood you live in. If you add a second story to a home in a neighborhood with other homes that are only about 1,500 square feet, and then you try to sell that home, you’ll have a difficult time doing so. That’s because the home will be “overbuilt for the neighborhood,” Taylor said. “When adding square footage, it needs to be in keeping with the neighborhood and not break up the floor plan.”

4. Installing a Metal Roof

Metal Roof
Source: Pixabay

Unless you’ve got cracked shingles or a leaky roof, it’s best to leave this type of upgrade alone. That’s because installing a trendy element like a metal roof or a roof made from clay tile, cedar shakes or architectural shingles can actually tank a home sale. If you really need a new roof, just stick to the classics. You’re home will be more likely to sell, plus you’ll get a slightly higher return on investment if you opt for asphalt shingles instead of metal roofing.

5. Adding a Shed to the Backyard

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A shed, barn or other outdoor structure can be a nice addition to a home, especially if you’re an avid gardener. But, it can be a downgrade for potential homebuyers. That’s because outdoor space is a major selling point for many homebuyers. According to a 2017 consumer survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Taylor Morrison, 56 percent of homebuyers said they would be willing to sacrifice a larger house for a bigger yard. What’s more is that women (62 percent) have a stronger interest in outdoor space than men (51 percent). Much of the demand for more outdoor space is due to a desire for blended indoor-outdoor living — for example, outdoor living rooms, glass walls that open to the backyard, and matching tile flooring that extends from the interior to the exterior.

6. Adding a Swimming Pool

Swimming Pool
Source: Pixabay

Many people believe that adding a swimming pool will increase their home’s value. And, while that’s true, it will only be a very minor potential value increase. The truth is, swimming pools are very costly and high maintenance. And, if you plan on selling your home at some point, keep in mind that there are some people who see this high maintenance amenity as more of a headache than anything else. Adding a pool will only limit the number of potential buyers, as the people who typically want them are families with young kids. And, even if you do find a buyer, the harsh reality is that “many folks will never recoup the cost of the pool when they sell their home,” Ryan Fitzgerald, owner/broker of Uphomes, told Reader’s Digest.

TIP: If you want to add a pool, make sure you live in an area where it’s hot at least half of the year. Otherwise, you’ve wasted your money.

7. Installing High-End Kitchen Appliances

Sub Zero Refrigerator
Source: Wikimedia Commons By Kowloonese at the English language Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]
They may look nice and can be quite enjoyable, but high-end kitchen appliances can actually lower your home’s overall value. For starters, the return on investment on upscale kitchen appliances is low. Plus, some homebuyers don’t want to purchase a home with a ton of energy-draining appliances. If your kitchen is in dire need of remodeling, it’s best to focus on the areas that are the most worn or outdated. And, opt for mid-range appliances instead of the costlier high-end ones.

TIP: This advice applies to high-end electronics as well. LED shower heads, in-house theaters, high-end pool lights, expensive sound systems and built-in or customized electronics are cool, but they’re quite costly and become outdated rather quickly. Not only will they not add any significant resale value to your home, potential buyers will likely be turned off by all those aging gadgets.

8. Installing Quirky Flooring

Tile Flooring
Source: Pixabay

Quirky and/or top-of-the-line flooring is all fine and good if you plan on staying in your home for a long time. But, if you have plans to sell it in the future, your unique style might clash with that of potential homebuyers. “Adding tile or wood can make an improvement in value — unless you get that person who wants the 1950s diner look and installs black-and-white tile. For their vision, this is the pinnacle of cool. But for a resale value, most homebuyers will see it as a distraction and something they will need to rip out,” Bob Gordon, realtor and blogger at Boulder Real Estate News, said in an article published by GOBankingRates.

TIP: Opt for traditional white tile flooring instead.

9. Adding Specialized/Niche Spaces

Source: Pixabay

A gym, home office or recording studio is usually not something people actively seek out when they’re in the market to buy a home. Because these renovations are very personal and specific to you, you may have a tough time finding a potential buyer when you’re ready to sell. Plus, you may not get as much out of it, financially speaking, as you put into it. For example, a home office has a return on investment of just 46 percent. And, the resale value of a home with a recording studio in it is “next to nothing,” realtor Kevin Lackaff-Gilligan says, according to MSN. Yes, your home should reflect your personal tastes. But, if you don’t plan on living there for the rest of your life, what’s the point in doing customized renovations?

10. Installing Too Much Carpeting

Source: Pixabay

Wall-to-wall carpeting feels nice on your feet, and it can make your home a lot quieter. But, believe it or not, most homebuyers are not interested in carpeted floors anymore. What’s appealing nowadays is hardwood floors, which, by the way can increase the sale price of your home by up to 2.5 percent! Plus, carpet ages a lot quicker than hardwood. And, the texture and color you choose may not necessarily be to a potential homebuyer’s liking. Not to mention that carpeting could be a turn-off to some due to allergies or the fact that it can be high maintenance.

11. Adding a Sunroom

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A sunroom is a beautiful addition to any home. Unfortunately, it can also be a costly one, too. That’s because a sunroom that costs $75,000 will only add $35,000 to your home’s value. That’s $40,000 down the drain right there. Plus, adding a sunroom can increase your real estate taxes. Another downside is that it takes away from your yard space. And, as we mentioned earlier, outdoor space is a major selling point for many homebuyers.

TIP: Think about how you would use a sunroom before adding one. Perhaps there are other rooms or spaces (a porch, for example) in your home that can offer the same or similar benefit.

12. Tackling DIY Projects

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Did you know that if a potential homebuyer can tell that your updates were not done by a professional, chances are they won’t want to purchase your home? That’s because “one of the first things that stands out to prospective buyers is the quality of workmanship,” Taylor says, according to MSN. Yes, you may be saving yourself some big bucks in the short-term. But, when it comes time to sell your home you may have short-changed yourself. Do yourself a favor and hire a professional for all of your home renovation needs.

13. Installing a Built-In Aquarium

Source: Pixabay

Yes, that built-in aquarium can give your home a more upscale look and feel. But, if you’re not planning on living there for the rest of your life, you might want to avoid this purchase altogether. For one, a built-in aquarium requires constant maintenance. Not only that but they can be costly to remove. Potential home buyers, then, may not want the headache of having to care for a tank full of fish — which is both costly and time-consuming.

TIP: Purchase a standard fish tank instead. You can take it with you when you move, plus it costs a lot less to maintain.

14. Planting Beautiful but Messy Trees

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Some trees are very beautiful to look at — until autumn rolls around and those trees start shedding their leaves. Yes, all trees shed, but some are messier than others. And, for a potential homebuyer, the thought of having extra yardwork to do in the fall can be a huge turn-off. That being said, here are some trees you might want to stay away from:

-sweet gum
-Eastern white pine
-female Ginkgo biloba

If you absolutely must have trees in your yard, consider planting these:
-crepe myrtle
-Eastern red cedar
-Colorado blue spruce

15. Adding a Freestanding Stove

Pellet Stove
Source: Wikimedia Commons By Jeanhup [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
If you recall, we told you that homebuyers want as much outdoor space as possible. Well, they feel the same when it comes to indoor space. That’s why you shouldn’t waste your money investing in things that take up space, like a freestanding stove for instance. Yes, it will keep you warm on cold nights, but the truth of the matter is adding a freestanding stove to your home may actually reduce your home’s overall value. So, not only have you wasted your money, but you’ve decreased your home’s value as well. This is definitely NOT a good purchase if you plan on selling your home some day.


When planning home renovations, do you consider your home’s resale value? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!