And it’s good to know exactly what these are — because some improvements can do the opposite — they can actually make it more difficult to sell a house. And the more difficult, the greater the chances you’ll eventually have to lower your home price.
Here are ten home improvements NOT to make:
1. Take the doors off your kitchen cabinets: No! Don’t do it! Some people are really fond of their dishes and see them as an art form — that’s understandable, if you’ve got beautifully color-coordinated plates, bowls and crockery that make your home look like an expensive Italian restaurant. But, many home buyers have chipped, mismatched plates, plastic bowls and sippy cups they’d prefer to keep hidden behind closed doors.
Many homeowners also use their shelves to house Cheerios boxes, ramen cakes and cans of baked beans – which are much harder to elevate to an art form. So if you want to keep house hunters from backing out of your kitchen, keep those doors on their hinges.
2. Turn a bedroom into a permanent home office: You might not need that extra bedroom, and a sleek workspace with built-in wooden desks, shelves and cabinets does look pretty nifty. However, many house hunters have multiple family members and guests who prefer sleeping in a bed over laying across a desk, or blowing up an air mattress. So please, for your home selling sake, don’t open a permanent branch office is your third bedroom.
3. Replace all your bathtubs with showers: Yes, you may not be the bathing type and it might be nice to have a giant double-headed spa shower instead. But if you remove all your bathtubs, many home buyers will be sadly disappointed and cross your house off their want lists. Soaking is still a national past time and if potential buyers have little ones, a bathtub may be essential. So I’d recommend leaving at least one tub in your house… it might make all the difference to a serious buyer — and bather.
4. Take the bathroom door off: For heaven’s sake don’t do it! Sometimes home owners like the idea of a big bathroom suite incorporated into their bedroom and they think all they need is a door to the master bedroom itself. Once that door is shut, it’s their own private domain anyway.
Well, that may be okay if you’re single, or you’re a couple who is comfortable admiring each other’s ablutions — but that doesn’t go for everybody. Many home buyers prefer a little more privacy. So before you go ripping the door off so you can admire your partner flossing… or the light bouncing off your bathroom mirror and into your bed space, think twice. You can always just leave your bathroom door open.
5. Turn the garage into an office or bedroom: What? Didn’t you just say home buyers want extra bedrooms? Yes, they do, but not when you sacrifice the garage to do it. House hunters like to keep their cars clean and sheltered, and they need a place to store their Christmas lights, shovels and extra toasters.
Besides, if you keep your car outside, pack rats move in under the hood. Take it from me, this does happen. (Depending on where you live, of course.) These little critters build ingenious nests made of chewed up pieces of your car’s inner workings, which are then blended with plants and weeds from your garden. They depart when you turn on the engine, but eventually, you’ll notice the car doesn’t start — and the pack rats have won. So keep your car in the garage and let the pack rats park outside.
6. Pave over your grass and yard: Who would do a thing like that, you ask? Believe me, this happens too. One such neighbor I knew, in an attempt to save time, money and resources, paved over his entire front yard in cement — giving him ample room to park. (I think he deserved pack rats.)
He was very proud of this, but the neighbors across the street sure weren’t. Their view was forever changed and they knew it could make it harder to sell their houses. Luckily, the paved-over neighbor put his house on the market first — and then discovered he had very few interested buyers. Eventually he did sell the house (for less) to a family who… replanted the front yard.
7. Cut down the trees: No! Don’t do it! Well wait… if your trees are threatening to destroy your roof, crack your driveway, eat little animals and tap into your plumbing to highjack your water — then you should do something about them. But in general, people love trees.
Not only do they provide shade and beauty, and can keep your house cooler, homes with mature, well-tended trees tend to sell for a higher price. Yes, cleaning up fallen leaves is a pain, but lush green trees charm home buyers. So think twice before reaching for an axe.
8. Add a swimming pool: For some home buyers, a pool is essential — and depending on where you live, a pool can make you quite popular. But, it can also be a liability. Many house hunters view a pool as an eight-foot-deep pit in which to pour time, energy, money and wasteful water. Between the cost of heating and cleaning a pool, and the potential danger it is to toddlers, many house hunters shy away from pool homes.
Plus, some people are scared of water, and some are scared of swimsuits – so a pool only serves to frighten and embarrass them when they have swim-loving guests. (Or it makes them feel guilty about not using the pool.)
9. Add an RV garage: Just in case you live some place where you’ve never seen an RV garage, let me describe them: They’re incredibly tall buildings that look like small airplane hangers. One major problem with these garages is fewer people buy RVs when gas prices rise. Many home buyers think twice about buying a house with an RV garage if they don’t have an RV, unless they need a place to store their giraffes. So, your return on investment probably won’t pan out.
10. Paint Greek and Roman Statues: It is tempting for some statue owners to take it a step further and paint colorful faces and clothing on Greek and Roman statues or little angels… but don’t. No matter how good a paint job you give them, it just doesn’t look quite right.
Best to leave your statuary alone. If you want to paint something, put a fresh coat of paint on your front door, your railings, or your shutters. That will give you much greater curb appeal than a Greek god who looks like he’s wearing makeup.
If you’re trying to sell your home, check out my book, Home Seller’s Blues and How To Beat Them, available in paperback and as an ebook from Amazon.com. It’s filled with inexpensive, easy ways to make your home irresistible and sell for more money — and the jokes might cheer you up too!