Before you bid on your dream home, make sure you’re not overpaying for things you don’t want. Some features people assume add value to a home or make it more expensive can be money wasters to many buyers. It’s kind of like forking over hundreds for a bottle of Dom Perignon when all you want is a beer.
Planning to sell and move within several years? If so, you should be extra careful. It becomes even more imperative to pinpoint potential drawbacks masquerading as pricier features.
Home Features That Could Be Wolves in Sheeps’ Clothing (and Wasting Your Money)
Another way to look at this list is also from the perspective of a seller. If you’re planning to sell your home, these are upgrades and changes that won’t give you too much return on your investment.
If you’re doing them for your enjoyment and benefit — great, but don’t expect them to drive up your home’s value significantly. In many cases, you could be over-improving your home too much for your neighborhood.
If you’re shopping around for a new home and see any of these things, don’t be surprised if the sellers are trying to raise the home price to recoup their costs. Depending on the housing market, their efforts could result in a home that sits for a long time.
Eventually, if there’s no action on the home, the sellers could lower the price. However, in a sellers’ market, the higher price might stick. If so, you could be paying more than you want for things you don’t need. Therefore, keep a sharp eye out for these common home features that might not be worth it.
1. Brand-new wall-to-wall Carpet
If the seller uses brand-new carpet as a selling point, they’re out of luck. Unless you happen to want a house full of carpet (and honestly, who does nowadays?), and it’s exactly the style and color you want. Both of these scenarios are extremely unlikely, so this is a feature that doesn’t warrant paying extra.
2. High-End Upgrades
Don’t pay extra for expensive, luxury design features, fixtures, and finishes. Many sellers will over-renovate or go with top-of-the-line finishes under the misconception that it will greatly raise their home’s value. Stubborn sellers could insist on a higher selling price because of these luxury features, when in reality, most buyers aren’t going to pay for them (so don’t you do it either).
3. A Swimming Pool
Not only are pools an expensive upfront investment, but you can spend roughly $1,450 per year on pool maintenance. This amount doesn’t even include repairs or replacing parts, etc. In some areas, a pool can be a selling feature, but for many buyers, they are an unwanted extra expense. Unless you’re dying for a pool, don’t buy a house with one.
4. Multiple Levels
You might assume a two-story or three-story home is worth more than a single level. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. One of the primary factors behind the list price is the house’s square footage, not how many floors it has. Many buyers prefer single-level homes because they’re more convenient (especially for older buyers, those with small children, or those who plan to grow old in the home).
5. Completely Open Concept
Open floor plans were all the rage for quite some time, and a semi-open floor plan is still a fine selling feature. However, getting rid of rooms isn’t an ideal thing to do. Don’t let an expansive, impressive open-concept home that looks like it’s from a magazine mesmerize you into buying. What if you need a bit more privacy or a coupe of extra bedrooms? Now you’re stuck having to put up walls.
6. Hand Painted Artist Murals
The home you’re thinking about buying might have a gorgeous handcrafted mural on the wall, created by a fabulous artist. However, this isn’t going to be a big selling feature for you if you’re planning to resell in several years. This might be an interesting feature, but it should not lead to paying a higher price for a house.
7. Sun Rooms
A sunroom is a hit-or-miss feature when it comes to being worth the price. In some areas, it’s a real draw, especially if there’s also a big yard and the sunroom doesn’t cut into your backyard space. However, if it significantly reduces the amount of yard, tread carefully. If you want a large yard, then don’t compromise on this one.
8. Upscale Decks
A deck is nice to have, but a super fancy one isn’t necessary. Unless you spend tons of time outside and love to hold backyard parties, this is a feature that likely isn’t worth a higher price. It’s also worth considering the comparable homes in the neighborhood. Unless every house has a killer deck, it’s likely not a coveted feature. Again, if it doesn’t affect the price of the house, go for it. But don’t let anyone convince you to pay more because of it.
9. Solar Panels
You might think, wow, solar panels, are awesome and will save tons of money on utility bills. But in reality, they aren’t worth driving up a house’s list price. What’s even more icky is that if the seller is still making payments, you’ll end up having the payments transferred to you when you buy the home. Lucky you, a mortgage and solar panel bills.
10. Giant Built-Ins
You’ve seen them in every home design magazine that ever existed. Giant, well-staged built-ins in a grand living space or flanking a large-screen TV or fireplace. They look brilliant when they’re perfectly put together, but in the average home, they tend to become clutter collectors. Of course, maybe you plan to do great things with them. Just don’t pay more money for a home because of them.
11. Back-Up Generator
Unless you’re buying a house in a rural area or a place that gets frequent power outages, you likely don’t need a backup generator. So don’t fork over extra money for a home because of one.
12. Converting Your Garage to a Home Gym
Are you a gym junkie? Do you love working out every day and claim that being fit is your top priority in life? Well, the idea of a home gym probably sounds nifty. However, when people convert their garage into a home gym and then try to present it as a selling feature, beware. How much are you paying for that home gym? And what if you want to resell in a few years and most buyers want a garage for storage and, here’s a novel idea, their vehicles?
13. Too Much Tech
Some people love to load up their houses with all the latest and greatest gadgets. They create the epitome of a smart home, but all of this tech gets pricey, and sellers might want to get some of their money back. However, you might barely know how to get Alexa to order a pizza. Tech is always something you can add to your home later as you need or want it. Don’t pay a bunch more for it upfront when you buy a house.
14. Specific Custom Room Renovations
Look out for homes that have dramatic sale prices because of custom features like media rooms, game rooms, wine cellars, and similar spaces. You may not even want or need any of these spaces, or perhaps need that space for something else. Don’t pay for extras you aren’t going to use.