Don’t Do It
By John McCarthy
In the past I have written extensively about what a homeowner can do to increase the value of their home. Just as there are projects you can take on to improve your home’s value there are “fixes” you may be doing (inadvertently sometimes) to decrease it.
A lot of things factor into how much your home is worth. Many of these factors are unchangeable; the location, school district, quite possibly the square footage and style of home you are in. While many parameters aren’t easily changed, some are under a homeowner’s control. However there are some things that owners will try to change and frankly shouldn’t.
Let’s examine some of the top causes of home devaluation and see what, if anything, homeowners can do about them.
Removing a Bedroom: Thinking of getting rid of a bedroom to expand another bedroom? Think again. Removing a bedroom is one of those home improvement mistakes that can negatively affect a home’s worth even if you are able to create a larger bedroom. Why? Simple, the more bedrooms you have the more buyers you are likely to attract.
The vast majority of buyers use the internet to search for homes. Other than location and price what is the next most likely search parameter? Square footage? Number of bedrooms? There are people searching for homes that will not even consider a 2 or 3 bedroom home. Keep in mind that a lot of buyers typically want separate rooms for their children.
Listing prices are set (or at least they should be) by looking at what comparable homes are selling for in the same real estate market, and the number of bedrooms is an important consideration used to compare properties. Reducing the number of bedrooms means fewer potential buyers interested in your home. That said, the impact of removing a bedroom will differ depending on how many bedrooms you start out with. If you have a six bedroom home with several small bedrooms (say, less than 8 by 10 feet), you can possibly justify combining two.
Removing closets: People need and want closets! A few years ago I met with a potential home seller who wanted to get an idea on the value of her home. I gave her an idea and she told me she would get back with me. When I came back a few years later she had removed the walk in closet in the master bedroom and put in a master bath. While the new master bath is nice, the room now has no closets. A mistake and one that made the home that much harder to sell.
Turning the garage into living space:
Simply put getting rid of a garage makes a home less appealing to a lot of people. I go back to the search criteria I mentioned above. Many buyers want a garage and not having one can certainly sway a buyer as to whether to even look at your home. Not only does this renovation remove a place to put your cars during a New England winter, it will remove valuable storage space for many homeowners. If you’re going to turn a garage into a family room, office or “man town” you may want to consider leaving the garage doors on the outside. When you go to sell, with the garage doors in place a buyer can easily visualize the conversion back to a garage.
Additions that don’t match original home: I have run into some excellent examples of this recently. One was a I sold a home that was built in the early 1800’s. It was once a charming home that had multiple additions over time and ultimately was transformed into a home that doesn’t match the original age. While these additions added functionality (an additional bathroom and bedroom) it changed the look of the home to one that is disjointed and doesn’t resemble its original structure. Also, by adding rooms to older homes your materials and finishes can differ from the original house. If you are adding a big addition to say a split level home do you create something that will look out of place? If you are staying there that is one thing but are you really getting your money’s worth at resale?
If you are thinking of selling and would like an opinion as to the value of an “improvement” consult with your REALTOR® to evaluate the potential financial impact of it first. You may find out that your improvement will ultimately cost you more money down the road than you thought.
If you have any questions about this article, real estate in general or are looking to buy or sell a home please contact me, John McCarthy at Rowley Realty, 165 Main St., Rowley, MA 01969, Phone: 978 948-2758, Cell 978 835-2573 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org