5 Home Improvements that Do Not Increase Property Value

  • Swimming pools – it is HOT here and San Antonians love to cool down in the pool, but it can easily cost $80,000-100,000+ to install an inground swimming pool in San Antonio. Unfortunately, we usually see a property value boost of only $25,000-30,000 from an inground pool. Consider a pool a lifestyle investment, and not necessarily a great financial investment.
  • Extensive Landscaping – freshening up curb appeal is always a great idea. Bright flowers and fresh mulch go a long way. By “extensive landscaping”, I’m referring to professional, tiered, really fabulous landscaping that buyers appreciate but don’t necessarily pay for and appraisers don’t give adequate credit to. Basic landscaping is a great investment; extensive landscaping is more of a personal preference. If you plan to stay in your home for a while and enjoy gorgeous landscaping, go for it!
  • Maintenance Items – Maintenance is a part of home ownership and keeping up with these items pays off, both by maintaining market value and also by preventing costly repairs. For example, if your property has a fence in need of repair, or worn (or very bold) paint, your property will most likely sell for less than competing, similar properties in the same neighborhood.  Sometimes sellers will tell me, “I just spent $2000 painting my house because the paint was dirty and worn-looking. I need to add $2000 to the sales price.” Unfortunately, that’s not how that works. That very smart $2000 investment will help the property sell quickly and for top dollar, BUT not at a $2000 premium over market value.
  • Energy-efficient items – San Antonio likely lags behind a lot of the country in assigning proper value to these improvements, but we all know that real estate is local and market values are driven at the micro-local level. You might choose a tankless water heater for its long-term energy savings, and that’s likely a great investment, but it’s not something you’re going to also see a return on when you sell your property. And I have yet to see solar panels add any sort of value on a sale, despite their high cost. Double-paned windows are great and appreciated by buyers, but high-end, expensive brand-name windows don’t add much more value.
  • Upgrading Essential Features – Air conditioning is essential in South Texas. To sell at, or anywhere near, market value, you’ve got to have a functioning HVAC system that is not in need of repair. An older system is ok, but any system that is not adequately cooling must be serviced. People don’t buy houses with broken a/c systems without a big discount. That brings me to another point…. The most expensive, biggest water heater on the market is not going to bring you any more money than an average, adequately-sized water heater. When it comes to essential features, consider buying just that – what is essential.
Some decisions we make based on potential resale. Some decisions we make based on our happiness and personal preference. There is no wrong choice, as long as it’s an informed one!

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