10 Upgrades That Aren’t Upgrades

10 Home “Upgrades” that may NOT be Upgrades

Upgrades might be a factor when it comes to selling as it might result in a quicker offer but that doesn’t mean someone will pay extra for that “upgrade”.  They may just see it as a perk but not as something they want to pay extra for.

What can be considered an upgrade?  That can vary from location to location be it in a different area of the country or in the local area of that particular home.  It is not just subjective to where the home is located but to the buyer.  What can factor into the value is what an appraiser considers an upgrade can even vary from appraiser to appraiser. While a seller may have spent a lot of money to upgrade from what they had or even change what they had, like granite countertops, it doesn’t mean it will add any value to their home.  And some home buyers may walk-in and feel the counters need to be replaced because they don’t like the material, color, or finish.  Neither adds additional value.   If those features are out of the norm for the area that can result in diminished value.

So what are the 10 upgrades that are not necessarily upgrades?

Granite Counters

Granite counters

Buyers at this time actually expect granite as the norm even in the lower price ranges. There are so many different types of countertop material currently. Most buyers have a preference on what type of countertop they want. While most want granite, others want quartz, marble, or butcher block. While granite may be considered an upgrade, it doesn’t mean a buyer will pay more nor will an appraiser add value for the different levels of granite.   Does an appraiser give more value for higher level (cost) granite?   A lot of buyers don’t know the difference in the levels of granite nor does the appraiser value it more on an appraisal. And stores who sell granite rate them differently.  One store may rate 1-5 with 1 being the highest whereas another rates a 5 being the highest so when a seller is talking levels unless one knows how the supplier grades the granite that level means nothing to the average person.  Some high end items like marble may add a bit to the value but nothing in comparison for the amount that it costs.  Some websites will state that a seller recoups about 50% for that type of upgrade. While that figure is only an estimate it is good starting point for deciding if you as a seller want to spend the money to upgrade.

Custom Window Treatments Homes for sale Plantation shutters

While plantation shutters, custom blinds or custom drapery are very expensive they can be extremely taste specific. Unless a buyer has the exact same taste these “custom” upgrades may be changed upon move in.  So these items won’t add a lot of value when the appraiser comes through.  They may help your home sell faster but not for more money.

Crown Molding

Crown molding can get extremely costly especially if a homeowner starts trimming out walls or ceilings. However, not every buyer thinks it’s an upgrade and in some cases, it’s almost expected at certain price points.  It can be a perk but that doesn’t mean a buyer will pay more for those features.  Then there will be homebuyers who dislike crown molding and other custom moldings altogether.

Wood Floors

Hardwood floors are beautiful and oftentimes costly to install, but not all home buyers like wood floors and don’t see them as an upgrade. In fact, they know it’ll be an expensive, messy, and timely project if they want to replace them.

Carpet vs. Tile

Home for sale  La Vernia

 In 2023, the majority of buyers want tile not carpet.  While they are looking for tile, the most current tile is rectangular not square.  Wood look tile is currently in but if the house is say in the 10+ yr old range, that tile will be square. Buyers are still happy to see tile.   Appraisers are judging a house based upon comparable age homes so having the older style tile will not be considered an upgrade but still be desirable.

Designer Wallpaper / Paint

house with wallpaper

While wallpaper has certainly come a long way since the 1970’s not all home buyers like it, want it, and certainly don’t see it as an upgrade. Some actually see it as a negative and costly to remove.  It is like paint; everyone has different taste.  While dark red or burgundy paint is no longer being used widely, one will sometimes see it.  Having that paint color will not appeal to many; the same as the harvest gold and green that was so popular in the 1970s and has never made a comeback.  The darker colors shrink room sizes and do not give the light airy feel that many buyers are wanting now.

What Else Are No Longer Upgrades?

Large master bedroom sizes

large master suite

While large luxury suite type bedrooms are no longer in high demand if you wanted to have a bedroom that works for maybe a different family member such as mother that large room works for one who needs to live and function separately but for the normal couple  that huge bedroom means more furniture and maybe actual wasted space.   Most families prefer having the extra bedroom for a potential office or craft room or maybe even a baby room.  So in doubt go for more bedrooms that is until you get pass the normal amount.  Five might be ok or desirable but 6 is starting to get past almost every buyer’s needs.

Shiplap & Barn Doors Barn Door

One of the latest fads is shiplap and barn doors, which seem to be going out of style just as fast as it came in. While these accents add style they don’t add value.  Plus they are buyer specific.

Amenities such as a pool, new HVAC system, new roof, new roof factors.  Pool is only wanted by a few buyers so does not add much value except in the higher priced range.  New items such as HVAC, roof, windows, etc are considered maintenance items not upgrades.  It is possible if you upgraded the HVAC system to add something like the HEPA filters or really expensive windows or changed to a metal roof an appraiser would give you some value but not nearly what one pays for those upgrades.  If you are replacing with like kind, no value.

Smart Homes Smart Home

Believe it or not some people do not want a smart home. For some, it’s because they’re not tech-savvy and for others, they just don’t want it. So while some smart home features are great for security and can even save money it’s unlikely a buyer will be willing to pay more for it.  Appraisers are not adding much for solar panels or smart home features and a buyer may not want those items. 

On the flip side, some homebuyers may expect a “smart home” therefore in their mind it is expected and not add any value to the home at all.  

Lot Size Land for homes

Not all people want a larger lot. Many do but for many that is an extra cost that could be used for the home itself.  What is most important to most buyers is the space they have between the neighboring houses.  A nice size lot without a lot of upkeep appeals to the most buyers.  Now the size of the lot does affect the value but it may not be a price that a buyer wants to spend. An appraiser does not add the cost of the land to buy to the appraisal. Although size of the lot is a factor that a seller cannot control it is a factor in the values.

Final Thoughts

While these 10 upgrades can make a home more appealing to some home buyers and help it sell faster they usually don’t add any value. What can add value are a fenced yard, lot location, number of bathrooms, bedroom, and garages. The great majority of people want those items. The 10 upgrades listed above are decor items and based on a person’s taste; they may not be worth the expense to upgrade. A seller should not expect to sell their home for $20,000 more than their neighbor because they had custom window treatments and their neighbor didn’t.  The thing that is going to give one the best sales price is a well maintained home and being clean and presentable when it is shown.  Do the typical things getting ready to sell.

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