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The Worst ROI Home Improvements: What Not to Fix When Selling

Pre-listing home improvements are important but not all of them result in positive returns. Your focus has to be on improvements that will achieve positive returns on your investment (ROI) and maximize your net profit. That means avoiding home improvements that don’t add value in the eyes of home buyers and real estate appraisers. We’ve covered the best home improvements to maximize your profit from your home sale before, but what are some updates that simply aren’t worth it? 

7 of the worst ROI home improvements 

We’re here to walk you through some of the worst ROI home improvements. Keep in mind, we’re basing this on generalities. To determine which pre-listing home improvements will help you meet your home sale goals, it’s best to work with your Realtor® and Curbio. We’ll work with your real estate agent to advise you on the best updates to sell for more based on the current state of the real estate market, buyer preferences, and everything specific to your locality. With all that said, let’s dive in! 

1. Unnecessary replacements 

For items that don’t affect the aesthetics of your home, if it isn’t dysfunctional, it’s generally not worth updating. This goes for plumbing, electric, HVAC, roofing, and even windows. As a rule of thumb, if it’s in good condition and isn’t hurting the value of your home, it’s likely not worth updating.

2. Wallpaper

It’s true—wallpaper is making a comeback. That said, wallpaper is trendy and personal enough that it’s generally best to let new homeowners choose whether or not they want wallpaper. If they do, they’ll be happy to personalize it to their tastes rather than settling on something you chose to fit yours.

3. Bold, colorful paint

A fresh coat of paint can go a long way, which is why it’s recommended by the majority of real estate agents. That’s because it’s one of the easiest ways to make a home feel less lived-in. That is…as long as the color is mild enough to appeal to a broad set of buyers.

Keep paint colors neutral so that buyers see a blank canvas that they can make their own. 

4. Wall-to-wall carpet

Carpet had its time in the limelight. It was even once popular to put it in bathrooms! While it’s cheaper to install than most other types of flooring, carpet can be stained easily, absorb smells, collect pet hair and dander, and so on. It’s no wonder that most people prefer hardwood or other alternatives (like luxury vinyl tile).

That doesn’t mean carpet is off the table entirely though! Many homeowners still prefer carpet in bedrooms and basements because it provides a cozier aesthetic, dampens sound, and provides insulation against cold temperatures.

5. Smart home technology

If you already have smart home technology installed that you’re not planning on taking with you, you can leave it for the next homeowner. But don’t go out of your way to install a fancy tech stack. 

If the home buyers who close on your home are interested in smart home tech, they’re likely to have their own preferences, and will be happy to pick out their smart home tech themselves. 

6. Solar panels

“Save on your energy bill” might sound like a good way to reel buyers in. But solar panels don’t increase a home’s value as much as you might think. Why is this?

Energy costs change, panels become less efficient over time, and, just like with any tech, better models are made available each year. All of these factors paired with the fact that solar panels aren’t yet widely adopted mean that the ROI from solar panels can be unpredictable. That said, just like we suggested at the beginning of this post, discuss the potential impact of installing solar panels with your real estate agent and Curbio. Based on your market and shifts in buyer preferences, it may make sense for you.

7. High-maintenance landscaping

Of course, great curb appeal and well-maintained landscaping are essential. But be careful not to confuse visual appeal with the most lavish landscape you can dream up. 

Most of today’s home buyers are part of a dual-income household and don’t want to spend their free time maintaining elaborate gardens and doing yard work. Definitely update your landscaping to make it look clean and welcoming, but don’t go overboard! Choose hardy, drought-resistant plants and make sure any other features you invest in look nice but don’t require minimal effort.

What home improvements are worth it? 

Knowing what not to do is a good start, but knowing which pre-listing home improvements achieve the highest ROI and net profit is, arguably, more important. 

Your Realtor®, in partnership with Curbio, can advise you on the right home improvements to maximize your profit from your home sale. Not to mention that, in working with Curbio, you can make the necessary home improvements before you list and not pay for them until closing! We also manage and execute the entire project from start to finish, so you don’t have to lift a finger or lose sleep stressing over contractor schedules. Learn more about how it works.