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Answering all those burning questions you didn’t know you had about home ownership.

5 Ways You Decrease Your Home’s Value

Picture of Jessica Dabkowski

Jessica Dabkowski

Helping you with all things homeownership!

This week’s article comes at the suggestion of my mother, and I love it! Today we’re reviewing 5 ways you decrease your home’s value. We’re focusing solely on things that are in your control and that you can directly impact with your decisions.

Even if you aren’t planning to sell in the near future, you will likely sell your home at some point. Keep these issues in mind as you maintain your home so you can increase the return on the money you have invested when you do decide to sell.

1. Removing a Bedroom

Yes, there are instances where removing a bedroom makes sense . . . but 999 times out of 1000, it’s going to drop your property value.

This issue was brought into sharp relief by the waves of remote work following the pandemic. Now that home offices have moved from a “nice to have” to a “non-negotiable” on many buyers lists, more bedrooms are appreciated because they offer that potential utility.

Don’t get demo happy.

When would you get rid of a bedroom? I can think of a few scenarios where you might get rid of a bedroom. For example, say an addition made it so one bedroom must be passed through to reach another. You might find more value if you can group those together and add an en suite bathroom.

It really depends on the layout and what’s desirable in that market. If the neighborhood is mostly young professionals or DINKs (dual income, no kids 😏) or retirees, a 3-bedroom large master with an en suite might be more desirable than a 4-bedroom with one shared bathroom.

2. DIY Off the Rails

If you’ve been following my articles for awhile, you know that I am all about the DIY . . . but only where it makes sense and you have the capabilities. You can do so many home improvements by researching and watching YouTube videos from reputable individuals.

However, you have to know where your limits lie. The Mathematician and I push these boundaries time after time, and once in awhile, we should have left well enough alone. Then we call a professional to help us fix the mess. If you are new on the DIY scene, don’t jump in with a total kitchen renovation. Just. Don’t. Do. It. (Again, with the periods for emphasis)

This rule goes for using legitimate contractors who are good at their job. For example, when negotiating for a buyer last year, I had this exact conversation as we were tussling over the offer price.

Me: Well, the floors need to be completely redone because of all those gaps around the door frames and the places where the baseboard is poorly patched together from scraps. It’s not a great DIY job.

Listing Agent: [The owner] just paid $6,000 to have those installed.

I’m glad she couldn’t see my face.

Friends, NEVER EVER make a final payment to a contractor if you aren’t satisfied with the job. Were the floors installed? Technically, yes. Were the floors installed in a professional and correct manner? Absolutely not.

Quality of work matters to buyers. If you can’t do the job or you started and it’s off the rails, bring in a quality professional to do the work.

Call me. I have an ever-growing list of contractors who can help.

3. Pet Palaces

Oh, man, I’m going to catch some flack for this because some people LOVE their pets. The pets aren’t actually the problem here; it’s the damage they can wreak on the home that can be a turn off to buyers.

Problem #1: Allergies

Lots of people have pet allergies, some of them severe. The Mathematician has pretty strong allergic reactions to dogs and cats, so he has to take a pill to be around them. Lots of buyers have varying degrees of allergies, so this might be a deterrent. I have actually had agents call to ask me if there are pets residing in my listing.

Problem #2: Damage

For all the love we have for our pets, they can do a lot of damage to our homes. The first thing that springs to my mind is doors where big dogs were jumping and clawing to get out. My brother has this leftover damage from the previous owners of his house. Pets can also urinate in hidden places, which leads to smells. They can also ruin floors or carpet and even the subfloor in a home.

Am I saying you shouldn’t have pets? Nope, I would like to stay alive and not die from the laser beams shooting out of angry readers’ eyes.

That being said, you need to ensure that any damage is cleaned up and repaired. If you are getting ready to list your home for sale, I’ll always advise you to get your carpets professionally cleaned (usually regardless of whether you have a pet) and to tuck any pet paraphernalia like leashes, bowls, etc. out of sight.

It’s estimated that 68% of U.S. households own a pet. This means that 32% of people do not own a pet. Assuming the population of buyers loosely mimics the greater population, 32% of buyers do not have pets. You don’t want to loose a third of your potential buyers because they are turned off by the damage or smell.

4. Mind Your Landscaping

I am one of those people who absolutely hates yard work. I just do not enjoy it. My mom, she loves it. Weeding, trimming trees, growing flowers, that is her happy place. Me? I think they neighbors thought The Mathematician was a single dad the first year we lived in our house because I don’t do yard work. (Don’t judge, this agreement was formalized early in our relationship.)

I don’t do yard work. Loud and proud.

Now, when I say “mind your landscaping” that cuts both ways. You want to keep it tidy and groomed, but don’t over do it. If you have too much landscaping going on, a lot of buyers don’t want to deal with that much labor (yes, the people like me, who kill all the things).

^ Every plant I’ve ever owned.

In addition to the normal maintenance-type things such as mowing the lawn, you need to stay on top of pruning any plants that require it. I’m going to call myself out here because we have not trimmed the boxwoods in my front yard since I moved in . . . three years ago. This project MUST happen this year because (a) they are frankly getting a little wild looking, and (b) if we don’t trim them back the base branches are going to get way too thick and they will get so big we can’t adequately trim them back. (Notice how I said “we” 😂)

Stay on top of that stuff to keep your curb appeal up, and in turn, keep up the value of your property. Keep out invasive plant species, occasionally have your larger trees trimmed professionally and just keep that yard feeling tidy.

5. A Garage Conversion

Because of our weather, many Michigan buyers consider a garage a nonnegotiable. When a homeowner converts a garage into a man cave, gym, home office, rec room or grow house, chances are it will lower the overall value of the home. (Unless you find that special buyer who really NEEDS the grow house!)

Buyers want a secure place to park their vehicles and yard equipment that is out of the inclement weather. Even if your bonus room adds value to use of the space, you have also subtracted value by losing the garage.

Bonus Discussion: Crazy Wallpaper

Looking back, you may be surprised I didn’t call out wallpaper. Yes, wallpaper that is old or particularly loud or out of touch with modern interior design will hurt value to some degree. Many buyers straight up will not want to deal with the removal process.

That being said, many interior designers are incorporating wallpaper into their designs to liven up a room and give it a contemporary feel. In this instance, the wallpaper won’t hurt. I don’t know that the wallpaper will specifically add value, but a clean attractive design will always generate more interest from buyers.

As always, thank you for joining me this week on our foray into ways you decrease your home’s value. Don’t hesitate to give me a shout if I can help with any of your home ownership questions or concerns!

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