Last week we talked about easy and cost-effective ways to add value to your apartment before you sell. So I thought it’d be worthwhile covering off a few of things that are almost never worth changing before you go to market.

1. Switching your sink and your toilet

Bathrooms are great spaces to maximize your renovations dollars before you sell. However, tread carefully! Some changes can lead to big renovation bills that are impossible to recoup when you sell. Switching your sink and toilet is a prime example.

For small bathrooms, this can seem like a great idea. However, did you know that this relatively minor change can quickly top $10,000? It’s a surprisingly complicated task, and while it might make you like your apartment more, it’s unlikely to make your apartment worth more. When you’re spending in the bathroom (and you should be) focus on simple, aesthetic changes like fresh paint, re-grouted or caulked tiles, and a new sink.

2. Granite counter tops

Granite is undeniably a fantastic material for kitchen counter – heatproof, rugged, hardwearing. However, it’s a polarising material regarding aesthetics, and it’s costly to put in and take out. If you’re replacing your cabinets and counters, I recommend a lighter, more neutral material that will lighten the space and be a blank canvas for the lucky new owners.

3. Paint in non-neutral tones or dark colors

You might love that pop of yellow – but not everyone will. Stick to soft whites and other light, neutral colors that people can easily adapt to suit them or paint over themselves.

4. Artisanal building materials

It might be cool for you to know that your backsplash tiles came from a small tile manufacturer in the foothills of the Dolomites, but 9/10 people are not going to care. Stick with quality, no-nonsense materials – you’ll almost never get a return on investment for something fancier.

5. Designer lighting fixtures

Good lighting is essential to putting your house in well, in a good light. However, be wary of assigning too much value to a light fixture. It’s easy to blow through your renovation budget on fancy lights when a staging company can rent you standing lights to achieve a similar effect. Updating your lighting is a good idea – just tread cautiously!

6. Ripping out your tub

Ripping out and replacing your tub is usually something that owners ‘always wanted to do’. Right before you sell is not the time to be indulging. Sure, there’s value in a beautiful new tub that costs $1,200. But before you commit, look into the cost of refinishing your existing tub. A refinish can do wonders to spruce up a bathroom.

7. Built-in home entertainment systems

There is almost no way that these will pay off. First, they only appeal to some people. Second, of those people who these would be a selling point for, some of them are likely to have already audio solutions that they like (and might be better than yours) and can bring with them. Lastly, these add no function. A nicer kitchen adds value because it’s a more useful space – new appliances don’t break, new counters are easier to clean. Home buyers know this. Built-in speakers don’t do anything that normal speaker doesn’t do, and most people have speakers.

8. Office remodeling

Built-in bookcases, desks, specific lighting fixtures, surge protected sockets – you can drop a lot of cash on turning a room into a home office. The thing is, these benefits are going to be lost on a lot of potential buyers. Some don’t want an office at all and would rather it be another bedroom or living space. Plus, those who do want to work at home are usually just as happy with a comfy wheelie chair and a decent desk – two items they probably already have. Leave your office aspirations for your new place.

9. Removing a bedroom

Regardless of how nice you think your new bachelor pad is going to be, it’s rarely worthwhile removing a bedroom for additional living space or to give your place an open, lofty feel. The market is just bigger for two and even three bedroom apartments, so by knocking out walls, you’re knocking a big chunk of buyers out of the running. With less demand, you get less generous offers and thus, you end up selling for less money and getting a lower ROI. Even an exceptional one bedroom is just not going to be as valuable as a two bedroom.

10. Replacing old carpet

If you’re going to put any money into your floors, carpet is not the way to go. Even new carpet dates quickly and doesn’t add much (if any) resale value. Hardwood appeals to a broad range of potential buyers and can be a real selling point (especially for smaller apartments, where it tends to make space feel bigger). So if you’re going down the floor route, go with hardwood.

Wrap up

Renovations are prone to spinning out of control, and before you sell you need to be more diligent than ever to make sure you get a return on investment. Needlessly high-end materials, obscure improvements that only appeal to a small subgroup of buyers, and improvements that people simply won’t see are all renovations to avoid.
Focus on high-value, low-cost renovations that improve the aesthetics of an apartment and before you know it you’ll have a line out the door.


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