These Things Are Bringing Down the Value of Your Home

These Things Are Bringing Down the Value of Your Home
Photo: Breadmaker, Shutterstock

If you’re a homeowner, you’ve no doubt checked out your home’s estimated value on Zillow a time or two (or sixty). And while that dollar amount can paint a general picture of your home’s worth based on its square footage, number of bedrooms, tax records, and recent homes sales in your area, it can’t account for the relative impact of your design choices and the condition of key features in and around your house. Here are a few things you may not realise are bringing down the value of your home.

Laminate countertops

While laminate countertops may be popular (because they’re cheap), they look dated and are undesirable to most new home buyers. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), more than half of home buyers (57%) prefer granite or natural stone countertops, with another 21% seeking quartz or engineered stone. Only 8% were in the market for laminate countertops.

Lack of storage space

In that same NAHB report, home-storage was listed as one of the top 10 most-desired features. Ample closets, closed cabinets, shelving, attic space, unfinished basement rooms, and garage storage are all craved by a majority of homebuyers.

Small (or no) kitchen pantry

Walk-in pantries are a heavily desired feature, according to 83% of respondents to the NAHB survey. Thirty-two per cent of respondents listed is as essential/must-have, while 51% listed it as desirable, making it the most wanted kitchen feature (just edging out a side-by-side sink and table space for eating).

Wall-to-wall carpet

There was a time hardwood floors were regularly covered with wall-to-wall carpet because that’s what people wanted. That time is over. While carpet may give a room a “cosy” feel, most modern homebuyers want hardwood flooring (or failing that, engineered wood floors) for a more polished look. Consider lifting carpet and refinishing the flooring underneath, or at minimum, having carpet professionally cleaned to remove odours and stains.

A traditional fireplace

While there are no doubt home buyers who still seek an old-school hearthside, according to Bob Vila, many of today’s home buyers are seeking energy-saving alternatives to drafty, traditional wood-burning fireplaces. (Not to mention the soot and all-consuming odor that descends upon your house after the coals are set ablaze.) Vila recommends adding “an energy-saving insert to minimise leaks and drafts and boost the appeal.”

Dark brown kitchen cabinets

While, according to NAHB’s report What Home Buyers Really Want, home buyers are pretty equitably split between their desire for contemporary (62%) versus traditional cabinets (58%), and “almost a third of home buyers (32%) want white cabinets — not much higher than the 26% who prefer a medium brown cabinet colour.” The disparity grows when it comes to dark brown cabinets. Only 13% are interested in those. (And for the record, even less are interested in black — only 5%).

Worn or dated paint jobs

Exterior paint quality makes a powerful first impression. Paint that is peeling, faded, or cracked needs to be remedied before putting your home on the market. Ditto for undesirable colours, both inside and out. Blemished walls, quirky wallpaper, and bold or offbeat colours should be replaced with neutrals such as grey, cream, or white. For an easy infusion of perceived worth, paint your front door one of these high-value colours.

Bad landscaping

New homebuyers want to be enticed by a tidy and welcoming exterior (and not a vision of hard work to come). Overgrown shrubs, concrete that’s turned black, unruly tree branches, a proliferation of fallen tree seeds, and dead or dying plants are huge turnoffs — and send a visual message that the home has not been adequately cared for. Clean up the exterior (including all those weeds poking through your front walkway pavers) rather than letting homebuyers wonder what other home maintenance has been neglected.

A dark exterior

When people buy a home, many want to envision themselves enjoying good weather and good times outside, entertaining friends and family. Obviously, a complete lack of outdoor space will lower your home’s value — but perhaps less apparent is the impact of having no lighting for your outdoor space; 79% of home buyers desire exterior lighting, whether in the form of security, pathway, string lighting, or lanterns. This touch of nighttime visibility can add dollars to your bottom line as a seller.

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