[big] DIY projects,” he urges. “Hire a professional.”
A professional will also steer you away from making rookie mistakes such as putting tiles on countertops that really belong on the floor.
8. Overstuffing the remodel
The common mistake: Oftentimes when homeowners remodel a kitchen or a bathroom, they “put bigger items in there than there should be,” Camren says. For instance, homeowners will remodel with a giant piece of furniture that includes a built-in sink and cabinetry that overwhelms the bathroom, he says. The space ends up feeling cramped, and future homebuyers will pick up on that.
What you should do: “Really, all you need is a pedestal sink in the bathroom — slender, with no storage, and with good clean lines,” Camren says. Store most of your bathroom supplies in the linen closet, he recommends. The result will be a more airy, roomy space that you and prospective buyers — will like.
9. Getting too trendy
The common mistake: Everybody wants a fashionable home, but too trendy can be a trap.
“Something that’s real hot today that I think is going to be a problem in a few years? Those skinny tile backsplashes” in kitchens, Nickel says. “It’s gonna be like avocado appliances” were a few years ago, Nickel predicts. “Ten years ago, garden tubs and separate showers were all the rage,” she says. “Nobody wants a garden tub anymore; we figured out we don’t get in them.” Homeowners are ripping them out to put in a nice standing shower, she says.
What you should do: “Be very aware of what’s trendy, and avoid it at all costs,” Nickel says. Steer toward looks that are a bit more timeless, she says — so hip doesn’t become dated.
10. Converting the garage
The common mistake: “I see too many people converting their garages to a living area,” Josephs says. “The problem with that is that you’ve created ‘functional obsolescence’ because you’ve removed covered parking.” When you sell your home, would-be buyers will see that the rest of the neighborhood has parking, while you don’t. As a result, you’ll turn off perhaps 75% of your buyers, Josephs says.
What’s more, he says, though a homeowner might have spent $10,000 to convert a garage into a living room or a man cave, the appraiser might turn around and say “the additional $10,000 is lost because of the impact of not having covered parking.”
What you should do: Don’t turn the garage into a living space, Josephs says. If you really want another place to hang out, consider a well-thought-out addition to the home.
11. Being a permit bandit
The common mistake: “Too many people are adding square footage and not getting permitting from the local authorities,” Josephs says.
What’s wrong with sneaking in a little (or not-so-little) home-improvement project? Well, potentially lots of things: Appraisers and lenders may not include the value of an addition that was not permitted because they worry that insurers won’t give money in case of an incident, Josephs says. “Some appraisers might give you full value, and some appraisers might give you no value.”
“I have seen scenarios where the lender says, ‘Not only do we not want to give value for this unpermitted addition, we want you to reducethe valuation of the home to consider the cost to demolish the addition,” he says. “That’s a bad investment.”
What you should do: Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Endure the cost and hassle of necessary permits for any work you have done.
12. Holding on to brass door knobs
The common mistake: “One thing I see a lot is that homes that were built in the 1990s still have brass hardware,” says real-estate agent Kim Baker with Russ Lyon/Sotheby’s International Realty in Scottsdale, Ariz. “It’s very noticeable, if you walk into a home that has been updated with counters, cabinets and yet they haven’t updated the hardware.”
What’s wrong with brass? “It’s dated; it looks old,” Baker says.
What you should do: “The No. 1 thing I tell people to do is change out your brass hardware,” Baker says. Try fixtures made of chrome, brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze instead, she suggests. If you can’t afford to redo your cabinets, “even changing out the brass will add value.”
13. Being colorfast
The common mistake: Color is a personal issue for homeowners. They paint their walls everything from deep blue to blood red. Trouble is, some homeowners are loath to return those walls to a neutral color when it’s time to sell the home. That’s a huge mistake, Baker says.
Right now Baker has two houses for sale, four doors apart. The houses have the same builder and nearly the same floor plan. But in one house, the homeowner has painted the doors and some of the walls black and refuses to change them. “The one that doesn’t have the black gets three times as many hits on the website,” she says.
What you should do: Enjoy your home in whatever hue you wish, but with the understanding that you’ll return it to innocuous colors before you plant that “For Sale” sign. “I just had someone paint a condo that they have used as an investment,” Baker says. She urged the owner to cover the shiny yellow paint in an eggshell hue. The result? “I got an offer for her the first day. And she probably got 10% to 15% more [for the condo] than if she had not done that.”
14. Ignoring flaws
The common mistake: A lot of folks are like Goldilocks: They think their home is just right and without flaws. Baker recalls one client to whom she suggested they do a pre-inspection before putting it up for sale. The seller balked, offended at the idea that her home might hide problems. When an offer was brought to her, she had more than $40,000 worth of repairs, including hail damage and termites, Baker says. “She was out a lot of money.”
What you should do: “Disassociate yourself from your home,” Baker says. “If your home is more than 10 years old, get an inspection done even before you list it so that you’re not surprised by any problems and can deal with them.”