Selling Your House? Upgrades That Don’t Pay Off

Jan 8, 2023 | General Tips

Before You Sell Your House: Four Upgrades That Don’t Pay Off

Before listing your house, consider remodels or upgrades that you think will pay off. These four common upgrades are usually expensive, and they rarely pay back 100 percent of the investment. In most cases, simpler and less-expensive alternatives to the original idea are better.

Before listing your house for sale, you may plan several upgrades or improvements. These can range from repainting a few walls to remodeling a room to adding a big-ticket attraction like an in-ground swimming pool.

Ideally, spending money on upgrades pays off at closing since the buyer will see and appreciate the added value. However, many common upgrades, remodel, and changes cost you money because most buyers will pay for only part of those investments.

Here are some of the most popular upgrades that are not worth the money.

Kitchen remodels

Don’t spend thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars making your kitchen look like today’s hot gathering space. Your asking price will go up, but not enough to cover the full investment. Instead, focus on inexpensive things you can do to refresh your space. Fresh paint, new cabinet hardware, and updated lighting can all make the kitchen more inviting.

Wooden decks

If you have a deck that desperately needs maintenance or repair, that’s worth the money. However, building a brand-new deck where nothing currently exists comes at a cost. Buyers are likely to offer less than 80 percent of the costs you incurred, so building a beautiful new deck to add to the house’s listing price is not realistic.

Instead of building new decking, consider adding a patio. This costs less and can return most, or even all, of the investment when your house sells. There are many options for patios, so consult a professional (such as a realtor in your area) for advice on materials, size, and other variables.

Swimming Pools

Installing a swimming pool can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Only some of that investment comes back – even if the buyers fall in love with your pool. Some buyers would rather not have a pool at all. Others may not like the design or placement you selected—also, the new pool costs money (maintenance and, possibly, higher insurance premiums).

Skip this option and look for other ways to use that outdoor space. In some cases, the space may be inviting as is. Some buyers want lawn space: blank canvases for their visions.


A smart refrigerator may seem like an excellent way to draw in buyers. Still, these models are more expensive than their simpler counterparts – and these high-tech appliances become dated quicker. The same goes for tech that becomes enmeshed with the house: remember when some people wired MP3 player docking stations into living room walls?

Your realtor may work closely with a stager, who can help you put your house’s best foot forward for the listing and open house.

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