‘Alters a property negatively!’ Home improvements to avoid that devalue your house by 20%

Property: Expert advises on how to add value to your home

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The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has forecast a slow in house prices between now and September, with some sellers expected to lose out when it comes to selling their homes. For years, experts have warned of undesirable features reducing the value of properties on the market, but which details should you be focusing on even if you’re not planning on selling anytime soon? An insta-worthy pad may generate followers but spending money on costly features or ‘home improvements’ may devalue your property in the long run when you come to sell.

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Ed Hartshorne, Managing Director of Blenkin & Co estate agents in York, shared the often surprising fads which can be unappealing to potential buyers and may reduce the property’s asking price, or force you to accept a lower offer in the selling process.   

Based on decades of experience selling some of the most lust-worthy homes in the UK, Ed suggests applying practical thinking before splurging on expensive features or measures designed to improve a home, which may be considered niche or inappropriate by the majority of buyers.

Swimming pools

It might sound surprising but a swimming pool can devalue a home significantly as many buyers can be put off by them.

Ed explained: “These are often viewed as the ultimate home luxury but they are expensive to run and tiresome to maintain. 

“There’s no doubt that pools – particularly outdoor ones – may not add their cost to a property because they only appeal to a certain number of people.”

The estate agent noted an example of when he dealt with a sale where the house should have reached £1.2million but because none of the buyers wanted the pool, it reduced the cost by around £300,000. 

The expert said: “It can cost hundreds of pounds every month to heat the pool which will obviously escalate as energy bills rise and we know some buyers go on to fill in good quality pools to reduce their costs. Parents can also feel pools are a liability for their families. 

“I’d say pools can reduce property prices by around 20 percent unless of course the demand is there and the buyers view it as a ‘must-have’ but the pool must be well-designed and not hog the garden.”

Sarah Hastings, Digital and Marketing Manager at RW4Y agreed that a swimming pool can decrease the value of a home for the same reasons.

She told Express.co.uk: “While you may think it would make your home more appealing, adding an in-ground swimming pool to your property can actually decrease the value of the house. 

“In-ground pools aren’t just expensive to build but they cost a lot to maintain too. Looking after a pool is a lot of effort, which may deter potential buyers. 

“This home addition costs around £20,000 on average and only adds seven percent to the value of your home, so homes worth £300,000 would only just be breaking even.”

Similarly to a pool, the property pro said that it’s best to avoid adding an in-ground hot tub to your home if homeowners are solely doing so to increase their property value. 

She explained: “Just like pools these are expensive to run and aren’t profitable enough to add value to your home in the long run. If you’d like a hot tub for yourself, opt for an above ground one which you can take with you if you decide to move on.

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Permanent conversion of a bedroom

Dressing rooms, home cinemas and a personal gym are nice to have but they’re not as marketable or as valuable as an extra bedroom, according to Ed.

He cautioned: “If you decide to convert a bedroom into a room with a different use, there shouldn’t be any kind of permanent structure which would make it difficult or expensive to revert it back to a bedroom.

“Owners need to consider whether it’s the right thing to remove a bedroom wall and make a box-room into a dressing room because this can ultimately reduce the home’s value. 

“Parents want to ensure their children have their own room and will settle for it being small instead of their off-spring having to share.”

Although it varies on property size and area, an extra bedroom can add around 15 percent, says the estate agent.

Fitting carpets on hardwood flooring 

If a home already has hardwood floors and homeowners want to increase their property value, avoid installing carpets on top, urges Sarah.

She said: “While a fresh new carpet can, in some cases, add value to your home, hardwood floors are a desirable feature for many and can increase your property value by up to an impressive 10 percent. 

“Rather than spending a lot of money adding new carpets, just invest a fraction of that cost into sprucing up the hardwood floors you already have.”

Highly personal and overly bold kitchens

A coloured feature wall in the lounge is one thing but a purple fitted kitchen is another. 

Kitchens are a focal point of the home and overhauling one can be expensive, and a lot of work for new owners. 

Ed explained: “Depending on their condition, they can alter a property’s price positively or negatively by five to 15 percent. 

“Desirable kitchens are neutral in colour with high-end integrated appliances, clever lighting and handle free cupboards – all of these increase a home’s saleability. 

“Anything highly personal which is bold, bright and expensive to replace is unlikely to appeal to most buyers.”

The expert said that even Agas, which can be considered as the ultimate kitchen appliance, don’t appeal to everyone and we know of several cases where new owners have removed them. 

Sarah also pointed out that making bold changes to the walls is not a good idea.

 She said: “While bold colours are currently in trend for interior design, shades such as bright pinks and oranges aren’t universally popular and can be divisive. 

“It’s a good idea to leave the walls as they are and simply apply top-up paints to keep it looking tidy, as the next owners may want to change it anyway.”

Spray foam insulation

Often billed as a ‘home improvement’, this alternative to traditional building insulation is used to insulate the roof, loft, walls and floors and has become very popular recently because it can stop air leakage but Ed explained that he has seen it cause “real problems in some cases”. 

He said: “The worst was in a house which needed re-roofing but had been sprayed as a stop-gap. There was condensation dripping down the rafters and the wood couldn’t breathe which caused rotting and most likely, structural damage.”

In December, The Residential Property Surveyors’ Association (RPSA) issued guidance for its members to recommend the removal of spray foam insulation at every property they visit – unless specific information was available – after finding the majority of installations had been carried out ‘with insufficient preparation to reduce the risk of structural roof timbers being severely weakened by rot and other defects’.

The RPSA said owners may find their property difficult, or impossible to sell, and may find that lenders will not offer mortgages or equity release funds and risk having to spend thousands replacing their entire roof covering.

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