One of the great joys of homeownership is the ability to do whatever you want to do with your home. As long as you are not violating any town codes, that is. If you want a urinal in your living room, you can have it. The biggest caveat to that rule is "unless you plan on selling your home in the next couple of years.” If you are considering selling your home in the next few years, there are some big home No-Nos. These types of things can drastically reduce the value of your home and narrow the potential buyer pool.
Do not turn a bedroom into something else. One of the very first preferences that potential buyers discuss is bedrooms. "I am looking for a four bedroom.” “I need two bedrooms, but prefer three.” These are very commonly the first sentences out of buyers’ mouths. You may need a home office, library, or a cigar room, but buyers may not. If you must use a bedroom for another purpose, do not build anything in like desks or shelves. Make sure the room is easily converted back to a bedroom.
Do not turn your children's bedrooms into fantasy lands. While you may love your 6-year-old daughter's Barbie princess room, buyers may have all boys or teenagers. Lots of stickers and wallpaper look like too much work to some buyers. Make your children’s rooms as neutral as possible before going to market. You want rooms that appeal to infants thru teens.
Do not carpet over hardwood floors. Hardwood floors are very popular and a must for allergy sufferers. Hardwood floors add a design element and look cleaner when showing.
Buyers can cover up the floors later if they like. It is easier for buyers to buy carpet they like than to match their decor style to your old carpet.
Do not convert your garage. A garage is a must for many home buyers. By converting your garage to a woodworking shop, a weight room, or anything else, you are severely decreasing the value of your home. If you must use your garage for a purpose other than parking your car, transform it back to car storage before going to market.
Do not install a pool. An above ground pool is an eyesore for many buyers and when remove can leave a huge dead spot on your lawn. A simple in-ground pool will cost about $30,000 and the average appraiser will only add $7,000 or less to the value of your home for having an in-ground pool. That is a horrible investment. Many buyers also see pools as lots of work and expensive to maintain. That can be a very major deterrent to buyers.
Do not get a pet. Pets are a real deal breaker for many buyers. Buyers that are allergic to cats may not consider a home with cats living in it. A house that smells like wet dog is not inviting to home buyers. The exotic pets that you love may literally scare buyers during showings. If you already have pets, be extra diligent in your cleaning, put away as many signs of the pet as possible, and use air freshener. Sweet little Fido may be a deal breaker.
Do not smoke in your home. Over a period of time the smell of smoke will permeate your home, which is a big turn off to many potential buyers. It is a big job getting that smoky smell out of a house. If you must smoke, do it outside or designate one room to smoke in. A clean smoke-free home will appeal to the most amount of buyers.
Do not go over the top with a decorating theme or fixtures. Buyers want to picture themselves in the home that they are going to buy. Your giant chandelier or gothic paint scheme may suit you perfectly, but not potential buyers. Get as neutral as you can to appeal to the largest number of buyers.
Any or all of the above may deter the perfect buyer from making an offer on your home.
Remember, your home is your castle. Do with it what you will - unless you want to sell it soon and for top dollar.
Rick is a realtor, real estate author, and long-time Windham resident. You can contact Rick with all of your real estate questions and needs at firstname.lastname@example.org.