Best Tips for Sellers & Buyers

5 Worst Returns on Your Home Renovations Dollars

Selling Your Home by Natasha Lingle

Maximizing Your Home Renovation Investment: Avoiding the Pitfalls

There are many articles on the Internet about the home renovations that offer the best return on your hard-earned, but few shed light on projects that drain your finances without offering substantial returns. Today, let’s discuss the less glamorous side of renovations.

First and Foremost: Personalization Has Limits

Undoubtedly, making your house feel like home is important. However, if you foresee selling in the near future due to relocation, upgrading, or downsizing, it’s wise to exercise restraint. While personal touches can add charm, overwhelming customization might deter potential buyers. Remember, there’s a sweet spot between bland conformity and an over-the-top design reminiscent of a 1970s disco inferno. Most buyers appreciate a degree of personalization, but it’s essential to strike a balance that maintains broad appeal.

Renovation Loss Leaders By the Numbers

Before diving into a major renovation, consider its potential return on investment (ROI).

Remodeling Magazine has been tracking the average costs of the 23 most popular projects since 2002 and the value they retained at sale.  While upscale renovations like lavish bathroom remodels or extravagant kitchen upgrades may seem appealing, they often fall short in terms of ROI. You might be surprised at these projects Remodeling Magazine turned up as the worst investments, based on national averages:

1. Upscale Primary Suite Addition. Cost: $325,504. Return: $73,875 (22.5%)

The Upscale Primary Suite Addition, boasting extravagant features such as spacious sleeping and lounging areas, a lavish bathroom with premium amenities, and luxurious finishes throughout, offers a paltry return on investment at just 22.5%. Despite its opulence, the financial gains may not justify the hefty price tag.


2. Upscale Major Kitchen Remodel. Cost: $154,483. Return: $48,913 (31.7%)

While the allure of gourmet appliances and luxurious finishes may be tempting, the reality is that such renovations often yield a modest return on investment. With high initial costs, limited market appeal, changing design trends, and the risk of overimprovement, the ROI of an upscale kitchen remodel averages just 31%. While it may enhance your lifestyle, it’s essential to weigh the costs against potential returns and consider the preferences of future buyers before diving into a lavish kitchen renovation.


3. Upscale Bathroom Remodel. Cost: $76,827. Return: $28,203 (36.7%)

Despite the fact that a mid-range minor kitchen remodel will return about 85.7 percent of its value, an upscale major remodel doesn’t even come close. It’s no secret that luxury comes at a cost. Upscale bathroom remodels involve top-of-the-line materials, exquisite finishes, and custom features that can significantly inflate your renovation budget. Here’s the kicker—while your new bathroom might feel like a slice of paradise, its appeal might not translate to prospective buyers when it’s time to sell. Not everyone is willing to shell out extra for those gold-plated fixtures or heated floors. Design trends come and go, but a timeless bathroom design withstands the test of time. Investing in features that are fashionable today but might feel outdated tomorrow could impact your ROI down the line. Ever heard of overimproving? It’s a real concern in the world of renovations. Pouring money into a bathroom that exceeds the expectations of your neighborhood could leave you with a hefty bill and a lukewarm reception from potential buyers.

4. Deck Addition | Composite. Cost: $23,430. Return: $9,325 (39.8%)

An average return on investment of only 39% for a composite deck addition may seem surprising, but several factors contribute to this lower ROI. The high initial cost of composite materials, coupled with variable market perceptions, contribute to this lower ROI. It’s crucial for homeowners to weigh the benefits against the costs and consider local market dynamics before diving into such a project.

5. Major Kitchen Remodel | Midrange. Cost: $77,939. Return: $32,574 (41.8%)

Ever wondered why the return on investment for a midrange major kitchen remodel hovers around 41.8%? Despite being a substantial renovation, several factors contribute to this seemingly modest ROI. The costs associated with upgrading appliances, cabinetry, countertops, and flooring can quickly add up, impacting the overall return. Additionally, the perceived value of the improvements may not align with buyers’ expectations, especially if similar homes in the neighborhood feature standard kitchens. Changing design trends and the risk of overimprovement further complicate matters, potentially diminishing the kitchen’s appeal and resale value. In essence, while a midrange kitchen remodel can enhance a home’s functionality and aesthetics, homeowners should carefully evaluate the costs and potential returns before embarking on such a project.



When embarking on home renovations, prioritize projects that strike a balance between personalization and broad appeal. Instead of chasing extravagant upgrades, opt for cost-effective improvements that maximize ROI. By avoiding renovation pitfalls, you can enhance your home’s value without emptying your pockets.


Also read: “What Home Renovations Will Get You the Most Bang for Your Buck?”

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Natasha Lingle is an energetic and personable real estate professional with a proven track record of success representing home buyers, sellers and investors throughout Northern Virginia. Natasha is known for her deep knowledge of the local market, tenacity, strong negotiating skills, honesty and integrity. Whether providing expert guidance to buyers or creating custom marketing plans for the sellers, Natasha delivers the highest level of customer service to all her clients.

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