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20 things that can alter the value of your home

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Liabilities
On the flip side, here are 10 things that could harm your home's value:

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1. A pool. Forget what you might have heard. An in-ground pool in most parts of the country doesn't automatically raise the value of your home. "I would stay away from pools if you can at all avoid it," says Irwin.

Having a swimming pool will automatically limit your market when it comes time to sell, he says. "It's constant upkeep, they get cracks, the equipment goes down and it's expensive to replace, and the liability is high."

Others consider it a mixed blessing. "For the people who want the pool, they're willing to pay for it," says Austin. "But there are an awful lot of people who don't want a pool."

Consider your home value and location. In a million-dollar house, not having a pool is a detraction, says Irwin. "But they won't give you much more" if you do have one.

2. No garage or small garage. Unless you're living in a condo, retirement community or historical or in-town neighborhood, most buyers will look for at least a two-car garage. "If you don't have a garage, it's a real negative," says Austin. "If you have a one-car garage, that's a problem, too."

3. Garbled floor plan. Small rooms and bathrooms, an inconvenient floor plan or a layout that requires you to access bedrooms or bathrooms through other rooms will detract value from your home.

4. Outmoded appliances or systems. Who wants an electrical system or plumbing system incapable of handling modern conveniences? Would you buy a home if the appliances were worn or broken?

Phipps remembers walking into one house with clients who casually opened the oven door -- and it fell off.

5. Stale or overly personal decor. Sure, red is the hot wall color right now, "but for how long?" says Hummel.

"We've gone into houses where they've had purple walls or electric green," says Austin. "It's a turn-off to many people."

6. A bad roof. Roofs are expensive to replace and a good roof is considered standard equipment in a house. If your roof has problems, expect to take a hit in the price.

7. Bad location. Phipps remembers one neighborhood with a significant difference in value between the even- and odd-numbered houses. The reason? The odd numbered ones backed on an interstate highway, as well as some ugly utility lines.

As a result, "the even-numbered houses were worth about 10 percent more than the odd-numbered homes," he says.

8. Poor maintenance. "If you've got an old roof and outdated paint, I don't care if you've updated the kitchen, you won't even get the buyer out of the car," says Bredemeyer.

"If you know you've got to have something fixed, fix it," says Zollinger. Otherwise, people "will subtract the cost or not make an offer on the house. And if people think the house hasn't been taken care of, they will wonder what else they're not seeing."

9. Environmental hazards. Besides being a danger to human health, lead, mold or asbestos can kill home value.

10. A laundry list of needed improvements. "It detracts if you have to do work," says Gaylord. "A house that you can move in today -- and it's livable -- is fine."

But a list of must-dos just to conduct everyday life will scare off a lot of potential home buyers. "Especially with first-time buyers," he says. "Most of them are [already] scraping just to get in."

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Updated: Aug. 17, 2006
 
 
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