When Buying a Home, Don’t Spend Extra for These Features
Although certain features may be appealing, they’re not worth paying more for.
Buying a house is an emotional experience. Even though buyers know they should focus on what they actually need—perhaps three bedrooms or a large backyard—they can be tempted by unnecessary amenities that are pretty or chic or cool. But while those extras can make a house stand out, they can also entice buyers to pay more for a home than they should. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you: Never spend more for the following features.
High-end fixtures like fancy lights and faucets are sure to grab a buyer’s attention. But according to Patrick Garrett, a broker/owner in Birmingham, Alabama, buyers should never pay more for these items. “Though the fixtures may be promoted as a top-of-the-line commodity, these items may not be covered under typical home warranties.”
Well, since they are top-of-the-line products, they’ll last a long time, right? Not necessarily. “Just like standard fixtures, high-end fixtures are prone to break or malfunction as a result of faulty manufacturing,” Garrett explains. As well, he notes, it can be difficult to find replacement parts for some high-end fixtures, and those parts could prove to be relatively expensive.
Candice Williams, real estate agent at RE/MAX Space Center in League City, Texas, warns that fancy light fixtures can make a home look more expensive than it is and cautions against being seduced. “Don’t get drawn in by luxe chandeliers, fancy pendant lights, or dramatic sconces, because home improvement stores sell these and more for under $200.” Ditto for fancy shower heads: “For $100 or less, you can get a functional yet fancy shower head with all the bells and whistles—and it’s easy to install.”
Unusable Square Footage
Everyone loves more room, but according to Christopher Totaro, an agent at Warburg Realty in New York City, some of the square footage reflected in the asking price may not be usable. “If that space has no practical application, you will be paying for something that you won’t use and don’t need.” So, what are some examples of unusable square footage? “Things like long hallways or a closet that is huge but has unusable space for hanging or storage,” Totaro explains. “This is different from a long hallway that is wide and accommodating,” which serves as its own space and can even act as a gallery. Such a hallway justifies the expense, as does a true walk-in closet with plenty of usable storage space.
Speaking of closets, there’s a difference between paying more for closet space and paying more for closet organization systems. “If you’re unafraid of doing a bit of work yourself, you can easily make this storage solution into your very own DIY project,” says Michael DiMartino, senior vice president of installation services at Power Home Remodeling. “Expandable closet rods, wire shelves, and drawers are just some of the budget-friendly organization options sold separately at stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s.”
The Staged Effect
When sellers pay for home staging, they intend to recoup that expense through a higher sales price. They know that staged homes tend to sell for more (and faster) than non-staged homes. That said, Justin Riordan, interior designer, architect, and founder of the Portland, Seattle, and Los Angeles home staging company Spade and Archer Design Agency, warns against paying more for a home that has been well staged. (And he’s a stager, mind you!)
“The staging is the one thing that will no longer be there when you buy the house—and yet I see it happen all the time.” So how prevalent is this tendency? “We actually have a program for our multiunit sellers in which we move the model unit from one space to the next, over and over and over again, because inevitably the one that is staged is the one that sells the fastest and with the highest premium,” Riordan reveals.
It can be challenging to find the right window treatments for a new home, and sellers know that. “I have seen some sellers take into consideration how expensive their window treatments were to purchase and install,” says broker Becki Danchik of Warburg Realty in New York City. While she considers it a bonus if sellers decide to leave the window treatments when they sell, Danchik says that buyers shouldn’t assign them a lot of value when they’re bidding on a home.
Beautiful landscaping often attracts buyers. But according to Chris Fajkos, Realtor at Tahoe Mountain Realty in Truckee, California, you shouldn’t pay more for high-maintenance landscaping. It’s appealing but not essential. And there’s another reason why you might prefer to save your money. “In seasonal areas, it’s a daunting chore to keep up with.” When you realize you’re spending every weekend maintaining your perfect landscape, you might really regret having paid extra for it.
Outdoor Living Features
Just like stunning landscaping, luxurious outdoor living spaces tend to make an impression on buyers. “Outdoor television setups and automatic mechanical shades are nice but can actually overwhelm buyers with maintenance,” says Fajkos. And he notes that many buyers eventually choose to customize their outdoor spaces to suit their own lifestyle, anyway. You don’t want to spend extra for something that you may very well end up paying to have removed.