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5 Renovations That Increase Your Home's Value, And 5 That Don't

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LearnVest
07.17.13

This post originally appeared on LearnVest, where smart people learn to manage their money and live their richest lives.

Is digging up the backyard to put in a pool worth it? What about upgrading a tired-looking kitchen with gleaming marble countertops? And what about installing high-tech speakers—throughout the house?

If you’re planning to renovate your home, you may already be asking yourself these very questions. But when it comes to increasing your home’s appraisal value, the answer to them isn’t always a resounding yes.

To help ensure that your reno dollars are well spent, we asked real estate experts across the country to weigh in on the top five home improvement dos that can boost resale value—and five don'ts that just aren't worth the extra expense.

Good Renovation #1: Upgrade Your Kitchen

All of our experts agree that a kitchen renovation should be at the top of your list, since it's the heart of a home—the room where families spend most of their time. But where to start? A couple of givens include upgrading to stainless steel appliances and installing countertops made from engineered stone or granite, because these fairly easy changes will improve the aesthetic appeal of the space. Details can also make a difference, like putting shiny knobs on cabinets and purchasing a sparkling new faucet for the sink.

Another wise kitchen upgrade? Knocking down a full or half wall, so you can connect the kitchen to a den or living room. “It makes the kitchen feel more spacious," says Phyllis Rockower, owner of the Real Estate Investors Club of Los Angeles in California. "If you’re cooking, you can still hear what people are saying during a party, or keep an eye on your kids while they’re playing.”

Good Renovation #2: Revamp Your Bathroom

A toilet that looks old, cracked or dirty (or doesn’t flush properly) is a turn-off—and the same goes for a vanity, which should be eye-catching and practical. “Install a vanity that recesses into the wall, so it saves space,” advises Alen Moshkovich, a broker for Douglas Elliman in New York City.

Proper lighting can also be a great value booster, such as adding a window in the bathroom, so natural light can illuminate the space.

There's one other more simple fix that homeowners tend to overlook: Reglazing a tub, rather than getting a new one, will save you money and upgrade the look of your bathroom.

Bad Renovation #1: Put in a Pool

You may think that a beautiful backyard pool will make buyers flock to your home, but many families don’t want to deal with the maintenance or the liability of an accidental drowning. “It’s an especially bad investment in the northeast and the northwest, where you have few hot months to actually use a pool,” says realtor Brendon DeSimone, a member of the National Association of Realtors and an expert contributor to Good Morning America and HGTV.

Bad Renovation #2: Convert a Bedroom

Turning a bedroom into a room that’s specific to your interests—such as a wine cellar or a library—is a risk. Once you start embedding wine refrigerators or bookshelves and customizing the space's structure, the room becomes less valuable, because the next owner may not want to spend money renovating that room. “If you insist on doing it, at least make it easy to ‘un-do’ later when you want to sell,” says DeSimone.

To see the other six good and bad renovations, read the full article on LearnVest.com.

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