3 Upgrades That Add Little to No Value to Your Investment Property

by | BiggerPockets.com

Myth: All home upgrades will increase your home’s net value.

Truth: You’ve just wasted your time and money.

Yes, like your teacher always told you, it is a free country, and you are definitely more than welcome to make any kind of upgrade you want to your own house. But unless it was just for the sake of your own pleasure, I wouldn’t advise the following renovations, simply because addition does not equal profit.

However, if you are wishing to upgrade your house’s net worth (beyond the cost of the initial renovation itself), you should definitely keep in mind that some upgrades that may seem valuable to you might not be of any significant worth to potential buyers. So here are three of most common upgrades that quite possibly won’t see a return on your investment.

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3 Property Upgrades That Add Little to No Value to Your Investment

Addition of a Pool

Honestly, pools are quite the toss up when it comes to the value of the house. It is possible that you might see some sort of return for this addition, but more often than not, it would not even be enough to pay for the addition itself. 

Related: The Top 7 Upgrades Tenants Seek When Searching for a Rental

This is because having a pool onsite could be a turnoff to some potential buyers. A large proportion of homebuyers do not wish to have to keep up with the maintenance of the pool, and those on tighter budgets would most likely not want to cope with the extra expenses that come with owning a pool. Not to mention, it poses as a safety hazard for potential buyers with young children. If you do decide to add a pool, make sure it is a desirable home feature in your local market amongst buyers.   


Highly Customized Designs

Be sure to stay FAR away from designs that are too personalized. This is purely because your idea of a dream kitchen might not be everyone else’s idea of a dream kitchen. So unless you are planning on living in your house for many years to come, I would recommend thinking long and hard about renovations that are too “custom designed.”

Related: The Top 5 Items to Replace or Upgrade in Every Rental Property You Buy

Over-the-Top Luxury

Always remember the personality of your neighborhood when you are contemplating an upgrade because if your upgrade is too over-the-top for your area, you will be causing the alienation of buyers on two fronts: those potential homebuyers that like your neighborhood might not be able to afford your house, and those potential homebuyers that can actually afford your house would probably prefer to live in a more luxurious area. So being slightly nicer than the surrounding houses can work in your favor, but being a lot more lavish will not.



If you think there is the slightest chance of selling your home in the future, think first before making costly upgrades. The worst thing you can do is dump your hard earned money into renovations that won’t benefit the value of the home if you decide to sell.

Investors: What would you add to this list?

Don’t forget to leave a comment!

About Author

Sterling White

With just under a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Sterling currently manages over $10MM in capital, which is deployed across a $26MM real estate portfolio made up of multifamily apartments and single-family homes. Through the company he co-founded, Holdfolio, he owns just under 400 units. Sterling was featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast and has been contributing content to BiggerPockets since 2014, with over 200 posts on topics ranging from single-family investing and apartment investing to wholesaling and scaling a business.


  1. margaret smith on

    One of my favorite gurus, Robyn Thompson, Queen of Rehab, used to tell us to stand at the street facing out from the property- look left, look right. How is the landscaping? Paint on houses? State of exterior repairs? Mailbox status? That is your neighborhood. That sets your basic standard. Going over the neighborhood standard in any of a number of ways, inside or out, will not bring you any return on investment.

    Similarly, if you keep the house as a rental, don’t let your standard (or tenants’ standard) of overall curb maintenance drop below the others. You want no one to suspect that this is a rental house among home owner properties, as you do want to uphold the values of the neighborhood and attract good tenants during vacancies, and eventually sell at a great price.

  2. Mindy Jensen

    I would add one caveat to the pool suggestion: Pools in places where you can’t use them for more than 5 months out of the year. I had an inground pool in a house in Illinois, and the top complaint when I went to sell it was the pool. Florida and California, pools are far more common and even desired.

    Good article, Sterling.

  3. David Crutcher Jr.

    Great article! I say this because as a newbie, I ALWAYS thought adding a pool would definately add value. No question. This is the reason I love BP, the people are awesome! @Margeret Smith added something that makes so much sense when thinking of a pool. Thanks guys

    • dell schlabach

      We are in Ohio and have filled in a lot of pools over the past 10 years. Very few buyers want a pool in this area. But as Mindy mentioned some areas it definitely adds value.

      For example we spend some time on Marco Island looking at properties to rehab a couple weeks ago, we were told by the realtor that not having a pool we should expect to get 50k less for the same house. Entry level houses were 500-700k.

      Sarasota Fla, another area we are looking at pools definitely add significant value. So it’s important to know your market.

  4. David duCille

    Even in Florida where pools are super desirable they only add about 15k of value to a home in the eyes of an appraiser and they cost about 30k to put in. Never a good idea , but if you have an opportunity to buy a home that already has a pool.down here than it can definitely be worthwhile

    • Sterling White

      Great question Emanuele. When making these types of upgrades you have to think of your cost and how that corresponds to adding value to home i.e. as stated above the cost of pool installation can cost approx. 30k but only add 15k of value to the property.

      Hope that helps

  5. I think it’s important to mention that if you are investing in a neighborhood where the pool is common it is desirable to buy a home with one. If the neighborhood does not commonly have pools and the home you are contemplating purchasing does it might give you some extra pause before purchasing it especially if the seller wants a premium for it. Also having a pool in the back yard where the pool is the yard is undesirable

  6. Billy Larkin

    This is a very good article. I am an appraiser and I am constantly asked similar questions and the answers are the same. First and foremost upgrade a home for nothing more than your own pleasure. The ideas of upgrading certain elements goes well beyond the topics covered in the article.

  7. Benjamin Margolit

    Good article Sterling. Comp analysis is at the root of all redevelopment underwriting. Not only will it help you determine which interior and exterior finishes to choose, but ultimately what amenities (pool, patio, rooftop deck, etc.) to provide, as well as how much you can realistically charge in rent, post-redevelopment.

    If your property is a rental property, especially multi-tenant, always be cautious of upgrades that increase your controllable operating expenses (COE). Do your research (comp analysis) and be certain that the upgrade you provide will garner the increase in rent necessary to not only cover the increase in COE, but also enough extra to make your investment worth while… especially if you plan to value your property at sale as a function of NOI.


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