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Home Improvements with Low Monetary Returns

“Which home improvements bring low monetary returns?” Clients and friends usually ask the opposite, “which bring a high return”! But we think it’s important to also look at the other side. After all, the single largest asset that most people own is a home, so it’s only natural to wonder what improvements do and don’t bring a good return. Most improvements do not produce a $1 for $1 return.

Star Wars mural as an example of a home improvement with low monetary returnMurals

Star Wars fans…I hope you’re sitting down. Look at this Star Wars mural for a child’s room. Amazing!!! It’s hard to see in this photo, but there are little LED lights in the mural too, helping it light it up at night! One of the best we’ve seen in our 20+ years in real estate. And while most buyers looking at the home love it, do you think an appraiser will increase the home’s value because of this mural? Does it add financial value to the home? No. Sorry to those artistic people who are awesome at doing murals like this, but it won’t increase an appraisal’s bottom line.


Think about a gardener’s backyard home garden. Anyone who attempts gardening and keeping plants alive knows the amount of work that goes into this. The countless hours of planting, weeding, watering…there’s no arguing that its a labor of love. But will an appraiser add value to the final home’s value because of the garden? No.

Now, if the garden is in a greenhouse, that is a different story.  There are many aspects to appraising the value of a greenhouse, and it is quite complex. And because of COVID, many people have been looking into adding different types of greenhouses to their property. Do your research to determine which kind if best for you.

Gazebos and Pergolas

What about a gazebo or pergola? Doesn’t it add beauty and enjoyment to the value of a backyard? Shouldn’t this investment add value to a home’s appraisal? After all, it’s like an extension of a covered patio, right? Well, not necessarily. If we look at similar homes that sold with and without a gazebo or pergola, usually there isn’t much of a difference in the sales price. And if there isn’t a noticeable difference in the sales price, then the value is for your own personal pleasure and not monetary gains.

Now, with COVID changes things up in what we want in a property, we’re guessing the value that appraisers attribute to gazebos has increased a little, but your monetary return still won’t be all that great. But do keep in mind that your geographic location does affect the value. Do you live in Texas where the summers are grueling hot? Or do you live in Montana, where the summers are pleasant? Which area do you think would provide a higher return on a gazebo and pergola?


Ever since COVID hit, pool installations have hit the roof! Wait times to get a company to start putting in a pool can be as long as 12-18 months. The cost has also skyrocketed since demand is so high. So, our most popular home improvement question is, “how much value will a pool bring when we go to sell the home?” Usually what appraisers add is 7% to a home’s value.  Yep…you read that right…only 7%. To us, this is probably the worst return on your money. Here’s an example with the math:

Assume your home is located in a neighborhood with homes ranging around $400,000. In general (not always), the appraiser will probably take the 400,000 number and multiply it by 7% (.07). The appraiser then adds the answer, $28,000, to the home’s value.  In Central Texas, pools usually and realistically start around $75,000 and quickly go up. Only add a pool if you plan on staying in your home for a while and getting the enjoyment out of it!


Ever since COVID hit, property owners began looking at their property’s space differently. Their homes became a work space and a retreat and sanctuary. People began looking at rooms and spaces and shifted their use based on their personal needs.  So more questions arose about which changes and improvements really bring more value to a home in this COVID and post-COVID times.

And as the times change, so do the returns. Every year, Remodeling Magazine comes out with an analysis of how much return you can expect for particular improvements. So if you’re thinking of making an addition or particular change to your home, its good to do some research on your cost vs. value before starting. And at Baker Realty, we are always here to help answer questions. We can help evaluate if staying or moving is best for your situation. Contact us today so we may get started!