Everyone wants to be the coolest homeowner on the block, with a fabulous basketball court and a massive fire pit in the backyard. But when certain home amenities start to verge into bizarro world, it might be time for an intervention.
In fact, many real estate professionals say strange luxury home amenities can actually hurt a sale. And laying out wads of cash for something only a few (or just you) will enjoy won’t translate into a good return on investment (ROI).
Let’s look at swimming pools as an example. You might want to take the plunge and install one—and you might think this amenity will improve your home’s value, too.
But, at most, a pool only typically adds 7% to a home’s value. And once you add up the big bucks it takes to install and maintain a pool, that ROI is a drop in the proverbial bucket.
So, take this logic above and apply it to the following wacky home amenities—and decide for yourself: Should you spend thousands of dollars for something few people even want or use? (Spoiler alert: probably not!)
1. Pickleball courts
Pickleball is booming across the nation. As such, more homeowners are considering shelling out around $20,000 to build their own home court. But does it offer good ROI?
Damian Hall, a real estate broker with Blackstream Christie’s International in Greenville, SC, doesn’t think so. The reason? Despite its recent popularity, pickleball is still too specific to appeal to most would-be buyers. In fact, Hall recently had a listing for a home with a court, and it drew weak interest and had little impact on offers.
2. Home chapels
Freedom of religion also is a constitutional right. But that doesn’t make homes with their own chapels easy to sell.
In fact, the ROI of adding one to a home is generally pretty poor, says Khari Washington, a real estate agent with 1st United Realty in Riverside, CA.
“A chapel isn’t silly and can provide much spiritual significance,” she adds. “But that value is personal and usually can’t be passed on.”
Some buyers may also feel uncomfortable removing the religious room if their beliefs differ from the sellers.
“I don’t want to discourage anyone from putting this amenity in, but they need to know a chapel is for their benefit alone,” says Washington.
3. Bowling alleys
Generally, the fun of bowling is occasionally grabbing a group of friends, putting on those goofy shoes, and tossing back some wings and beers while you roll balls haphazardly down the lane.
The key word here, however, is occasionally. As in, once in a while—not all the time, or in the basement of your home—especially since bowling alleys cost an eye-watering $120,000 to $195,000 to install.
“I’m not a billionaire, and I don’t own a couple of $50 million properties around the world,” shares Tony Mariotti, a real estate broker and founder of RubyHome in Los Angeles. “But my hunch is that the bowling alleys you see in ultra-luxury mansions are rarely used.”
4. Elaborate water features
When it comes to over-the-top pools, Mariotti has seen it all.
“One in Beverly Hills had jets that shot arched streams of water like at an amusement park,” he says.
He also recalls a pool with jets, plus blue and green lights blinking in time to thumping outdoor music.
“It was like a water show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas—I couldn’t hold back and started to laugh,” he admits.
These look-at-me LED lights can cost anywhere from $800 to $1200 each, and simple water jets average about $1000—so they won’t break the bank. But maybe skip the lit, dancing fountains if you don’t want buyers to chuckle during your open house.
5. Gift wrapping rooms
If you are Martha Stewart—or Santa Claus—you might jump at the chance to have your very own room to tie bows in. But the truth is, most folks wrap presents on the kitchen counter or on the carpet in front of the TV, not in a specially designed room with cubbies for ribbon and rolls of paper.
But there is some good news here: A wrapping paper room can easily be transformed into a home office with a little bit of light renovation.
6. Dog spas
We love our dogs as much as anyone, but do they need their own massaging shower head? The cost of installing a free-standing pet tub alone stands at $1,000 and can soar to $3,500 or more for anything more elaborate.
Sure, you could wash other things in this doggie spa—toddlers, muddy feet from the yard, lots of zucchini. But in the end, the ROI you’d like to pocket probably isn’t going to add up to much.
However, another dog owner may find your Fido-friendly room just the thing they were searching for. In fact, 95% of pet owners consider the needs of their fluffy friends when they’re looking to buy a home, according to a recent Realtor.com survey. So maybe a small dog spa is a good idea after all!