Are luxury upgrades for your house worth the splurge? Although fancy amenities won’t usually give you full returns, they could help you edge out competitors in a softening high-end market, therefore helping you command a better sale price and attract buyers.
“More often than not, the luxury items added to a home that maybe you and I would enjoy while we’re there don’t always add dollars,” said Stacey Wyatt, a Luxury Home Specialist and top-selling agent in Roswell, Georgia. “We typically refer to those as ‘features and benefits’ because you may not always recoup those in your sale.”
Plus, some upgrades are more desirable than others. We’ve researched 5 that are currently trending and help make your house more marketable—along with some budget-friendly alternatives to keep your wallet in check.
1. Heated flooring to keep your feet toasty
Although they’re not as prominent in warmer climates like Georgia and other Southern states, heated floors are a chic upgrade, especially in master bathrooms.
“Heated flooring has been big, especially in houses with large masters [master bathrooms],” Wyatt said.
“With master bathrooms over garages, you get a lot of situations where heated floors come into play.”
Also known as radiant floor heating, this is popular in new construction and provides heat through the subfloor, warms everything in the room evenly (including chilly feet) instead of having to adjust the house’s thermostat.
When done throughout a whole zone (such as a basement) or a whole house, heated flooring will save money over the long run because of lower thermostat settings and higher energy efficiency.
Cost: Varies by company, materials, and labor. The Radiant Floor Company charges $1.75 per square foot to install hydronic radiant heat. Electric radiant floor heating costs about $6 per square foot for materials but has lower labor costs.
Low-budget option: Textured rugs, heat lamps, and wall-mounted electric towel warmers
Heated towel bars in particular add a cozy spa feel at a fraction of the price, ranging from about $200 to just under $700. This HEATGENE model at Amazon.com and a similar model from Pottery Barn are hard-wired, install on the wall, and heat towels within minutes. They also can dry delicates and wet towels.
2. A wine room for the sommelier in all of us
The wine industry nationwide has grown steadily for 24 years, with statistics showing that the United States remains the largest wine consuming country in the world. About 40% of the legal drinking population drinks wine. So it’s no surprise that wine cellars are now more desired than home theaters and can be a big draw for home buyers.
For wine collectors, a wine cellar in the basement or a devoted wine room furnished for entertaining guests is a showplace, complete with LED lighting.
In Wyatt’s market, “wine cellars definitely have been a big selling point,” he said.
Cost: Varies by size, refrigeration, and accessories, but the average homeowner spends $40,000 on a full-fledged wine cellar.
Low-budget option: Wine fridge and wine racks
In high-end homes ($800,000 to $1 million) in the Atlanta area, “almost all of them have at least a wine fridge, typically in the kitchen,” Wyatt said.
This Frigidaire model at Lowe’s ($499) holds up to 52 bottles, has an electronic temperature control, and can be built into an existing kitchen, basement, or mudroom nook for a stylish look.
Just make sure to decide whether you plan to leave or take the wine fridge with you when you sell the house, and communicate the plan to your buyers in writing.
3. An indoor bar area to watch the big game
Wet bars made a big comeback in 2018 and have become popular for entertaining, especially in homes constructed in the 1970s but renovated for modern families.
A spare living room or a basement finished with a big-screen TV, bar, and lounge area adds an appealing party space for a game night, book club, or wine tasting, according to Reader’s Digest.
Cost: Between $2,000 and $12,000, depending on size, appliances, and countertop material
Low-budget option: Built-in bar cabinets
“If there’s a nook in the living room or family room area, we have seen a lot of people buy a custom buffet-type piece … and that becomes more of a DIY, less-expensive bar,” Wyatt said.
NewAge Products offers a six-piece set with subtle wood grain featuring a wine-rack cabinet, a countertop, two display cabinets, drawer cabinets, and LED lighting for about $1,700.
4. Spa-retreat showers with fancy fixtures
Whirlpool tubs are out, and showers are in. In fact, according to the American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey, residential architects say doorless showers (56%), stall showers without tubs (54%), large walk-in showers (63%) and upscale showers (23%) are all increasing in popularity. (Percentages are calculated based on the number of architects who report a trend is increasing, minus those who say it is decreasing).
New construction in Wyatt’s area, especially in the $800,000 to $1 million range, includes rain showerheads of about 12 inches to 16 inches in the master bath, as well as body sprays in the shower. “You do have builders that are trying to put in a lot of those features and benefits to try and stand out from everybody else who may be just putting in more of a standard product.”
Cost: About $25,000 for high-end cabinets, countertops, shower, sink, toilet, bathtub, and lighting.
Low-budget option: Rainfall feature in the shower
Create that spa feeling for less by redoing the shower or at least replacing the showerhead. Signature Hardware offers a dual shower system with a 12-inch rainfall showerhead, a wall shower, and a hand shower for $749. This oversize square stainless-steel shower head mimics the feel of standing in the rain for about $250. For even more savings, try the Grohe Vitalio Joy Rain 3-Spray 10-inch fixed shower head at Home Depot for about $70.
5. An outdoor kitchen
A full-blown kitchen on the patio complete with countertops, cabinetry, and a wet bar transforms the patio into an extension of a home’s living space and appeals to home buyers shopping in the high-end range. Luxury home buyers love the ability to cook outdoors, especially in a warm climate, without having to dash in and out of the home for food and utensils, says Reader’s Digest.
Cost: About $12,000 to $20,000.
Low-budget option: Built-in grill and sink, or just an updated patio.
Again, scaling down the idea can make a big impression for less. Weber’s six-burner natural gas grill in stainless steel with a grill cover and built-in thermometer costs about $3,000. You also can arrange a patio with cushioned seating, end tables, and a fire pit to boost the appeal of outdoor living.
Do your homework before you commit to any major upgrades
Remember before you decide to upgrade, consider what works best for your geographic area and your community. That can make the difference between a pool addition being a selling point for buyers…versus a total maintenance and insurance hassle that no one wants to take on.
If you’re into the luxury lifestyle but want to be conscious about when the time comes to sell your home, chat with a local real estate agent about what features make buyers tick in the area. “[Some of these things] will definitely help separate houses, and probably would help your days on market,” Wyatt said. “With buyers thinking, ‘Hey, there are some cool features.'”