There’s no shortage of bad real estate advice out there. Today let’s look at a few common examples and talk through Zillow’s recent claim that blue bathrooms add $5,400 in value. Any thoughts? I’d love to hear your take.
Common bad real estate value advice:
1) Solar Salesman: “You will get $20,000 in value if you buy this $20,000 solar system. Buyers always pay for the full cost of the system in the resale market”
2) Enclosed Patio Contractor: “This 400 sq ft enclosed patio will definitely add 400 extra sq ft of living area to your home when you sell it.”
3) Energy Salesman: “If you do these energy upgrades for $28,000, you’ll get $28,000 back in value. There won’t be any trouble selling your home after going through the PACE program either.”
4) Landscaper: “Studies show doing $2,000 of landscaping will yield about $10,000 in value.”
5) Zillow’s Blue Bathroom: “Homes with blue bathrooms sell for $5,400 more than expected.”
What other examples can you think of?
Thoughts on Zillow’s blue bathroom:
Zillow put out a press release last week stating, “Homes with blue bathrooms, often found in hues of powder blue or light periwinkle, sold for $5,400 more than expected.” Thanks Jonathan Miller for writing about this. A few thoughts:
a) False hope: Consumers hear they can increase their value by $5,400, so they think they can just buy a gallon of paint for $30 and make some huge profit. As Jonathan Miller said, “The consumer absorbs the results as gospel without challenge.”
b) Location: Which market would this idea of blue paint apply? Is it true in Portland, Sacramento, Birmingham, and Baton Rouge? Is it equally true at $200,000 as well as $900,000? Was it true when the market was collapsing in 2007 or is it only true right now? How long will it continue to be true?
c) Buyer Behavior: When we hear such precise value claims, let’s take a step back and ask if buyers actually behave that way. Have you ever met a buyer who said, “Oh snap, that blue is on point. I’m gonna pay $5,400 more for this house now”? Probably not. To be fair we all know color does make a difference for value. Yet making such a precise value claim at $5,400 ironically doesn’t line up with how buyers tend to behave in real life.
d) Multiple factors: There are so many factors when it comes to a house selling at a certain price. Maybe the blue paint is part of the package, but what if it’s also the condition, remodeled kitchen, refinished wood floors, landscaping, updated bathrooms, location, garage size, multiple fireplaces, school district, built-in pool, etc… Maybe it’s just me, but isolating only one inexpensive factor and attributing a large value boost seems like a stretch.
My advice? Be careful when individuals without local real estate expertise start giving you specific value advice. Of course their advice might be spot on, but sometimes people say things in order to get a contract signed. Also, be wary of general stats because they might not make any sense for the local real estate market or for every property type (or market). Lastly, before doing something significant to your home, you might consider finding trustworthy real estate professionals in your local market who can help give advice or steer you in the right direction.
I hope this was interesting or helpful.
Questions: What other examples of bad real estate advice can you think of? What do you think of studies that make specific value claims? Anything else to add? I’d love to hear your take.