I’ve been asked this question twice this week. Is it a problem to remove the tubs from each bathroom? People planning a remodel asked if it was a big deal or not to only have a walk-in shower in each bathroom. Here are my thoughts, and I really want to hear from you too. Anything to add?
UPCOMING SPEAKING GIGS:
3/8/24 Redfin (private)
3/11/24 Yolo Association of Realtors (YAR only)
3/19/24 WCR Gold Country (details here)
3/21/24 2024 Market Update for Brent Gove Team (big event free)
3/26/24 Orangevale MLS meeting 9am
3/27/24 SAFE Credit Union Lunch & Learn (TBA)
4/11/24 Lindsay Carlisle Event (private)
4/25/24 HomeSmart iCare Realty (details TBA)
4/26/24 Prime Real Estate (private)
5/9/24 Empire Home Loans (details TBA)
5/15/24 Investor Meetup (details TBA)
6/11/24 Elk Grove Regional MLS Meeting 8:30am
6/13/24 Sacramento Realtist Association (details TBA)
It’s not a black and white answer: There’s not one black-and-white answer that applies to every house, price range, location, or market. Bottom line. But backing up, part of the fun of working in real estate is figuring out how to answer questions like this in a way that is balanced and hopefully reflective of the sentiment in the marketplace.
Generally, here’s what I think: I have mixed feelings. Most of all, I favor keeping one tub in the house somewhere just in case it’s needed. This seems wise because a tub is good for kids especially, and you never know when you might need to soak (or soak something). Moreover, if you ever want to do viral cold plunge videos inside your home, then you’re good to go. Haha. Seriously though, tubs can be very important to some buyers, and it can limit the pool of prospective future buyers by removing a tub. Yet, part of me isn’t as concerned for a property that is going to attract a small household or older individuals (such as a “move up” neighborhood). Personally, I’m at a stage in life where the tub just isn’t important any longer now that the kids are grown. So, if I was shopping for a home today, and there wasn’t a tub, it wouldn’t be a deal-killer (especially since both bathrooms were likely recently remodeled). But that’s just me. And it doesn’t matter what I think. What does the market think?
Trends change: What people prefer is constantly changing, and the same is true with tubs and showers. At the very least, it’s more common to see a tub in the primary bathroom removed during a remodel. But what about the hall tub? Well, that’s what this post is about.
It’s never just about resale value: Often we talk about doing something to a home only for the sake of resale value, but in my opinion, it’s never just about what future buyers will pay. What do you want out of your home? What’s going to make you happy? My advice? Keep an eye on resale value if that’s important to you, but don’t neglect what you really want to do because you only get one life. On that note, in case my wife is reading… We’re going to build a private beach in the backyard with a helicopter pad and skate park.
Asking people what they think: Without exhaustive research, we don’t have the benefit of running comps with and without tubs to see if there is any statistical price difference, but we can ask people what they think. I realize that’s subjective, but part of real estate knowledge and expertise is being in touch with what people are thinking and saying.
My Twitter (X) poll this week: This one had 658 votes, and 56% of people said the lack of a tub would be a clear negative. It’s important to note the hesitation here with “maybe” and “it depends” too. In other words, there was strong potential for no tubs to be a negative for about 75% of people. Yet, about 25% said it was no big deal if there wasn’t a tub, and that’s also something we want to consider. The comments are insightful too. See poll here.
My Instagram poll: This poll from my stories only had 153 votes, but what I really like about Instagram is you can see who votes. I know that sounds creepy, but it’s powerful for me when I’m trying to understand an aspect of the market. What’s especially valuable is to see local real estate agents I know vote one way or another. In short, there are people on both sides of yes and no that I have tremendous respect for, though the poll weighed heavily in favor of it being a negative without a tub.
55+ communities: These days builders in 55+ communities are tending to have zero threshold showers in the primary bathroom, but the hall bathroom in many cases still has a tub. I don’t have exhaustive analysis for every 55+ property, so I’d love to hear from specialists, but this seems meaningful. Yet, yesterday a real estate agent was telling me about a friend in Sun City Lincoln Hills who is wanting to remove the hall tub, so there are clearly people who don’t want a tub in 55+ communities.
Splitting hairs to prove an adjustment: Okay, so most people want a tub, but does removing the hall tub damage value? Well, I think that’s hard to answer because we don’t have much data. Not only are there few homes without a tub, but in our local MLS, it would be incredibly difficult to even find homes without tubs because the local custom is to consider it a full bathroom even if it doesn’t have a tub. I realize some markets say it’s a 0.75 bathroom if there isn’t a tub, but that’s not what we do locally. Has marketability been damaged though? Probably so since there aren’t as many willing buyers. But does that lead to an automatic value impact if there are say 25% of buyers who would still buy the house? (using the figure from my poll). That’s the tricky part. Some of this will come down to what individual buyers think, how much they love the rest of the house, and probably how much supply is on the market. We also have to consider location since this can likely be a more glaring issue for a house with a family with kids rather than something an older adult might buy. I’ve found sometimes a home can have a negative aspect for lots of people, but that doesn’t always mean it’s going to sell for less. Yet, sometimes when something is a big deal for many people, there can be a loss in value. Maybe we don’t have comps to support an adjustment, but when a property is listed for sale and the price has to be lowered to find the right buyer, that sounds like data to me. Ultimately, all I’m saying is this is challenging to actually prove statistically, and there isn’t one quick answer.
Advice for owners & looking to the comps: What I would recommend for any owner considering removing a tub is to talk to a few local real estate professionals to ask their opinion. Do you think this could damage value? Would it be a negative for buyers or an asset? Have you ever seen a house sell without a tub? Was it a big deal or not? And look to the comps. Scour every new listing that comes on the market to see what the bathrooms are like. If there aren’t any homes without tubs, that could be very telling for you. And if the homes without tubs are selling on par with other units, then maybe it’s a non-issue in terms of value. In contrast, if homes without tubs are awkward and taking a hit to value, then that’s something to consider if resale value is important to you. Most of all, consider prospective buyers for your home. Do you think buyers are going to want a tub? That’s reasonable to ask, so this is where we have to be in touch with the buyer profile in the neighborhood. Ultimately, do whatever the heck you want, but keep the future market in mind if that’s important to you.
Thanks for being here.
Questions: What do you think about removing a tub? How would you answer this question if someone asked you? Any stories or real-life examples to share? I’d love to hear.