Upgrades That Won’t Boost Your Home’s Value in Santa Cruz

Upgrades That Will Not Increase The Value of Your Home

When it comes to home improvements, not all upgrades are created equal. While some renovations can significantly increase the value of your property, others may have little to no impact or even decrease its overall worth. If you’re a homeowner in Santa Cruz, California, it’s essential to consider which upgrades are worth your investment. In this article, we’ll explore various home improvement projects that may not boost your home’s value in Santa Cruz and provide you with alternatives that can yield a higher return on investment.

Upscale Kitchen Remodel: A Surprising Return on Investment

An upscale kitchen remodel may seem like a dream come true for any home chef. However, in Santa Cruz, the return on investment for such an upgrade may not be as high as expected. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2020 Cost vs. Value report, an upscale kitchen renovation recoups only 54% of its cost in added value. This means that if you invest $50,000 in a high-end kitchen remodel, you can expect to see a return of approximately $27,000 when it’s time to sell your home.

To make the most of your kitchen upgrades in Santa Cruz, focus on small, cost-effective improvements that can yield a bigger payoff. Consider refinishing cabinets, replacing outdated hardware, or upgrading appliances with energy-efficient models. These upgrades can freshen up your kitchen without breaking the bank while still appealing to potential buyers in the Santa Cruz market.

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Swimming Pool: A Luxury That Comes at a Cost

While a swimming pool can be a source of joy and relaxation, it may not be the best investment for homeowners in Santa Cruz. The installation and maintenance costs associated with pools can be significant, not to mention the potential increase in energy bills and homeowner’s insurance premiums. In Santa Cruz, where the weather is often mild, a swimming pool may not be utilized to its full potential, leading to a lower return on investment.

According to HouseLogic, the value added by an in-ground pool may only increase by around 7% in certain circumstances. To make the most of your outdoor space in Santa Cruz, consider alternative options that can provide both aesthetic appeal and functionality. Focus on creating a well-maintained backyard with landscaping, outdoor seating areas, and a barbecue space. These upgrades can enhance your outdoor living experience without the added costs and maintenance associated with a swimming pool.

High-End Landscaping: Curb Appeal vs. Return on Investment

Landscaping plays a crucial role in enhancing a home’s curb appeal and creating a welcoming environment. However, investing in expensive landscaping projects in Santa Cruz may not yield a significant return on investment. While a beautifully landscaped yard can certainly attract potential buyers, the added maintenance required for high-end landscaping could deter some individuals.

Instead of focusing on extravagant landscaping features, opt for a well-maintained garden that is easy to care for throughout the year. Consider planting native plants and drought-tolerant species that thrive in Santa Cruz’s Mediterranean climate. This approach not only reduces water consumption but also appeals to environmentally-conscious buyers. Additionally, consider adding simple decorative elements, such as window boxes or garden ornaments, that can be easily removed if necessary.

Sunroom Addition: A Costly Upgrade with Limited Returns

Unless sunrooms are common in your Santa Cruz neighborhood, a sunroom addition may not significantly increase your home’s value. While a sunroom can provide a pleasant space to enjoy the outdoors, the high cost of installation and limited return on investment make it a questionable choice for homeowners in Santa Cruz.

On average, a sunroom addition can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $70,000, but it may only provide a return of around 49% when it comes time to sell. Moreover, the energy costs associated with a sunroom can be substantial, as glass does not provide insulation during the hot summers or cold winters in Santa Cruz.

If you still desire additional living space, consider other alternatives that offer a higher return on investment. For example, converting an existing space such as a basement or garage into a living area can be a more cost-effective solution. Alternatively, consider adding a deck or patio that allows for outdoor enjoyment while blending seamlessly with Santa Cruz’s natural beauty.

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Whirlpool Tubs and Luxury Bathroom Upgrades: A Risky Investment

Similar to swimming pools, luxury bathroom upgrades such as whirlpool tubs may not be the best investment for homeowners in Santa Cruz. These additions can be expensive to install, require constant maintenance, and may result in higher monthly energy bills. Furthermore, potential buyers with young children may view whirlpool tubs as safety hazards.

If a hot tub or whirlpool tub is a must-have for you, consider a portable option that can be easily removed or taken with you when you move. Alternatively, focus on upgrades that have broader appeal and functionality, such as walk-in showers. These features not only cater to a wider pool of buyers but also offer convenience and accessibility.

When it comes to luxury bathroom upgrades, avoid over-personalization and excessive customization. Features such as waterfall showers and highly personalized finishes may only appeal to a niche market, limiting the overall value of your home in Santa Cruz.

Too Much Customization: A Potential Turn-Off for Buyers

While it’s natural to want to personalize your home and make it uniquely yours, excessive customization can negatively impact your home’s value in Santa Cruz. Quirky tiling, bold paint colors, and other highly specific design choices may not appeal to the broader pool of buyers. These unique elements can be seen as distractions or added expenses, as potential buyers may need to invest time and money to undo or remodel these personalized features.

To maintain your home’s value and attract a wider range of buyers, opt for more neutral and timeless design choices. Focus on creating a space that is versatile and can easily accommodate different styles and preferences. This approach ensures that your home appeals to a larger audience, increasing its marketability and potential resale value in Santa Cruz.

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Research and Consultation: Key Steps Before Renovating

Before embarking on any home improvement project in Santa Cruz, it’s crucial to conduct thorough research and seek guidance from professionals. Here are some essential steps to consider:

Research Before You Renovate

Before diving into renovations, take the time to research the Santa Cruz market and understand the norms and trends in your neighborhood. Look at comparable homes for sale in your area to ensure that your planned improvements align with local expectations. Consider the average price range of homes in your neighborhood and aim to have similar features to avoid pricing your property out of the market.

Consult with a Local Real Estate Agent

To gain insights specific to the Santa Cruz market, consult with a local real estate agent who specializes in your neighborhood. They have in-depth knowledge of the local trends and can provide valuable advice on which upgrades are worth considering. A real estate agent can also help you compare your home to recently sold properties to determine its current value and potential improvements that can increase its appeal to buyers.

Avoid Going Overboard

While it’s essential to improve your home, it’s equally important not to go overboard with renovations. Avoid over-the-top upgrades or excessive customization that may not align with the local market. Instead, focus on improvements that enhance your home’s functionality, appeal to a broader audience, and provide a reasonable return on investment. Keep in mind that renovations should enhance your enjoyment of the home rather than solely serving as an investment.


When it comes to home upgrades in Santa Cruz, it’s crucial to consider the potential return on investment. Not all improvements will increase your home’s value, and some may even have a negative impact. By avoiding upscale kitchen remodels, swimming pools, high-end landscaping, sunroom additions, overly personalized upgrades, and excessive customization, you can focus on enhancements that provide a higher return on investment. Remember to research the Santa Cruz market, consult with a local real estate agent, and avoid going overboard with renovations. By making informed decisions, you can ensure that your home improvements align with the market and maximize your potential resale value in Santa Cruz.

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Seb Frey helps long-time Bay Area homeowners make their next move easily the next one yet. If you're looking for a minimum of hassle, maximum net cash on sale, and certain results, contact Seb today.