I recently had a homeowner ask me that question. Many years ago, if you replaced your bathtub with a shower, it was thought to negatively affect the value of your home. Is that true today? Can you replace your bathtub with a shower and does it affect the value of your home? The best answer is, “It depends”. There are many things to consider when selling your home. Let’s go over the idea more in detail to come up with an answer.
This particular homeowner had a 1.5 bathroom home. He was getting older, knees were starting to give him trouble, and he didn’t want to keep stepping over the tub wall to get into the shower. He told me that the last time he took a bath was sometime in the early 90’s. He used the shower every day. My answer to him was to do whatever he wanted and not worry about the home value. Here’s why.
There is an internal value to a home and an external one
So, assume that you bought a home and you plan to live in it the rest of your life. If you had the money, would you make upgrades exactly how you wanted them? Isn’t that the point of home ownership? The idea that the house is something you own and can therefore change to meet your needs? In this case, it doesn’t matter about the external value of your home, because you aren’t going to be living there when you’re dead. Let someone else worry about that. One of the things I see happen is someone lives in a house with a horrible kitchen for years, and then they go and replace it with a brand new one just before they move. How did they get their money out of it? What enjoyment did they get in their new kitchen? I don’t think they got any, and that’s a shame. The things you want in your home should be more important and have more value than what someone else thinks about your home.
There are two different questions, one relates to bathrooms and one relates to home sales
I think there is a disconnect between the questions. At least, they are not necessarily related to one another. Let me explain. Let’s say you get a new roof. Does that affect the value of your home? Well, to get an offer, honestly, no one is looking at the roof. They would rather see your pretty walls and flooring. Let’s say that you paid $4,000 to have trees in the front yard removed. Will you get a higher sales price when you list your home for sale? Unfortunately, no one in the external market cares what you did with your trees before they decide to buy the house. Can you replace your bathtub with a shower? Yes. Does it affect the value of your home? Yes. Is the price effect negative or positive? It would depend on all of the other repairs or upgrades you did or didn’t make.
Hopefully some clarity about upgrades or remodeling of your home
I’ve seen kitchens that have been completely remodeled that no buyer would want. That means that the upgrade didn’t increase the value of the home, it actually lowered it. The new owners are going to have to replace the kitchen again with something that appeals to them. In that case, the kitchen in the home is actually a negative. Similarly, if you’ve owned a home for 50 years and 30 years ago you remodeled your kitchen, it’s quite possible that new home buyers will consider your remodeled kitchen old and in need of a replacement. Again, in this case, the upgrade did not affect the value of the home.
The point of the bathtub delete is that it serves a function
There is an idea that you have taken away some sort of functionality out of your bathroom with the bathtub delete, and a buyer is going to demand that functionality to purchase the home. That’s a real stretch in today’s home buying marketplace. It really depends on the buyer and it depends on the price. As an example, let’s assume you put a shower in your bathroom and got rid of the bathtub. And, let’s say you then try to sell your house 20 years later. We can’t even get an accurate weather forecast 3 days from now, do you really think anyone is going to know what someone must have in order to buy your house? But, let’s say that those home buyers were turned off to the point of no purchase offers on your home. What should you do? The same thing that you would do in any situation where there are no offers on your home. Drop the price. At the end of the day, when you make the switch from a shower to a tub, at least you got the years of service or functionality of the shower.
Some instances where I definitely wouldn’t switch a bathtub for a shower.
- You know you are going to move in less than 5 years. By the time you paid for the switch, you are not likely to even break even on the sale price versus the amount you put in for the bathtub. It’s better to just leave it for the next homeowners.
- You are making a single family home a rental property If you only have a shower and no tub, it eliminates some groups of buyers. If that is the case, you shouldn’t make the switch at all, and you should probably be looking to conserve any expenses other than routine maintenance of the home.
- You are buying the home to flip it to another home buyer. This is all about what market you are targeting with your fix and flip. You want the broadest market possible, and there’s no point to eliminating a large section of the home buying market because you have no tub.
Changing the bathtub to a shower enclosure is your decision
In the end, you should probably look at the decision to replace your bathtub with a shower as a personal preference decision and not a financial one. If you’ve decided you want a shower, you should get it. Don’t worry about some home value years down the road. It’s your house, and you should live in it the way you want it.