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After the housing bubble popped in 2008, real estate looked pretty dismal for a while as both buyers and sellers struggled to make sense of the post-subprime market. Luckily, since about 2013, the market has been looking up again and buyers have been readying their homes for sales. Typically this means making a range of home improvements intended to boost the resale value of the home, but not all of these improvements are worth the investment.

Before you shell out the cash to improve your home, take a closer look at the financial balance. Here are 3 home improvements that aren’t worth your money. There are better ways to invest before you sell.

Bathroom Blunders

Bathrooms see some of the most heavy renovations right before sales, but think twice before adding that beautiful claw legged bathtub or other large tub. The reality is that most people don’t take baths so forfeiting a lot of floor space to a tub can take away from the bathroom rather than add to it. Instead, try installing a large shower stall - for the average adult, this is more luxurious than a tub.

Worthless Work Space

Although more people are working from home - whether by telecommuting or because they’re self-employed - home offices remain low on the totem pole when it comes to offering any significant return on investment. Compared to other rooms, they just aren’t very exciting and people will find a place to work regardless. Instead of an office, consider installing a great home theater space or spending that money in the kitchen where returns tend to be greater.

Exterior Exceptions

There are a lot of great, simple ways to upgrade the exterior of your home. Putting in a new garage door or building a deck for outdoor gatherings can make your home much more appealing on both functional and aesthetic level. On the other hand, adding a pool can be a sales disaster.

This comes as a surprise to many homeowners who think of pools as a great draw for buyers, especially families with children whom they think would get a lot of use out of a pool. Unfortunately, pools are a safety risk and an insurance hazard more than a home improvement. Because drowning is one of the most common causes of death among young children, parents tend to stray away from the danger as well as the maintenance costs and potential insurance requirements.

Improvements That Pay

Rather than building up debt trying to invest in your property, the best home improvements you can make are actually quite affordable. A fresh coat of paint, new faucets and knobs, and some neat but simple landscaping are all more appealing to buyers than heavily renovated rooms designed in ways they won’t use. By making your property more flexible rather than more focused, you open your home to a wider range of buyers - pushing potential sale prices up with lower improvement costs.