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Will my apartment lose value if I replace my tub with a walk-in shower?

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Question:

I'm thinking of changing my tub to a more spacious walk-in shower. Will this affect my apartment's re-sale value one way or the other?

Answer:

Whether swapping your tub for a shower will affect your apartment's value will depend on a variety of factors, including the apartment's size, number of bathrooms, and the state of the city's real estate market in general, say our experts.

First, says Miller Samuel president and appraiser Jonathan Miller, "this is a market nuance that is very hard to measure and changes with market conditions." Much depends on who's buying and where, and what's happening on the real estate landscape at the time.

Generally speaking, a walk-in shower may be a plus for some buyers, a neutral for others, and a negative for others. "In part it depends upon the size of the unit," says Corcoran's Deanna Kory. "If it's a one bedroom, one-bathroom apartment, having only a shower in the apartment may not be as important, but it will cut out people who want to have a tub."

For a larger apartment, the effect of the tub-to-shower conversion will depend on where the bathroom you're updating is located, and whether the other bathrooms in the apartment have bathtubs. "If it is a two-bathroom apartment, then as long as the other bathroom has a tub, you are fine," says Kory. "But two showers and no bathtubs in a two-bathroom apartment is something we always advise against doing, as it lowers resale value."

If you expect to be marketing the apartment to families, there are other logistics to consider. "It might be appropriate here to say, 'Think of the children!'," says Miller. "If this is a two-bedroom or larger apartment, then a master bathroom modification might be an enhancement, but if it is to be done in the second bathroom, you might deter buyers with small kids." However, Miller notes, the detriment will probably come in the form of a longer marketing time, rather than a serious reduction of value.

"In my view, it’s not a huge drawback, but it may take longer to sell," concurs Gordon Roberts of Sotheby's International Realty. "If it’s a conversion that you’d really like for yourself, and you have no immediate plans to sell, I wouldn’t dissuade you from living the way you want."

The apartment's condition could also be a factor, Roberts points out. If the lack of tub is seen as a drawback, are there other good qualities (such as enticing views or amenities) to offset that? Or in an older apartment, will a newly renovated bathroom throw your outdated kitchen into a harsher perspective for buyers? 

Roberts recommends checking with your building's super, who may know if another building resident has done a similar conversion, so you could find out about their experience.

"Lastly, if you do proceed, quality counts," says Roberts. "Poorly executed renovations are a definite turn-off to buyers."


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