Q: I recently bought a two-story house in Ridgewood, Queens, with a bathroom on each floor. The upstairs bathroom has a tub, and the downstairs one has a standing shower. I’d like to renovate the upstairs bathroom and replace the tub with a nice walk-in shower. But is this a good investment? Should I think more about resale, or designing the bathroom that I really want?
A: The answer to your question has little to do with the merits of bathtubs, and is really about why you’re renovating.
People renovate either because they want to make their living space more pleasant, or because they want to sell the property for more money. Sure, there’s some overlap, but if you plan to fix up the property and flip it, then you should be making design choices that are as neutral as possible, choosing finishes that will appeal to the widest number of tastes. And most people like bathtubs.
“I’ve had clients that have turned down really, really nice houses because there is no bathtub,” said Kevin McWilliams, an associate broker with Living New York. “It’s really going to limit the buyer pool if they do not have a bathtub.”
A 2021 report by the National Association of Home Builders found that 74 percent of buyers wanted both a tub and a shower in the primary bathroom. If you plan to sell the house anytime soon, you’ll be facing another challenge: The sales market is slow right now, so a house without a tub will be at a disadvantage.
But if you plan to stay for a while, the housing market may not matter — eventually, your house will accrue value regardless of what finishes you add. Ten years from now, “a house in Ridgewood is going to be worth a lot of money,” whether it has a soaker tub or a walk-in shower, said Jonna Stark, an associate broker with Brown Harris Stevens in Long Island City, Queens.
So if you plan to stay, put in the shower that will make you happy. (Although you might find that you occasionally need a tub, like if you have an injury or need to bathe a baby or a pet.) It’s your money and you have to live in the house. “Enjoy the space you bought, love your home,” Ms. Stark said.
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