It’s always wise to do a cost-benefit analysis when deciding which home improvements to make. The ideal project increases your home’s value, creates greater buyer appeal to make it easier and more profitable to eventually sell, and somehow improves your monthly cashflow. Let’s see how four home luxury trends gaining popularity measure up to that yardstick.
1. Saltwater Pools
Saltwater pools have become so popular in the U.S. that they now account for 70 to 80% of those being installed. They’re appealing because they use a salt-water generator to produce the minimum amount of chlorine needed to keep the pool clean. This eliminates the routine cost and chore of adding chlorine.
Additionally, the way these pools work reduces swimmers’ exposure to chlorine’s typically harsh effect on the nose, eyes, skin and hair. Saltwater can also have other health benefits, such as improving your mood, immune system, breathing and sleeping. And a healthier you can mean saving money on things like medical and prescription expenses. On the negative side, salt can corrode anything metal in or around your pool and even stain patio stones or decking if not properly sealed.
As for the cost, Angi estimates an average of $23,000 to install a traditional in-ground pool. Upgrading to a saltwater pool only adds about $2,000 to the project—even if you choose a more expensive or bigger pool design—because the bulk of the cost goes to the land excavation and pool structure itself, not the saltwater generator.
Adding any type of pool, including a saltwater one, is most likely to increase the value of your home if you live in a warmer climate and/or in a high-end neighborhood with significant demand for pools. If the conditions are right, HGTV says your home’s value could increase by 5 to 8%. Even so, appraisers warn that you may not recoup your entire investment, especially if you spend significantly more than the average amount on your pool.
2. Whole-house Water Purification Systems
A whole-house water purification system—meaning it includes all your home’s taps—is another on-trend luxury that appeals especially to health-conscious owners and buyers. Fortunately, it comes with a much lower price tag than a pool. HomeGuide says you’ll spend between $4,800 and $8,000 to install a reverse osmosis system, a comprehensive set-up that does everything from softening your water and using UV-light filters to kill bacteria and viruses to removing unwanted minerals and sediments.
Benefits include cleaner drinking, cooking, bathing and laundry water, which can contribute to better health and keep your clothes in better shape. In addition, a water purification system can reduce scaling on showers, sinks, tubs and pipes, lowering the risk of clogs and extending the lifespan of these things and of water-using appliances.
According to HGTV, you can potentially see the value of your home increase with the addition of a water purification system if you live in an area with hard water or where there is a safety concern about your water source. A water filtration system was among the features used by the Robb Report to tout a $32 million luxury listing in Malibu.
3. Solar Panels
That same Malibu home also comes with solar panels as part of its eco-conscious design, something the Robb Report notes is appealing to the growing number of buyers interested in sustainability. The report’s list of luxury homes featuring solar panels also includes Colorado homes going for $6.75 million and $28.8 million.
MarketWatch found that installing solar panels in 2023 typically cost anywhere between $14,250 and $28,500, which is approximately 50% less than the investment required for this upgrade 10 years ago. On top of falling prices, qualifying homeowners can get a 30% residential clean energy tax credit from the federal government, further reducing the cost. Some states offer similar tax credits or property tax exemptions on top of the federal incentive to go green.
Additional research by MarketWatch indicates that solar panels can increase your home’s value by as much as $20 for every $1 saved annually in energy bills. So, if your energy bills drop $500 a year to your budget’s benefit, your home’s value could potentially increase by $10,000. Zillow also reports that homes with solar panels sell for 4.1% more than those without them.
4. Smart Technology
Then there’s the smart home trend, which is unlikely to fade in popularity anytime soon. On the contrary, the U.S. smart home market is predicted to grow about 10.2% annually over the next four years, reaching $93.59 million by 2027. The Pinnacle List goes so far as to claim that home automation is fast becoming a prerequisite for top-tier luxury residences.
The average investment for a basic home automation system is less than $1,000 per Angi, but a custom system (connected to just about everything from smart appliances to vacuum cleaners, lights, lawnmowers, toilets, entertainment devices, security systems and more) can run as high as $150,000. These are likely the types of systems noted by the Robb Report to help justify $1.5 million and $6.75 million luxury listings.
In addition to owner convenience and buyer appeal, having 24/7 smart control of everything in your home can help reduce energy costs and a security system can help lower your homeowners premium.
If any of these trends pique your interest, an experienced realtor can tell you what buyers in your area expect, demand and are willing to pay for having them in a home.