Accessibility vs. Resale Value


Dear David,

My husband has difficulty stepping into the bathroom tub. We are considering replacing the tub with a walk-in shower. What impact might this have on resale value if we were to sell our home? SAFETY-MINDED

DEAR SAFETY: To determine the impact on property value, it would be helpful to know a little more about your house. Is the tub in question part of your main bathroom? If there’s another bathtub in the house, it’s very common to put a walk-in shower in an ensuite.

But let’s step back and look at the bigger picture, since there’s more to think about here than resale value.

Whether it’s stepping into the tub, washing floors, cutting grass or shovelling sidewalks, there are certain parts of life that become more difficult as we age. Many of these challenges have fairly simple solutions, and if you’re happy in your home, it’s worth finding a work-around that allows you to age in place safely.

Previous generations often took a “do-it-yourself” approach to home ownership. They managed most things by themselves, and when it became too much, they transitioned into some form of assisted living.

These days we recognize that emotional and spiritual needs are as important as physical ones, and that our homes play a significant role on our overall well-being. With this in mind, a growing number of homeowners are choosing to make their homes more adaptive. It may cost them $35 to shovel snow or $100 to have a cleaning service visit a few times a month, but these relatively minor expenses let them enjoy the homes they love with no significant change in lifestyle.

But staying in the family home isn’t for everyone. Many of my downsizing clients are looking for a simple and carefree retirement with no home maintenance worries. I often describe their transition into retirement lifestyle living as the “retro teenager” stage: they’ve got someone else to cook and clean, which leaves them free to travel and spend time as they please, backed by the bank account they dreamed about in high school.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that when it comes to changing your tub for a shower, you should make your decision based on comfort, safety and whether you want to stay in your home for the foreseeable future. A walk-in shower is a relatively small investment in terms of your overall property value, so if it keeps you safe and happy, it’s money well spent. Go ahead and call your contractor.

UPDATE: a generous reader saw this story and sent us a link to the Senior’s Home Safety Tax Credit, which may help you or someone you care about recoup the cost of accessibility updates in 2021-2022. Check it out here:

PRO TIP: There are many options and price points when it comes to tubs and showers. Choose the one that works for you, and if a future buyer doesn’t love it, they can change it back in five or ten years. #Advice #AskDavid #TheNegotiator

David is a top-selling Broker in Kitchener-Waterloo Region. He works personally with you when selling or buying your home. Call or text today for your free home evaluation! 519-577-1212.