Why Real Estate Agents Are Warning Against These 4 “Luxury” Upgrades

updated Jun 24, 2021
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When it comes to a home’s aesthetic, what you see is not always what you get. There are some commonly used features and materials that may look luxurious, but in reality, are of poor quality.

I spoke to some real estate agents to get their insight on home features that look high-end but are all show. Don’t overpay for a pretty facade — here, four things to look out for:

Imitation Hardwood Floors

Don’t be fooled by engineered wood designed to look like the real thing. Though the two might look the same, genuine hardwood floors are more expensive and will last much longer than their imitation counterpart, according to Haley Heyer of Compass real estate in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Inexpensive Cabinetry with High-End Handles

Many homeowners disguise the poor quality of kitchen cabinets with a high-end handle or knob, says Michael J. Franco of Compass in New York City. The goal is to hopefully distract would-be buyers with something impressive-looking.

To avoid getting duped, Heyer recommends opening cabinets to check the substance and ensure that they properly function.

Knockoff Lighting

If you see what looks like a classical lighting fixture, don’t be so sure that it’s an original.

“Many retailers sell inexpensive replicas of iconic designs as well as copies of pieces by high-end brands,” says Heyer. “If the source of a fixture is important to you, be sure to verify its origins.” 

While a replica may not compromise function, you’ll want to prevent overpaying for a generic.

Subway Tiling

Subway tiling is a popular choice in kitchens and bathrooms, but not all forms of this classic look are created equal. 

Like high-end handles on low-end cabinetry, Franco says that homeowners may use splashy decorative trim or inlay (like glass mosaic tiles) to “distract” from low-end (non-porcelain) subway tile. 

Buying a new build? Watch out for these four common construction shortcuts.