Thinking of selling your home? Doing less might actually earn you more in the long run.

By Jessica Ritz

Common sense indicates that any and all bells and whistles might make a house more sellable. Think twice about these four investments that pros say may be unlikely to pay off.

Tricked-out backyards

A soak in an alfresco hot tub sounds nice, but many buyers might not be willing to pay more for that perk, according to Michael Walker, an LA-based builder and designer. Instead of a spa, Walker suggests focusing on amenities with broader appeal, such as an outdoor seating area with a built-in grill. It also always helps to spruce up plantings to please the eye – but don't overdo it. "Just leave it clean and neutral and let the buyers bring their personal vision to it," recommends Steven Jones of Better Shelter Real Estate in Los Angeles.

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Swimming pools

"You always lose money on a swimming pool," Charleston, South Carolina, real estate agent Dewey Golub says. Appraisers will "give you a value, but not the full replacement value," he adds. The one potential exception might be in a saturated market with a large inventory, in which having a pool might give you a leg up among the plethora of competing properties.

System upgrades

Unless systems such as your electrical, plumbing, or HVAC are on the fritz, don’t invest time and money improving them, Golub recommends. “If you have older equipment that hasn't failed, there are home warranties to buy for that stuff,” Golub says. “If it's not broke, don't fix it." Rather than replacing all your working thermostats with brand-new Nest devices, consider upgrading the warranty instead. "It's more cost effective to buy them peace of mind than a new piece of equipment," says Golub. Realtor Ben Lee, who specializes in red-hot areas of Los Angeles, agrees: "I always advocate doing less systems work and more cosmetic work.”

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Wine cellars

According to realtors, one man’s wine cellar is likely another man’s room to turn into something else. Renovations that serve a very narrow purpose (such as adding a cellar, gym, or sauna to your home) often alienate buyers. "The more specific you make it, the smaller you make your opportunity pool," Golub says. While those seeking lavish McMansions might find more value in ornamental bonuses, most home buyers typically don’t.