Keep That Tub! The Market Will Reward You


bathroom under construction with bathtub in middle

My friend April is getting ready to sell her home. She’s actually losing sleep over the great debate: Should she out the bathtubs and replace them with walk-in showers? 

A tub can add value to a home, by increasing the potential market and the likelihood of multiple offers. On average, US buyers will recoup about 60% of their investment upon the sale of the home when remodeling a bathroom with a new tub. Luxury home buyers want a tub in the master bath. Parents with small children prefer at least one tub in the home.

Let’s explore why a tub adds value to a home, whether you should keep all existing bathtubs before putting your house on the market, and how much you can expect to recoup if you remodel the bathroom and add or upgrade the bathtub.

 

 

elements of a spa bathroom - use subtle lighting

Does a Tub Add Value to a Home?

In the 2020 US Houzz Bathroom Trends, half of the people surveyed enjoy showering for relaxation, while the other half prefer bathing.

However, according to the same survey, 23% of homeowners removed the bathtub when they remodeled their bathrooms. And another 27% of homeowners who didn’t have a bathtub before the remodel chose not to add one during the renovation. (Source

Those homeowners may have made a big mistake in terms of optimizing the value of their home for resale. This is easier to understand when you look at the passion bath takers have for their practice.

 

 

contemporary freestanding tub

Luxury Homes Need a Tub in the Master Bath 

Hyleri Katzenberg is a Realtor with Compass in both Fairfield County, Connecticut and Southeast, Florida. She is also the Team Leader at Luxe Latitudes in Connecticut. Her listings start in the 1M to 1.5M range, and she services a family-oriented market. Hyleri tells me:

“Aesthetics are important for closing. When there’s a big, luxurious master bath, a bathtub puts an exclamation point on a home. And whether or not you’re a frequent bather, it’s a beautiful feature in a bathroom, especially in a master.  The luxurious master bath that lacks a bathtub doesn’t show as well. Even if you don’t use the bath for yourself, you should definitely think of it for resale, and also as a beautiful decorative work of art that makes the room complete.”

 

Mid-Range Homes Should Keep One Tub  

Tamara Berke is a Realtor with Austin City Living in Austin, Texas. She works in a residential family market where listings start at 350k-400k. Tamara sees a trend in older homes with smaller bathrooms.

She tells me that people getting ready to sell will often leave one bathtub but remove the others. They’ll replace the tubs with walk-in showers. This has the effect of both modernizing a small bathroom and making a small bathroom appear more spacious . Tamara says:

“The higher the price point, the more likely the buyers want a bathtub. In the more moderate price range, it’s 50/50 as far as who really wants a bathtub. There are people who will walk into a home, and walk right back out if there’s no tub. ” 

So keeping our potential buyers in mind, let’s dig in a little deeper and see how many Americans actually take baths, how many take showers, and how many take both. That might help me figure out if my friend April will exclude a significant segment of buyers by trading a tub for a shower.

 

The ROI on a Bathroom Remodel with Tub Upgrade

There are some excellent tools and reports to help you estimate in advance how much you’ll need to invest in a bathroom remodel with a tub, as well as how much of your investment you can expect to make back upon the sale of your home. (And if you are remodeling the bathroom, we’ll send you the cheat sheet called “8 Genius Hacks That Will Help You Save Big.” Simply click here to request it.)

 

Mid-Range Bathroom Remodel with Tub

Check the Cost vs. Value Report on remodeling.hw.net to get a really good handle on what you can expect to recoup from a bathroom upgrade. This excellent tool compares average costs for 22 remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale in 136 U.S. markets. 

Remodelers who performed a mid-range bathroom remodel invested an average of $21,377 and recouped 64% of the investment, getting back $13,688 at resale. These projects included the installation of 30 x 60 porcelain-enameled steel tubs.

 

Upscale Bathroom Remodel with Tub

You may be reluctant to add a bathtub to a master bath if you never had one and enjoyed your walk-in shower instead. But with the trend toward luxury tubs in upscale markets, consider the investment:

According to the Cost vs Value Report, in 2020 remodelers invested an average of $67,106 to do an upscale bathroom remodel. These jobs included the addition of a freestanding soaking tub with high-end faucets. Remodelers got back $37,995 at resale, recouping 56.6% on their investment.  

 

Look at City-Specific Bathroom Remodel Data

I’ve shared national data in my examples above. But be sure to drill down to search state and city data, in order to get a better handle on what to expect for your particular neighborhood and home.

For example, I live in Austin, Texas. People where I live who invested in a mid-range bathroom remodel in 2020 that included a new tub, spent an average of $19,796 and recouped 69.7% upon sale. This is 5% more than the national average.

 

Multiple Offers Help Recoup Renovation Costs

Keep in mind that in some cases, you might recover all of your investment from a bathroom remodel.

Realtor Tamara Berke says, “Don’t think that you’ll recoup dollar for dollar. But also think about whether you need to move the property to get offers. If you do get multiple offers, then you could recoup the full price.”

If you’re almost ready to put your home on the market, consider this cautionary tale Tamara told me:

“There was a big beautiful house I did an open house for another realtor. It was mostly move-in ready except that they had partially redone their bathroom. Except they used a different countertop that didn’t match the tub/shower. It was an easy fix, but it didn’t look finished. The potential buyers that came through said, ‘What’s wrong with that bathroom?’ It didn’t sell.”  

Tamara explains that she would have advised the seller to switch out the countertops. The seller either needed to make sure the property was priced correctly or make an allowance for the upgrade required and speak to it when people come through. 

 

How Long Will You Stay in Your Home?

Whenever you make home renovations, it’s wise to consider the impact on resale. But you’ll also want to take into account how long you plan to stay in your home, and how the needs of your family will evolve over that period of time.

For example, if you’re 50 and planning to stay for another 20 years, you may want to consider two things: First, you may need a more accessible bathtub such as a walk-in tub as you progress in your years. Second, your bathtub is going to be outdated by the time you move, so you may as well remodel in a way that fits your current needs.

Or let’s say you’re 25, married, no kids. You’ve got a two-bedroom, single-family home with one bath. You’re planning to move out in the next few years. 

If there’s only one bathroom, you really want to try to keep the bathtub, as long as the bathroom isn’t so incredibly small.  

 

 

child in bath by window

Bathtub Preferences in Your Target Market

When deciding whether a tub should stay or go, consider your target market for resale.

Different demographics feel differently about bathing in a tub. But at a high-level, it breaks down like this:

Age GroupPreference
Busy Millennials without KidsPrefer walk-in shower. They might want something upscale, like a his and hers.
Parents With Young ChildrenNeed at least one bathtub for bathing children. Many toddlers won't tolerate the shower.
40-Something WomenUS demographic most likely to favor bathing.
ElderlyMay view bathtubs as inaccessible. Many prefer walk-in bathtubs or walk-in showers with a bench.

 

Understanding the Bathlete

Though you might be a shower taker, if you’re about to sell a home, you’d be wise to understand the passion of many bath-takers.

Jacuzzi calls its core customers Bathletes. These are people who take a bath at least once a week. Jacuzzi set out to better understand Bathletes. The Jacuzzi Bathlete Study found that 38% of Americans bathe at least once a week, and half of all bathers are men. (Source)

Joseph Davis President of Jacuzzi Luxury Bath said: 

“The resale value of a house can be strongly affected by a bathroom upgrade, but the lack of a bathtub can be a big deterrent for the almost 40% of buyers who are avid bathers.” 

And of people who bathe, 66% bathe every single day, and 20% reported bathing every other day. (Source)

Similarly, in the UK, more than a third of respondents prefer a bath over a shower. (Source)

So would you really want to alienate a significant percentage of potential buyers by ripping out the tub before selling your home? 

 

Trending Now: Innovative Investment 

Compass, where Realtor Hyleri Katzenberg works, is on the cutting edge in terms of helping buyers make necessary renovations. They have a program called Compass Concierge

Hyleri explains that company will front the buyer funds for any remodels, in order to help get the buyer get the biggest bang for the buck at sale. The homeowner can choose their own vendor and pay back the company when the property closes.

Sounds like a win-win to me!

 

woman in bathtub with towel rolled up behind her neck

So Will a Tub Help Sell Your Home?

The bottom line is this: It only takes one person. You never know if that end buyer is someone who wants to take baths and loves baths. Having a bath isn’t going to hurt you even if you don’t use the bath, but not having a bath could stop a potential sale.

I make a mental note to pass this important point onto my friend April. I will tell her to keep (and upgrade!) the tub in her master bath, even if she replaces the other bathtubs with walk-in showers.

Shana

Shana Burg is a bath enthusiast, content strategist, and award-winning writer. She is the founder of bathtubber.com.

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