How Removing a Fireplace Could Affect Your Home’s Value
Whether you’re roasting chestnuts or warming up your cold hands, a fireplace can be an impressive and useful home decor. But it can also be dangerous.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are an average of 22,300 fires on chimneys, chimneys, or chimney connections each year. In certain circumstances, the fireplace can be a liability rather than an asset.
Some homeowners may choose to remove this fiery feature. But will that affect your property value or sabotage your home sale?
Here are a few factors to consider.
Buyers can expect a fireplace in your climate
Not surprisingly, a fireplace is most useful in regions where temperatures drop below freezing.
“In the Midwest, many buyers consider a functional fireplace a must and only look at homes with fireplaces,” he says Barbara Balossi, a real estate agent at Keller Williams Laguna in Orange County, California who also worked as a real estate agent in St. Louis. Hence, she says, removing a fireplace could reduce the number of buyers interested in your property ad.
“You don’t want your home to be labeled ‘a house without a fireplace’, especially in cold climates,” he says Benjamin Ross, a real estate agent and investor with Mission Real Estate Group based in San Antonio.
In warmer climates, a home without a fireplace may not be a deal breaker.
Jared Greenberg, a real estate agent at Keller Williams Premier Realty in Katy, TX, says it isn’t a big deal in his area if houses don’t have a fireplace, as the weather doesn’t warrant their use for most of the year.
“For this reason we have recently seen the trend that many new builders do not use chimneys and offer them to the buyer as an upgrade option,” he says.
Fireplaces can add a unique design element
Even if they rarely use it, buyers may like a fireplace because it can beautify a room – or make it feel cozier.
“With a fireplace, a home can feel very family-friendly and comfortable,” he says Brett Ringelheim, Licensed Real Estate Agent with Compass in New York. “Imagine sitting by the fireplace on a cold night, warming up or doing s’mores with your kids.”
Fiona Dogan, a real estate agent at Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty in Rye, NY, agrees.
“Fireplaces are a sought-after feature with home buyers, and removing those fireplaces will negatively affect the value of your home,” says Dogan.
If it needs to be renovated, Dogan recommends replacing a wood-burning fireplace with a gas-burning option that is easier to use. While she says they probably aren’t the number one amenity for buyers, they could determine whether or not the home is on the buyer’s shortlist.
Distance can be a great ordeal
If a fireplace is a thorn in the side or not working properly, it should sometimes be removed. However, this can be a huge hassle.
“Often times, the masonry floor and chimney are a big part of the structural integrity of the home,” he says Katina Asbell, Associate Broker at Real Living Capital City Realty in Atlanta. “In such a case, the removal would not only be expensive, it could also affect the stability of the house.”
If you’re really not happy with the way your fireplace looks, paint it a fresh color like white or replace the mantelpiece with something a little more trendy.
Chimneys are space hogs
One of the few times when taking out a fireplace might make sense is when space is tight. Some Asbell customers recently saw this happen in a home they bought in Atlanta.
“The habitable area on the main level was 800 square feet, and the living area had a large, prefabricated fireplace with a fireplace,” says Asbell. The couple removed the fireplace, which gave them more space and made the room feel more open.
Tamara Heidel, a real estate agent at Heidel Realty in Las Vegas, says she loves fireplaces but admits that they don’t always help open floor plans.
“Recently, two customers removed their fireplaces because they were being used as partitions between rooms,” she says. This opened up the space and made the design of the home more attractive to buyers looking for open living space.
Should you remove your fireplace?
When it comes to taking out your fireplace, is that a smart move? Our experts say that in most cases you should just leave your fireplace where it is.
In the thousands of homes Greenberg has shown over the years, he’s had buyers who said they must have a fireplace and buyers who didn’t care. But he says he has never met a buyer who refused to see a house because it had a fireplace. He would never advise removing a chimney unless there were specific reasons to justify the action.
“Even if someone doesn’t plan to use it, they can turn it into a decorative fireplace and put candles or stacked wood in it,” he says.