Why Are Homeowners Removing the Fireplace?

December 17, 2019

Some homeowners are viewing the fireplace as more of a liability than an asset—and they’re opting to remove it. After all, there are an average of 22,300 fireplace, chimney, or chimney connector fires each year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Some owners are removing them because of those potential dangers, but others’ reasoning is more design-oriented—they don’t want a fireplace because it’s taking up too much space in their home or even dating their home’s look.

Fireplaces can be conducive to open floor plans. “Recently, I had two clients remove their fireplaces because they were used as dividers between rooms,” Tamara Heidel, a real estate broker at Heidel Realty in Las Vegas, told realtor.com®. They were able to open up the space by removing the fireplace.

Home builders have reported that they’re adding fewer fireplaces into new homes they build. 

But losing a fireplace can affect a home’s appeal and possibly even its resale value, real estate pros say. A fireplace can particularly be viewed as a valuable amenity in colder climates, and removing one could even reduce the number of buyers drawn to a property, some agents say.

Fireplaces can add warmth and cozy vibes to listings. “Imagine sitting around the fireplace on a cold night to warm up or marking s’mores with your kids,” says Brett Ringelheim, a real estate pro with Compass in New York. It can be a sought-after amenity among buyers.

That’s why removing it seems absurd to some real estate pros. "You don't want your home to be labeled 'the house without a fireplace,' especially in cold climates," Benjamin Ross, a real estate professional with the Mission Real Estate Group in San Antonio, Texas, told realtor.com®.

Removing a fireplace isn’t easy, either. “The removal would not only be expensive but could compromise the home’s stability,” Katina Asbell, associate broker at Real Living Capital City Realty in Atlanta, told realtor.com®. The masonry base and chimney tend to be a big part of a home’s structure.

For owners who feel like their fireplace looks dated, it could be cheaper to renovate it, even with just a new coat of paint. Paint it white or replace the mantel, agents suggest.

Jared Greenberg, a real estate pro with Keller Williams Premier Realty in Katy, Texas, told realtor.com® that he’s never had buyers who didn’t purchase a home because it had a fireplace. “Even if someone doesn’t plan on using it, they can turn it into a decorative fireplace and put candles or stacked wood in it," he says.