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"Fixing" to sell
Old 05-08-2015, 03:53 PM   #1
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"Fixing" to sell

This home inspection thread made me thing about an idea I've been mulling.

We have too much house, with too much yard, in a neighborhood that's pretty stable, but older. One block is not so great, the next one is much better - etc. It's pretty mixed. Our block is great - nice custom homes from the 60's and we've upgraded the bathrooms, kitchen (15 years ago) and we feel like it's probably the nicest house on our street.

We plan to downsize in ~3 years when I retire, and I want an objective opinion on what we should do out of necessity to help it sell.

Examples:

the engineered wood floor in the dining/entry is pretty banged up from years of big dogs sliding and jumping. I think we have to fix that as it's a first impression thing. Since it's engineered, it probably means replacement. Real wood this time?

The HVAC works great, but is 20+ years old.

Finally, my question: Would a real estate agent come tell us what we really need to do, so we can get going on it, and have it ready to go in ~2.5 years? Or would they be PO'd because we aren't ready to list yet? Just wondering if anyone else has faced this.
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Old 05-08-2015, 04:21 PM   #2
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Definitely do real wood. I don't think the real estate agent would be POd at all.

Right now everyone wants stainless and granite - who knows what they will want 2.5 years from now. That's the conundrum.
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Old 05-08-2015, 04:28 PM   #3
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Be careful asking real estate agents what to do to make a home more salable. They have a commission in mind and not your best interest.

Fix things that are broken but don't go overboard on large expenses like carpeting, new kitchen cabinets, etc. Most buyers will want to upgrade to their tastes.

The outside appearance should be attractive and nicely kept up. Outside of that, list it and see what happens.
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Old 05-08-2015, 04:36 PM   #4
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Can tell you that most buyers (in my experience only) are going to ask for money back on what will be a 23 year old HVAC system. Replace it now and enjoy a new system for a few years or wait and see if buyers request money.
From what I've experienced buyers worry about roof, pool (if you have one) hvac, garage doors, condition of plumbing and electric.

I would get an estimate on refinishing the floors if that can be done because like others have said buyers will have their own ideas.

Also think about the unknown. I just sold a wonderful mid century modern in Orange County, California and the big shock found in inspection was a shower pan that had gone bad. Buyers were freaked and asked for 10k back at escrow. So keep in mind you will have unknown stuff pop up at the end and if you have put a lot of money into the property it's going to be frustrating to have to pay for those things too.

New paint is cheap and has a nice impact. Depending on where the house is and the likely age range of buyer will determine what color schemes you want to use.

Kitchen and bathroom faucets? Are they new, old? These can be fairly inexpensive to replace to give things a fresh look.

Heck post some pictures and we can really help you lol!


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Old 05-08-2015, 04:41 PM   #5
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We did some landscaping, refinished the floors, and painted everywhere. That was pretty much it. Oh, and took out half of our furniture and ALL of the photos and knickknacks.
A realtor friend came in to suggest these things, and also that we replace the roof shingles, as they needed doing.
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Old 05-08-2015, 05:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SumDay View Post
Examples:

the engineered wood floor in the dining/entry is pretty banged up from years of big dogs sliding and jumping. I think we have to fix that as it's a first impression thing. Since it's engineered, it probably means replacement. Real wood this time?

The HVAC works great, but is 20+ years old.

Finally, my question: Would a real estate agent come tell us what we really need to do, so we can get going on it, and have it ready to go in ~2.5 years? Or would they be PO'd because we aren't ready to list yet? Just wondering if anyone else has faced this.
It depends on what brand of engineered flooring you have. The better ones can be resurfaced 3 times.
My sister is putting her house on the market. 3 realtors came to the house and had a price before they even looked at the house. They said it depends on how many bedrooms, bath rooms, etc. Not necessarily the upgrades. A house up the street from them was smaller and had less yard but the price for my sister's house was only 80,000. more. My bil thought they could sell for much more due to granite counters, new heating/ac, new roof, deck, gazebo, finished basement, larger lot and extra large 2 car garage that the house up the street didn't have. They live in a high income area with great schools and walking distance to lots of stores. The realtors that came also had suggestions for things that would move the house fast.
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Old 05-08-2015, 05:30 PM   #7
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Don't go crazy on fixing things or upgrading until you are ready to sell it. A lot can happen in the 3 years you are going to wait.
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Old 05-08-2015, 06:07 PM   #8
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That is the big dilemma. I would get everything looking good and in good condition but not necessarily do any big renovation projects. IIRC, engineered floors can be refinished once as it is hardwood bonded on top of other material.

Our roof was so-so when we bought our house in 1986. We never had a leak and in the late 2000s I had two roofing guys evaluate the roof and one said it had 3-5 years left and another said it had 2-3 years left. We stayed over 5 years after that and sold in 2011. We told the buyer that the roof was at least 25 years old because it was the same roof as when we bought the house, and it looked fairly good but a bit worn in some places but we had never had a leak but that we had considered that the roof was old in deciding on our asking price. It never came up as an issue in inspection and AFAIK they still haven't replaced it.
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Old 05-08-2015, 07:48 PM   #9
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I concur with Split and PB. Though I have not had actual personal experience I have done a lot of reading on manufactured wood flooring and refinishing was a concern to stretch the life of it when I buy it. Everywhere I have read is that they all have a minimum of one refinishing and maybe more like Split said if it is higher quality.


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Old 05-08-2015, 08:13 PM   #10
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PB4, I've got Mannington engineered wood flooring in my dining room. Instructions that came with flooring say it can be sanded 3-4 times. But not all flooring is created equal so it depends on what manufacturer and grade that OP has. I also use a loooooong runner to cover the floor where it gets the most wear.
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Old 05-08-2015, 08:35 PM   #11
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Some (not all) buyers are going to want your home to look like those they see on HGTV. i admit that I have a hard time not falling into this category now and then.

My realtor knows what sells and what doesn't around here, so he was very helpful in telling me what he thought I should do and what I shouldn't bother doing. He doesn't mind coming to do this several months beforehand, but years? I'm not sure. Also there was a verbal agreement that I would list with him after doing the work.

I think it's probably a little early to be thinking of these things, with years to go before you plan to sell. But that's just my opinion, which is worth about what you paid for it...
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Old 05-08-2015, 09:16 PM   #12
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I'm in one of those 60's neighborhoods, and awesome upgrades don't make much difference in the sale price, though they do in the listing price! Some people think that just because they spent $50k upgrading kitchens and bathrooms 10 years ago that they can sell a $140k house for $190k in a neighborhood where reasonably well kept houses consistently sell in the $140-160k range (with the price varying mostly on size unless the place is a real bad fixer upper). That $190k house sits on the market till they ditch their initial RE agent and
find a new one and list at $165k, then sell at $160k a while later.

Other neighborhoods are different I'm sure. If you're surrounded by half million dollar homes in a nice part of town and buyers expect recent upgrades, then you'll probably have to match that.
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Old 05-08-2015, 09:32 PM   #13
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I'm in one of those 60's neighborhoods, and awesome upgrades don't make much difference in the sale price, though they do in the listing price! Some people think that just because they spent $50k upgrading kitchens and bathrooms 10 years ago that they can sell a $140k house for $190k in a neighborhood where reasonably well kept houses consistently sell in the $140-160k range (with the price varying mostly on size unless the place is a real bad fixer upper). That $190k house sits on the market till they ditch their initial RE agent and
find a new one and list at $165k, then sell at $160k a while later.
Do you think that if they fix it up, then list at $160K-$165K immediately, it would sell more quickly than if they didn't fix it up, though? I have the impression that it might help for selling a house more quickly here (in one of those 70's neighborhoods), but I'm not sure.
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Old 05-08-2015, 10:30 PM   #14
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Six months before you plan to put your house on the market, hire a building inspector to go over your house in detail. It'll keep you from having any surprises.

And then it'll be time to get a quality real estate agent in to check on comp pricing and recent sales. They can tell you what sells a home, and where you can get your money back and make a quicker sale.

There are two things that make a sale quick and the price higher. Buyers want a house usually that's move in ready. And they want a house that's advertised at a fair price. You can ask for a price that's a pie in the sky, but you'll just be running off retail buyers. Just be reasonable.
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Old 05-08-2015, 10:52 PM   #15
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We have town house in the DC suburbs that we will be selling soon. In the neighborhood, all the granite and new floors make things sell quicker, but it doesn't pay back 100% of what you spend to upgrade. So I don't see a need to sink lots of cash into new countertops or new windows, but re-finishing the wood floors and a new coat of paint are probably in line before we list it on MLS.
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Old 05-09-2015, 10:57 AM   #16
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We are at this dilemma except our house needs quite a few things fixed. I do not think it would be very cheap to fix them by hiring contractors in our high cost area but a DIY might be able to tackle them over several years. We have a big plus in that our house lot is riverfront (1/2 acre) on a major salmon/steelhead river and finding this type of lot and getting environmental studies done to build is next to impossible now.

I am of the opinion to sell nearly as-is, because any improvements/major repairs will have the added cost of sales tax, increase commission, and increase excise tax on sale. You may only get an increase in sales price of $40k by spending $60k.
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Old 05-09-2015, 11:24 PM   #17
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Do you think that if they fix it up, then list at $160K-$165K immediately, it would sell more quickly than if they didn't fix it up, though? I have the impression that it might help for selling a house more quickly here (in one of those 70's neighborhoods), but I'm not sure.
Probably. But we're talking about spending $50k to fix up a house to get $20-25k more money out of it.

Maybe they fixed it up because they valued a brand new kitchen and brand new baths and upgraded interior finishes, or maybe they knew they were getting older and wanted to move soon. In any event, smart money in my neighborhood does small things (paint, maybe refinish really worn floors, reasonably new carpet, maybe spruce up the lawn and landscaping) and skips the kitchen and bath renovations.

I'd pay attention to realtor.com and see what kind of places come on the market near you, how long they stay on the market and what the eventual sale price is. I'm sure you could make friends with a commission-hungry realtor and get a handy report of the same kind of info.

I think pricing properties close to what they will sell for is the best way to get a quick offer. Pricing at 20% above all the other houses in the neighborhood is a great way to get overlooked even if your place is immaculate. At least in my neck of the woods.
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Old 05-10-2015, 11:38 AM   #18
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This home inspection thread made me thing about an idea I've been mulling.

We have too much house, with too much yard, in a neighborhood that's pretty stable, but older. One block is not so great, the next one is much better - etc. It's pretty mixed. Our block is great - nice custom homes from the 60's and we've upgraded the bathrooms, kitchen (15 years ago) and we feel like it's probably the nicest house on our street.

We plan to downsize in ~3 years when I retire, and I want an objective opinion on what we should do out of necessity to help it sell.

Examples:

the engineered wood floor in the dining/entry is pretty banged up from years of big dogs sliding and jumping. I think we have to fix that as it's a first impression thing. Since it's engineered, it probably means replacement. Real wood this time?

The HVAC works great, but is 20+ years old.

Finally, my question: Would a real estate agent come tell us what we really need to do, so we can get going on it, and have it ready to go in ~2.5 years? Or would they be PO'd because we aren't ready to list yet? Just wondering if anyone else has faced this.
We are in the same boat. Go back and forth about what to do, and what not to do.

When something breaks, I tend to rip out and do replacement.

The house is mid 70's. Next door a home is being flipped, and it will be interesting to see what happens. Everything was redone. I'm sure that in a really soft market that puts the home way above others in the immediate area. We'll see.

I would not trust the opinion of a R.E. agent on this.

If the engineered floor is installed properly, then just refinish. Our parquet tiles are a mess, and when I get the opportunity I tear out and put in something that will help sell the home.
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Old 05-11-2015, 08:26 AM   #19
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By all means consult with a few local realtors and get their recommendations. You might also want to visit some local open houses to see what the competition has done. Aside from your engineered wood, there are many cheap fix-ups you can do like sprucing up the front yard, painting (neutral colors), replacing carpet, and door knobs, lighting fixtures, and decluttering to make way to have your place staged when you decide to list it for sale.

Have you considered moving up your timing due to current favorable housing market?
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Old 05-11-2015, 01:41 PM   #20
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Have you considered moving up your timing due to current favorable housing market?
Funny you should mention this. A builder's group in the metro area sponsors hundreds of open houses around the area a couple of times a year. Saturday was nice, so we decided to look at a couple. We found one really like, several actually. At least we now have neighborhoods in mind.

Contractors showed up today to fix a crack (not structural, just cosmetic) in a ceiling and do a little floor sanding, and when that's done we're listing. We decided three years is too long to wait. Stay tuned for updates.

And thanks for the words of wisdom everyone!
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