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Old 01-18-2014, 02:38 PM   #21
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Fix those windows, as Mulligan suggests, since the windows will never look clean with the condensation inside. They will kill your clean, turn-key look for sure. We replaced a few (kept the frames, just replaced the glass panels) with dual-pane Low-E glass, and will soon replace a few more. That glass insulates really well.

If DW thinks hardwoods, then I'd go with her instinct on that one. Hardwoods, or engineered woods, make a great first impression, but as others have said, a lot depends on your area and your buyers. Carpet is out around these parts.

We are in a situation similar to yours and have been doing some fixing up along the way: remodeled a small bath, gave the kitchen a facelift, and just put on a new roof. It was a 25-year roof with 28 years on it. It added great curb appeal and is an upgrade from the roofs around us and is like the ones on houses in the more expensive neighborhood adjacent to us. We won't have to worry about putting a roofing allowance out there if we do list the house.

Our next big project: hardwoods. After visiting many open houses, DH has said repeatedly how he feels about opening a front door and seeing an expanse of clean wood floors. We currently have birch--too soft for our dog lifestyle -- and those floors have taken a beating over 11 years. We're replacing them with acacia.

Once the floors are done, if we haven't listed this year, then we're going whole hog on the kitchen. As Gardenfun says, we're fixing up with a view to resale someday, but we will enjoy the house while we're here.

We haven't moved yet, and we may never move.
This is our situation. The $100K we are putting into a kitchen and master bath reno to update our 25 year old home will pay back 2x when we sell 3-10 years from now (depends on who wins that battle!). I know because I have done my research. We live in an area of $1M+ homes and this is the norm. The sale price differential between 'fixer uppers' and turnkey, UPDATED homes in my area is approx. $250K. Obviously, if we lived in an area of $200K homes, there's no way we'd get the payback and would upgrade for enjoyment only.

It's too hard to generalize; you need to know your area and act accordingly. Cosmetic fixes should be done and will add to the salability of your home no matter the area. Things like new roofs, furnaces (which we have done) are maintenance costs. Now, if I could only convince DH to like hardwood floors . This is one of the things we'll do to make the home more salable when the time comes...I won't get to enjoy them in the meantime.
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Old 01-18-2014, 03:16 PM   #22
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I've sold in the last few years. One website that I really recommend for discussing these issues is the GardenWeb Buying and Selling Homes discussion:

Buying and Selling Homes Forum - GardenWeb

In our case, we did work beforehand that equated to about 5% or so of our final sale price. That has been fairly typical of the houses we have sold.

So some random thoughts:
Thanks for the tips, and the link. Looks like lots of good info on that site. I'm guessing that it's you that has the similar username over there.

We definitely need to do serious decluttering. In fact, part of the plan is for me to ER earlier than DW to spend some time doing that, and some repairs that I can do myself, such as painting, replacing some fixtures, etc.

I understand what you are saying about showing a vacant house. Since we already own our ER destination house (which we are renting out until we are ready), it doesn't make sense to put our stuff in storage while we are trying to sell our current house. However, our destination is on the opposite side of the county, so I wouldn't want to move stuff in two phases (due to expenses and logistics) just so we could have a subset of our furnishings in place for showing. There seems to be differing opinions on whether having a stager bring in some temporary furniture would be worth the expense.

I will have to do some investigation to compare what other houses in the area have. In our immediate development, prices are probably in the 225-300K range. A somewhat newer adjacent development has prices at least 100K higher (and generally bigger and fancier houses).
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Old 01-18-2014, 03:20 PM   #23
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And I would do the remodeling sooner rather than later, so that you can enjoy it yourselves before retiring and selling!
DW has already been pushing that very point.
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Old 01-18-2014, 03:24 PM   #24
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I understand what you are saying about showing a vacant house. Since we already own our ER destination house (which we are renting out until we are ready), it doesn't make sense to put our stuff in storage while we are trying to sell our current house. However, our destination is on the opposite side of the county, so I wouldn't want to move stuff in two phases (due to expenses and logistics) just so we could have a subset of our furnishings in place for showing. There seems to be differing opinions on whether having a stager bring in some temporary furniture would be worth the expense.
Stagers vary in how they charge. We spent about $2500 on the stager. They did more than the usual staging stuff in that we were doing some work on the house getting ready to sell. DH and I were both working full-time then so the stagers helped us find contractors, met with contractors and did shopping for us for things for the house.

Anyway, their staging fee included bringing temporary furniture where needed with no additional rental cost. For example, we had a vacant bedroom and they brought in furniture for it.

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Did you find that to be a good ROI option? I need more stylish window treatments on some big picture windows.
We did this for two houses that we sold. In both cases it was very inexpensive to do and immensely improved how the house looked. Only in the most high end houses will this not be sufficient.
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Old 01-18-2014, 03:33 PM   #25
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We opted not to have an inspection. House is in good shape, but we found out that if you have an inspection and find something unknown, then it must be disclosed.

Hoping for a quick sell, and will price aggressively to that end.
I was about to say "good idea" to the folks who suggested getting a preemptive inspection ourselves, though I hadn't thought about your point. Still, even if we don't have our own inspection so we don't have to disclose some unexpected problem, wouldn't a buyer's inspection likely show that same problem? And if it does, they would probably expect resolution, which would probably be less convenient at that time.
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Old 01-18-2014, 04:03 PM   #26
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We opted not to have an inspection. House is in good shape, but we found out that if you have an inspection and find something unknown, then it must be disclosed.
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Still, even if we don't have our own inspection so we don't have to disclose some unexpected problem, wouldn't a buyer's inspection likely show that same problem? And if it does, they would probably expect resolution, which would probably be less convenient at that time.
Most likely yes. Unless it's a tear down or the buyer is qualified to do an inspection him/herself, there's going to be a buyer's inspection in most cases, a lender will require one for sure. If there's something major wrong the buyers will want it fixed at the owners expense best case, or worst case buyers will walk after deciding 'what else is wrong that the inspection didn't find' and/or just because they don't want the hassle/uncertainty. You takes your chances...
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Old 01-18-2014, 04:15 PM   #27
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We did the termite inspection so far. We have some things we obviously need to address, so we wanted to hire a contractor and get everything done at once.
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Old 01-18-2014, 04:52 PM   #28
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What do you do if the home inspection reveals more than you want to fix? Do you really have to tear down the home?
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Old 01-18-2014, 04:53 PM   #29
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I was about to say "good idea" to the folks who suggested getting a preemptive inspection ourselves, though I hadn't thought about your point. Still, even if we don't have our own inspection so we don't have to disclose some unexpected problem, wouldn't a buyer's inspection likely show that same problem? And if it does, they would probably expect resolution, which would probably be less convenient at that time.
Laws might vary by state. Certainly anything major I would think would be found by a competent inspector. But in our area, only about half ask for home inspections, and I suppose to some degree, it depends on the inspector. SO we figured why deal with it now if we do not have to.

We had a small well years ago for watering the lawn, which had long ago dried up. We reviewed disclosure forms and laws 6 months ago, and found that wells have to be disclosed and capped- and that filed with the state. So we took care of that this fall. Bottom line, prepare for the controllable.
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Old 01-18-2014, 05:04 PM   #30
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I was about to say "good idea" to the folks who suggested getting a preemptive inspection ourselves, though I hadn't thought about your point. Still, even if we don't have our own inspection so we don't have to disclose some unexpected problem, wouldn't a buyer's inspection likely show that same problem? And if it does, they would probably expect resolution, which would probably be less convenient at that time.
Maybe the buyer's inspection would show the same problem and maybe it wouldn't. Here is what I worry about. Whenever I have bought a house the inspection has almost invariably gone this way. The inspector inspects (I always attend) and he points out various things. But, usually he says that these aren't that bad and orally tends to minimize things (this was true, even with the house that in retrospect we shouldn't have bought because it needed too much work). So, as a buyer I pretty much end the day thinking some things need to be repaired but nothing is a deal breaker. Then the inspector sends me the report. Invariably, the written report is written in all CYA. Every house I've ever bought sounds absolutely terrible from the written report. No inspector wants to be held liable for having missed something. So, the report always has all kinds of things listed, most of which sound awful, but are really not all the bad. There is usually no context in the report. In the oral report to me, the inspector might have said that Problem X is very common and is in almost all houses and would cost $15 to fix. The written report leaves all that out and makes Problem X sound horrendous.

So. The problem with just giving the inspection report to the buyer is that the buyer gets the very overblown CYA report with none of the context. Unless the buyer is a very experienced buyer there is a good chance the buyer gets scared off at that point.

And, frankly, I don't really want the buyer relying on my inspection report. What if my inspector missed something? I want the buyer to get his/her own report.
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Old 01-18-2014, 06:08 PM   #31
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I find it very strange that people feel the need to spend lots of money on new appliances, granite counter tops, etc, basically to gift them to other people, who might not have chosen those items anyway. I'm not criticising the people who do this; it's more that I find it sad that buyers are so dumb.

When we sold our house 6-7 years ago, people were openly complaining about this or that feature as the agent showed them around (in our presence). Yet the majority of the complaints were about things like colour (and we didn't have a garish colour scheme). Apparently we were meant to have psychically determined the exact carpet, wallpaper, etc, that Mr and Mrs Wonderful would like. (When we'd bought the house, all the carpets smelled of dogs, but it cost us peanuts and a couple of days to change the carpets. People have no imagination, it seems.)

We had friends who bought a house, spent a lot of time any money upgrading it (mostly for themselves), and then moved 3 years later for unavoidable professional reasons. They had spent tens of thousands on remodelling the kitchen and bathroom with top-of-the-line appliances and fittings. The new buyers tore those out and replaced them with their own, marginally different choice of top-of-the-line appliances and fittings. What a waste.
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Old 01-18-2014, 06:18 PM   #32
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I find it very strange that people feel the need to spend lots of money on new appliances, granite counter tops, etc, basically to gift them to other people, who might not have chosen those items anyway. I'm not criticizing the people who do this; it's more that I find it sad that buyers are so dumb...........
I totally agree, but it seems to be human nature. I wouldn't want to be around when my house is shown.
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Old 01-18-2014, 06:33 PM   #33
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Our house needs some remodeling that I am not willing to do, but I hope to keep everyone in the backyard for most of the time
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Old 01-19-2014, 07:43 AM   #34
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I find it very strange that people feel the need to spend lots of money on new appliances, granite counter tops, etc, basically to gift them to other people, who might not have chosen those items anyway. I'm not criticising the people who do this; it's more that I find it sad that buyers are so dumb.

When we sold our house 6-7 years ago, people were openly complaining about this or that feature as the agent showed them around (in our presence). Yet the majority of the complaints were about things like colour (and we didn't have a garish colour scheme). Apparently we were meant to have psychically determined the exact carpet, wallpaper, etc, that Mr and Mrs Wonderful would like. (When we'd bought the house, all the carpets smelled of dogs, but it cost us peanuts and a couple of days to change the carpets. People have no imagination, it seems.)

We had friends who bought a house, spent a lot of time any money upgrading it (mostly for themselves), and then moved 3 years later for unavoidable professional reasons. They had spent tens of thousands on remodelling the kitchen and bathroom with top-of-the-line appliances and fittings. The new buyers tore those out and replaced them with their own, marginally different choice of top-of-the-line appliances and fittings. What a waste.
You do take a chance in remodeling before selling and there is no way you can make all the "right choices," but it should be a different mindset than remodeling for yourself where you might spend more then appropriate or choose colors/finishes that most buyers wouldn't go for. With the former, you make sure you choose popular finishes, versatile/neutral colors, above builders grade (most neighborhoods) but not extravagant - no different than a builder does with a spec home.

And hopefully it's not out and out gifting. We just redid our kitchen, making choices putting resale ahead of our wants, but we'll enjoy it for 2-4 years. I would have a hard time doing a major reno just to resell, though flippers do it all the time. Flippers of course pay bottom dollar for houses so they can turn a profit, maybe that's instructive in the context of this thread...

Sellers will always sentimentally overvalue their property, and buyers will always expect the perfect house under budget. That'll never change.
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Old 01-19-2014, 08:41 AM   #35
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Our house needs some remodeling that I am not willing to do, but I hope to keep everyone in the backyard for most of the time
Wow - quite a selling point! Have you already put in an outdoor seasonal BBQ/kitchen area, fire pit, and patio?
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Old 01-19-2014, 09:18 AM   #36
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Our house needs some remodeling that I am not willing to do, but I hope to keep everyone in the backyard for most of the time

That is a beautiful backyard but will some buyers think about flooding, danger to small children, etc.? Just to show there is always something someone will pick up on.

I think buyers dismiss some things just for negotiation purposes or to whittle their choices down. They also have their own stuff to coordinate with--my neutral paint might be a touch too brownish. And their own tastes, of course, which will no doubt not match ours. It is hard to live our lives in terms of resale.

If I were the OP, I would fix the windows and the drywall cracks and the rotting wood steps from the basement and replace the stained carpet, and don't worry about the rest. It is a 20 year old house and those are maintenance things, not resale fix ups.
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Old 01-19-2014, 09:54 AM   #37
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I also have a great backyard but I am still going to do some remodeling to get the house ready .Update the master bathroom , new carpeting , new paint ,decluttering , redo a few areas of the hardwood and a new ceiling fan in the master bedroom . Here is a picture of my backyard .
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Old 01-19-2014, 10:07 AM   #38
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Moemg I will trade you! I would love to live on the ocean.

Our river is only good for salmon/steelhead fishing and whitewater rafting/kayaking.

Your backyard I can use my sailboat!

The problem I have is the houses around us that are not on the river (there are only three on the river) are much smaller and some are not in great condition. Thus I could turn this into a million dollar home but it will still sell like a house in a $200,000 neighborhood (and we paid $300,000 and have done *some* improvements like a 40 foot x 12 foot deck).

I think of the OP's problem and see the same considerations, with the addition that we have some more significant expenditures. It is almost as much a gamble as buying an individual stock.
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Old 01-19-2014, 10:43 AM   #39
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What do you do if the home inspection reveals more than you want to fix? Do you really have to tear down the home?
You take less money and sell to a flipper such as the various ugly homes folks, who do the fixup. So you get less for the house, but they expect the unexpected and pay accordingly.
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Old 01-19-2014, 10:50 AM   #40
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You take less money and sell to a flipper such as the various ugly homes folks, who do the fixup. So you get less for the house, but they expect the unexpected and pay accordingly.
Ok, that is what I thought. That sounds like what we will do if the house gets no bites in 6 months or so. Drop the price to an amount that the flippers will bite.

I can take the $100,000 we don't spend and invest it in Apple. Instead of paying $15,000 to $20,000 in sales taxes, extra commissions, excise tax, and lost opportunity cost, I will get a 2.4% dividend.
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