Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Need to sell the house - what to improve?
Old 10-12-2008, 03:14 PM   #1
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 582
Need to sell the house - what to improve?

We're not selling immediately, but will be moving as early as next June and of course we're nervous. We'll do some improvements this winter to improve our odds, and the question is how to prioritize. We live in a desirable school district, and bought at the very low price end (170K) for single-family homes. The house is a tri-level built in the mid-80's. We've already painted inside and out in neutral colors, updated the light switches and outlets, and touched up the woodwork, which has minimal damage.

Possible choices to help it sell:

- New carpet throughout (old carpet is worn but cleans up relatively well, no stains)
- New stove (old one isn't terrible but it's seen better days)
- Minor re-do of 80's 1/2 bath - new light, vanity, toilet, flooring
- Replace open shelving in laundry room with cabinets
- Update all the cheap 80's light fixtures
- Update all the worn door hardware
- Plant grass in the back yard (currently dirt, with a few trees, which isn't unusual in this price range)
- Change the river rock mulch in the front yard to wood chips, install new edging to replace the red scalloped concrete stuff
- Replace about 8 feet of very weathered fence on the side/front of the house

Right now it's not in the budget to do all of these. The carpet is obviously the most expensive, and would really limit what else we can do. So I guess my question is whether the carpet will make such a big difference that it's worth doing that and ignoring most of the rest?
__________________

__________________

WM is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 10-12-2008, 03:33 PM   #2
Administrator
W2R's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: New Orleans
Posts: 38,860
I am planning to put my house on the market in about a year. In my case, the carpet NEEDS to be replaced - - the former owner put orange carpet in the parlor (ugh!!), and black patterned carpet in her teenager's room (double ugh!!). The rest is beige, worn, and has spots. It must be at least 10-15 years since the carpet was changed out.

Have you thought of getting Stanley Steamer or some similar company in to clean all the carpets? Maybe you can get away without doing that.

Wish I could.

Someone at work told me that buyers would rather have laminate floors than carpet, and it is cheaper. Food for thought.
__________________

__________________
Already we are boldly launched upon the deep; but soon we shall be lost in its unshored, harbourless immensities.

- - H. Melville, 1851
W2R is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2008, 03:42 PM   #3
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Moemg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Sarasota,fl.
Posts: 10,032
If your carpet is old but cleans up well I 'd use that money on updating the half bath and grass for the backyard.
__________________
Moemg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2008, 04:07 PM   #4
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
bbbamI's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Dallas 'burb
Posts: 9,039
I wouldn't change the carpet. Instead I would give a flooring allowance to the buyer.
__________________
There's no need to complicate, our time is short..
bbbamI is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2008, 04:21 PM   #5
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 11,018
Hoard the cash. You might need it. Keep the mortgages, because you already have credit, and you won't get credit so easily in the future.
__________________
Meadbh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2008, 04:34 PM   #6
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
harley's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Following the nice weather
Posts: 6,428
We sold our house last June. We absolutely had to replace the carpet, or it wouldn't have sold. We put in decent mid-grade carpet so it wouldn't look like we cheaped out. The new owners are still going to replace it as it isn't what they want.

Personally, I would clean the carpet and make a big deal about giving an allowance to the buyer to replace it. It will make your place appear to be a better deal, and give the buyer the opportunity to put their own stamp on the house.
__________________
"Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement." - Will Rogers, or maybe Sam Clemens
DW and I - FIREd at 50 (7/06), living off assets
harley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2008, 07:34 PM   #7
Recycles dryer sheets
mike hall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 67
When we sold my Mother's Condo, I thought the carpet would have to be replaced in order to sell it. Instead, the real estate agent called a carpet company to give a written estimate, and left it on the counter while it was being shown. It seemed to work. tells buyers you know there is a problem, and also you know how much it would cost ( for negotiations).

If you hope to sell to people with kids, I would dress up the backyard. could do the work yourself if you're so inclined.

Replacing the fence could add a lot to curb appeal, and also could be a DIY.

mike
__________________
mike hall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2008, 08:46 PM   #8
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 582
Thanks for all the quick replies!

The carpet does clean up ok, I think. The color is reasonable, and there isn't any really bad traffic wear. I like the idea of getting an estimate and then giving an allowance, or having that be part of the negotiations.

All the stuff I listed would be doing it ourselves, so none of it individually would be too expensive. Even putting grass in the back would only be about $500.

So maybe assume a carpet allowance on the low end, but redo the bath, plus some of the curb appeal stuff and the backyard grass.

Meadbh - I don't understand about the mortgages? We do have a mortgage but I don't want to keep the house and rent it out if we can help it. We already own another house in CA that we'll keep indefinitely, and we don't plan on buying another house for probably ten years.

When I say it's not in our budget to do everything, what I mean is that although we have the cash, we don't want to spend more than we have to to sell this place.
__________________

WM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2008, 09:26 PM   #9
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
calmloki's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Independence
Posts: 5,459
Paint front door red? redo front fence. Swap out lights and maybe strategic faucets, improve back yard. Carpets can be dyed - Mom got hers dyed an awful green color, but she liked green. no idea what that costs.
__________________
calmloki is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2008, 09:45 PM   #10
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 1,072
We sold our house in CA in a week this summer - what did it?

1) Location of the house
2) Pricing that was appropriate (hint: much less than what we thought, but still fair in the market)
3) Cleanliness - we didn't upgrade anything, just cleaned it well - we also had it as empty as possible
4) Attitude - we were willing to stay in the house for 6 months or more to get it sold - if you are one who believes in mental attitude affecting things...the fact we weren't desperate shows. Additionally, if we didn't get what we considered fair based on the market, we were willing to become landlords (again) and rent it out.

That's not to say all of the above will guarantee it will get sold - it could help.

Fast forward - the family who moved in ripped out my perennial garden, was in the process of changing the outside facade and probably is redoing the kitchen/bathrooms. I think they were looking for something that they could 'work with' to become what they wanted - ala CFB :-)

Best of luck to you!
__________________
Deserat aka Bridget
“We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” - George Orwell/Winston Churchill
deserat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2008, 09:45 PM   #11
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
bbbamI's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Dallas 'burb
Posts: 9,039
Here are some tips to sell a house quickly:

Don't be there when the home is shown.
Turn on the lights in each room, it's best to have dimmer switches for a comfy glow.
Have calm music playing...very low volume.
Declutter the house especially the closets.
Remove personal pictures from the walls and furniture.
A soft, subtle scent of vanilla or cinnamon is nice.

These actions worked well for us and they didn't cost a dime.
__________________
There's no need to complicate, our time is short..
bbbamI is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2008, 10:08 PM   #12
Recycles dryer sheets
mike hall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 67
LOL! we did the cinnamon aroma and music thing when we sold our house. Don't know if it actually worked, but for a few bucks it's worth a try---just needs to be subtle. Watched
a lot of HGTV too, for inexpensive suggestions.
__________________
mike hall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2008, 10:30 PM   #13
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,015
I agree with the suggestions about offering a carpet allowance and de-cluttering the house. Just before selling our last house, we redid the entire kitchen (new floor, countertops, appliances), repainted the entire inside -- paint wasn't in bad condition but we thought it better to go real neutral, and did a general cleanup of the yard. We got our asking price...BUT the buyers immediately redid the entire kitchen and repainted the entire inside as they thought it was too neutral!

I talked to the real estate broker about this and she suggested that clean, uncluttered spaces are what sells -- people want to be able to imagine themselves living in the space -- and over-improving rarely is necesary.
__________________
Achiever51 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2008, 01:01 AM   #14
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,617
Quote:
Originally Posted by WM View Post
Possible choices to help it sell:
- New carpet throughout (old carpet is worn but cleans up relatively well, no stains)
- New stove (old one isn't terrible but it's seen better days)
- Minor re-do of 80's 1/2 bath - new light, vanity, toilet, flooring
- Replace open shelving in laundry room with cabinets
- Update all the cheap 80's light fixtures
- Update all the worn door hardware
- Plant grass in the back yard (currently dirt, with a few trees, which isn't unusual in this price range)
- Change the river rock mulch in the front yard to wood chips, install new edging to replace the red scalloped concrete stuff
- Replace about 8 feet of very weathered fence on the side/front of the house

Right now it's not in the budget to do all of these.
A year ago I would've said "Don't mess with anything that the buyers would want to change anyway." But visible deficiencies, even with allowances, tend to attract a DIY or flipper crowd who will lowball you and maybe even have trouble completing the sale. You want the people who are willing to give you more money if it gives them less work.

Spouse watches a lot of HGTV, so I ran this post by her. I've learned that the vast majority of buyers want a place that doesn't need any work. They don't want a home-improvement project-- they want to move in, decorate a little, and be able to entertain before they go back to work to pay for the mortgage. If you don't already, you might want to watch HGTV's "Get It Sold" and "Curb Appeal" to see what kind of demographic you're dealing with. Listen to the whining comments on "My First Place" and "House Hunters".

As for the money, your budget should consider how much hassle you're willing to endure and how long you're willing to carry the place on the market. As summer stretches on toward fall, how many open houses, how many impromptu showings, how many realtor's listings do you want? How many price reductions or changes of strategy? Or would you rather spend what it takes up front for maximum impact and a quick sale, even if you spend a little more to avoid bigger losses later?

Considering those thoughts, spouse and I suggest replacing the carpet with something neutral and light-- perhaps a beige or light tan-- and the highest-quality padding you can find. If you're not willing to replace the stove, then at a minimum replace the burners & drip pans. Definitely overhaul the bathroom, particularly with a modern Kohler low-flush toilet. And absolutely replace the fence… the entire fence, not only the weathered portion.

Other suggestions that may save a little budget money: Homeowners have been updating 1980s lighting fixtures by spraypainting them matte black or dark bronze. You could go all-out on the front door's hardware, maybe do the side/back exterior doors, and skip the interior doors. Instead of planting yard grass you could put down as little sod as possible and as much mulch as you can get. Add big mulch rings (36" diameter) around the trees, spread mulch around gardens or other shrubs, and consider marking out a path with paving stones or gravel.

We don't see anyone fretting about laundry room shelves or river-rock landscaping. But your area may have a different style.

I try to ignore the décor and judge the property by its material condition. Do the windows need attention? Cleaning, repairing their hardware, or updating the blinds/drapes? No dings on the walls. No stains on the walls or the ceilings, even if you have to repaint the entire interior. No plumbing leaks anywhere, and no stains on the walls inside the sink cabinets. No stained or drippy toilets. Spotless faucets everywhere, or at least a new faucet in the kitchen sink and public bathroom. No mineral deposits or stains on any faucets, sinks, drains, tubs, mirrors, or bathroom glass doors-- especially in the grout. Fresh caulk. No rust or mess on the water heater. Shiny furnace, no cobwebs on the igniter assembly, clean filters. Clean appliances (if they're included with the house). Clean fireplace, spotless chimney, easy-to-operate flue. No dust/dirt on the moldings, windowsills, door frames, or tops of the doors. No issues with doorway weather seals or thresholds. No dings or holes in the window screens. No leaky exterior faucets or sprinklers. No damp basements. Extra points to homeowners willing to show off attics & crawl spaces. Some homeowners hire cleaning crews who specialize in moveouts or sanitizing homes.

The HGTV shows are pretty brutal about open houses. Zero clutter (even if you have to hire professional decluttering assistance), no personal possessions on the horizontal surfaces, and no pictures on the walls. Bare furniture only and minimal furniture at that. No piles of junk in the garage, and maybe even an empty garage if you can stash the cars elsewhere. Everything absolutely squeaky clean… at least a slight odor of cleansers with the potpourri. You want buyers to imagine their stuff personalizing the space, not browsing your stuff. Buyers can figure out what to do with a living room but if you have other large rooms (like a full basement) then you may need to stage furniture to give buyers a clue as to how they'd use the space-- a media room, a home office, a kid's recreation corner, a laundry niche, a workshop wall, whatever. A typical Hawaii open house may be fully staged-- or totally empty if the paint & carpet are new-- but they sell a lot faster if they're completely depersonalized.

It might all be more sweat equity than most homeowners care to tackle. If you're using a realtor, they usually have a roster of businesses & people they call on to help "fix up" a home for sale.
__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2008, 08:43 AM   #15
Moderator Emeritus
Martha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: minnesota
Posts: 13,212
There seems to be a fine line between decluttering/depersonalizing and still being homey. I suppose it might depend on your market, but I wouldn't go totally stark, and would leave some touches that give the home some warmth. Art on the walls, but not family pictures. Nice smells. Wall Street Journal on the coffee table. That kind of thing. Our public library even has art that you can borrow.

I think that I am pretty good at this; the people who tried to buy our place (but couldn't sell their own) wanted to by our furniture and artwork. Some realtors even said they never had a place that showed so well. (But we still could not sell it, our market is totally dead and the property is specialized). I did this in our prior homes and our cabin and all sold quickly and at good prices.

Clean is vital. Really clean.

You might have a realtor or two through and ask what they would consider changing.
__________________
.


No more lawyer stuff, no more political stuff, so no more CYA

Martha is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2008, 08:57 AM   #16
Moderator
Walt34's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Eastern WV Panhandle
Posts: 16,528
We are in the middle of preparing FIL's house for sale. So far we have corrected a moisture problem in the basement by waterproofing exterior and interior walls and removing a poorly-constructed bedroom down to bare concrete and cinder block walls. We painted the walls and installed indoor/outdoor carpet in the room. Replaced a nonfunctional sump pump.

Repainted the dining room, living room, hallway and two of the three bedrooms in neutral colors. Replaced all light switches/outlets/door hardware as we went. Redid the hallway bathroom with new paint, floor, commode, vanity. Replaced the bi fold sheet metal closet doors with ones that work and don't bind.

Remaining to be done is to repaint the master bedroom and bath, new bathroom floor, commode, vanity, replace the wooden double hung windows with double pane vinyl ones, and refinish the oak hardwood floors. Whew!

Hope to have it on the market by mid-winter to early spring. The place has a beautiful of Middletown Valley in MD and that will probably be a strong selling point.
__________________
I heard the call to do nothing. So I answered it.
Walt34 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2008, 10:46 AM   #17
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
harley's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Following the nice weather
Posts: 6,428
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha View Post
There seems to be a fine line between decluttering/depersonalizing and still being homey. I suppose it might depend on your market, but I wouldn't go totally stark, and would leave some touches that give the home some warmth. Art on the walls, but not family pictures. Nice smells. Wall Street Journal on the coffee table. That kind of thing. Our public library even has art that you can borrow.

I think that I am pretty good at this; the people who tried to buy our place (but couldn't sell their own) wanted to by our furniture and artwork. Some realtors even said they never had a place that showed so well. (But we still could not sell it, our market is totally dead and the property is specialized). I did this in our prior homes and our cabin and all sold quickly and at good prices.

Clean is vital. Really clean.

You might have a realtor or two through and ask what they would consider changing.
We were selling a one-of-a-kind modern contemporary home, designed by my FIL (an architect). We had moved in after buying the other half from the estate. We had all of our furniture, plus all of the in-laws stuff. Their's was designer stuff from the 70s, annd really worked well with the house.

Our agent had us move every single stick of furniture out of the house, leaving nothing but bare walls and new carpet. We thought she was crazy, having watched years worth of HGTV about staging. But it worked. In the really crappy market we had in the DC area last June, we sold in 2 weeks. It helped that we weren't really competing with all the standard Colonial houses on the market. Many of the ones that were for sale then are still on the market. And we had great curb appeal with a beautiful lot. But I really didn't think the empty house strategy would work as well as it did. This is one time when going against my insticts and wih the pro paid off.

I agree fully with the clean comment. We brought in pros, and they did an excellent job. Especially with all the windows. It was well worth it. We also priced it right. Lower than we hoped for, but we got nearly the asking price, so it averaged out just fine.

Good luck.
__________________
"Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement." - Will Rogers, or maybe Sam Clemens
DW and I - FIREd at 50 (7/06), living off assets
harley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2008, 03:18 PM   #18
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 582
Thanks for all these ideas. I think we have a lot of the basics taken care of - new paint inside and out, all neutral; newer furnace, water heater, and roof; well-scrubbed kitchen cabinets with new white shelf liner, already updated primary bath. We are already making plans to empty the closets, garage, and crawl space, and move out some of the furniture, as well as getting rid of all clutter and taking everything off the walls. We're fully expecting the list price may be lower than we would like but I'd rather price it low and get it sold.

A red front door wouldn't work with the color scheme, but the front fence will be easy enough, and the rest of it was already replaced. We may well need to replace the stove just because it's getting flaky about temp, but the rest of the kitchen would need a serious investment to really improve the look. We did put in a new laminate countertop and cabinet pulls. A new faucet might be worthwhile.

When we bought this house, there were few in the right price range (same as now) and it was much better looking than the others we looked at. The only things really wrong were that it needed repainted inside and out, and a new roof. The carpet was borderline and we would have replaced it just for our own preference if we'd had extra money. We will definitely start going to some open houses to check out the competition but frankly they will be nowhere near HGTV standards judging by past experience. Which is why I'm optimistic that if we're willing to put in some dollars and some serious cleaning effort, it will pay off. I like the idea of talking with some realtors - how early is too early to do that?
__________________

WM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2008, 05:42 PM   #19
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 944
Initial impression/appeal is key. Fresh paint and clean well maintained landscape - if you don't get them at the curb - chances are you won't get them.
__________________
Freed at 49. You only live once - live it
Donzo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2008, 07:32 PM   #20
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,617
Quote:
Originally Posted by WM View Post
We may well need to replace the stove just because it's getting flaky about temp...
A new stove always makes a good impression, but you might "just" have a dirty/failing thermocouple temperature sensor. Cleaning or a new one may help that issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WM View Post
... but the rest of the kitchen would need a serious investment to really improve the look. We did put in a new laminate countertop and cabinet pulls.
We overhauled a 25-year-old kitchen with refaced cabinets and "rigid thermofoil" (RTF) doors. The cabinet refacing is high-quality adhesive laminate in an amazing variety of wood-grain colors & styles. It makes the boxes look completely new again. The doors are MDF with a waterproof laminate that's vacuum-shrunk onto them for total waterproofing. They look like birdseye maple with the additional benefit of never getting water stains or dings. It's contractor work that's beyond the capability of the average homeowner, but the result is eye-popping.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WM View Post
I like the idea of talking with some realtors - how early is too early to do that?
This time of year it's never too early! If nothing else, you can interview a number of realtors and hear their ideas on getting ready for market.
__________________

__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Ready to get out of dodge if only the house would sell highpointdawg Hi, I am... 22 10-25-2008 10:44 AM
Rental House - Keep or Sell? GoodSense FIRE and Money 26 03-24-2008 10:09 AM
Quick, sell the house!! Nords Other topics 4 09-19-2006 12:08 AM
What to do when you can't sell your house retire@40 FIRE and Money 4 08-25-2006 08:54 PM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:51 AM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.