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Old 04-15-2014, 06:52 AM   #21
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Perhaps doing partial upgrading each year might make bringing your house up to neighborhood standards less economically intimidating. The problem with leaving your house totally behind neighborhood standards might give prospective buyers the impression that other things in the house have also been neglected and will protract your sell time and reduce your sell price considerably. You may also find that you love the upgrades and will get some time to enjoy them.

Waiting till the last minute to upgrade before selling, can also make doing them under a time pressure more expensive and aggravating.

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Old 04-15-2014, 06:57 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by 2B View Post
There is the trade off with upgrades versus selling price. If you don't personally want the upgrades, I would recommend waiting. When the time comes to sell, ask the realators when you interview them what they recommend. Styles change and markets are different at different times and for different price ranges and locations.
I was about to post much the same thing. Things were much different when I sold my first house, then the second, and with FIL's house. Every financial market, housing market, and buyer/seller market was different for each. So I'll wait and ask the realtors at the time.

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Old 04-15-2014, 07:32 AM   #23
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I upgraded cabinets, countertops, and appliance, as much because I wanted them, and the house needed them. Also updated flooring throughout. I like them, and am satisfied, even though it was pricey. Not sure I'll "get my money back", but I'm sure the upgrades will make it more desirable, so it may sell faster, should I decide to sell.
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Old 04-15-2014, 07:52 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by DFW_M5 View Post
Perhaps doing partial upgrading each year might make bringing your house up to neighborhood standards less economically intimidating.
We've been doing that with our kitchen over the last few years. I sold it as a "rolling upgrade" ;-)

Started switching from white to stainless steel appliances as few of them needed replacing. We replaced a "builders' microwave with a real vent over the stove - which led to replacing the double oven with a oven+microwave/convection oven+warming drawer. New flooring last year.

Of course, this year we want to "finish it all off" so it's granite countertops and converting the electric stove to gas along with a new sink. Thank goodness the old maple cabinets still look very nice.

DW loves it and is enjoying using the new features.

We bought stuff we really liked, but nothing too "bold" so that it'll help sell the house when we get to that point.
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:03 AM   #25
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I wouldn't spend tens of thousands chasing the Jones'

In a "hot" market everything sells ... will your market be hot in three years - who knows.

Now if you WANT an upgraded kitchen for your final years in the house ... go for it (you might even recoop 70 cents on the dollar at sale time).
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Old 04-15-2014, 09:52 AM   #26
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There are bidding wars on houses around here (The Woodlands, TX). Upgrades don't mean much at this time.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:17 AM   #27
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It's hard for me to relate to return-on-upgrade because I'm in the strange position where anything I do to my house will return 0%, at least for the time being. I bought a small pre-WWII house over 25 years ago. The neighborhood was always desirable, but it has become ever more desirable since then. My home would now sell for about 700% of what I paid. The property tax is increasingly a problem and might make me eventually move. But I like living here and I'm near my elderly parents who I help out often. I can walk to virtually everything (the "walkscore" is above 90), but I'm on a quiet residential street. Every single small old house that has sold in my neighborhood in the past 5 years has been torn down and replaced with a McMansion. Nearly all of the houses which sold 5-10 years ago were also torn down. I often get letters and sometimes phone calls from developers and their agents who want to buy my house to tear it down. I joke that if a meteor destroyed my house, the property value would increase because it would save on the destruction cost.

I had the house painted last year. That was money down the drain. I got a new oven and dishwasher not long ago. I suppose they can be recycled whenever I move or die.
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Old 04-15-2014, 10:18 AM   #28
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Upgrades do not mean much, price does.

If you put your house on the market and priced it enough below the price of houses with the upgrades you would sell just as quick. You would have to take into consideration the cost for the new owners to do the upgrade and the aggravation. If you want the upgrades and are willing to put up with the aggravation of the remodel, go for it. But you will only get back a percentage of the cost (assuming you pay someone to do the work)

If you do a $30k kitchen remodel you would be luck to recoup 95% of that on the sale (plus you would have dealt with the hassle while it was going on).

My advise is, if you are happy with your kitchen now and don't have a burning desire to upgrade, don't do it and price your house $30k lower when you sell. But, if you are going to be upset at your agent when they want to list $30k lower than your neighbor, do the upgrades.
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Old 04-15-2014, 11:29 AM   #29
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I fall in the camp of do the upgrades you'll personally enjoy first... and if you feel you'll be in a hurry to sell, when the time comes, do the other upgrades after that.

We're mid way through the personal enjoyment upgrades on our house... and have lived here for 11 years. We replaced the dated vinyl floors with a nice ceramic tile. We refaced the cabinets (which were original 1960's - built of solid wood vs particle board) by repainting and doing new hardware. We're doing appliances in stainless as they need replacement. We did NOT do granite. We seriously considered doing a quartz countertop - which is more current (and similarly priced) than granite. Instead we had stainless steel countertops fabricated. This choice probably won't help us sell - but it is something we'll enjoy (as will any serious cook who considers buying.)

We've done half of our windows (going from the 1960's original single pane aluminum to very nice metal clad wood double pane windows.) We'll do the 2nd half of the windows this year. And the master bath room.

You have to look at how much of your home's value is location/lot/school district, and how much is the finishes in the house. Ours skews strongly to the location and relatively large lot being the selling feature.
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Old 04-15-2014, 02:30 PM   #30
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To me it looks like the value is based on the location (by the bay). $1,000,000 dollar house buyer will probably replace all the stuff to their own taste anyway.
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Old 04-15-2014, 03:31 PM   #31
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We knew that we would sell/downsize when DS went to college, so several years before that I had the kitchen remodeled because a) the orange formica and dark cabinets would definitely deter buyers and b) they were driving me crazy. The biggest part of the project was removing a breakfast bar and overhead cabinets, replacing the cabinets, and removing a dropped ceiling light fixture. But all of the appliances (white) were less than 10 years old so I did not replace them. Overall, it made a huge difference in the appearance of the house even though other areas were somewhat dated.

We got advice from several realtors before putting it on the market. Right before selling we painted all of the walls (Kilim Beige), replaced the worn/stained upstairs carpet (downstairs was all tile and wood), replaced dated light fixtures, and mulched the flower beds. And we hired a stager. Put less than $10K into that and ended up getting full asking price about $20K more than we had expected to sell for (high $300s). And that was during the recession.
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Old 04-15-2014, 03:56 PM   #32
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Thanks for all the opinions. I know that all real estate is local and that different things are valuable to different buyers.

Our home is not that old (less than 10 years) and, as the original owners, we selected a lot of the finishes (that we could afford). We opted to have the builder put in things that are harder to change - our kitchen has top of the line cherry cabinets that I think are highly desirable (this is always emphasized by realtors in for-sale home descriptions in the area), we have bump-outs and higher ceilings. Extending walls and ceilings are harder to fix later, unlike flooring. We have a gas cooktop (black ceramic), double wall ovens (black), and a stainless steel frig. I don't see any need to change them out. But we didn't do the granite or hardwoods. We have formica and linoleum.

I think I agree with the poster that said we may have to sell for $10K less for an upgrade that would cost us $6K. (i.e., the granite. The hardwoods would cost us about $5-6K in materials - but my DH would install them). Well, that is the worry anyway. In our old neighborhood I remember a neighbor that had the world's worst kitchen - everything falling apart and super dated. The dishwasher didn't work, the icemaker and water on the frig were broken, there were rips in the ugly, old linoleum floor. It was a disaster. Just before selling he hired contractors and gutted the kitchen and put in all new. I just never understood that approach.

I guess I have made a decision. Now to get DH on board. I probably will wait a few days to start working on him - we are paying Uncle Sam several thousand dollars on this tax day. Too bad it isn't a refund!
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Old 04-16-2014, 08:34 AM   #33
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I wouldn't spend any money until I was ready to sell because who knows what the current "trend" will be at that time. Granite is in right now, but maybe not tomorrow.
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Old 04-16-2014, 08:40 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by anethum View Post
It's hard for me to relate to return-on-upgrade because I'm in the strange position where anything I do to my house will return 0%, at least for the time being.......
Similar situation here. Before the real estate meltdown, all the original neighborhood houses being sold were being replaced with McMansions. So, I've done few upgrades. In the last few years, the tear downs have stopped and new owners are living in the smaller original houses.

I plan to sell in 3 or 4 years and I'll have to play it by ear as to what I do to prep the house for sale.
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Old 04-16-2014, 09:26 AM   #35
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Let the new owner do the upgrades. If you price it right it will still move. Save the upgrade money for your new home.
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Old 04-16-2014, 12:23 PM   #36
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Live Free, that sounds like a sensible approach to me.

FWIW, I've always been skeptical of the claims that if you do this improvement or that improvement that you only get x% of the cost when you sell. How can they really know? Do they take into consideration the additional discount that a seller would have to offer absent the update? (The $10k in your case).

Whenever I bought a house, if the there was an obviously needed update, I would reduce what I thought the house was worth if everything were shipshape by the cost of the work, a provision for my aggravation and a provision for profit (hence the difference between the $6k cost of improvements and the $10k reduction in the selling price of the house).

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