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Advice For Selling Home
Old 12-11-2015, 02:49 PM   #1
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Advice For Selling Home

DH and I plan to sell our primary home next spring. The house was built in 1958, was the home DH was raised in. It is a 3BR/2B and 2100 sq. feet. We bought it from his parents in 1986. We finished the downstairs adding the 2nd bath and updated the kitchen about 15 years ago, but know it will appear dated to new homebuyers (at least by HGTV standards. The oven just crapped out (stovetop still works) and we aren't sure if we should have it replaced or just offer an allowance when selling the house. Appliances are white and it seems like everyone wants SS now.
I will be painting all interior walls and we will have the outside painted. Just not sure how much we want to invest in an older home that someone may want to remodel.
It is in a desirable area with good schools, within walking distance of bus/train/ferry, waterfront, restaurants and shops. Boeing and other employment close by.
We will be getting advice from a local realtor, but I'm curious if any of you have words of wisdom or similar experience. We don't want to invest $ that won't see a return, but also want the house to be appealing enough to get decent offers. Currently not many comparable homes on the market in the immediate area. Most are larger, more expensive homes.



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Old 12-11-2015, 03:02 PM   #2
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I think the conventional wisdom is to make some improvements/upgrades so the home doesn't seem dated as most buyers prefer move-in-ready. So in your case, that would mean new appliances, perhaps new countertops, perhaps at least painting cabinets, etc.

I personally am the opposite... I can easily see past cosmetic issues and would prefer to do it myself where I can better control the materials, build quality, etc as long as the price of the house was commensurately discounted for the work that needed to be done.

We took the opposite tack when we sold our house. Rather than replace the old (25-40 year old) roof which still looked good and was not leaking at all we built that into the asking price and told the buyers that... they accepted it and I drove by there a month or so ago and the old roof was still going strong.

I guess that it all depends on the nature of the buyers in your area.
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Old 12-11-2015, 03:12 PM   #3
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I will be painting all interior walls and we will have the outside painted. Just not sure how much we want to invest in an older home that someone may want to remodel.
Ask your realtor, for sure. We're getting DM's house ready for market. We had the inside painted, put in new carpeting (the old carpeting was badly stained), removed all the junk and clutter, and cleaned it well. We also hired a handyman for one day for simple repairs / touch-ups. We will give credits instead of replacing appliances. Our realtor thinks it is not worth it to replace or update anything unless it badly detracts or really stands out in a negative way (like the carpeting).
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Old 12-11-2015, 03:16 PM   #4
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I think it is very dependent on the market and what you're competing with. As pb4uski did, pricing the update in can be a good strategy, but a lot of folks can't see beyond that. I too would prefer to fix up a purchase to my taste, but DW is one who can be turned off by a dated home.

Taking all this into consideration, we're of a mind to do the updating now and enjoy it rather than do it in prep for sale. We have no idea when we'd move out of here, but figure the bath updates are good for 10-15 years and the kitchen we did in 02 still looks great. Just don't want to be doing updates that we wouldn't get to enjoy!
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Old 12-11-2015, 03:22 PM   #5
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I would replace the oven so you can use it until house sells, and because it shows you keep stuff up in the house. Just make the oven consistent with the other appliances.
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Old 12-11-2015, 03:40 PM   #6
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I personally am the opposite... I can easily see past cosmetic issues and would prefer to do it myself where I can better control the materials, build quality, etc as long as the price of the house was commensurately discounted for the work that needed to be done.
Ditto here. We bought a house (also near a ferry, Boeing (Paine Field), etc.) that was built in 1964 and had not been updated, expect for newer tile in the bath. Worse, it reeked of cigarette smoke, as the previous owners had lived and smoked there for 30+ years. Structurally though, it was fine, close to both our workplaces, had a view, and nearly all the other features we were looking for.

Soon as I walked in, I thought "this is it". We knew we'd spend a couple weeks cleaning, painting, installing new flooring, refinishing cabinets, replacing light fixtures, buying a new stove, and such, but that didn't hold us back from making a full-price offer to get in the running with another full-price offer. (And hey, I got a good price for the vintage light fixtures I replaced!)

To sell, I wouldn't do more than spruce up the curb appeal, if necessary, and paint. You mention SS appliances...I hear they're going out of style now. Not sure what'll be in vogue next.

P.S. I think some people go overboard fixing up their place to sell because they don't want people who look at it to think they're poor or lazy or have bad taste or something. That's an expensive trap for some!
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Old 12-11-2015, 03:47 PM   #7
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I agree with MichaelB that your realtor will probably be the best source of advice. I would go one step further and recommend interviewing a number of prospective realtors. First, you want to sound them out on their thoughts about the place. Then when you pick the one you're most comfortable (and you've checked their previous sale record), you can go into detail. Someone who has sold a lot of houses in your area will have a very good feel for what works and what doesn't.

One caveat is to try to avoid the current trend toward realtor "teams" where you don't actually have access to one professional. I hate that approach; it just makes the whole experience inefficient. Find a true agent who will work closely with you and has lots of experience.
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Old 12-11-2015, 04:08 PM   #8
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With an older house, I think it's best to make some improvements and spruce it up. Otherwise, you won't be getting much from it. It will need to appeal to modern buyers.


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Old 12-11-2015, 04:22 PM   #9
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Taking all this into consideration, we're of a mind to do the updating now and enjoy it rather than do it in prep for sale. We have no idea when we'd move out of here, but figure the bath updates are good for 10-15 years and the kitchen we did in 02 still looks great. Just don't want to be doing updates that we wouldn't get to enjoy!
That's what we did to our 1972 tri-level. About 1.5 years ago we redid the two bathrooms (converting one tub into a tiled stand up shower) and kitchen, new appliances (black is the new SS?), granite counter tops. Also new window blinds. At the time we didn't know when we would sell, but wanted to enjoy the nice renovations. But with prices in our area up, we are now planning on selling this coming summer and rent closer to my job for a couple of years until I retire. Also the furnace went out, so that's new also. All we have left is paint the outside and inside, and new carpet, and we have a nice turn-key house.
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Old 12-11-2015, 04:22 PM   #10
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One of the key things is called "curb appeal". Look at the front of the house critically, and see what simple things can be done to make it look better. Such things as trimming shrubs, touch up painting, etc.
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Old 12-11-2015, 04:57 PM   #11
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I'd suggest consulting with your realtor. A lot depends on the market in your particular area at this particular time. In some markets, a house will sell fast with or without fix-up for a nice price. In other markets, uh, no....
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Old 12-11-2015, 05:51 PM   #12
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One thing I don't get. Most experts say you do not recoup the cost of most renovations, with kitchen and bath getting a higher percentage recoup but not over 100% recoup. Given that any increase in the sales price is also just more money for the realtor, aren't the realtors operating with an inherent conflict of interest? Why not tell the home seller to spend their money in hopes of making more? Whether the home seller recoups their investment in those upgrades or not, any increase in sales price goes to the realtor!


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Old 12-11-2015, 06:01 PM   #13
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I started the sale of my last house with a $300 home inspection. I was concerned about the downstairs furnace, and it was also going to need replacing in a couple of years. I also had polybutyl pipe going from the house to the street that the inspector missed, and all the neighbors spent $3K to replace it. He missed that and it saved me big $ .

My repairs were based on the home inspection, and giving the new buyers a copy of the inspection saved time and cost to them. I sold the house for the list price to the third person that looked at the house. We moved within a month.

My other tip: Get a list of the comps, and price the house fairly. It'll move faster if you get a fair price vs. hitting a home run.
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Old 12-11-2015, 06:02 PM   #14
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One thing I don't get. Most experts say you do not recoup the cost of most renovations, with kitchen and bath getting a higher percentage recoup but not over 100% recoup. Given that any increase in the sales price is also just more money for the realtor, aren't the realtors operating with an inherent conflict of interest? Why not tell the home seller to spend their money in hopes of making more? Whether the home seller recoups their investment in those upgrades or not, any increase in sales price goes to the realtor!

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That's a good point. 4 of the 6 houses around us have sold in the last year and most the Realtor's and sellers just did what I call a 'refresh'. they put lower end minimal new appliances, furnaces, carpet, whatever made it more appealing than the old junk; painted; fixed the curb appeal a little, and that was it. They wanted to move the house, but at a higher price than as-is would have received.

[edit] I forgot to add the rest of the story. buyers would have inspectors come over, and point out flaws. and then the sellers would have to fix those things. Then they sold.
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Old 12-11-2015, 06:10 PM   #15
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I am currently in the market and from my perspective, a refresh is a good idea. I don't think a remodel is worth it for you. I would rather just do the remodel the way I want it and know that I've done it correctly. Every house I see that has had significant recent renovations looks like a flip and turns me off. I agree with the comment about doing enough so that the buyer knows that you kept the house up. Then price the house accordingly and you'll be fine.
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Old 12-11-2015, 06:27 PM   #16
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One thing I don't get. Most experts say you do not recoup the cost of most renovations, with kitchen and bath getting a higher percentage recoup but not over 100% recoup. Given that any increase in the sales price is also just more money for the realtor, aren't the realtors operating with an inherent conflict of interest? Why not tell the home seller to spend their money in hopes of making more? Whether the home seller recoups their investment in those upgrades or not, any increase in sales price goes to the realtor!
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I am sorry, but the realtor's commission is usually 6%, so he would only get 6% of the increase.
When I sold my house, there were 2 offers, and one buyer raised his offering price by $5000. The realtor got $300 of it, and I got the other $4700
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Old 12-11-2015, 06:35 PM   #17
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From a Realtor's perspective-
You want the house to show well. The formula Freddie Mac uses for their foreclosures is paint and carpet. They found these give them the best return for the dollars spent.
Make any FHA improvements that would be required for a loan- smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, hand rails, fix broken glass. (They don't like the crack in the basement storm window you've been ignoring for years.)
Clean up the outside for "curb appeal".
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Old 12-11-2015, 06:57 PM   #18
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Definitely depends on the market. DH and I sold a house in very good condition and made some obvious improvements: replaced beige carpeting with stains we couldn't get out, replaced carpet in bathroom (ick!) with tile, replaced plastic linoleum stuff in another bath with tile, repainted a couple of walls back to white, replaced worn, stained drawer handles in kitchen. We had granite countertops and bamboo flooring in kitchen and master bath, but mostly black appliances.

The feedback was TOTALLY superficial. Light fixtures, wall colors (mostly white, ugly 1980s wallpaper gone and popcorn ceilings removed) and and appliances were "dated". Fortunately, we did get one decent offer and that was all it took. No one asked about utility bills, our energy-efficient windows or the piles of new insulation in the attic. Fortunately, we made most of the improvements for ourselves over the years.

OTOH, in the pre-HGTV days I sold a solid, unimproved little house in a tony suburb in NJ at a fat profit after 7 years, in 2003.

Definitely listen to your realtor, but use caution in doing anything really expensive. I've seen people on HGTV go into ecstasy over white cabinets and decree that dark ones had to be replaced, and vice versa. One woman said, "I am so OVER dark granite". If you spend a lot, you can almost guarantee some buyer will hate it.
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Old 12-11-2015, 06:59 PM   #19
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We just sold MIL house. We had around 25 showings all with the "dated" feedback. We painted the interior, main floor, replaced hardware on kitchen cabinets and bathrooms, and it sold within two weeks. We still took a hit on the price for "dated", but it was a done deal.
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Advice For Selling Home
Old 12-11-2015, 08:28 PM   #20
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Advice For Selling Home

Good feedback. I plan on replacing some hardware on cabinets, possibly some light fixtures and upgrade our front door. I do plan on checking comps closer to listing time.
We will also spruce up our landscaping.

Athena53, I saw that episode of Flip or Flop yesterday


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