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For Those Planning to Sell Within 5 Years
Old 10-10-2016, 05:19 PM   #1
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For Those Planning to Sell Within 5 Years

How much are you willing to put into your current home to improve it's sale value? We have a house valued between $235k and $265k per Zillow. It is 38 years old and approx. 2600 sqft in a nice neighborhood with close access to schools and freeway. We have been here 18 years. Upgrades include new roof, new driveway/sidewalk/front step, new deck, new siding/windows/doors, fireplace insert, all bathrooms upgraded, wallpaper removed and painted, new kitchen floor, and landscaping. We are planning for a kitchen upgrade this year. Including appliance replacement we have paid for the house twice. My question is how much is enough? We haven't replaced any carpeting as we have had pets. I am just thinking to offer a generous carpeting allowance, but I know some people don't want to deal with this. Our markets is really hot with 8 houses selling on our block. Most have been flipped foreclosures or old houses updated. Struggling with where the point is to completely redo versus giving allowances. Also struggling with how to do the kitchen - hire a designer or just do what we would like. Anybody's experience would be appreciated. It used to be you could sell your house, buy a town house, and pocket a nice sum. Now it seems like break even at best. Thanks for input
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Old 10-10-2016, 05:41 PM   #2
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Clean it up and make it look nice...you've already done plenty, in fact, maybe too much (although, I'm not familiar with your neighborhood).

I'm an avid DIYer, so I'd rather buy a house that needs upgrades so I can do it the way I want rather than pay for someone else's reno that may not be to my liking.
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Old 10-10-2016, 05:46 PM   #3
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Zero. Why bother if it's a popular neighborhood. I would only spend money on things that I would get the pleasure of using or whatever is expected for the market. It sounds like you've already done that.


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Old 10-10-2016, 05:48 PM   #4
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I would interview three successful Realtors and see what they say. We sold a house last year, had been updated and maintained. Realtor suggested painting many of the public rooms a color I call "prison gray" and it sold to the first person who saw it (priced correctly) for $1K over ask and no contingencies.


Also tried to sell a summer house (thin, expensive market) where the Realtor (we chose a friend and made a mistake) where we were told to not do any upgrades. House could have used them. First selling season, few showings, no offers. Spent the winter doing many upgrades, still didn't sell this summer season. Many more showings. Wish we would have done the upgrades before listing it originally.
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Old 10-10-2016, 06:06 PM   #5
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Approximately zero renovations have a positive ROI. At this point, your kitchen reno (in my opinion) can only really benefit you by spending money to sell the place quicker. If you kitchen isn't "bad" (meaning it would turn off many potential buyers), then I wouldn't bother spending the money to remodel it. If it is bad, then I'd take 45th's advice and talk to a realtor to see what kind of kitchens are helping to sell houses so you can make similar modifications.
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Old 10-10-2016, 06:09 PM   #6
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Zero. Why bother if it's a popular neighborhood.
I second that. Zero sounds like a right number to me.
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Old 10-10-2016, 06:10 PM   #7
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First many of the "upgrades" you list are actually "maintenance". It's part of the cost of owning a home. A new roof is not an upgrade.

I agree with the suggestion to talk to a few realtors when you are ready to sell - and also to do some due-diligence by going to some open houses and seeing how updated competing houses are. How much you need to upgrade is dependent on your local market... there is no one-size-fits-all.

DH just completed the sale of MIL's house. The realtor knew we did not want to put tons of money into the house - but also knew that in that market - some upgrades were needed. We settled on replacing the old carpet (stained and icky) with laminate (not a high end neighborhood - laminate was the right call) and painting the entire inside (again - this needed to be done - it had been at least 10 years since the last paint.) No new appliances were purchased - although that was suggested by the realtor. The new owner paid $2k over asking price.
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Old 10-10-2016, 06:14 PM   #8
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Our story is surprisingly similar, though we're closer to paying for the house 1-1/2 times. My DS was a realtor and she says most (not all) buyers don't have much imagination - so they can't really see what the house could be after a reno. They evaluate homes as is. So homes with "potential" usually don't show well against turnkey homes. And these days most people don't want to go through the disruption of remodeling, the time or the uncertain costs - especially families with two working parents.

Allowances might work but they have to be generous. My Dad plans to include a $15K allowance to update his 70's kitchen. IME it will cost at least $30-45K. And allowances still confront the buyer with reno disruption.

It's probably good advice to ask a knowledgeable local realtor. But almost no matter where you are, there will be newer homes, brand new homes and older fully remodeled turnkey homes that you'll be competing with. Most buyers will opt for turnkey unless there's a big discount on a house that needs any significant updating.

Good luck, we're in the same boat...
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Old 10-10-2016, 06:24 PM   #9
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I am with the zero crowd. A new coat of neutral paint and repair any obvious defects but you won't get your money back and if someone comes in and doesn't like the reno work that has been done they will be less inclined to buy knowing that you are expecting to get your money out on something they may have to change.
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Old 10-10-2016, 06:44 PM   #10
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Consumer Reports (free at library) had a comprehensive issue on fixing up a house to sell, within the last year. Bottom line was that only painting has any kind of return on investment.
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Old 10-10-2016, 06:53 PM   #11
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I am never selling again if I can help it.

When I sold my prior home in the summer of 2015, first I moved out, leaving it completely, totally empty and bare. Next I wanted to do some delayed maintenance and repairs and then clean it, fix it up, and stage it and (blah blah blah...) before putting it on the market.

My real estate guy stepped into my decision process the day I moved out, before any repairs or anything had been done, and said said no, no, no.... actually he would only agree to having it cleaned and then wanted to put it on the market that very day. He knows the real estate market here, and I guess demand normally drops off here after school starts.

Anyway, I did what he said and it sold four days after I put it on the market, for a great deal more than I expected. My buyers never noticed or asked for any of the big expensive repairs that I had planned to complete before selling. My point is that you are hiring a seller's agent who you know to be an expert in real estate sales in your area, so make your choice wisely, and then listen to what he has to say when you are making these decisions.
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Old 10-10-2016, 07:19 PM   #12
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"First many of the "upgrades" you list are actually "maintenance". It's part of the cost of owning a home. A new roof is not an upgrade."

I guess I don't agree with this. 2 homes of similar price, location and attractiveness, one has a new roof, one is 10 years old. I'll consider the one with the new roof to have more value. Same with water heater, condition of concrete, HVAC system, etc. Less out of pocket to me in the future.
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Old 10-10-2016, 07:43 PM   #13
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We moved 5 months ago, but are just finishing moving the rest of our "stuff". I'm going to repaint the 3 bedrooms and replace the carpet. Fortunately, we often travel through Dalton and can purchase carpet at half what I can get it locally.

The original kitchen cabinets were semi-customs, and I put new raised panel doors on them when I reconfigured and painted the cabinets--and got rid of a too large island. We also replaced hideous purple formica with granite cabinet tops.

If the cabinet framing is good, replacing the cabinet doors and paint goes a long way. I spent maybe $500 on custom fit doors.

A good pressure washing of the exterior, sidewalks and driveway also goes a long way. I cannot impress how important curb appeal is, either.
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Old 10-10-2016, 08:10 PM   #14
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The last couple of house sold in my neighborhood sold for the asking price "As is" and their attitude was if you want it buy it, if not take a hike, all sold within 3 months, outdated kitchens and all. I guess if you are not desperate to sell you can do that.
Both of them sold and then rented in the area they are going to relocate to. No double house carrying cost, no rush to buy or sell.
I like that way to sell and will emulate it when I'm ready to go.
I would never buy before I sell.
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Old 10-10-2016, 08:47 PM   #15
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We sold in August 2015 in a super-hot California market, and got a dozen offers in one week. Our kitchen had been remodeled - in 1998, but it looked new, IMO because we had hired a designer, who recommended shaker cabinets and commercial style appliances before they really got popular. The advantages of hiring a designer is he/she can help prevent your making a mistake in either product selection or layout, both of which are important to buyers. Good designers can also help you stick to a budget by telling you when to splurge and when to save. So I think a kitchen designer is worth the cost.

However I would question whether it is worthwhile to do a major kitchen project if you are planning on selling soon. When we sold the main fix-ups we did before listing were in the yard, mulching, trimming, etc. so everything looked perfect, and "staging" the inside, though we did the staging ourselves, with our own furniture, just buying new accessories like pillows and fresh flowers. We also removed all the ratty furniture and anything stained, thoroughly de-cluttered and depersonalized, so the place looked very clean if a bit sparsely furnished.

We did interview 3 agents before hiring one, and we took her advice to the letter. She was the agent with the middle of the road approach, between one agent who said do nothing, and one agent who wanted to hire a professional stager. We were very happy with her advice and our overall results.
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Old 10-10-2016, 09:03 PM   #16
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"First many of the "upgrades" you list are actually "maintenance". It's part of the cost of owning a home. A new roof is not an upgrade."

I guess I don't agree with this. 2 homes of similar price, location and attractiveness, one has a new roof, one is 10 years old. I'll consider the one with the new roof to have more value. Same with water heater, condition of concrete, HVAC system, etc. Less out of pocket to me in the future.
Handy tip of the day - the quote button is right under the post... makes it easy to quote. If you're on the android app you can tap the post to select it - and one of the options is "quote". I'm not saying this snarky - I'm trying to be helpful.

Now - to the point you are making. Yes - a newer roof is a factor in a buyers consideration. Just like the layout is a factor, and the neighborhood, and whether there is carpet or hardwood floors. But if you own a house and, over time, you realize the roof needs replacing - you do it because you don't want water damage... not because it's an upgrade... Just like you change tires on your car when they are worn... it's part of the cost of ownership and considered maintenance. An upgrade would be replacing items that are still fully functional and operational for style reasons. For example replacing your corian counters (circa 1980) and replacing them with granite (circa 2000+). The corian is indestructible and still looks like new - but perhaps it was in a soft pink (again going with the 80's theme)... that would be an upgrade.
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Old 10-10-2016, 09:30 PM   #17
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I would interview three successful Realtors and see what they say. We sold a house last year, had been updated and maintained. Realtor suggested painting many of the public rooms a color I call "prison gray" and it sold to the first person who saw it (priced correctly) for $1K over ask and no contingencies.


Also tried to sell a summer house (thin, expensive market) where the Realtor (we chose a friend and made a mistake) where we were told to not do any upgrades. House could have used them. First selling season, few showings, no offers. Spent the winter doing many upgrades, still didn't sell this summer season. Many more showings. Wish we would have done the upgrades before listing it originally.
+1. Use a Realtor to get the only true value in your area, sold MLS comps (the same that appraisers use for loans). Interview 3 Realtors, go with the one with the most LISTED HOMES SOLD in your specific area. Ask all 3 Realtors for opinions on fixing or upgrading items. Carpet allowances (cash at closing) no longer work since federal mortgage rules will not allow them (Are sometimes used as downpayment money-banks know that.) Neutral paint (beige, off white, etc) is nearly always a good choice.

There are "Selling seasons" for most areas of the country. In FL, it could be late summer/fall, before the snow birds return. In the Midwest, it is early spring through August...driven by parents wanting to move before school starts. (Plus, few people enjoy walking through the winter snow/slush to look at homes for sale.) Be one of the first homes listed when your area's selling season begins. Good luck!
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Old 10-11-2016, 07:12 AM   #18
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Absolutely not.

But we have intentionally put ourselves in a low cost $100K townhouse that has a "floor" on price due to the area. Because of that, there is also a ceiling. Kind of like a bond fund, I guess

If I put $10K of upgrades into it, I might be able to realize $2K extra on a sale. Not worth it.
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Old 10-11-2016, 07:29 AM   #19
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We just sold our home in NY this summer and it took me about 5 weeks. We redid nothing. The house is very clean, warm and in a cul-de-sac in a great community. The young couple buying plans to makes changes based on what appeals to them. I'm happy with the price we got, and even happier that we didn't spend the time and money making upgrades.
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Old 10-11-2016, 08:08 AM   #20
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We, self included, should probably mention where we are. I'm in flyover country. There are some cities/regions where demand is very strong (and no reno is required), others where homes are very hard to sell at any price/condition, and everything in between...
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