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View Full Version : Selling home-Need advice on Improvements


DaBoo
04-19-2006, 10:43 AM
We inherited a house with 2 1/2 acres 3 years ago. We have been living here for the past 2 years and made minor cosmetic improvements but it still needs a lot of work. (updated mostly) The house and land are paid for so besides the improvements and selling fees any profit will be clear. :) My question is what improvements would you suggest that would yield the best profit? :confused3
We are already planning to put on new siding and replace the deck.
What are the majority of buyers going to look for? :magnify:
Or would it be better to sell as it is at a lower price and not put the money and time into it? I am so confused.
Any input would be greatly appreciated.

mlwear
04-19-2006, 10:59 AM
I'll throw out one and I'm eager to read what others write.

I have often read that the cheapest thing you can do to improve the house and get the greatest return is PAINT.

Have you ever watched the show "Flip That House" on TLC. They spend a lot of cash to fix up a place, but some of the things they do are cheap and stuff I wouldn't think of.

Chicago526
04-19-2006, 11:01 AM
Assuming there aren't any structural or critical repairs you need to do (fix the roof, replace the furnace, update the electrical), then I'd be tempted to sell "as is" for a lower price an not worry too much about it, just fix obvious things like peeling paint, broken door handles, things like that. Give the place a good cleaning (better yet, hire a cleaning service!) and declutter if you're still going to be living there while it's on the market.

But, if you'd rather take the time and see if you can boost your selling price, then the two places I'd sink my money are the kitchen and the bathroom(s). These are the areas where you will most likely get back more money than you invested into to updating. Paint, replace counters/vanities/sinks/toliets and if you have the money and it's needed, the kitchen appliances. If the appliances work okay but are just an ugly color (burnt orange, olive green, etc.) you can try painting them with appliance paint to give them a new look. Also, if the cabinets are out of date, see if you can paint them. If they are wood, just sand them down, prime, and paint (white is usually your best bet) and maybe update the hardware (handles etc.). Counter tops are the worst, they are expensive to replace but if they are shot there isn't much you can do usually to save them, you may have to have them replaced no matter what. Same with the floors. And of course, fresh paint on the walls is always a safe bet. If they have wallpaper, try to remove that rather than paint over it. Sometimes removing wallpaper can damage the wall, though, so be carefull. Go with more neutral colors, it makes the rooms look bigger and people have an easier time imagining their 'stuff' in the rooms.

For the rest of the house, if you have carpet, but you know there are hardwood floors underneth, see about getting them refinished, hardwood floors are a really hot item right now, and refinishing is almost always cheaper than getting new carpet. And again, take down the wallpaper (if any) and paint!

If you have cable tv, watch "Sell This House" on A&E, and I think there are a few 'decorating on a budget' shows on HGTV too. Tape them, watch them, love them, use them. They have awesome ideas and examples of cheap/quick fixes that go a long way!

Good luck!

EthansMom
04-19-2006, 11:21 AM
You could look at just repairing the current siding and then painting the exterior of the house. Also, paint the interior of the house.

In my experience, anything you can do to make the house clean, open and light will help sell the house. I would declutter the house before you put it on the market. Make the home look as inviting as possible.

If all of the bathrooms and kitchen are terribly out of date, I probably wouldn't sink the money into updating them.

Cheshire Figment
04-19-2006, 11:34 AM
Three years ago Judy and I sold the house we lived in for 16 years. Over the years we had kept it up, new windows, hot water heater, appliances, reroof. We had painted the outside (reqired anyway by HOA).

We did hire Servicemaster to do a deep cleaning. We did not do any interior painting or recarpeting. We listed the house for $3,000 less than the selling price a person who had done everything to his house (same model and three houses down) had as the price about a month earlier. We told the purchasers that rather than our putting in our coice of colors, and probably minimum quality they could have the advantage of choosing their own colors and flooring. We would have probably had to spend $10,000 to get the work donw and would have more than likely not recovered our money.

HM
04-19-2006, 11:43 AM
Put as little into it as you can and go for the lower price.
Have a realtor that you trust, give you advise on what to do.
We spent a lot of money making changes to our house (for ourselves mostly...before we decided to sell) and didn't get much back for it. We regret doing some of the things we did now.

JennsBabySky
04-19-2006, 11:56 AM
First of all, make it look as clean as possible. Usually this requires at least paint and lots of elbow grease. Before showing the house, I'd box up as much as possible. Yes, it needs to be staged so that it looks lived in, but keep knick knacks and clutter to an absolute minimum. Just start packing your stuff and you'll be ahead of the game when it comes time to move. This includes closets and cabinets. Buyers love to know how much storage they have and so they will look in these areas. A half empty and clean closet looks much bigger than a stuffed closet. So, after everything is sparkling clean and most of your stuff is packed, take a good, critical look around. Park in front of your house and walk up to it like you're seeing it for the first time. First impressions are so important. How is the landscaping? It is amazing how much warmth a few cheap flowers can add to the appearance of a house. Make sure the porch is sparkling clean too. If you need to, buy an inexpensive light fixture and door mat, in most housing markets these will totally pay for themselves. Plus you should be able to buy both for under $30 if you shop around.

Now walk in the house. Look at each room and try to pretend that you are seeing it for the first time. Too much furniture in your living room, pack some up? Computer in the dining room, move it out. Try to keep everything as neutral as possible. It is really important for the buyers to imagine themselves living in the house. Clean those windows to sparkling and make sure window coverings are at least partially open and letting in as much light as posible. If you house tends to be dark, I'd leave the lights on for the showings.

At this point, you need to be really objective about what your house is worth as is and what it could be worth with upgrades. If I were putting in money into a house that I would sell, I would consider spending money in the following areas: kitchen, bath and flooring. If the flooring is stained or worn or a bright color (i.e. green or blue or rose), I'd strongly consider replacing. If you have hardwood floors underneath, that would be ideal. If not, even a neutral carpet, laminate flooring, or tile (personally I think slate looks great and is can be priced super well) would be a good idea. All of these can be purchased fairly inexpensively and would often result in a major return on investment. It is really hard for buyers to imagine their furniture on top of bright green carpet unless they have lots of green themselves. Personally, I love green, but only a small percetage of buyers will be wanting it themselves, but neutral should work for most everyone.

Also, like previous posters have stated, appliances and countertops are super important. You could definitely paint if they are in good condition, but otherwise, I'd consider replacing. And even if you don't replace, make sure everything sparkles. Scrub the countertops, clean the cabinets, make the appliances shine. Also for the bath. If you only have one, I'd be much more likely to replace the fixtures. But it totally depends on the condition. If they are in good condition, you might not need to do anything, but if the bathroom looks dated when you walk in, you usually get the full return on your money and then some when you do modest renovations.

Good luck,
Jennifer

bellarella
04-19-2006, 12:06 PM
I think it depends on the location of the home.

If you are in a neighborhood with lots of easy comps, you probably want to, at the very least, do cosmetic changes. Paint the walls a neutral color, make sure everything is clean, etc. Have the kitchens and baths "livable." It is too easy for a buyer to walk into a neighborhood and know exactly what other models like your home have sold for and then just start discounting the full cost of all the "must re-dos" right off of the their offer. If everything is clean and neutral, then they will feel less urgency to fix it right away and probably won't be as agressive in taking the cost out of their offer.

But if your home is rather unique in it's area -- that the models aren't all the same, etc., then you will want to look to see where your house fits in to the area and what a likely buyer would probably see in your house. If your house is older and a lot of new house have built up around it and are going for a lot more, you may find that potential buyers will see your house more for it's land value and not want to pay for any updating you do, as they will do a whole house remodel anyway. If your area has several "tiers" of pricing, you may find that it is worth putting some money into some more "major" updating (like kitchen, bath, carpet, landscaping) to be able to jump tiers (for example, if some house are selling for $100,000 and some for $200,000 and you could spend $50,000 to get your home closer to the $200,000 selling point from the $100,000 if you sold it as is, then it may be worth your time).

Really, it's all a matter of whether you see your house as a diamond in the rough, or a diamond in need of a good cleaning. If it just needs some polish, definately do that, but if it is still in the rough, you will need to decide whether you want to put the work (and risk) into chiseling away at it to make it shine.

Get some CMA's from realtors and see what they think it would sell for roughly as is, vs. if you did XYZ. Then look at the difference between those two numbers and how much work it would take for you to get from one to the other and decide if the time and energy would have enough financial reward to make it worth your while.

tink2dw
04-19-2006, 01:33 PM
Last year I sold my house "As Is" By Myself, there were less rules to have to follow. I sold my house for above the top price in my nieghborhood. It was really rough, we emptied it and needed a ton of work.

I put it on www.Craigslist.com and 11 days later I had buyers. He was in home construction and saw all the possiblilties for making it their own home.

StephMK
04-19-2006, 01:37 PM
Put as little into it as you can and go for the lower price.
Have a realtor that you trust, give you advise on what to do.
We spent a lot of money making changes to our house (for ourselves mostly...before we decided to sell) and didn't get much back for it. We regret doing some of the things we did now.

I completely agree with this poster. We had made several improvements before selling our last home (mostly for us also) but it didn't raise the pricing when time to sell. This time around, we are getting ready to sell & are more selective in our improvements. If you can, find a good local realtor that knows your area & ask them to give you an honest opinion of your home. We found someone we love & she went through all the rooms & advised us which repairs to make & what not to worry about for sale. Her opinion is that as long as you price it correctly, you can sell a home with or without numerous repairs.

We are painting our kitchen cabinets & it's amazing how just paint & new hinges/knobs can make such a big difference! She also recommended painting our bathrooms antique white & I will have to say that they do look extra roomy & fresh now. Good luck! Designed to Sell is a great HGTV show to watch to see what they can do with $2k for improvements.

DaBoo
04-19-2006, 04:26 PM
Thanks for all the great info. I cant wait for my DH to get home so I can share your comments with him. You guys are awesome. :disrocks:

paulh
04-19-2006, 04:51 PM
over here you would get 24 houses on that amount of land and sell them for $500,000 each
Paulh

DawnM
04-19-2006, 05:08 PM
We have bought and sold 3 fixer uppers so far. We have done well. Some needed major repairs and some needed minor repairs.

Make sure everything looks updated. If the kitchen or bathroom cabinets are fake laminate dark wood from the 70's then prime them and paint them! If the walls have colors that aren't very neutral, paint them a neutral beige or off-white. If the carpet is worn and gross, replace it.

You can even take all curtains down and just leave the windows "naked" for a more neutral, open, lighted look.

Our realtor told us to make the house as neutral as possible so that others can imagine their stuff in there.

I know that we hate blue and if we walked into houses that had blue walls and blue carpet we pretty much immediately wrote it off as what we would be interested in. One house had a dark purple kitchen and hallway. It had vaulted ceilings and the thought of trying to re-paint all of that seemed quite daunting.

Dawn

midwestdee
04-19-2006, 05:15 PM
In the last 1 1/2 years we sold our home of 25 years and were very involved (back breakingly involved) in getting my late mother in law's house on the market. I'm a big fan of both Sell This House and Designed to Sell. The first thing to consider is - are there defects in the house you are liable to disclose (leaking roof, lead paint, plumbing etc..) Those would be items you should be prepared to fix. With my mother in law's house, the brothers did check into a company that purchases houses "as is" and then rehabs them. Her house was just one of benign neglect - they were both cheap and couldn't agree on anything - so nothing got done - the house did not even have central air and it had been built around 63 - the brother decided to "rehab" did 70% themselves - had to hire professionals for some things. Big pay off. Most house just need getting rid of the clutter , paint, fixtures, wall plates, and other more superficial things. Your rule of thumb is if something in the house makes it identifiable yours (chicken collection, family pictures, 300 beany babies) put it in storage!!!!!! With our house - I had never seen an episode of those shows at the time we sold - but we really had done everything they recommend. The sign went up on a Tuesday - the real estate agent had an open house on Thursday and we had a contract Friday night. The next thing I would say - is get a brand name agent!!!!!! Unless you don't care if it takes a year for your house to sell and aren't worried about serial killers showing up to see the house - go with a really big real estate agent - a national name. No I don't work for an agency - and I know people will say they did it themselves and sold the house in 24 hours and I'm sure that does happen - but there are more people with the for sale by owners signs up for 6, 9 , or 12 months - then go with the agency and finally sell the place. Just my opinion, and I know what agents fleece you for is ridiculous, but it just is not worth the headaches and don't waste your time with a non brand recognition agency. That is what my idiot brother in law did with the mother's house - took almost 9 months to sell and we had it in mint condition. My brother in law ended up putting the posting on the web and putting together booklets and a cam tour because his "friend" the agent with a company no one heard of was worthless. Regarding your deck & siding- unless they are absolutely awful , or in the case of the deck, dangerous, please know that you will not get the money back on those investments . Good luck!