Author Topic: Getting House Ready to Sell. To spend or not to spend?  (Read 2795 times)

Verdure

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Getting House Ready to Sell. To spend or not to spend?
« on: May 16, 2017, 03:17:36 PM »
We live in a Midwestern suburb. We bought our 1989 1500 sqft, 3 bed, 2 bath ranch house for $107K in 2008.  We likely will be looking to sell it next spring/summer.  We are trying to decide what, if any, updates we should do over the next year.

In the past month our immediate neighbors to the north and south both sold their houses. South sold for $147K in a few days, 2k over asking, north sold for $130K in a few weeks, 3K under asking. Both are also 3 bed, 2 bath ranches of the same vintage, more like 1400 sqft.  The one to the south was more updated and in better shape. (Laminate floor in main areas, has an original garden tub, which ours does not, stainless appliances and granite counter in their much smaller kitchen) Also had a much better realtor.  Both have decks, which ours does not. There is another one in the neighborhood listed for $149. Indoors it's fully updated, but sad back patio like ours, and ours has a much nicer lot with mature trees.

Updates we have done since we bought the home: all new floors, except laundry/utility room.  Bamboo in kitchen, great room, cork in bedrooms, tile in baths.  Efficient windows, new garage door. Have new kitchen appliances, but white, and mostly not high end. (Nice dishwasher) HE washer, but our ca. 2005 dryer, a few new light fixtures, closet system in master bedroom.

At a minimum, we will repaint, and do any necessary repairs, which should be in the 1-2K neighborhood. I feel like we could probably sell right now, as is, for somewhere between $135-140, based on the fact that our house is bigger and in comparable to somewhat better shape to the one that sold for $130.

If we would spend up to 5K, which of these would you choose? Things we are considering doing: Updating the rest of the light fixtures. Changing out the bathroom vanities. (They are the original 1989 shell shaped sinks). New front door. New kitchen countertops. We have much more countertops than southern neighbor, so granite would likely be prohibitive, but could do high end laminate, and would price other options.  Deck or paver patio.  Add ceiling fixtures to the extra bedrooms, which currently have none. New dryer and/or other new appliances. Paint kitchen cabinets white or possibly replace? 

So, advice please, real estate mustachians.  Should we just do the basics and forget the rest? Obviously, I don't want to put in 10K, and only sell it for 10K more.  We are pretty handy and could DIY a fair bit. MrV installed the cork and tile floors, dishwasher, etc. We will definitely paint the interior ourselves.   And of course there is the question mark of where the market will be this time next year.

acroy

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Re: Getting House Ready to Sell. To spend or not to spend?
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2017, 04:23:56 PM »
I'm no pro, but suggest hit the easy things first
Capitalize on the curb appeal and the nice lot / trees. make sure the garden/lawn looks good.
Paint, make sure it's clean, declutter the heck outta the place, or better, move out then sell it (if possible).
Unless you can DIY and/or get materials for free, interior updates generally don't pay for themselves. Definitely don't delay the listing to complete updates. List it and go for it!

Anecdote: a sister of mine likes color. Bright bright color. she painted her house, in and out, in Bright Colors! That yelled at you! A blue wall here, a red wall there etc. She went to sell and the realtor said 'whoa - paint this monstrosity!'. She listed it anyway as-is, at full price compared to comps. It sold at 100% price in 3 weeks, cash to a Hispanic lady who loved the paint ("all the other houses look the same! no life!") and wanted to be close to her grandkids.

So, one persons white elephant is another persons' rare valuable.

Good luck!

GizmoTX

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Re: Getting House Ready to Sell. To spend or not to spend?
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2017, 04:46:06 PM »
New front door, if yours looks tired or damaged. This includes the hardware & deadbolt lock. Make sure your front & back yards look great.

Are the kitchen countertops damaged? What is the prevailing material in your neighborhood? I wouldn't do granite for this price home unless everyone else has it.
If you replace countertops, also replace the sink & garbage disposal at the same time. Personal pet peeve: twin sinks, which are an ancient holdover from when everyone hand washed before dishwashers. Sheet pans & large pots are difficult at best in a twin sink. Put in a super single instead -- you can always use a plastic dishpan if you want a divided sink. We use a stainless steel grid in ours to keep stuff from sitting in water & scratching the sink.

Unless damaged, I wouldn't touch the cabinets in the kitchen or make major changes in the bathroom. Too often your updates will be gutted by the buyer. Make sure everything is spotlessly clean.

Light fixtures are so personal -- I wouldn't do them unless yours really look sad. Make sure the bulbs are clean & bright.

In our area, washer/dryer does not convey, & neither does the refrigerator if it's not built in. These can be used to negotiate the close but I wouldn't upgrade them.

Verdure

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Re: Getting House Ready to Sell. To spend or not to spend?
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2017, 10:05:05 PM »
Thanks for the responses. I agree 100% about cleaning and decluttering. Major decluttering is definitely on the agenda for this year. And we moved every couple of years when I was growing up. Mom and Dad always got top dollar for their houses because when we were moving, Mom kept them meticulous, as in she would vacuum away footprints from the carpet as we would leave. My brother and I always hated it when we had a house on the market! At least it never took long! But since we moved so frequently, updates were never an issue, so that part is kind if a mystery.

Unless you can DIY and/or get materials for free, interior updates generally don't pay for themselves. Definitely don't delay the listing to complete updates. List it and go for it!

We aren't waiting because we want to do updates, Next year is the soonest we would move based on totally non house related factors, so since we have the time and think we will likely move, we plan to work on stuff in the meantime.

Anecdote: a sister of mine likes color. Bright bright color. she painted her house, in and out, in Bright Colors! That yelled at you! A blue wall here, a red wall there etc. She went to sell and the realtor said 'whoa - paint this monstrosity!'. She listed it anyway as-is, at full price compared to comps. It sold at 100% price in 3 weeks, cash to a Hispanic lady who loved the paint ("all the other houses look the same! no life!") and wanted to be close to her grandkids.

So, one persons white elephant is another persons' rare valuable.

This is totally true--I had an aunt and uncle who did this really polarizing floral wall to wall carpeting. It was very high quality, but a high contrast pattern. Would have guessed it would take forever to sell, but it sold quickly and the buyer loved the carpet. Was definitely a love it or hate it situation.

Our house is very colorfully painted inside, actually. I am contemplating how much to tone it done when we repaint. It needs new paint because it has been almost 10 years since we painted, and it Wil just look much cleaner with a fresh coat. Our bedroom has a stenciled accent wall which I love and I intend to leave, though. It is in good shape and tone on tone in muted blues, so really nice for a bedroom. But pretty much every room is a different color, some quite bright/bold, so I dunno. Choosing paint will be interesting this time around when it's not just for me.

Are the kitchen countertops damaged? What is the prevailing material in your neighborhood? I wouldn't do granite for this price home unless everyone else has it.

If you replace countertops, also replace the sink & garbage disposal at the same time.
The countertops are OK. Not great, not terrible. They are off-white, so they stain easily, but can be bleached pretty easily too. They are close to 30 years old so they have dings here and there, and they are a bit warped near the sink,  but nothing that jumps out at you unless you are looking really closely. On the plus side, they are not some dated pattern/color.

Good point about the sink. The disposal is actually relatively new though, we've replaced it before. And good question about washer and dryer conveying. I'm not even really sure about that. We had our own when we we bought this one; we moved from an apartment with hook ups. I feel like the neighbors included them, but I'll have to double check.  I think fridges usually do here. We specifically requested our seller not leave theirs because we hated it. They really wanted us to take it.

MayDay

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Re: Getting House Ready to Sell. To spend or not to spend?
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2017, 09:25:20 AM »
I think it can depend a lot on the overall feel of the house.  If it feels like there are some updates, but still dated because XYZ thing (shell sinks, for example) then it makes sense to fix the things that stick out like a sore thumb.

I would think a patio or deck would be a big plus.

When we were a year out from selling, I had a couple realtors walk through and give me their thoughts.  They can give a fresh perspective (you are used to some of the idiosyncrasies, or you might just have bad taste ;) ) and they know the local market. 

Regarding paint specifically, my realtor thought we shouldn't have bright/bold paint in every room, but our neighborhood has loads of families, so brighter kids bedrooms were fine, for example, but the master bedroom should be more neutral. He thought tone-on-tone stripes were fine, but bright stripes would be bad, for example- one bedroom had blue stripes on one wall, but they were almost the same color blue with one matte and one gloss. 

I would seriously consider a new countertop, but honestly I wouldn't bother with laminate.  If you are going to spend the money, put in what people actually want.  No one wants laminate.  Period.  They will pay the same for old laminate as they will for new laminate, IMO.  Makes no sense for a 100K house, but that is the reality.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Getting House Ready to Sell. To spend or not to spend?
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2017, 03:53:08 PM »
If the countertops are truly hideous, one of those $100 recoating kits might be an improvement.

Re: the sad patio, have you tried power-washing it? You might also consider staining. A fire pit or outdoor fireplace might be an easy add-on to help buyers visualize backyard parties.

Home buyers are looking for 2 things:
1) things to label "a problem"
2) an imaginary fun life in the house

Resolve any perceived problems like wood rot, old water damage, or hideous finishes. Add fun with objects like the fire pit, space for toy storage/declutter, unique-ish fixtures that are conversation pieces but not controversial, and well-kept gardens.

Cassie

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Re: Getting House Ready to Sell. To spend or not to spend?
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2017, 04:05:07 PM »
Pre cut granite is way cheaper then the stuff they cut to match the length of your countertops. If yours is longer then the countertop they just seam it. We put this in the last 2 homes we had.  They do the seams so expertly that you don't even see them.  don't bother with laminate because no one wants it. I might also replace the bathroom vanities.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Getting House Ready to Sell. To spend or not to spend?
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2017, 05:43:04 PM »
I also have a ~$140k house in the Midwest that I considered selling last year. While there were several things that were going to be repaired, a fresh coat of paint was the only "upgrade" that was planned. With a house in that price range it just doesn't seem to make much sense to do most updates.

MsPeacock

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Re: Getting House Ready to Sell. To spend or not to spend?
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2017, 07:31:06 PM »
Can you reach out to the realtor that sold the house to the south? Can she/he give you some advice on the most bang for your buck after she/he sees your house? She/he would likely have an idea of what buyers are expecting in your neighborhood and price-point.

What comes to mind for me is to replace things that are dated and ugly - the shell sinks sound like they might be in that category. Lighting too - and you can get light fixtures pretty inexpensively. For the vanities can you change out the hardware and/or paint them to make them more updated, along with possibly changing the sinks?

Painting and deep cleaning are of course the best return for time and (very little) money invested.

Duke03

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Re: Getting House Ready to Sell. To spend or not to spend?
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2017, 09:05:39 PM »
My advice after selling a home in one day to the first person that saw it in the 175k price range is to make sure it is q-tip clean.  Meaning that if they ran a q-tip along any surface it would be clean when they looked at it.  Our last house we cleaned the crap out of it.  Then all I did was repaint the outside trim to make it pop.  Didn't even paint the entire house.  On the inside other than cleaning from top to bottom all I did was repaint the base boards.  The buyers realtor commented on what sold our house was how clean it was and it just looked like it was taken care of compared to all the other houses in the price range.

Verdure

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Re: Getting House Ready to Sell. To spend or not to spend?
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2017, 10:25:06 PM »
Thanks for the continued feedback. I had been considering asking a realtor for advice, so I may do that.  I learned that sparking cleanliness is the key to selling a home quickly for top dollar at my mother's knee, so that's a given.

I think I'm leaning toward small changes that we will enjoy whether we end up selling soon or not, so I'm thinking the shell sinks are going. I hate those things, and the ridges are a pain to clean. A fire pit sounds good, too. MrV would love that.

Counters don't seem worth it. We have a 4x6 peninsula, and about 40 sqft of counter space, as opposed to the neighbor, who had like 25. I had thought maybe something like this. http://www.twotwentyone.net/new-kitchen-countertops but meh, I don't care much about it, so I'll focus on what I will enjoy, instead.

Dicey

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Re: Getting House Ready to Sell. To spend or not to spend?
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2017, 01:24:19 PM »
Ha! When this came on the market, we figured it was either going to sell quickly or it was going to languish and potentially be our next BRRR purchase. Surprise! It's pending with a "good offer."

http://www.estately.com/listings/info/38597-fallbrook-avenue--6

Just a recent story, I'm not advocating for you to make any drastic changes, except maybe the shell sinks.

Agree you should talk to the realtor, but keep in mind that sometimes they want to rush the house to market to secure the listing and sale, so be careful.

Here's a little gift for you: 99centknobs.com. Check it out. Also, for any changes you make, try to avoid HD and Lowe's, their stuff is too easily identified. The internet is your friend.

Verdure

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Re: Getting House Ready to Sell. To spend or not to spend?
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2017, 01:37:15 PM »
Dicey: Wow, that's house is a colorful one!   Interesting thought about Lowes, HD. Not sure at our price point buyers would be deterred by that, but something to think about. Thanks for the hardware site!