Changes to make my house sell
November 5, 2013
Good morning, all,

My 16 year old 2000 sq. ft. home is currently rented. My tenant leaves in March, and I have a month to do some market-friendly renovations to get it ready for market in mid-April (and hopefully) a quick sale. I am looking for advice on what projects I should take on. My budget is $10K, and that is just to guarantee a quick sale. I am already going to take a loss on the house, so I'm not ready to put more than that into it. I am starting to plan now to get contractors and supplies lined up so that when March 1st hits, I can get in there and get done.

I did a partial redo of the master bathroom last year, but it still has the original 16-year old vanity. It's in good shape, so I think I am just going to paint it.

Other "must do"
- Replace all flooring - Upstairs is all carpeted and the tenants dog destroyed most of it. (Thankfully, I got smart and charged a "dog fee" which will offset that cost". Downstairs is carpet and laminate. I am going to keep that combination, since hardwoods are not in the budget.
- Paint the entire house - The color scheme is very traditional (gold, orange, and green) and the market around me is tired of that.
- Replace all bathroom vanities - They are all original. They are in good shape, just dated.

After all of these are done, I see after about $4k left in the budget for the kitchen.

The biggest question is around the kitchen. It's dated, plain and simple. What would be my best way to go with that budget? The dishwasher is only 2 years old, so I hate to replace that, just for stainless steel. I have to replace the 2 year old stove, since my tenant destroyed the top of it (She never cleaned a spill off of it, and it has a ton of burned on food on it). I was thinking about painting the cabinets, instead of replacing. They are in good shape, just dated.

I will be doing a lot of other little updates myself - replacing light fixtures, new window treatments, etc...

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It's clear you have already thought a lot about what to do. I suggest you start with getting in-person estimates for professional painting and for replacing the carpeting with low to-mid range carpet. While you are there, take a lot of photos, at least one of each wall, in broad daylight with the lights on. Posts with photos get far more responses on Houzz.

Will your tenant's security deposit cover the full extent of the damage, including a heavy duty professional cleaning and dog-deodorizing? Read the lease carefully and review tenant/landlord law for your area.

I recommend the book "Home Staging for Dummies". It's an excellent book on getting ready to sell, even in bad markets.
    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 7:04AM
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It is amazing what a fresh coat of white or neutral colored paint will do for a house. I agree with all of your plans and recommend painting the kitchen cabinets if they are looking dingy or outdated. What is the color of the newish dishwasher? If white, then think about doing the replacement stove in white too and painting the cabinets either a matching white or a pale gray (depending on the color of your counters and floor) so it all looks bright and fresh.
    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 7:25AM
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I would recommend hiring a professional home stager before even starting work. I stager can tell you how to best spend your money. Home Staging for Dummies was written by Christine Rea. She trains stagers. Her company is CSP. She trains world wide. Her website may help you find a stager in your area. Return on investment for a stager is over 100%.
2 Likes    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 7:29AM
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I agree to hire a professional stager. Also if you are interviewing for real estate agents, they can also give you suggestions. If they are interested in getting your listing, and have it sell quickly, they would want to help. There are many feature articles right here on Houzz about where to put your money pre-listing. Do not take any photos before all your improvements are made. There is no retrieving bad photos online. Also you can look at your local listings online and in person to see what your competition is doing. That does not cost you anything. be very proactive. You get only one chance to make a great 1st impression.
2 Likes    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 7:35AM
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the essentials inside
I agree w/hiring a stager too, at least for a consultation. Sometimes what we think will make a difference to potential buyers does not.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2013 at 1:09PM
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For our rentals, as well as for our nephew's newly purchased fixer, we bought vanities on sale from Cabinets To Go. We heard about them from another landlord. The vanities are far less expensive, better quality and nicer-looking than vanities the big box stores carry. They are free standing, making them easy and cheap to install. They are also topped with granite, pre-drilled for the faucets, and the sink is already installed. Even the cabinet pulls are included. Ours were purchased between for $200-$450 on sale. They always have sales. Check out their website. We got framed mirrors from Aaron Brothers when they had their 50 percent off sale, which they frequently have, for around $40. The bathrooms looked custom when finished.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by smugsy1122    November 17, 2013 at 9:17PM
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I would be hesitant to put too much money into the kitchen. If it's dated then it's likely in need of a serious overhaul and you can't do that properly with $4k (based on my research, anyway) plus there's no way of knowing if the money you spend is going to show up in the purchase price because the buyer might hate the new things you've done. I was house hunting recently and we basically figured on likely wanting to redo the kitchen to our preferences in the next 2-3 years anyway, so what we were specifically looking for was a kitchen that was maybe not super-spiffy, but FUNCTIONAL. (If we'd found The Perfect Kitchen in a house that was otherwise good, of course we would have been thrilled, but we weren't counting on it.)

The house we bought has a kitchen that looks decent - not all grubby and grimy and gross - and has functional appliances, but the cabinets and counter are dated. I guess the thing was that the way the kitchen was presented - clean and uncluttered - meant that it was easy to see the potential of the space when we were ready to redo, so there was less temptation to get hung up on the color of the countertop or other random details.

I agree with looking for someone in your area to give you advice, though - they should know what makes a difference to buyers locally and where you'll get a return on the money you're putting in versus where it's just a waste.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 11:29PM
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Hi kitchens are at the top of the majority of buyers list. A truly dated kitchen can lower the offer from a buyer. Once again, a stager could advice you on making your kitchen more appealing to potential buyers. A major overhaul is not usually necessary. Statistically you get 100% return on your money when you hire a staging professional to showcase your house. Good luck!
    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 4:19PM
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hi jennifer - with all due respect, I don't understand why you would spend $10K to fix up a house you're already losing money on. Do you think that if you invest $10K, you'll lose less net-net? That's a risky assumption.

If so, you're assuming that you'll get 100% of your investment back, and even if you do, you'll just be exactly where you started ... only you will have consumed $10K working capital in the process, gone through the aggravation of remodeling and delayed putting it on the market for the time you do the fix-up, all the while you are absorbing the carrying costs. And that's the BEST CASE scenario ... earning 100% return. In today's market, there is no such thing as a "guaranteed quick sale".

Think about it, why would you do that? You may as well put $10K on black at the roulette table in Vegas, at least you'll have fun that way!

As a real estate investor, my advice is to put it on the market as-is ASAP (after a good cleaning), be ready to discount the price by $10K if necessary and call it done.
    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 4:59PM
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Inside Out Staging and Design
Hi, I'm a professional stager and although I agree with the general opinions offered, I would need to see pictures :). Paint is almost universally a good idea, especially after a rental. I would also want to know your price point and how your home will compare to others around you. There are many cost effective solutions but without some basic info, hard to give you solid advice :).
1 Like    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 5:21PM
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Most buyers will estimate the costs of repairs much higher than they may actually are. In today's real estate market the majority of buyers want move in ready. So yes, it may be delay putting your house on the market by showcasing it properly, however, homes that have been staged usually sell more quickly. When a house doesn't sell quickly the first thing a realtor recommends is a price reduction. Your price reduction may well be over your $10,000 investment. Real estate investors love fixer uppers since they can get in and make money on the repairs you did not do as the owner. All of these comments are just armchair advice. Talking with several professionals including a home inspector will help you make the wisest decision for yourself. Good luck with whatever decision you make.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 6:48AM
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Inside Out Staging and Design
Couldn't have said it better myself :)! All very true statements which is why you need to know your market and competition.
$10,000 may seem like a lot but if the house sits vacant you are still paying taxes, mortgage and utilities. If you live in a colder climate now you are heading into higher heating costs as well. All comes down to the specific market and what it will bear.
    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 10:19AM
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@gloriaskdesigns - My concern would be that I can see someone easily spending 4k trying to make a dated kitchen look better, but spending that money in such a way that it doesn't actually read as an improvement to the potential buyers for that particular property. So then you've put money in and buyers are STILL seeing it as something to be fixed or changed.

So I'd either just get it cleaned up and major and obvious stuff repaired and put it on the market as is, or I'd bite the bullet and pay a local professional familiar with the market to come in and give advice on where and how to make changes, since hopefully they'll know what people in the area generally like and are looking for.
    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 12:04PM
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