Remodeling & Renovation

Considering Major Improvements

You have decided that it is time to sell your home. After taking an objective look around, you realize that you have a lot of work to do in order to prepare your home for the market. If it will take more than just cleaning to get your home for showing, it may be time to call in two professionals--a home improvement contractor and a professional real estate agent.

The ideal listing has a modern kitchen and bath, fresh paint, beautiful lighting fixtures and elegant hardwood floors or high-end wall-to-wall carpet. Your real estate agent can offer suggestions about what your house needs, what colors or cabinet styles are popular with buyers, and tips on cost-effective improvements. The contractor can work with you to put your plan into action. 

If you feel that the costs or disruption of a major remodeling project would be overwhelming, you have the option of marketing your home as a "fixer-upper." If you decide to sell your home "as is", your agent can prepare a market analysis to give you an idea of what you can expect to net from the sale of your home.

Damp Environments

If you are a typical home buyer, you are likely to eliminate a home with a basement that has water stains or mildew on the walls or floors. Before you completely rule out a home that you really like because of a water issue, you should get an expert's opinion.

A basement can often be dried out easily. A new set of gutters, repairs to a plugged up outdoor drain, or simple regrading of soil around the foundation may solve the problem. A home inspector or water-proofing company can give you an idea about what is causing the dampness, as well as how much you will have to pay to waterproof the area. Sometimes the home owner will consider negotiating the repair costs with the buyers, especially if the alternative is no offer at all. If the house is a "fixer-upper" and priced accordingly, you could get an excellent value that more timid buyers might pass up.

Diamonds in the Rough

There are a lot of "diamonds in the rough" for sale. A property with incredible potential may be in a great location, have large sunny rooms and a big yard, but it may also have dated wall paper, worn carpeting, and uninspired bathrooms. If you can look beyond the surface, you may see a house that could be transformed by a little "elbow grease", paint, and new carpets. 

A house that is structurally sound with all the systems in good condition may be only a few cosmetic repairs away from being fantastic! A home that does not show well is usually priced accordingly. If the price doesn't reflect the condition of the house, the seller may be more willing to negotiate than a seller who has made a considerable investment in preparing a home for the market.

Bring your imagination with you on your next house hunting trip! You may be pleasantly surprised to find a diamond in the rough.

Do Not Over Improve

You have received some extra money! You want to remodel! If you are planning a major renovation, take a few sensible precautions before having plans drawn up and signing on the contractor's dotted line.

Any time you do any significant remodeling, you run the risk of over-improving your home. Please call or send an email if you are interested in a market analysis of what your home is currently worth. We can talk about neighborhood trends and discuss the recent sales of homes in your area.

If your neighborhood is experiencing healthy appreciation, making major changes to your home might make sense. However, if there is not much difference between the prices of remodeled homes and those which have not been renovated, expensive changes may be hard to recover if you sell your home soon. Please call or send an email to get help deciding if remodeling and renovations are in your best interest.

Enhancing Your Home

A moderate climate can help your home sell, but wherever you live, you can enhance your home's hidden potential by bringing the outside into your home. Minor remodeling projects can be tailored to suit your taste and your budget.

Study the placement of your home on the property. A small window can be made larger to let more light into a room and expand the view. You can create an entertainment area for guests by installing a sliding glass door which opens onto your garden or adding a patio or deck. The addition of a skylight in a dark room can make a dramatic improvement.

You can also consider ways to enhance the outdoor features of your home and integrate them into the living space of your home. Such improvements can often greatly increase the value of your property.

Handle Needed Repairs Early

There is a standard chain of events that occurs when an offer comes in on a home. After a meeting of the minds, the buyer often brings in a home inspector who may find a few items that need to be repaired. The real estate agent gives the homeowner a list of the requested repairs. What comes next?

In most transactions, the seller will take care of the repairs. Many sellers wait until the week before the closing to call someone to do the work, because they want to be sure that they are going to make it to the closing table before they spend money on repair work. If you are responsible for making repairs to a home you are selling, make sure you have the work done well in advance of the closing date by licensed professionals who will stand behind their work. If the work is done at the last minute and is incomplete or unsatisfactory, it could cause complications at the closing. You should provide the buyers with all the receipts and the names of the persons to contact in case there is a problem with the repairs.

Kitchen Catastrophe

You have found an almost perfect house--the right number of bedrooms and baths, a wonderful family room, a great back yard. Your pulse rate increases as you imagine your furniture in the living room, your "excess" neatly stored in the huge attic, and your tulip bulbs blooming in the garden. However, the kitchen looks like it was built long before conveniences like dishwashers or microwaves.

If you have fallen in love with a house with an outdated or unattractive kitchen, you should consider renovating it. Contact a contractor for expert advice during the structural contingency period. Re-doing a kitchen can be a major undertaking, especially if you move walls around. If you put in new appliances, cabinets, and flooring into the existing space, it can be done in a shorter period of time and for a small fraction of the cost. Kitchen improvements are considered excellent investments.

Professional Advice

Before you undertake a major renovation or redecorating project, call a professional real estate agent for advice about how your plans will impact the marketability of your home. We will be glad to provide a free consultation with no obligation--even if you are not planning to make a move in the near future.

Sellers often spend a lot of money on changes that won't increase the value of their homes. They may customize their home by creating unusual room arrangements that won't work for most buyers or by adding bold wall paper that may not have wide appeal.

Overall buyer appeal should be your main consideration even when you are remodeling for your own enjoyment. You should also consider whether you could recover your expenses if you were to sell the house soon because personal circumstances or career opportunities can create unexpected changes in your housing needs.

Remodel Or Move

Your family has outgrown your home but you have roots in the community that make it difficult to leave. Is remodeling the solution? Get professional advice before you jump into a major renovation project. Decide what changes you want to make, and get bids from several contractors. When you have an estimate on the cost of the project, talk to your real estate agent to determine if these changes will be cost-effective. Over-improving your home may make it difficult to get your money back if you sell it soon. It is a good idea to talk with friends who have remodeled to get a realistic picture about working with contractors and to determine how disruptive the project will be to your family life. Remodeling a home is a major undertaking, so be sure that it is the best solution for you.

Show And Sell

Real estate agents are often asked "What is the best way to show and sell a home?" Almost every agent can tell you a story about meeting with a prospective seller who has just completed a lot of work to prepare their home for the market. It can be difficult for a real estate agent to tell the seller that their renovations were not the best changes to effectively market their home.

If you are considering making any improvements prior to selling your home, the best advice is to consult with your agent before you make any changes. An experienced real estate agent can provide you with information that can help you decide what kind of improvements will set the stage for a sale. Whether it is paint and wallpaper, remodeling the bathrooms, or updating the kitchen, your real estate agent can guide you toward "neutral" choices which can assist the buyer's imagination.

Upgrade Before You Sell

Real estate agents sometimes receive calls from homeowners asking for advice on what they should do to prepare their house to go on the market. They may have settled for living in a "less than optimal" circumstance for years, and are now going to spend money to make it nice for someone else to enjoy.

If you are considering painting, updating the kitchen, landscaping, or making any other improvements that will increase your home's re-sale value, think about making those improvements while you are still there to enjoy them. Create your own dream kitchen, master suite or spa, build an outdoor living room or restore your wood floors now. Improving your property will make your home more enjoyable, help maintain the property values in your neighborhood, and expedite the sale of your home when you are ready for a move.

Water Problems

Sometimes there are defects in a house that the homeowners no longer notice, such as small leaks in the roof or a basement that only gets damp when it rains. When the house is on the market, they don't have a real sense of urgency about having such defects repaired. The real estate agent feels quite differently, however.

When buyers are deciding which houses deserve serious consideration, any kind of water problem may appear to be much more detrimental than it really is. The sellers may regard a damp basement as simply a sign that it's time to clean the gutters or check the soil buildup around the house or a leaking roof as a call for new flashing. But to someone who has never owned a home, these defects can be taken as signs that the house may not fulfill their primary need for shelter from "the elements." Renters may be perfectly willing to live in a home with minor water problems, but buyers are likely to pass up the same house if they think it won't keep them perfectly dry.

Shirl A Thornton
Shirl A Thornton
Real Estate Professional