getting a home ready for sale, how much repair

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getting a home ready for sale, how much repair?
I have friends who have to move because the wife needs some place more accessible.
Their current house is about 50 years old, two adults and two almost grown children, in good but not great condition, mid-quality house. Whole-house AC, good sized lot, 3BR but nothing else that's really fancy. While prices have gone down in some parts of Baltimore, I'm told that they haven't gone down on the 5 blocks around this house, because all the houses are well taken care off, inhabited by owners, all the yards look very nice, and it's tucked away and gets almost no traffic, while still close to shopping and the xway.
How much repair and remodeling is necessary or advisable to get the best net price for the house?
Is it better to spend 10,000 (or maybe thousands more than that) on repairs for a house that may sell for 300,000, or 350 or to take 10,000** off the price and let the buyers do the repairs/remodeling with that money and get exactly what they want? Also with the economy, wouldn't some potential buyers rather buy a house that's cheaper, and gradually do the repairs?
**Or take even more than the cost of fixing it up, take 15 or 20,000 off the price because doing all this will be an enormous headache for all who live their now, three of the four work more than full time, 6 days a week, plus two of them have big allergies to dust, as from sanding the dining room floor or scraping paint. And they are supposed to close on their "new" but old house on 9/23, and of course they'd like to have their old one sold by then.
Then the new owners could do all the repairs and remodeling before they move in, while the house is vacant. My friends the sellers could further discount the house to pay the buyer's extra cost for having two homes for one or two months.
One real estate agent recommends fixing everything.
The dining room floor has a big rug in the middle, but the finish underneath is very worn and needs sanding and finishing. But maybe the new owners will put in wall-to-wall carpeting there and don't care what the wood looks like. Maybe they'd rather have 1000 dollars to do other things than refinish a floor they'll never see.
The finished basemeent family room has 9x9 inch acoustic ceiling tiles, a few of which are damaged, some just a little and 4 a lot and 4 water damaged. The REAgent recommends replacing the whole ceiling, probably 1000 dollars. Someone suggested painting it, costs much less, but might look bad and won't fix the broken tiles.
Remodelling the kitchen and at least one bathroom. Versus just removing the wall paper from one wall in the kitchen. Kitchen has new appliances, new ceramic tile on floor and backsplash, and new ceramic tile on counters, but still looks old-fashioned. REAgent wants to redo the whole thing and the bathrooms.
Putting aluminum siding over what I'm told is asphalt tile, about 12 inches by 16 inches, in good condition but old-fashioned, on two or three outside walls, except for the wall facing the street. Owner was told that asphalt tiles are much better insulation than the replacement will be, but putting the siding on while the asphalt tiles are still there is very difficult. Holes have to be drilled, because he says nails won't go through the tile.
A couple more detail questions in posts to follow.
Thanks a lot.
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I've talked with several real estate agents regarding the current market here in NJ. They all said the same thing. The houses that are selling are the ones that are in really good condition and are priced right. Get other opinions, but your friends are probably going to have to do the repairs and some upgrades that they failed to do while living there. The other option is a ridiculously low selling price.
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It's very hard to answer this kind of question without actually seeing how the house presents itself. In general, I'd say do the wood floor refinishing because it's relatively quick and inexpensive and will stand out. I'd also replace the basement ceiling for the same reason.
Kitchen is much more difficult and impossible without seeing it. Clearly, doing a total remodel of a kitchen is a MAJOR expense. You can easily spend $25-50K. It has new appliances, new tile floor already, and it's impossible to evaluate what else is wrong. Tile counters clearly aren't the preferred choice for re-sale. Depending on what the whole thing looks like, you might be able to go with new granite or similar countertops. But it also may not be worth it because of other issues. It's probably best to either do something simple for a few thousand or else go with a whole remodel.
Same thing with the siding, without seeing it, impossible to say.
Keep in mind that the real estate agents goals are somewhat at odds with those of the seller. For the agent, it will always be better to have a house in absolute stunning condition, because it will be easier to sell and close a lot quicker. So, if you put $50K into it and only get $20K back, it's still a good thing for the agent. I'd start going to open houses in the area and see what features similar houses have.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Exactly, and I can't see replaced those tiles would cost all that much, especially when you think what red flags all that water damage would raise. Refinishing the floors, that's a no-brainer, call someone and have it taken care of. It's not all that costly.

From my point of view, chances are pretty good you're not going to choose the cabinets I would like, so I'd make them presentable. I would not waste money putting granite tops on questionable cabinets, I hate when I see that. What a waste of granite.
A fresh coat of paint on the walls would go a long way. Ever see Designed to Sell? You don't need to do all the things they do, but you'll see cheap fixes that will make the house much more appealing.
Without actually seeing the place, my opinion is that you won't get back 10s of thousands of dollars of fixes. The cheaper fixes could get you a lot more.
nancy
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On Mon, 23 Jun 2008 07:25:08 -0400, John Grabowski wrote:

Sounds like asbestos siding, not asphalt. Drilling is an environmental hazard. If asphalt, you can attach thin plywood over it and nail into the plywood. If asbestos you need an approved hazmat handler to remove it and put it in labeled plastic bags and take them to the city dump.

I would have to agree with this assessment, especially in light of the amount of repairs that seem to be needed. If it was down to about $1,000 it might be a different story, but to need that much in repairs shows that the house has not been kept up. First impression sells houses. Stick with neutral, light colors. Consider Habitat for Humanity Restore for fixtures. You can often get some nice, almost new, or even new items at ridiculously low prices.
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FIX EVERYTHING! 90% of buyers want a home in move in perfect condition, they will change whatever later.....
the 90% dont want the hassles, expenses, of fixing stuff.
do everything in clean neutral colors, like white which makes rooms look larger.
invest a few hundred bucks in a home inspection, and fix the laundry list they will find.
this is better than their home inspoector scaring off the buyer.....
if you dont fix up the home 90% wouldnt be interested, depressing price a LOT......
and adding a lot of time till its sold:(
been there done all this.........
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clipped

I disagree, but have only sold one home. Mine had a small leak in the roof and a bulging corner on the sheath under it. Not very old home - less than 20 yr. All systems sound, tired looking paint and carpet. Ready to live in. Took a month to sell at a good price.
Personally, I'm very leery of an older home with a lot of recent work because it makes me wonder what the seller is trying to hide.
The damaged acoustic tile and the wallpaper should go. Given the sellers work schedules and health issues, I would try to replace the worst of the acoustic tiles. The whole ceiling and the wood panelling would probably be on the "replace list" for next buyer. Or they might just rip it out.
From what I have read, new kitchens don't bring a great return. For sure, remove the outdated wallpaper, remove clutter, clean up the yard ..... trim shrubs, take care of bad problems, mulch beds and make it look neat. Be sure elect., plumbing, heating systems are in good shape.
Depending on the local market, a sound home in need of modernizing might be perfect. With all the downturns and job losses, someone might be thrilled to have a lower-cost home without all modern features. I don't know about the siding - pix might help.
When I sold my home, I kept bringing up issues with my realtor, who said "Don't worry about it." She was right.
Also, with a set closing date for the new home, if this one does not sell the seller may not want any added debt from major projects like kitchen or bath remodel.
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This is just the kind of market difference I'm talking about. Since we're talking NE U.S. city, my bet is much more with what Normin says.
Many people want something livable, but not necessarily perfect. They can live with someone else's carpet if it's clean, a somewhat scratched hardwood floor if it's not like a huge pet damage problem, an older kitchen, even a wet basement (I did) while they do the fixes bit by bit. In which case - pay attention to the mechanicals. The friends in question may or may not be in a market like that.
Banty
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So many helpful answers, I can't answer them all. Thank you all.
I was thinking maybe they should start showing their home early, when they haven't finished, or even maybe started their fix-up projects.
Then the people who want that kind of house can come now, and if no one buys, it will be fixed up in 8 weeks or so.
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"Norminn" wrote

I'm with you Norminn. The realtor will happily tell you to put 50,000$ into a kitchen remodel so the sales price is 10,000$ more as they get a bigger commision. It is irrlevant to them if the fixes cost more than the net gain. They *only* care about a higher sales price with a reasonably fast turnaround.
2 Cases in point:
Local friends both.
Joe fell for this and dumped close to 20,000$ in various things into his house. Joe was dumb. Top price in area was for a 4 BR 2 bath at 165,000$. His is a 3 BR 1.5 bath. His top price would be 140,000$ maybe 145,000$. Realtor told him if he put in the 20,000$ he'd get the 145,000$ but he didnt. 9 months on the market, he had to reduce the price to 134,000$ which is what he'd have gotten if all he did was cut the grass. The house sat empty all that time costing him money.
Jim was smart. He dumped the realtors that high-pressure sell only that way. His house is 3 doors away from Joe's. It sold in 3 weeks. He cut the grass and put in some nice looking and easy to maintain bedding plants. He painted the 3 rooms that needed it and put in a new screen door. He spent about 1,000$ in minor 'stuff' plus the screen door, paint, and plants. He asked for 139,000$ then settled for 135,000$ when the inspector tagged a few things (all fairly minor) and he worked out what it would cost with the buyer then took that off the price. It was mostly things like my house has and which Joe's had.
The buyers were very aware that Jim was asking for less than the top dollar for his area and was willing to work with them. That made all the difference.
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clipped

I would almost rather starve than make a living selling anything. I hate high pressure sales. A good realtor or salesperson will match the right person with the right product. The OP describes a home that, if it has sound basics, would be great for someone who either is starting out and somewhat handy, or who has had to move out of a home they could not afford. I hate the thought of spending thousands and thousands of dollars on stuff the next homeowner would not have chosen. I would take down all the dated decorations, take care of signs of neglect, if any, tidy up and hope to move it. Reducing the price, if needed for quicker sale, is a lot easier if the seller hasn't just sunk $20K to make it move fast.
My hubby is a sucker ffor sales pitches and cold calls. He arranged a sales call for a guy selling $2K vacuum cleaners. Really nice salesman. He did the usual white filter trick on his dream machine to show how much dirt his vacuum got that had been left in the carpet by my 40 y/o Electrolux. I asked him for a clean filter, which he gave me. I then ran the Electrolux where he had just cleaned with his super machine. Guess what.........:o) The filter was just as dirty. We spent the $2K to rip out the carpet and put down tile :o)
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POSTERS HERE are into home remodeling and likely enjoy the challenge.
many new homebuyers have sunk ALL their money in whatever they are buying, and are scared of unexpected expenses when remodeling.
as we all know extra might as well stuff comes up... along with some serious issues that MUST BE FIXED.:(
thats why 90% of the general public want a move in condition home..
and the home inspectors just make things worse:( every little detail turns into a scary event for the buyer, and frustration for the seller.
I sold a home about 4 years ago,,,,,,,,, been there done this
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On Mon, 23 Jun 2008 13:20:00 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@aol.com"

And another good point.

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I hear people getting their house prepared to sell. Very little repair is done as these homes were not severely neglected. Reduction of clutter and paint seem to be on the top of the list. Most buyers will leave if they find a leaky/damaged roof, musty/mold/pet smell, un kept lawn, dirty house, broken windows, etc. Of course you can do absolutely nothing in preparation and keep lowering the price until it sells. A real estate person will provide free and useful tips that is geared to your area and he/she wants your house to sell quickly and generally at a high price. A fixer-upper can be attractive to first-time buyers or a construction company. Homes are not selling well in most of the United States at this time, it is a buyers market. Good luck!
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wrote:

That's the way I feel. And I've heard a story about one family that redid the whole kitchen to make the house look good. The new owners ripped it all out and put in a second new kitchen.
If I bought a house that had been remodeled, I would live with whatever they did, even if I didn't like it much, because I couldn't bear to spend all that money to rip out good stuff just so I could have something a little better. (and maybe not even that, because I might change my mind.)

That too.

Is this called irony?
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Then, how about this? Down the street from my house, a developer built a small new sub-division of 6 houses that sold for $1mil+. The lots, while very nice, are certainly not unique, not waterfront, etc. Well, the last house he had built was close to completion. It had completed roof, windows, siding, stone work around entrance, etc. Inside, it was waiting for selection of flooring, bath/kitchen fixtures, etc.
So, I drive by a few months later and the house looked like it had been blown apart. Roof, windows, siding, doors, porch, etc ALL GONE. I honestly thought they must have built it on a sink hole or something and had to tear it down. I asked a neighbor what was going on and he told me that it was sold and the new buyer was remodeling it. Almost a year later, and it's totally different and still not finished. They turned it into a cold grey stucco monstrosity that doesn't fit in with any of the other 5 houses. It now includes great features like what appears to be a balcony off the Master suite with see-through glass instead of railings. That could be nice, but why would you have the MB balcony face the street? LOL
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clipped

Lots and lots of people with lots of money, no brains or taste. Load of properties around us are million-plus, nice older ranches on the water. Many of them have been torn down and replaced by McMansions - three story monsters up to the property line. All look as if window/door/trim choices were one of everythin in the catalog. Butt ugly. Just recently, the neighborhood association was up in arms because someone wanted to get rid of restrictions for docking boats on the channel - someone wanted to dock a NINETY FOOT BOAT. NIMBY! 40' is pretty high-end :o) Of course, it could be an ancient fishing trawler - one sank in the channel couple of years ago :o)
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You can DIY it in most places. I reasereched th at some months ago.
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BTDT code on this varies greatly. I'd leave alone - asbestos siding is common and no threat if it's left in place.
Banty
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Listen to the advice of the real estate agent. They know what will sell and what will not and why.
In sales there is a thing called a "major objection". This is something wrong with a product which will keep someone from buying. Your agent is trying to get you to fix everything that potential buyers might object to.
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