I have a more-or-less philosophical question for the group (or for those in
circumstances similar to mine).
The house we've lived in for 25 years is in need of some significant repair:
replacement of the septic to make it compliant with today's standards; a
chronically leaky basement that has successfully resisted all attempts at a
fix; outdated kitchen cabinetry; new siding & windows; landscaping
(including new sidewalks); bathroom renovation, and new floor covering
With the exception of the leaky basement, the house is certainly decent and
livable, but too small for what we foresee as an expanding family of spouses
and grandkids that might want to come visit on holidays. So, my wife and I
are inclined to sell the only house we've ever owned and move into something
larger and more accommodating (and more low-maintenance for our old age).
The question is: in order to make the house more appealing and saleable to
potential buyers, where do you draw the line on investing time, energy and
Does it make more sense to list the house AS IS, pricing it accordingly to
allow for the repairs and upgrades needed, or to invest one's resources into
fixing it up BEFORE putting it on the market, in the hopes of a speedier
sale and a higher price tag?
Or, is it worth simply doing the less expensive cosmetic improvements so you
can attract more buyers?
I'd be really interested in hearing opinions, particularly from those that
have been through it.
Thanks in advance.
Realtors will tell you to fix and upgrade everything before selling. I
think that is BS that simply maximizes their commission.
If you sell it as is, disclosing all problems, the buyer can fix it as he
wants, upgrading according to his tastes. That has to be the better way to
There are exceptions of course. If the carpeting is so bad that it makes
the house look sick, putting in some cheap, but clean, carpet may boost the
sale price by much more than the cost of the carpet. If you can do it
yourself, even poorly, paint is often a worthwhile investment. You have to
decide if the specific improvement is an exception.
But don't try to hide anything. If you are successful, you are exposed to a
lawsuit. And if you fail, you lose all credibility. Either way, you lose.
You also cut out about 90% of the ready, willing and able buyers when
you sell as a fixer-upper. Most people want to move in and unpack,
not buy the place then spend a month getting it into move in
Less buyers = lower sales price, simple supply and demand dictates
Those folks looking for a fixer upper are looking for a bargain, and
typically want to make 3 times their repair investment. So if it will
cost $10,000 to fix all the things around the house, they will offer
you $30,000 less than your asking price.
email to email@example.com (remove the "notreal-")
There's a huge range between peach and fixer-upper. His doesn't sound like a
A buyer can move right in to a functional '70s kitchen, passable carpet where
one might prefer to rip it up and refurbish the hardwood underneath, and
decent-condition aluminum windows with storms. Then live happily as one
upgrades as desired and afforded. There's a lot of buyers in that category (I
Not sure how this applies...
At any rate, it doesn't make sense (plus is kinda disheartening, disruptive, and
tim-and-energy consuming) to fix up your house for somebody else. Esp. where
for most things you might get even back, and that's about all...
That is purely people who are looking for an investment. I expect that most
buyers of fixer uppers are those who simply can't afford what they want, and
are willing to work into it.
You are probably correct though that it cuts down dramatically the number of
prospective buyers, so some of the decision will rest on who you view as
your market, how much you are willing to lose on improvements, and how long
you can hold on to the house.
I sold a home `as is' for a divorce sell ... heh.
Knowing that FHA would require things I didn't have time for... the Main
bathroom was in remodel stages and needed sink&vanity/med cabinets/wall
paper & the concrete barrel tile roof needed a run of valley metal replaced
and probably at thirty yrs old when done a complete R&R would be advised.
Legal Eagles set the selling $ and overpriced the house - to my surprise
people flocked to the AS IS sale price and it instantly sold while others
were arriving/looking for full asking price and I got to stay in the home
a month after closing ... take your time moving out.
Think carefully - I don't know exactly what you mean by "larger and more
accomodating", but a larger house generally means more maintenance, not less.
Also, are you really sure you'll have such a happy houseful often enough that
you need to expand? You'll presumably want to visit *them* sometimes; they will
have their spouses' families to also visit, and other trips planned, etc. Of
course these decisions are personal (you could have a coupla kids moving far
away for career; or you could be the patriarch of a big ethnic family where the
kids are settling nearby and your house will be a Sunday evening regular
gathering place), but generally the desire is to scale back when the kids are
grown, not scale up.
My opinion is that, in general, you just fix what makes the house hard to sell
or need too much work on moving in, then disclose and leave the rest to the
seller. Of the list you gave:
I don't know what you mean exactly - is it a smaller tank than current code
that's probably grandfather'ed in? Or are there some indications of failure?
In the latter case, better fix. Go to the town and find out.
Better fix. That's a big walk-away item. Get an engineer to look over your
house for foundation and drainage problems.
Wash it up, possibly paint, let the buyer decide. It might not be all that
important to the buyer; if it's *very* important to the buyer, likely they'd
want their own stuff.
Only fix windows that don't work, if any. Fix any siding problems but don't
replace. Let the buyer decide, etc., as for kitchen cabinetry.
Unless there's scrub or problems with trees over the roof, etc., leave the
Naw. Fix any immediate problems.
Not unless there's some really worn/ugly stuff.
Thanks for the input.
Your argument about downsizing rather than scaling up makes a lot of sense,
and that way of thinking has played a major role in our waiting until now to
even consider a move.
However, the house is over 50 yrs old, quite small, we've already put a lot
of work into it, and, frankly, we bought it as a starter home when we were
just starting out and finances were very tight.
Unfortunately, the financial picture stayed pretty much the same until only
recently, and we had to make do with our "starter" home for 25 years. Now
that we can afford it, we'd like our "empty nest" to be at least a little
newer and nicer nest. That's why we're giving "moving on up" a lot of
thought these days.
By the same token, we're leery of pouring tens of thousands of dollars into
a home we're not going to stay in; and we certainly don't want to make that
kind of investment if it will have little impact on the sale price.
And, of course, there's always the concept of taking care of all the
problems for US, and staying put.
Anyway...thanks again for your thoughts, that's what I was looking for.
Dale Randall says...
A lot depends on the market in your area and value of your home. For
example I have had two friends sell their homes in the St. Pete area.
One was below 100k and one below 150k. The below 100k had some
serious issues including termites and was sold at asking price in less
than 24 hours after it went on the market. The other home sold in two
days with only a new roof required by the buyer.
I would at least try to sell it as-is and see what happens. You can
always fix it up some if you don't get any interest. Talk to a few
real estate agents who can give you a better feel of the market in
Bathroom and kitchen upgrades help sell a house, but doing so will
generally result in a loss. If you upgrade, at least enjoy the
upgrade for several years. To prep a house for sale, clean, paint,
trim shrubs, remove half the furniture, turn on all the lights, set
the table, bake bread or cookies, polish the front door, play soft
music, improve curb appeal, empty closets, etc. Basically, have the
house clean, neat and uncluttered before putting it on the market.
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