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Old 06-24-2009, 09:18 PM
10 posts, read 28,730 times
Reputation: 18


First, sorry for the long post, but this is my only real opportunity to get the opinions of many different real estate professionals - which may differ from current homeowners and others. I built my semi-custom house in 1986 in a residential neighborhood in Northern Virginia with houses now ranging from $700- $900K. It is a white Williamsburg Colonial with full front porch, brick red shutters and garage doors, side-load garage, cedar shake roof, hand-made brick walks and patio with over a hundred mature American and English boxwoods and surrounded by 100' shade trees. Inside I have 10'-18" wide board hand-nailed antique white pine floors in the foyer, kitchen and powder room, cherry kitchen cabinets and, as appropriate to the room, either and /or medium brown stained ceiling beams, 5" crown molding, chair rail, 5" base, 6 over 8 windows, 3 solid pine 6 panel pocket doors and exterior doors, side-lights and surrounds; all stained wood. All w/w carpets and wall colors are neutral.

One realtor with experience in my neighborhood advised us to paint over the kitchen cabinets and stained woodwork, because potential 30-40 year old buyers generally like Pottery Barn decor, e.g. cottage, shabby chic off-whites. I and my wife are very reluctant to do so, because A. Anybody who would like the exterior would LOVE the interior, B. It's harder to remove paint than it is to paint, and C. the clear stained woodwork has more inherent value (we paid $20K for it). I KNOW that what we paid is irrelevant to it's actual value, and that tastes have changed and different strokes, etc. but I'd really appreciate a little community dialog, NOT on what is nicer - but "What will help the house sell" next March 2010? I've been told men like stain, women like paint, but are we just better off going with the realtor's suggestion or should we try to market to those who love true authentic colonial style? Thanks SO much in advance!!!

John/Hub and Jane/Wif
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Old 06-24-2009, 09:44 PM
Location: Austin
6,714 posts, read 15,505,163 times
Reputation: 8545
I think you're going to need to post pictures to get a full idea what you're talking about. Stain-grade wood shouldn't really be painted as it could easily be stripped and stained a different color if the color is an issue... And without seeing what the kitchen looks like, I can't tell you if it's "dated" or not, but if it's original from the '80's, more than likely it is dated and something will probably need to be done... many times just changing the hardware pulls will give the kitchen a completely different look.
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Old 06-24-2009, 11:47 PM
Location: Salem, OR
13,193 posts, read 29,413,241 times
Reputation: 10691
I agree with Falcon that we'd have to see photos to tell you. In my area, most buyers want things as authentic looking as possible.
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Old 06-24-2009, 11:54 PM
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
1,570 posts, read 4,914,216 times
Reputation: 1375
These things are "local". If your realtor really knows the area I'd give his/her thoughts much weight. Another suggestion is to consult with a couple of very good home stagers.
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Old 06-25-2009, 01:50 AM
Location: Barrington
36,911 posts, read 28,025,299 times
Reputation: 12510
I am another who would like to see a few pictures.
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Old 06-25-2009, 03:04 AM
Location: pacific northwest
35 posts, read 91,613 times
Reputation: 49
personally if I were buying I'd be horrified if old wood were freshly painted white. that's the sort of thing that I would think should be left up to the buyer. if they want to paint it they're going to paint it anyway. If they wanted it natural it's a boat load of work to get it back to the way it was.

don't touch it..
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Old 06-25-2009, 03:36 AM
Location: Bradenton, Florida
27,236 posts, read 38,213,394 times
Reputation: 10851
Funny, I thought I'd answered this. There's a similar post, where I said that if the buyer wants to make a cosmetic change, then it's the buyer's responsibility. Painting is one of the "cheapest" and "easiest" cosmetic changes to make.
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Old 06-25-2009, 04:19 AM
Location: Ohio
2,178 posts, read 7,379,551 times
Reputation: 3864
My wife and I spent WEEKS removing paint from solid Oak wood trim in our house when we bought it. I wish the previous owners had left it alone instead of "sprucing up the house".
Applying paint is easy and reasonably cheap.
Removing it is time consuming and costly when you consider the work, stripper, sanding, refinishing, etc.
Sell the house the way it is. Let the buyers decide what they want as far as color. They can make it what they want or they might like the natural wood thing.
Making it what they want is easy. Removing what they don't want is much harder.
It sounds like you have a beautiful house. If someone wants to change that, let them do it.
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Old 06-25-2009, 08:26 AM
Location: Central Texas
19,063 posts, read 34,150,755 times
Reputation: 18851
It sounds like your agent is thinking that you're competing with new builds and that you need to make your wonderful, unique house, look just like them in order to sell it. That's the traditional wisdom that's handed out to us, but sometimes you just have to ask "why" of conventional wisdom.

Pictures would help, though you've painted a lovely one with words. But my initial inclination is to say leave it as is as long as it is in good shape. As others (consumers) have said, it's a lot easier to apply paint than to take it off, and if stained wood is what is appropriate with the style of your house, then painting it is simply going to make it look it's trying to be something it's not.
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Old 06-25-2009, 10:08 AM
27,629 posts, read 63,148,187 times
Reputation: 17006
Here is the deal -- your house is 23 years old. That is not a bad thing it is the reality. Without knowing how frequently you have updated the various cosmetics of the house I really cannot say whether it makes sense to try and make your house look as "fresh" as possible.

I do know that in my neck of the woods (affluent western burbs of Chicago) there is no easy way to make a 23 year old house look brand new. I also know that in my area there are a tiny number of truly old houses -- those that have been restored in such a way to be both cosmetically authenticate and functionally up to date for today's family are VERY pricey. I also know that when I have viewed /sold NEWER houses that are very very well done in a period style they can appeal to buyers that recognize the VALUE of non-ancient systems with authentic details. That said, the HARDEST thing to do is to balance CURRENT TRENDS /INTERPRETATIONS of authenticate details with a sensibility for what will NOT look dated. I have to be honest, I know that over the last decade or so the "consumer" of higher-end houses has become FAR more discriminating and better educated. Nowhere is this more noticeable than in the kitchen. I disagree that they are looking for "Pottery Barn" or anything 'shabby chic' en masse -- right now the most picky buyers want kitchens that look unique to their home /lifestyle. For some that means quartersawn oak with a very dark stain, for others that means milk paint, yet others want something that has a very intricate deco/ Frank Lloyd Wright look. You'd be NUTS to try and pin down one "look". Custom kitchen islands | Kitchen islands | Island cabinets

Here is what I would do. Get actually professional painters to come in and give you quotes on several OPTIONS, like option #1 is painting the cabinets white with plain old latex from Home Depot. #2 is painting them with one these fancy boutique paints with low Volatile Organic Compounds Farrow and Ball paint | Painted cabinets #3 is refinishing with fresh polyurethane and stain. Get em in writting and lay em out. Pick a number that is REASONABLE from these quotes and then TALK to the real estate agent about the wisdom of using that number as an "allowance" in the negotiations. A lot of this depends on local custom and the kind of buyer that might be attracted to your home /neighborhood. The real estate agent OUGHT to be able to say "the kind of family shopping for this home is going to be excited to remodel to their tastes and that allowance together with realistic quotes will be to your advantage" OR "the kind of buyer that is looking in this neighborhood at this price point is going to be expecting a turn key home that looks like brand new, you must do this or few people will consider your property".

Do not get fixated on JUST the cabinets and woodwork either. The FIRST thing you should be doing NOW is planning for the CURB APPEAL of your home based on a YEAR of growth / changes to the plants. From the tip top of the chimmeny, to the brick and wood of the exterior to the actual mulch / dirt you have a LONG time to make a nearly perfect exterior.

After that you MAY wish to ignore the kitchen and instead "update" a room like the den / family room. I know this is "against conventional wisdom", but in my experience it can be much LESS STRESSFUL, LESS EXPENSIVE and MORE FUN to undo 23 years of "living" in that room AND do a very good job of making one or more rooms FAR MORE APPEALING to potential buyers. A nice plus is you get TAKE YOUR NEW STUFF with you when you move! It is far more fun to get some up to date sofa and flat panel TV that you can enjoy NOW and where ever you move than to HATE covering up your cherished wood work...

Good Luck!

Last edited by chet everett; 06-25-2009 at 10:35 AM..
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