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Old 01-26-2014, 09:33 PM
 
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I'd like to get advice from realtors on converting a dining room to an office. How will that affect resale value in Austin? Are people in this market looking for a dining room? I know we could convert it back but I really would not want to.
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Old 01-26-2014, 11:06 PM
 
Location: Central Texas
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MOST of the buyers that I have had have said, in one way or another, when looking at houses that have formal dining rooms, "What do we need a formal dining room for?" Mostly they've decided that if they like the rest of the house, they'll just turn it into much-needed office space or a playroom. I've had a few that do a lot of entertaining and have huge dining furniture that need a formal dining, but only a handful.
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Old 01-27-2014, 06:02 AM
 
Location: Cedar Park, Texas
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Make it transitional. If you do built in shelving, do shelving that could serve as storage behind the desk, but could also serve as a china cabinet in a dining room or toy storage for a play room. Keep it neutral. Then get stand alone pieces for the desk and other furnishings that can be removed if you sell, so people can picture the room for their needs. From what I've seen in the Austin housing market though, you could probably paint it zebra stripes with a trapeze hanging from the ceiling and it will sell in a day anyway.
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Old 01-27-2014, 10:10 AM
 
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if you put doors on it, make it so the doors are easily removable or use french doors with glass so that when the are open the dining room could be used as a dining room.

We are one of the few families we know that use a formal dining area.
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Old 01-27-2014, 10:15 AM
 
Location: Central Texas
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Doesn't this depend on how usable the "other" dining area is? If the kitchen has room for a 6 place table that may not be at all adequate for even a modest dinner with a few guests.
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Old 01-27-2014, 11:07 AM
 
Location: SW Austin & Wimberley
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It depends on where your home is located, and what similar homes around you have. Total sqft footage, etc. If it's a smaller home in a desirable close in "A" location, buyers are already making sacrifices on space vs location, so not as big of a deal, not a deal breaker to have no formal dining area.

If you have a big open "eat in" kitchen/breakfast area that can expand into a bigger seating space for the two or three times a year it may actually be needed, that's a plus if there is no second dining. If you have a super tiny 4-seater breakfast nook. ditching the dining area should be more carefully considered.

Most buyers now do want two things that use to not be "must have".

1) Home office. Even if they don't "work" from home. Though as laptops take over, I wonder if simple "work station" sized spots won't eventually suffice.

2) Place for big flatscreen TV (you'd be amazed how many floor plans don't accommodate this very well)

A 4th bedroom can substitute for the home office. The best setup though is a "flex" area. Many formal dining rooms, if boxed in on 3 sides, offer this. It doesn't cost much to frame up and add french doors. When you go to sell, I'd leave it like that because more buyers will want the home office than want a formal dining. Especially younger buyers. Provided there is at least space for a six seater breakfast area.

Baby boomers who are hauling around grandma's old hutch and dining table only need the formal dining room because they're dragging that stuff around and the wife won't let the husband get rid of it. Once we all die off, I think homes of the future won't have as many formal dining. Also I think "media room" will go away as people watch most things in open living space on the flat screen, and on their tablets and laptops. My 17 and 20 year old kids watch everything on their devices unless we're all watching something together on the TV.

Steve

Last edited by austin-steve; 01-27-2014 at 11:33 AM..
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Old 01-27-2014, 11:30 AM
 
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Thanks for all the tips! Very informative. We live in a hot SW Austin community so we probably would sell regardless. Even if we had a problem, I could convert it back.
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Old 01-27-2014, 11:45 AM
 
Location: Round Rock, Texas
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Interesting that people would want a home office even if they don't work from home. I guess it's the newest "random room that you may or may not use but it's there." Like Steve said, if you have a laptop, you can go anywhere. Park yourself in a bedroom and work.

I also thought many homes offer flex rooms AND formal dining rooms. Our home has both a flex room (which is actually the master bedroom retreat) and a formal dining room, in addition to 5 bedrooms. If a buyer wants an office, they could pick any of those spaces. I think it was Steve who mentioned this earlier, but you also have to take into consideration how it impacts the "flow" when you wall off a room. Our home is pretty open and the only walls to be found are loading bearing walls. walling off the dining room would alter the style of the home in a not-so-nice way.
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Old 01-27-2014, 12:13 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
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Quote:
Interesting that people would want a home office even if they don't work from home. I guess it's the newest "random room that you may or may not use but it's there." Like Steve said, if you have a laptop, you can go anywhere. Park yourself in a bedroom and work.
I don't officially work from home (nor does my wife), but we occasionally (i.e. last Friday) do. Much of the stuff I can do on my laptop in the living room, but I do have paper files that I need to keep organized and I also need some space to spread out drawings/maps, so an office (that is off-limits to the kiddos) is very nice. Also, we have a pseudo docking station in there so we can use a pair of large monitors and a full-sized keyboard when our work is easier with them than with the laptop screen/keyboard. Tax paperwork, insurance info, and pretty much any other paperwork we file and need occasionally resides there. Finally, the 'office' is also my wife's quilting room. At the end of the day, we just don't need a dining room as much as we can use the space for other things. We have a combined kitchen/breakfast/living area that can seat 6 easily during normal days, but we rotate the table 90 degrees and add a couple of leaves (leafs?) to expand the table to sit a dozen or more. It does extend a bit from the breakfast area into the end of the living area, but works quite well.

Agree with the flow issues; however, I think a lot of the new 'standard' floorplans were designed with either office or dining in mind. Our space can be used as a dining room, but the access to the kitchen is not as convenient as you would expect if they really though that was what you were going to use it for.
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Old 01-27-2014, 01:28 PM
 
Location: Central Texas
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Too many modern homes put a fireplace where the TV should be. TVs 5 feet off the floor are just a bad idea. And they do stupid pre-wiring.

We use our dining room far more often than the fireplace.
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