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Old 09-03-2013, 05:01 PM
 
Location: East Millcreek
2,521 posts, read 6,130,918 times
Reputation: 2976

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Crasspost from The Westchester, NY board. this is a partial backstory to my recent kitchen floor and insulation posts. I'm thinking this board will have more insights. Thanks in advance.

Quote:
For anybody that recently bought in Westchester:

I'm looking for your perceptions on "curb appeal" vs necessary repairs/maintenance and the somewhat grey area in between. I'm now prepping my house to put on the market next year and it's sometimes a murky line between freshening things up vs full-on repairs and how much to upgrade.

Here's the background. My neighbor's house has been on the market since early spring and has generated little interest. It's priced comparably with other similar houses in the area. I've talked to the realtor at length and she told me that it was priced and being sold "as is." To look at it from the driveway it looks great. But apparently it will need a roof in a few years - no leaks, but towards the end of its life. the siding is painted cedar shingles. It looks fine from 20 ft away. However, on close inspection they got a cheapo paint job. They just wire brushed loose paint and sprayed over (instead of sanding it all off, priming and painting which would have cost 3x as much). So, in a year or 2 it will start chipping and peeling. Bathrooms are very good shape and tolerable colors but dated '70s look. Ditto kitchen. When house went on the market in the early spring they had older appliances (functional but dated looking). The lawn is huge and looks great from afar. But close up it's mostly closely mowed crabgrass and weedy stuff, not lawn grass. In short the place looks nice from far but is far from nice. After about 3 months on the market with very little interest they replaced the appliances with more stylish stainless upgrades, dropped the price and had another open house to reboot the process.

This poses a question for me: what's the balance between cosmetic curb appeal and more expensive fixes? Wouldn't an inspector notice shortcuts like the cheap paint job? What did you notice when you were in the market? And what is my neighbor doing wrong? (apart from the obvious thing - price). Any comments any of this would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 09-03-2013, 05:52 PM
 
28,461 posts, read 78,255,755 times
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Here is the thing, the home that has lots of little "defered maintenance issues" means that every potential that does get close enough to see that the siding is worn, AND the roof is shot, AND the lawn is weeds is also probably thinking "well I bet they never cleaned the gutters either, better figure on some foundation issues AND they probably never serviced the A/C, better plan on replacing that, AND they never got the chimney serviced, better budget for having that done" -- the sort of "contigency budget" that the buyers then factor is ALONG WITH the unrealistic price means NO ONE makes an offer.

The decision to specifically market a home in "as-is" conditiont is generally an invitation to get LOW PRICED BARGAIN HUNTERS that have the means to fix the place up. If you do not allow your home to get "run down" you will attract a much wider pool of buyers.

Honestly if you are the kind of home owner that has TAKEN GOOD CARE OF YOUR HOME over the years you will not need to lay out a boatload of money all at once to address these things.

If you are like your neighbor and try to do everything at once "on the cheap" buyers will see throught this and you will take a bath.

I am not a perfect human being. I think the closet door in one of my kids room has been off the track since he was in middle school and he has been out of college for years. I would certainly fix that before I listed my home. That said I do put down weed & feed on the lawn at regular intervals. I do seal coat the drive. I have the plumbing in top notch shape. I get the furnace and A/C serviced regularly.

Roofs absolutely should NOT be allowed to get to their failure point -- budger for replacement and hire a roofer that knows what they are doing BEFORE it starts to leak!

If you are the kind of person that can honestly say "yep these light fixtures are really and truly dated and need to be replaced" you should do that when needed. Similarly paint should be in good shape inside and out. Carpet has a lifespan, don't try too hard to rearrange furniture to hide wear / stains...

Sometimes just getting the bathroom fixtures re-coated to get rid of funky disco era colors is all you need, with maybe some inexpensive mainstream faucets to "freshen up" a look.

The PSYCHOLOGY of presenting your home as a well cared for valuable INVESTMENT is often the real value of making sure that the little details are not overlooked...

Think of it maybe this way -- if you were at a used car lot and there was one car about 4 years old that had like 80,000 miles on it but the brakes, tires, battery, were all brand new, not a dent or scratch in the paint and there were complete service records so that it really looked like could go another 100,000 would you buy it? What if there was another car, same year, maybe only 50,000 but no service records, seats looked like they'd been sandblasted, tons of "air freshener" masking some attrocious odor, cheap greasy polish job to hide chips in the paint, crazy squeaks and rattles when you take for a test drive, out of alignment, you'd be nuts to buy it, right?
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Old 09-03-2013, 06:17 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
36,044 posts, read 65,551,292 times
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The popularity of home search shows on HGTV has made them a lot of sponsorship money. Unfortunately it is also costing home sellers a lot of money.
Buyers have become more picky, and know what to look for. Everyone wants an open concept, granite countertops, stainless appliances, walk-in closets and "room to entertain." A common theme for these shows is how someone spends $10,000 preparing the house for sale and then get $40,000 more for it. Without doing the work, or with just a little sprucing up, people are going to make low offers to cover the cost of the upgrades. If you are in a highly desirable area with easy commutes to jobs and great schools, it makes a lot less difference, but if not, and there are many homes for sale to choose from,
it's a tough decision to make. Find a really good realtor in your area to have a look and make suggestions.
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Old 09-03-2013, 06:20 PM
 
Location: East Millcreek
2,521 posts, read 6,130,918 times
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Fantastic Chet, this is great. The "neighbor," BTW, really IS my neighbor. By coincidence I saw some guys there with ladders yesterday, not sure what for.

Anyway, I'm in way better shape than he is apart from kitchen isuues. That said, it makes me wonder: is doing a lot over a relatively short period a red flag? Or is it just doing what should be done? Lawn and plumbing have always been good. Paint was done 7 years ago but it was a pro job - bad singles replaced, whole house sanded to bare wood, primed and 2 coats. It still looks perfect. Furnace is a couple years old cause it was old and needed replacement. Light switches and outlets all work right. My blacktop had turned to gravel so I redid it. Roof didn't leak, but is was 20 years old and long in the tooth, so I redid that too. The kitchen will be dealt with one way or the other.
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Old 09-03-2013, 06:33 PM
 
28,461 posts, read 78,255,755 times
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There is bit of a potential for "too much work all at once" scaring the buyer that "overthinks" things, but that is a much bigger factor for a true "flipper sold" house.

I have been in houses where I could literally see that a less than ethical flipper really did "paint right over the problems" -- everything from outlets to windows to door hardward was covered by a goof with a spraypaint gun because they wanted to give the impression that everything was "all fresh and new". Only really really naive buyers fall for that...

Sounds like you have been doing "normal" maintenance in a mostly consistent way and that is a good thing.

Really do not lose any sleep over this!
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Old 09-03-2013, 06:45 PM
 
Location: East Millcreek
2,521 posts, read 6,130,918 times
Reputation: 2976
Quote:
Originally Posted by chet everett View Post
There is bit of a potential for "too much work all at once" scaring the buyer that "overthinks" things, but that is a much bigger factor for a true "flipper sold" house.
<<<snip>>>
Really do not lose any sleep over this!
Excellent! Thanks! Now I'll have another cocktail and relax.
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Old 09-03-2013, 09:27 PM
 
Location: Portlandish, OR
953 posts, read 1,699,410 times
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I think it depends on the buyer. We are the types who can easily overlook dated appliances and things like that so we can get other things we want more. In the past we have bought a foreclosure with actual crap on the floors because the house had so many other positive points. We are realistic and know that we don't have the kind of budget to get our version of perfection in one house, and that is something we are willing to live with. We take care of our house, but it's not a perfect home to your typical HGTV viewer.

When we sold our last home we had a TON of buyer traffic but definitely got dinged on some of the cosmetic stuff. We were being relocated for work and simply didn't have the time to do ALL the cosmetic work we wanted before listing. As part of the relo process the home was inspected prior to listing and we were required to fix or put $ in escrow to cover ALL issues noted on the inspection, so there was definitely no hiding anything shady. We bought it as a "forever" home and planned on slowly updating the big ticket items...but that obviously went out the window. Anything that we left for the next occupant (kitchen/bath floors & bathroom countertops), we heard negative feedback from about from realtors.

We could have made those upgrades but at the time I think we probably would have broken even on the cost/profit.
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Old 09-04-2013, 07:25 AM
 
5,048 posts, read 8,408,538 times
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Depends on your buyer's perspective as far as doing a lot all at once. In many areas it's perfectly reasonable for a couple to get the home fixed up when they are finished paying college tuition or the kids are out of the house....fixed up and sold. As in 'our family had a great time here. time to make her look great again and move on'.
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