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Old 09-01-2013, 11:50 AM
 
Location: East Millcreek
2,521 posts, read 6,121,316 times
Reputation: 2976

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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 09-01-2013, 02:04 PM
 
1,594 posts, read 3,150,324 times
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I think in today's market you need both. In 2007 people would buy a house with curb appeal and pull equity out to get it spruced up exactly how they wanted it but today -- not so much.

Today you need: 1. curb appeal.

2. Everything done modern and up to date and

3. A price reflecting neither of the two.

He should have done both bathrooms, kitchen, roof and lawn and the reward will be he sells the house "as is." The concept of getting money back for upgrades you put in is dated.
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Old 09-01-2013, 06:47 PM
 
Location: Harrison
835 posts, read 2,215,101 times
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We either wanted a house that was "done" ie. no work needed, modern appliances and bathrooms etc, move right in, DONE. Or, something considerably cheaper that we could renovate to our taste and standards. Really, it's either finish the whole house so it's move in ready and list for one price or leave it as is and list for much lower.

If your neighbor's house is seen as a "fixer-upper" then he needs to price it that way. Any house will sell at the right price. Or else bite the bullet and do the renos. Personally, I'd prefer if the major work was done already (roof, painting, anything else that's at the end of its life like a furnace) but if the price is right I would actually prefer to finish the inside myself.
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Old 09-01-2013, 07:34 PM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
1,316 posts, read 4,865,180 times
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My anecdotal evidence supports Streetsmart. Houses in "mint" condition and priced well are selling quickly, but well-priced fixers are too. A friend of ours just sold their house in Croton which had nasty 1950s bathrooms and kitchen (not cool retro funky ones); they priced it well below others in the area and it went to contract in 3 weeks at 20% over asking. It was a cool unusual house in a good spot, so people were willing to take on the work to make it their own and get something special. Similarly, our neighbors are prepping their house for sale and the two realtors who appraised it both told them it would be worthwhile to fix things like broken doors and cracked and chipped plaster but not to bother with the very funky old bathroom because buyers will want to do that themselves. Again, it's an unusual house with a great property, so it's worth the effort.
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Old 09-01-2013, 07:43 PM
 
Location: East Millcreek
2,521 posts, read 6,121,316 times
Reputation: 2976
Quote:
Originally Posted by streetsmart View Post
We either wanted a house that was "done" ie. no work needed, modern appliances and bathrooms etc, move right in, DONE. Or, something considerably cheaper that we could renovate to our taste and standards. Really, it's either finish the whole house so it's move in ready and list for one price or leave it as is and list for much lower.

If your neighbor's house is seen as a "fixer-upper" then he needs to price it that way. Any house will sell at the right price. Or else bite the bullet and do the renos. Personally, I'd prefer if the major work was done already (roof, painting, anything else that's at the end of its life like a furnace) but if the price is right I would actually prefer to finish the inside myself.
Interesting, all insights are good. My presale fix-it-up strategy is lined up with yours. Roof, driveway and paint are all new, furnace is a couple years old. Bathrooms are already updated, kitchen will be soon.

Anyway, what's interesting about the guys next door is that it doesn't look like a fixer upper at all. It looks great until you dig a little. [ I think of a fixer-upper as a house that needs obvious, immediate work.] It's clean, and in good cosmetic shape. According to the agent pricing is in line with similar comps. And that's actually true, I looked at some of them and they are indeed similar. So I guess people really are seeing under the skin.
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Old 09-03-2013, 10:27 PM
 
Location: Bellevue, WA
1,488 posts, read 4,106,369 times
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The biggest turnoff for me in seeing homes that have cheap renovations is not only the zero return and work involved in doing it right myself, but the perception that if they cut corners on stuff I CAN see, what else did they cheap out on that I can't?

I learned the very hard way never to buy a home from anyone that didn't maintain/renovate their home properly and with the same quality that I would. If I were handy I would feel differently, but I'm not so I realize my limitations.
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Old 09-04-2013, 05:24 AM
 
Location: East Millcreek
2,521 posts, read 6,121,316 times
Reputation: 2976
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjinla View Post
I learned the very hard way never to buy a home from anyone that didn't maintain/renovate their home properly and with the same quality that I would.
Sounds like a worthwhile backstory here. Care to elaborate?
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Old 09-04-2013, 12:00 PM
 
116 posts, read 344,747 times
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Quote:
.... the perception that if they cut corners on stuff I CAN see, what else did they cheap out on that I can't?
This goes for general cleanliness too. While househunting, we were amazed at how dirty and cluttered many homes were - even on their best day, presumably, as the homes were being shown to prospective buyers. To me, if you aren't cleaning your kitchen and your bathroom looks grungy, then you probably aren't maintaining anything else.
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:54 PM
 
451 posts, read 652,666 times
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If you want to appeal to today's buyers, you can't have; sheet vinyl floors, formica counters, dated kitchen cabinets, wood paneling, black iron railings like in the 60s, strange colored tile in a tiny bathroom, metal mini blinds, walls of mirrors, "storm windows", rickety screened porch, rotten wood fence or chain link fence anywhere. The place needs to be immaculate, especially where the floor meets the walls. No grungy corners. Remove the old-looking furniture, or any extra furniture. (When people living in a house run out of storage space, instead of getting rid of some stuff,many times they will buy more chests, hutches, shelves, etc. until the place is crammed.)

If you have any of these, the price needs to be adjusted. People like to know they're buying a house that's either a step up in style, or a great deal. Pick one.
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Old 09-05-2013, 01:02 PM
 
451 posts, read 652,666 times
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One more thing.

I had two neighbors across the street from me. Houses were the same style, looked good from the street. One was dated on the interior, with atrocious furniture, big china cabinet, old giant TV, plastic vines winding around the tops of the cabinets, several different tiles on the floor. (I tried to help stage this house, but the owners LOVED all their crap and insisted on keeping it all.) Their house never sold, and they wound up putting an addition on it and staying.

The house next door to them looked perfect, modern, and sold for a 50% higher price in 3 days.
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