Spiffing up the house for sale -- IN LAW's house edition!

<p>Just about ready to put the deceased in-laws house on the market. It's a circa 1964 split level with a 10 year old bedroom/accessible bath addition. Appliances are maybe 20 years old, cabinets maybe 30, countertops and bathrooms are original. Windows upgraded 25 years ago. My in-laws, both deceased, were the original owners. No one has lived in this house in 4 years.</p>

<p>On the plus side, a new furnace, all fresh new paint, new kitchen floor -- all completed. New carpets are planned -- and the house will be completely emptied. All the old stained furniture is headed for dumpsterville. The hardwood floors on the main level have been sanded and newly stained/sealed. Looks great!</p>

<p>Beyond the carpets, thinking of adding a stockade fence to replace the falling down fence. It's a small back yard. It could use a load of topsoil, grading, and seeding.</p>

<p>It's a 4BR 2.5 bath in an older but still OK neighborhood. It is on a main road, one neighbor's yard is lovely, the other side is sketchy but the neighbors are nice. It is walking distance to grocery, a church, and the local public school. One car garage. 1800 sf. Semi finished basement.</p>

<p>We don't have a real estate agent yet -- but my H is in RE development so we have a lot of contacts for the renovations and refreshing that's been done.</p>

<p>1.Would you stage this house? How much would that cost? Just the main floor or bedrooms too?</p>

<ol>
<li><p>Would you do the backyard landscaping? Right now a lot of trimming is needed, the roots are showing, the "lawn" is mostly moss. There's a decrepit metal shed from Sears that is probably 45 years old, which should go to the dumpster.</p></li>
<li><p>About how much would you spend to fix up any more? We expect the house to go on the market in the low to mid 400's. It's close-in Nassau, commutable to Manhattan.</p></li>
</ol>

<p>I think it all depends on the market. In my neighborhood, all homes have to compete with new construction (many tear downs in old neighborhood-homes are anywhere from 60 years old to 15 year old rebuilds to brand spanking new). Therefore, your house has to be absolutely immaculate when you list it; not only in a deferred maintenance perspective, but from a decorative standpoint. If the decor or finish out is very dated, you will lose out to new construction. In other neighborhoods, that may not be necessary. I'm sure your realtor will know what it takes to sell for top dollar in your market.</p>

<p>Are the original baths and counter tops clean looking, even if old, and is everything in working order? I'd leave them if they are tile and can be freshened or cleaned up. With bathrooms and kitchens, I don't think you can just change some things and not everything, because then the new stuff makes everything else look worse. Chance are, the new owners will remodel them to their own tastes in time. If they are damaged or unable to be cleaned, then I'd repair, but to update, you'd need to do the whole bath and/or kitchen. The exception might be new faucets in sinks and showers, as that's not expensive and can make a difference.</p>

<p>If the windows have draperies that are old, I'd take them down and either leave them bare or put up something simple or just valences. How is the roof? I'd attend to that if there are any leaks or problems. </p>

<p>I like your idea of fixing up the yard. I think curb appeal is even more important than remodeling the inside, especially in an older home. Some new plantings and flowers in front can make a house seem more alive, and a pretty, fenced backyard is a great selling point for people with children and pets.</p>

<p>The home sounds very appealing! I love the walkability factor, and being commutable makes it very attractive. The key will be to price it right, but it sounds like your DH probably has a good handle on the comparable properties. I don't know if I'd spend money on staging with furniture if the carpet and paint are new and the house seems fresh, but that's something a local realtor could advise you on. It sounds like you might be ready to consult someone before you spend too much more.</p>

<p>This is depressing. You're describing my house, almost.</p>

<p>What is the general area like? Are most of the houses updated? It's hard to decide how much to do to a house. For someone looking for a 'deal' on a house that they want to make their own, it might sell in a day as is? Personally I would prefer to update on my own vs feeling guilty about ripping out brand new carpet I don't like. If the structure is good I say just clean and freshen, but I also realize that with the HGTV culture out there everyone expects perfection in every house they see. I would sod or seed the back yard though.</p>

<p>A house like that, in that condition here would sell for half that price so it's hard to judge if that is a "bargain" or not.</p>

<p>I wouldn't do a thing without consulting with a real estate agent. They know what's worth doing and what isn't. </p>

<p>Some years ago, when my mother wanted to sell a house, she refused to follow the real estate agent's advice to paint over the wood paneling in the living room with white paint. To her, this seemed like an appalling idea, especially since it was very nice paneling. The house was on the market for months without finding a buyer. My mom finally gave in and painted over the paneling, and it sold within a week.</p>

<p>Also, surprises can happen. A few years ago, my sister and I were faced with selling a townhouse belonging to a family member who had recently died. We discussed the necessary work with a real estate agent, who gave us specific ideas about what needed to be done. We had started to make plans for these improvements (a difficult thing since neither of us lived in that part of the country), when we got a call back from the agent. She had talked about the townhouse with a younger colleague at work who was just starting his family. He wanted to buy it, but he wanted it "as is," so he and his wife could decide on the improvements themselves. The price he offered was very fair for that property in an "as is" condition. It took my sister and me only five minutes to decide to say yes.</p>

<p>In our area, the house you have just described would be off the market fast enough to spin your head.</p>

<p>Don't do anything more to it until a couple of realtors who are active in that area have seen it.</p>

<p>Also advise on real estate agent....</p>

<p>Close in Nassau could be anywhere.....Elmont, Valley Stream or better school districts on the North Shore....very different real estate markets...</p>

<p>Def get an agent.....</p>

<p>You're asking all of the right questions, of course. But you really should get specific answers directly and only from a successful realtor with expertise in that specific neighborhood. Too much chance of over- or under- staging/sprucing up if you go with general advice.</p>

<p>Agree with all of the above. Sounds like a very lovely home! Good luck!</p>

<p><em>*Are the original baths and counter tops clean looking, even if old, and is everything in working order? I'd leave them if they are tile and can be freshened or cleaned up.</em></p>

<p>That's the thing. They aren't. The kitchen especially, is particularly horrible. I think this is pre-formica. There was a gold fleck on a white (Iguess) laminate ... and the gold fleck has rubbed off in places from cleaning over the nearly 50 years. It's also stained/damaged that cannot be fixed. This is the countertop with a metal edge. It's not a lot of countertop ... and it is simply a candidate for very simple plain but new formica. Nothing fancy -- with luck the countertop guy we know has a scrap that he can make up.</p>

<p>The carpets are horrible. My ILs were careless smokers, the carpets are stained and have burn holes. Beyond repair or cleaning. And ... the stairs hallway is blue, and all the bedrooms are rose. Dated and gross. I want to replace with basic warm tan all the way through.</p>

<p>And Rodney has pegged the area. Think close to the Southern State -- not far from the Cross Island.</p>

<p>cnp55, of course get some input from RE agents, but IMHO, leave the kitchen as is. The house will be advertised that the kitchen needs renovating, and I suspect that potential buyers will therefore be able to look beyond the cr*p counter tops.</p>

<p>some times it make sense to do basic updates to the kitchen and bath, but it depends on the market. as suggested, your realtor should know the needed updates and their payoff. I'd add that a fresh coat of paint will add a lot of curb appeal and the color on the wall should be neutral, any pink and obnoxious colors should be covered.</p>

<p>
[quote]
On the plus side, a new furnace, all fresh new paint, new kitchen floor -- all completed. New carpets are planned -- and the house will be completely emptied.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Leave it alone...you have created a nice blank canvas for someone else to picture. Your price will be discussed with the RE agent and will reflect the need to update the kitchen. To be honest, when we bought our first house (sounds a lot like this one), we ONLY updated the things that hadn't been recently updated. Our kitchen was NOT to our tastes at all but it was relatively new. We WISHED it had been old because it would have been redone much sooner by us!</p>

<p>I would talk to the agent before you put the carpets down. They will tell you about color selections. We live north of you...but ours told us...cheap, but decent...and a light, neutral color that would not show dirt.</p>

<p>Also, for a house that is vacant for 4 years, you need to make sure there is no mold or mildew smells. clean the refregerator if there is one. run a de-humidifier for a week and do not spray air freshener to cover up smells. It has to look and feel CLEAN.</p>

<p>I would do a cost analysis of what it would take to do the reno's vs what you could get once they are done. Generally unless you go all the way with all of the reno's it is probally not worth it. Staging is usually a good idea when the house is in tip top order but not for a house that needs new kitchens and baths. Ask your real estate agent. Another option is to go with mid line ren's for a new look without spending for top of the line....all depends on who your buyers are.</p>

<p>Get a Realtor. Immediately. Have him/her run a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) on your neighborhood to see exactly where your house falls in your immediate area. These questions will be answered by the CMA: Were houses recently sold in your neighborhood updated? What is your direct competition? Have those houses been updated? Are they new construction? Are they newer homes? How about expired listings? Why did they fail to sell?</p>

<p>You can have the countertops relaminated at a fraction of the cost of replacing the countertops. This won't really improve the value of the home, but it will make it more appealing to a buyer. </p>

<p>Curb appeal is very important, but if the home is in need of a major overhaul, the buyer won't make it past the front door once inside the home. You've got to give them a reason to stay and look around. </p>

<p>There are three things that sell a home: Price, price, and price. Either lower the price to make it irresistible to the fixer-upper types, or upgrade the house to bring it into fair-market-value territory. </p>

<p>Get a Realtor. Realtors deal with homes like yours everyday. They know what to do, how cost effective it is to do different projects, they know tricks of the trade (like relaminating the countertops instead of replacing them) to help keep costs down, and they know good, reliable trades people who can do the work for you at a reasonable price. </p>

<p>Good Luck!</p>

<p>CNP: ^^^^that.......</p>

<p>The market in that area has changed SO much in the last 20-30 years that it would be close to impossible for people on an Internet forum to understand; heck, I know about it and I wouldn't hazard a guess as to what needs to be done to sell......</p>

<p>From an Realtor perspective. Here are my things to consider.</p>

<ol>
<li>I would not stage the home. I also would not place new carpets in the home unless you know for sure the other rooms do not have hardwoods.</li>
</ol>

<p>Staging is personal.</p>

<ol>
<li>Pay for landscaping.</li>
</ol>

<p>People are fearful when they see overgrown trees near the home. Women will do the fall in love and imagine summers in the backyard, and great play area for the kids, they want it done. Men tend to pay attention to the garage and basement.</p>

<p>Personally, I have dealt with several families in your position. Buyers are looking at curb appeal (landscaping) and the bones of the home. They want to place their stamp on the home, thus staging is not an issue. </p>

<p>Empty the home, including curtain rods and blinds because they contain odors. </p>

<p>Sell the home "as is", I wouldn't spend a penny on anything because as I stated people who look at this home want:
1. The area and price range
2. To create their home, and will rip it out anyway.</p>

<p>I sold a home older than that, in horrific shape, but the area was great and more importantly the bones of the home was something that buyers wanted. We did price it lower than other homes, but it was due to the fact that nothing had been updated in decades. Within a week I had 3 offers and multiple showings from other agents. They saw it for the bones and the neighborhood.</p>

<p>The buyers took it "as is" no inspection above asking price.</p>

<p>It is how the realtor approaches this that can make or break. I approached it as look at the bones, the schools, the lot, ability to blow out the back or raise the roof. I sold it that way. I even stated in the description for the realtors, not a handy man special.</p>

<p>Realtor in our area can place different remarks. One for Realtor.com and the world to see, one for only realtors to see.</p>

<p>It actually feels pretty clean. I used to dread visiting the ILs because they smoked so much and cooked smelly greasy things. When the house was first vacant there was a furnace puff-back and the whole place was cleaned and scrubbed. Aside from the carpets which show stains, burns, and wear, and the accumulated stains in the plumbing fixtures, it's not bad on the clean scale.</p>

<p>And yes, we know there is only plywood subfloor on the bedroom level.</p>

<p>Talking to H tonight about just how he wants to proceed. It's all white and blank at the moment ... with a few things that still clearly need help before listing it.</p>