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Home Renovation Experience: Making it Better

Posted by on April 11, 2013

Home Renovation Experience: Making it Better

No matter if you are buying or selling, renovating not only makes it better, it makes it more valuable. Call it a personality flaw if you like, but I can’t stand to leave something that can be improved alone. Every house I have owned since my first one when I was 21 years old (40 years ago) has had upgrades and renovations done to it. Some were simple such as painting and landscaping to total overhauls from the ground up. To date that is about 10 houses.

When I say from the ground up I mean it. On Salt Spring I had two houses brought in by Nickel Bros House Moving and put on new foundations. I have also helped clients do the same thing. If you want an instant house, this is the way to go. Feel free to ask me about the benefits and the challenges to this activity.

Sellers

As a seller, if there are issues that buyers are going to see as a reason not to make an offer or to make a low offer, they should be addressed if possible. Think about it as going on a first date. You don’t want to arrive in a jacket with a torn sleeve or dirt on your face. Those are issues that can be dealt with easily and for little money. Obviously there are some issues that can’t be resolved without a larger investment. Being follically challenged, I understand that all to well. The point is you want to present your property in it’s best possible light. As overused as it is, You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression really applies.

As a listing Agent, part of the price evaluation process is the presentation of the home or property. A palace with obvious maintenance issues will give pause to a buyer even if it is offered and a bargain basement price. A broken front gate will immediately cause a buyer to start worrying about what else may be in need of work and start looking for problems rather than looking for advantages. The property should look neat, clean and fresh. If the front door has scratches and stains on it, paint it, sand it or replace it. Elbow grease is many times worth more than replacement.

More serious renovations must be looked at with an eye to the return on investment. It has been said many times that the most important rooms in a house to a buyer is the kitchen and the bathrooms. These are the comfort food areas of the house. If the buyer does not feel comfortable in these rooms they are going to be turned off the whole house. No matter what the style and ambiance of the rest of the house, people want new in the kitchens and bathrooms, even if the style is complimentary to the rest of the house. Old cabinets, counters fixtures and flooring portrays future maintenance issues which are generally beyond the skills and abilities of the average home owner and means a major cost in trades people. Think about it like a classic car. It may look beautiful on the outside, the motor may purr like a kitten but if the driver’s seat is torn and stained they don’t want to sit in it and drive it. If they don’t want to drive it they don’t want to buy it. $1000 in maintenance upgrades may mean many thousands in the selling price and the speed of the sale.

Buyers

A home is an investment. If you buy a house and maintain it in exactly the same condition as when you bought it, it will rise and fall in value according to the market. Think about it like a boat anchored in the ocean. It will rise and fall with the tides. Yes it may go up in value with a high tide but so will all the others so you really haven’t gained anything in the marketplace. The only other factors that may give exception to this are the outside influences of the area you are in. If new development has brought desired amenities such as shopping or transportation closer to you then it may go up in price. Of course if they build an industrial park beside you it may go down. You can only work with what you have. Generally Salt Spring does not have these issues.

The way to beat the odds is to improve the home. This can be as simple as landscaping and paint or it can be a gut and rebuild. If you improve the house with a mind to future value, you will most likely get a better price when you sell it than just inflation and the costs of the renovations. I wave a precautionary flag at this point. Many people do renovations to their homes for their personal tastes that become a “Oh, my God, what were they thinking” cry to a future buyer.

Look at houses with an eye to what improvements can be done. It will pay off in the long run. If you want to buy it “Off the Shelf” finished, perfect according to your tastes then the selection will be limited and you will probably have to pay a premium price. If you are good with that then go with that. At some point in our lives we all realize that we are done with improving things and just want to get on with enjoying life.