David Swain, Both Buyer and Seller in San Francisco, CA

I own a typical 1906 Edwardian in San Francisco with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and relatively small, sectioned off

Asked by David Swain, San Francisco, CA Thu Jan 31, 2008

rooms. I'm trying to decide if it would be worth the $20k to knock down two walls to turn the kitchen, dining and living rooms into one big, open room. i.e. will be get our money back and more when we sell? Any thoughts?

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15
How small are the sectioned off rooms? It sounds like they are two small to create a third bedroom?
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 31, 2008
First, congratulations on finding and purchasing such an historic and well-located property!

2 points to make in response to your question:
1) I tend to agree with Michael Ackerman on this one. We Realtors cannot tell, by your question, whether or not your property is upgraded with small rooms, or outdated with small rooms. This is crucial info that ultimately makes a difference in each Realtors' recommendation on how to move forward before selling. A good Realtor will offer you at least 2 options and share the pros and cons of each, and let you decide which way to move forward for the sale. Whether you delay a remodel and face (possibly) more inventory as competitors, or, you put the property on now and (possibly) face fewer, is hard to advise with the little information provided. Regardless, in the SF market there is always demand for "finished" AND "unfinished" (i.e., fixer) properties, which will benefit you either way if your Realtor has the correct pricing strategy.
2) It seems your primary question is about creating a "great room," or at the very least expanding the open/common space of the home to optimize a sale price. The Inner Richmond is not considered to be in an area of town where buyers tend to prefer formal dining rooms (think Lake Street, Presidio & Laurel Heights, Pac Heights and northward...), so expanding or opening up areas may ultimately lead to greater return upon sale.

I hope this information has been helpful!
Web Reference: http://www.AmyBlakeley.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 3, 2008
No, NO, do not do this! People buy Edwardians for the original elegance & atmosphere. See real estate pics online. The "great room", as you suggest, is trendy right now and for some folks it is just what they need. However this one-room design is generally found in the newer homes with a more casual feel, esp. vacation homes.

Not only will you not get your money back, but you DECREASING your chances of selling at an appropriate price.

Bev Rowden
San Rafael
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 27, 2010
20k, damn I want your contractor or beware of that contractor.

I'm contemplating the same thing, knock down one wall to merge formal dining room with kitchen + kitchen remodel and we are talking 40-50k.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 12, 2009
I have a house built at the same time and I can't imagine:
1. Getting a good quality tear down of those thick old growth redwood walls for only $20,000; or
2. Doing that without destroying the beauty of the gorgeous Edwardian home.
Try it will cost you something closer to $60 to $80 thousand at least by the time they are done..they will lead you along by the nose up to the REAL cost. Stupid. Leave it as it is. Put in some granite counter tops and get rid of the old fireplace in the kitchen instead (if there is one sealed up in there taking up space). We are in a recession and its only gonna get worse. Not a good time to invest in real estate at all.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 11, 2009
The first thing I would do is have your realtor do an analysis of sales activity in your neighborhood. This will show what comparable homes are currently selling for and give you some idea of the upside potential a remodel will have on your home’s value.

As other agents correctly pointed out, you need someone to look at the entire house to advise you on whether this single change will make the home more desirable. If there are other issues such as outdated bathrooms, insufficient closet/storage space, or poor natural lighting, these negatives could outweigh your improvement.

Your agent will have a pulse on the market and can tell you what is in demand in your neighborhood. Today I worked an open house at a wonderfully remodeled 3BD Edwardian home our company has listed in the Inner Richmond (538 11th Avenue). This home has a traditional floorplan with a separate living room, formal dining room, and kitchen with separate breakfast area. We had over a dozen groups come through and not one person commented about the layout! Everyone loved the period detail and fine restoration of the original woodwork, hardware, and lead-glass cabinetry.

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 18, 2009
David,

I don't work in San Francisco so I'm not really qualified to answer your question on whether you should or not knock down the walls, but what I can tell you is that if the job doesn't look professionally done or shabby it can actually hurt you rather than help you. Make sure whether you do it yourself or hire a contractor that it looks up to par with all the other remodels in your area and that in the end it integrates flawlessly with the rest of your house.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 18, 2008
Dave,

I definitely would go for it. You should get your money back.... Most people want grand open kitchen/breakfast areas/family rooms. If this is done, they will not have to factor that in to the offer price. If you have a formal dining room, I would keep that because people like formal entertaining as well.

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 18, 2008
As a prospective buyer, I say go for it! 1) it will improve your quality of living while you are in the house. 2) it will set your property apart from the many other Edwardians in your area and price range when you sell. I've looked at so many Edwardians! Their layouts are often strikingly similar, and their tendency towards smaller rooms and loooong hallways can make a day of open houses a frankly claustrophobic experience. Imagine a buyer entering your renovated house after seeing several others that haven't been opened up. . . I think It will give you an edge. And 20K is not a lot of money these days (sadly). Interest rates are low, contractors are aplenty, and since now is probably not a great time to sell, a change will keep things interesting for you as you stay put.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Apr 5, 2008
It's one of two simple answers... "it depends" or "yes". When considering construction consider what appeals to the majority of Buyers... and "yes", open rooms and floor plans DO appeal to the majority. However, as everyone here says, stick to a budget. If you're intent is to gain value, don't eat up the value gained by over-spending. Some people spend a fortune on remodeling, which is fine if their intent is NOT to make money in the end. If you're doing it to please yourself, just know you may not get your money out, let alone a profit. Buy cheaper (not cheap) stuff that looks great, not expensive stuff that most buyers wouldn't know recognize as top of the line or special.

But... $20k to knock down two walls and remodel a kitchen??? Seems like pocket change unless you're mainly just knocking walls down and not doing much in the way of remodeling. On our team we have a construction expert... he doesn't hire himself out, but is open to a consultation if you need a more specific answer.
Web Reference: http://www.SFisHome.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 8, 2008
It depends on many factors - market timing being one of them...

If you look at my listing at http://www.168-170-21stAvenue.com you'll find I have an original condition property out. If you check out the almost identical property Jack Murray of Prudential Real Estate has you'll see the two walls knocked out.

We could have taken it to the next level, however at what price? Now is a great time to be selling as there is no inventory available in San Francisco. The $20k and delay might put you at a disadvantage when suddenly you're faced with twenty other 'similar' properties and must compete. You'll have a superior property no doubt, but the buyers will have more choices. So contact YOUR agent for their professional opinion.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 4, 2008
Here, here to the other responses! If you end up remodeling the rooms and kitchen, stick to your budget! Make sure you bring in experienced contractors/workers and put in quality (not too expensive & not cheap) finishes.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 31, 2008
I'm with Jed on this one, Inner Richmond is highly desirable and upgrading will pay when you go to sell. You'll want to move out with remodeling the kitchen -- believe me, I tried it the other way and it's stressful!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 31, 2008
Yes you will without much doubt. The desired floor plan is open at the kitchen creating a great room for family and entertaining. 20K doesn't sound to bad either. Go for it.
Web Reference: http://www.JedLane.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 31, 2008
Jed Lane; Fog…, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
MVP'08
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Hi David, It sounds like my own home. Location is very important, like always. In San Francisco you will get your money back if you spend it wisely. If you are interested, I can have a look and give you my personal opinion!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 31, 2008
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