Home Selling in Minneapolis>Question Details

Grad_girl_1, Home Seller in Minneapolis, MN

Would it be cost effective to replace the garage?

Asked by Grad_girl_1, Minneapolis, MN Wed Aug 12, 2009

I have a 3BR/1BA, 1 car garage home in great condition for sale in SW Minneapolis near 50th/France. It's been on the market since 3/17, and is in great condition and has been staged. We've lowered the price and have zero offers. No other 3BR/1BA, 1 car garage homes have sold in our area since we've been on the market, which leads us to believe that there are just too few buyers looking for this property footprint. It would cost about $16K to replace our 1 car garage and make it into a 2-car. Would we recoup the investment?

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I did a bit of checking, you are at 5220. There is one active and one sale in the immediate area. Both have
1 car garages. I do not think that is your problem. The one that sold had recent updates to the bath and the kitchen. You are 102% of tax and the other active is 108%. It is also bigger, has better curb appeal, and appears to be updated. It is not selling also. I think it is a price situation. I see you have had it on the market in 2008 for a much higher price. July and August can be slow, it might pick up after Labor Day. Take it to 269k after Labor Day. If you have no pressing "have to sell issues", be patient. Keep it perfect and good Luck. You paid 212k, depending on your additional investment, you still will make a little money. You made a good choice in house and location.
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 19, 2009
How did we go from a 1 car garage question to Realtor bashing? I did work as a contractor, as a Realtor in the area, and grew up on 48th and Abbott. First, start over and look at all the negatives in the house. If the interior and exterior are in good shape, newer kitchen and bath, your Micro Location(block, side of street), are good. You do not back up to one of the local commercial establishments. Then go shop the competition and see how your house is priced, and it's condition compare. Do some metrics, cost per square foot, price to tax, check the cancelled and expireds for the gave up prices.
I learned some very expensive lessons about home improvements on my last flip. Payback is not there, it was all in the market appreciation. You are lucky if you get back 50%. There were some foreclsoures in 55410, they are competition. I think they call it reegineering.. One strategy would be to lower 5k and then 10k, maybe even 12k. If nothing happens, then consider the garage, at best it will cost you 8k in equity.
The Twin Cities is a corporately controlled broker market. Three brokers control 75% or more of the market place. You would expect the result would be a tightly controlled market place. The reality is the opposite. All agents are independent, paying for a majority of their own expenses. Some of the offices have 200+ agents with one or two managers, resulting in a pretty loosely controlled profession. There are plenty of rules out there, not too many enforcers. We all get angry at each other for the offenses and indescretions we commit.
Most of what has been said by the consumer and agents can be proven to be true or happened. It does not make us all good or bad. A good perentqage of us should not be selling real estate or anything else.
Most real estate was a sure thing, it would always go up. That proved to be incorrect, if you made a less than wise buy, you have a good chance to be punished in your pocetbook. Sentiment/pyschology is a good part of market conditions. Consumers want to blame Realtors for their mistakes and misfortunes and in some cases this is justified. This is called exogenous, somone else's fault. Real estate in the TC is a realtionship business, do not hire your friend or realtive. Interview and interview some more, shop and shop some more.
Any good marketing book will tell you that, as risk in buying increases, so must your knowledge and depth of detail understanding.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 19, 2009

It sounds like you know considerably more than the "realtors" who you are working with and those who took the time out of their day to give you free advice. My advice would be for you to use your superior knowledge to decide whether or not the garage should be replaced. J/K

Look, all joking aside, real estate is not scientific. You are searching for a rational basis where there is none. I have never sold a house where the buyers walked in and said "I don't really like it but based on X,Y, or Z statistic, we'll buy it." I have however sold plenty of houses where buyers have compromised on their predefined criteria because they "fell in love with it". Whether you or I like it or not, houses are very emotional and a buyer's level of emotion towards a property cannot be measured. Therefore, when selling a house one must take into consideration the measurable facts (square footage, number of bedrooms, etc) as well as the emotional appeal of your home. Is it updated? Is it inviting? Is it staged? Is it clean?

Ultimately, a $16K price reduction (if you were going to spend the money anyway) would go much farther to selling your house in this market. Good luck in your upcoming sale!!

My only other tip is to have your realtor provide you with more specific feedback. It sounds like they are using some sort of automatic response system to gather the feedback - have them rework or rewrite the question to gather the information that you are looking for.

Cameron Piper
#1 Trulia Agent in MN
Web Reference: http://www.campiper.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 13, 2009

Part of what you are looking for from a scientific standpoint is hard to do because each house, each block, and each transaction is different. Unless you are buying new construction from a builder making cookie-cutter homes, each home will have differences and cannot be considered equal. When it comes to houses bigger or smaller, while gross square footage means something, the funcionality of the floor plan can mean a lot more - for many years designers have shown us how you can do far more with far less space. Number of bathrooms and garages are much more dependent on what is "typical" to the neighborhood and values can vary widely. Without knowing more about what age, size, style, location and price of house you have it is hard to evaluate an exact return on investment.

In addition, while some buyers have very detailed specifications others are more about location, charm, etc. and are more flexible on specs. In this situation a 1 car vs. 2 car or 1 bath vs. 2 bath home, while still important items, may not be the determining factor.

There are bad lawyers, bad teachers, bad police, bad doctors, etc... some of the agents I know never had to take an exam to become an agent because they were around before the tests were! The state still requires 15 hours of continuing education each year regardless. Some of my peers have been in this business for 30 years and are truely experts. Others have the same amount of time and are idiots. Then there's the crop of agents that have been in it for 4, 6, or 8 years that know their craft like many of the best 30yr veterans.

Edina Realty has found on average that our listings require 23 showings before it is sold... it sounds like you've had many showings and have done at least one price reduction. Each time you do a substantial change to the property (via price or features) I consider it "new" to the market and thus will need a new round of showings to generate much interest. If you're house is in the low to middle $200's then $8k - $10k would be substantial - in the high $200's - mid $300,000's I think you need to reduce $13k - $15k. The point being if you were only overpriced by 3%-5% you probably would have had a buyer walk through the door already.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 13, 2009
Hi Grad_girl_1,

I share your frustration regarding the course requirements to become a real estate agent and the professionalism of some Realtors. Just like lawyers and scientists, not all are alike and you'll get varying degrees of education and professionalism. The problem with selecting a top 100 Realtor (in my opinion) is that they may be popular and a good marketer to the point they get your attention to list with them but it doesn't necessarily translate into getting the house sold. Not getting the sign placed until seven days after the house went on the market is a critical mistake.

I also share your feeling about not having a standard for measuring the square footage of a home. I think the reason is that it's political. New construction wants to measure from the outside and others want to measure from the inside. Since no one can agree, there is no standard. Similar to that is you will receive varying opinions as to whether or not to add a 2 car garage in an effort to sell your house. The first thing I would recommend is to contact the city to see if you even can. Lots in SW Mpls can be narrow and not have enough room for setback requirements. If the city says yes, then I would interview a few different Realtors (yes, I know but give some others a chance) and possibly an appraiser to see what they have to say.

What you didn't mention, but I would say is more important, is that you only have one bathroom and whether or not you should add a second one. I would say this probably has more to do with the house not selling then the garage. A good thing about adding a bathroom is that it merely needs to be functional and won't cost nearly as much as adding a garage.

Without seeing the property, it's condition, location and price, it would be hard for me to comment on whether it would be a good return on your money for either the bathroom or garage. What I can say with certainty is that if your house isn't selling and you suspect it has to do with the garage or as I suspect it has to do with only one bathroom (or both) you may not necessarily get a return on your money so to speak by adding them, but it certainly could make the difference as to whether your home sells or not.

I'd start with the bathroom.

I hope this helps.

Patrick Howard- Realtor (not one on the bus bench with a photo of me and my dog or with the phone up to my ear)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 13, 2009

I totally understand your frustrations with REALTORs and have to agree many of them do not have adequate experience, or schooling behind them. There are however many that do, and I know many that I would not hesitate to call professional. I don't think that most are lazy, I think many lack discipline and knowledge pertaining to marketing.
To answer your original question though, I think it would be best to lower your price rather than start building the garage. Chances are you will build the gargage and be left back at the price you started at.
If you get feedback about the garage being too small, ask your agent to offer it as an option to purchase to the buyers. I would not advise advertising this in the MLS though as you are setting yourself up for an low offer asking for the garage to be completed.

Good Luck!
Web Reference: http://www.abemills.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 13, 2009
We do have a real estate "professional" (actually, we've on our 2nd one), and I am totally and completely unimpressed with "REALTORS". Let's be frank, realtors go to about 2 months of school to get their license. As a person who has a Bachelors, Masters, and PhD degree, I hardly think that somebody with a 2 month certificate is a "professional", nor do I believe that they're very knowledgeable. I have read a couple books on real estate and at this point, I have a lot more good ideas than either "realtor" we've worked with. And my husband who is a lawyer knew more about the paperwork that we needed to fill out than our "realtor" did, even though real estate law is not my husband's specialty.

In addition, my experience has been that REALTORS are lazy. When we put our home on the market, rather than having a checklist of the things she had to do to, our REALTOR just prepared willy-nilly. She forgot to order a sign so the house was on the market for 7 days before we had one in our yard, and she did not put out the Truth-in-Housing forms(required by law) for a week because she forgot. The only way she remembered is because I told her they were missing. I asked her 5 times to measure the house to assure the square footage was correct (this was the only special request I made), and she never did it. Do you call that "professional"? I don't.

Our current agent is a top 100 seller at Coldwell Banker Burnet. When he brings comps to show us for determining pricing, he brings homes that are not at all similar to ours. For instance, ones that have 500 less square feet, or that have 2 bathrooms when we have one. Do you consider that a good comparison? As a scientist, I do not and my field would totally ridicule REALTORS for the shoddy job they do of finding comps.

As a "professional" organization, REALTORS are also lacking. For instance, did you know that REALTORS have never organized and come up with standard ways of measuring the square footage of a home? You'd think this would be important because it's a key measure of how homes are compared. The first thing a scientific community would be to standardize measurements to assure that comparisons were fair. However, REALTORS have been around a long time and have never done this. How do you explain this oversight?

One of you asked if we've had showings and feedback. Yes, lots. The problem is that the feedback is inconsistent. For instance, one person give the exterior 5 stars, the next gives it 3 stars. It just goes to show that different people have different tastes.

What I am looking for are statistics on return on investment in a garage for Minneapolis. I do not want any advice stating that I should work with a REALTOR. To date, they have done nothing to earn my respect.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 13, 2009
You didn't mention if you are getting showings and what the comments have been. If you aren't getting showings, make certain your MLS data is complete and the pictures reflect your home in the best possible light. How does your pricing compare with homes with 3 bedrooms,2 bathrooms and 1 car garage? How does it compare with 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and 2 garages? Have you paid attention to your tax value lately? Everyone else is – realtors, buyers, appraisers, loan officers, web sites. We NEVER used them in consideration of pricing until recently. Now they are much more closely alligned with fair market values and more equitable among real estate taxpayers. However, the foreclosure and short sale market have impacted values everywhere and the trend is to see tax values above actual sales prices in some communities and price ranges. Tax values are a consideration, not true market value. Best wishes!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 13, 2009
What does your Realtor say?

IMHO it depends on how much time you have and on the homes competing with yours.

If they ALL have two car garages, then you have a simple choice - reduce the price until it sells, or invest time and money with no assurance that the garage will do the trick. I would strongly suggest analyzing if you were to spend $16K what ELSE could you spend it on - painting inside and out, new kitchen, etc.

If the issue is a double garage (and you are in snow country for five months out of the year), it almost seems that your Realtor should/ may have provided you with advice regarding pricing and value of your home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 12, 2009
Keith Sorem, Real Estate Pro in Glendale, CA
If there's lots of similar houses with 2 car garages that have sold then I think you might have an argument but it will take time to rebuild the garage and I wonder what a $10k - $15k reduction might do instead.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 12, 2009
In our opinion, it may be easier to simple adjust your sale price to reflect the property has only a one car garage....but the problem doesn't stop there.....builders are no longer constructing one bath homes because they are not viewed a being practical. Most families today require at least 2 bathrooms.

Our recommendation is to speak with your real estate professional about these and other factors that are going to get in the way of selling your property. This is a time for sellers to be practical and price their homes according to desirability and the most recent market activity.

Good luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 12, 2009
I recommend contact an appraiser determine if you can recoup your investment. What is feedback? Keep in mind many families can't qualify for loans OR don't have 3.5% put down. How many homes sold with 2 car garage in your area? How long were those on the market for sale? Many factors prior to spending $16K you can't get that back once it is built.

You most likely need city permits conversion.

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0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Aug 12, 2009
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