Is it worth updating older stucco in L.A. Hills, great bay view, 3300 sq feet, 3 car garage, pool?

Asked by djrakos, Los Altos Hills, CA Mon Nov 5, 2012

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Ruth and Perry Mistry’s answer
Ruth and Per…, Agent, Los Gatos, CA
Thu Feb 7, 2013
Hi Djrakos

Absolutely makes sense to replace old stucco on a 3300 sf home.
First impression is the last impression. A new coat of stucco will create a Wow Effect
generating a Wow return in the Bank.

At the most a 3 layer stucco will cost you $10K. A new coat of stucco
and then new paint will make it stand out generating at least another $100K
in the Sales price.

Go with an agent who understands the market and attributes on new stucco.

Best regards
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Hi, thanks for the advice, but I phrased the question poorly. The stucco is good, it was just part of the description. I should have said Spanish Colonial or Cal-Med style instead of stucco but didn't have enough character spaces. Really just wondering if a remodel would be worth it, since people tell us it would be a blowover situation and an investor would put up a McMansion anyway. Is that still the norm, or do people buy these view properties and live in the existing house? We would rather sell reasonably at some point, and have the old house preserved. It is roughly valued at over $2.5m as is. Some say to develop it ourselves with a 5,000 sq. ft. home and price it at $5m. What do people really want, or...which type of sale would be more likely?
Thanks, Dan
Flag Thu Feb 7, 2013
Grace Hanamo…, Agent, Cupertino, CA
Thu Nov 21, 2013
Hi Dan:

Frankly, unless you have the money and time (both the time needed to plan, obtain permits, and construct AND the time needed to sell in a less densely populated market) to renovate the home, it doesn't really make sense to increase the home's square footage before sales. In fact, my personal opinion is that at a price of $5 million, buyers would prefer to find a "fixer upper" at half the price with the possibility or renovating a home to suit their personal style later.

In fact, most of my high-end buyers (those looking for homes priced over $2.5M) have such specific desires and such a specific list of "must haves" for their homes that most would prefer a good "lot" with building possibilities versus a home renovated for the current owner's needs. Unless you are a developer, interior designer or someone with a great sense of current housing trends, you risk the possibility of building or renovating in a manner that fails to recoup the investment.

So my suggestion is to keep the home for as long as you want it, then list it "as is" with the knowledge that the new buyer will, in all likelihood, be making changes to the property after the close of escrow. In the meantime, you save yourself the time, expense and risk of renovations to your home.

Good luck!
Grace Morioka
Allison James Estates & Homes
Tel (408) 426-1616

Buyer Rebates up to 50 percent of Commission, Low, Low Cost Listings to Sellers
0 votes
Lah Developer, Home Buyer, Los Altos Hills, CA
Sun Feb 3, 2013
Probably not. Probably better to just sell. Once you get over $2.5m, you'll have few buyers, and people don't really pay a premium price for anything built before 1980, even with a sub-zero fridge. If you don't want to sell, you should tear down and build a 5000 sq ft home and price it at $5m. The medium big, tasteful, well built with views will always be in demand..
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Philip Cabral, Agent, San Jose, CA
Fri Dec 14, 2012
It depends on what your plans are and how good the bones of the house are?

If the bones of the house are good, it is generally better to update the home.

If you have the time and money, you can do what my friend did in Los Altos, which was buy a $1.2M property, bulldoze the average condition home, and build a 2-story home with a basement, elevator, and top of the line furnishings for $1.5M. The property is currently valued @ $3.5M so he is ahead @ $750K.

I own homes in California, Hawaii, and Portugal. Let me know if you have any questions or if I can help in any way.

Good luck!
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Hob9, Home Owner, Los Altos Hills, CA
Tue Nov 6, 2012
That depends on the present condition and what you plan to do with the home. The question cannot be answered without knowing your future plans. I am not an agent and have no ulterior motives but have been in the real estate business for a long time.
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Juliana Lee, Agent, Palo Alto, CA
Mon Nov 5, 2012
A well designed and constructed home can have features well worth keeping, with or without historical significance. If your floor plan would lend itself to additions/changes updating could be an excellent choice. However if your lot would be ideal for building a very large magnificent home, your house may not have nearly as much value to some buyers as your lot.

The only way to judge is to see your home, predict it's most likely buyers, and estimate costs of improvements vs increased sales price.

I would gladly evaluate your home and help you plan what to do.

Best wishes,

Juliana Lee
cell: 650-857-1000

Top 3 agent nationwide at Keller Williams Realty
0 votes
Pam Blackman, Agent, Los Altos, CA
Mon Nov 5, 2012
Hi again,

Are you thinking about selling or are you looking to enjoy mid-longer term?
I would be delighted to meet with you to discuss, evaluate and plan.

Warm regards,

Pam Blackman
Certified Residential Specialist
Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist

650-823-0308 mobile
0 votes
Tom Martin, Agent, Los Altos, CA
Mon Nov 5, 2012
Hi Djrakos,
In most cases yes, assuming you have a good floor plan and the home is nicely positioned on the lot. This is particularly true if you like your home and you are doing it for yourself. If your plan is to maximize the value of your property because you are planning to sell, then I would suggest an analysis on what your home would likely sell for as-is and what it would likely sell for after the remodel. We would also get some estimates on the cost of the remodel and then be in a position to make an educated decision. If this is your intent I can do the two analysis for you and get you estimates regarding the remodel costs.
Best Regards,
Tom Martin
0 votes
David Blockh…, Agent, Los Altos, CA
Mon Nov 5, 2012

It depends on what else you do to the property. Is there damage to the stucco or are you just "cleaning up" the exterior look of the home? How is the pool? Does it need to be re-plastered etc.? How is the interior of the home?

There are to many factors to just give a blanket answer of either yes or no. I would be happy to meet you at your home and discuss your options based on what your ultimate plans are for the property. You can contact me directly at 650 917-4250 or


Dave Blockhus
Coldwell Banker - Downtown Los Altos office
650 917-4250
0 votes
Nina Daruwal…, Agent, Cupertino, CA
Mon Nov 5, 2012
Hello Djrakos,
I would say yes, absolutely....just the fact that you need to upkeep your home....and by this question, seems the Stucco needs updating, doing so would enhance the value of your home, as and when you are ready to Sell. You dont want it to look unkempt! Plus the fact that while you are living there, you will enjoy a home that looks good! Spiffy in the neighborhood! You work on your car/s, and everything else, so why not on your home? I would say, its worth it!
Be well and Safe, and do get in touch if you need a good contractor....
Nina Daruwalla
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Pam Blackman, Agent, Los Altos, CA
Mon Nov 5, 2012
I can help you evaluate as it depends on your timeline.
Happy to help.

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Elena Talis, Broker, Palo Alto, CA
Mon Nov 5, 2012
It really depends. Stucco is not usually the highest return on investment if you are upgrading for sale. I know a really good professional who can help you evaluate your options...
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Laura McCart…, Agent, Los Altos, CA
Mon Nov 5, 2012
My immediate response is yes but it depends on a variety of factors. Are the bones on the home good? A remodel will cost less per square foot than new construction. Your taxes will be reassed at a lower rate vs. the 1.25% property tax you'll incur on a new purchase.Plus the cost for a pool/landscaping.

A property with a view is highly prized. I just listed and sold 12799 Dianne Drive with stunning views, no freeway noise for $2,740,000 in less time than is the norm for the hills.

Let me know if I can be of further assistance.
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