Finish last improvements or market house now (This spring - 2013)

Asked by Bart Betz, Portland, OR Mon Dec 17, 2012

I have owned my North Portland (University Park) home since early 2004. My 1800 sq ft home was a real fixer - built in 1919. Over the last 9 years I have made substantial improvements to the house including a "from the studs" new kitchen, bathroom, hallway, dining room and bedroom remodels. Each remodel project I installed new electric, insulation, windows, everything.
The only rooms left untouched are the living room and third bedroom. These are still lathe and plaster and the living room has a "texture" on the walls that I am not so fond of (also the electrical is not grounded - but windows are updated)
My question is this: I'm very interested in upgrading to a newer home on the west side of town. I had a real estate agent come by and suggest that I could market the house for the low 270's right now, without finishing off the last rooms. I'm not sure if he is saying this because he wants to market this house right now. What should I do? I'm worried about missing low interest window.

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Christian Friese’s answer
Christian Fr…, Agent, Portland, OR
Mon Dec 17, 2012
According to the latest RMLS Market Action Report, the North Portland area has the shortest market time of the entire Portland Metro Area! Inventories in that area are also at record lows - I just checked, there are just 5 active "comparable" listings in your area. Of course I don't know how many bathrooms/whether there is a garage, etc. With inventory low and demand high - I think the agent you spoke with was correct. Of course you may need to find an interim place to live between this transaction and finding a home on the Westside which is also experiencing record low inventories - especially NW Washington County. You will most likely have more listing competition in the Spring, as inventory levels are at their highest.

Regarding the work you have done - do you have all of the permits/receipts/etc.? Would be great to be have those documents in order.

I also agree with a previous response - have a few Realtors out to present CMAs for you. I'd love to be considered! Good luck to you regardless!!
1 vote
Paul Johnson, Agent, Portland, OR
Mon Dec 17, 2012
Buyer's really want a move-in ready finished product. The worst thing from a buyers prospective is walking into a house that is 80% done. Why? Because the seller is usually marketing the home at a price like it is 100% done. If I were you I would get the house completely show ready. Not only will you get a top dollar, you will sell faster. Don't forget to make sure you have some staging done (a good realtor can help), professional photography and web 2.0 marketing plan. The market is Hot out there, but marketing a home the right way will put more $$$ in your pocket to buy the next home. My opinion is that interest rates will stay low at least for the first quarter 2013. You only get one shot at a first impression, so make it count! For a recent blog on renovations that don't add value to your home and other tips for selling visit the link below!

Best of luck!
2 votes
The Stephen…, Agent, Portland, OR
Mon Dec 17, 2012
Interest rates are probably going to stay low. I would finish what you can and put the house on the market in Feb. or March. Things are really hot out there right now despite the holidays. So anytime is a decent time to sell... but things are going to be scorching hot this spring, so I'd wait a little longer.
2 votes
Wayne Pruner, , Tigard, OR
Tue Dec 18, 2012
I'd finish it and put it on the market this Spring. You have time. It's pretty easy compared to what you have already done. Interest rates will still be low then. This Spring should be quite active for Sellers.
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1 vote
Bob Hoerner…, , Portland, OR
Mon Dec 17, 2012
Good question and one that should be looked at from if you completed the additional items in your current house will you get a return on your investment. Another way to put it will the dollars you put into the house increase the value enough to cover the cost and add some additional. From what you have said it looks like the most value added areas have been done.

Next thing to look at is what you plan on buying on the Westside of town as like your area home prices are moving upward again. How much will depend on the area so it is a good idea to look at prequalifying for a new mortgage and what this will mean for your next home. Include any and all sale proceeds you expect and if you wish to use it all towards a new home.

Last with interest rates, from what is being said we can expect to see rates stay low for a 6 to 12 month period. This can also go longer based on the Federal reserve’s statement last week of holding the mortgage and government bond purchases, with additional increase in buying, until the unemployment rate is at 6.5%

Please feel free to contact me with any additional questions
1 vote
Lana Lavenba…, Agent, Grants Pass, OR
Mon Dec 17, 2012
You may speak with more than one agent to be sure the home could be marketed for that kind of price or even pay for an appraisal. It never hurts to put it on the market without finishing off the rooms to see if anyone will bite!
1 vote
Jon Cohen, Agent, Portland, OR
Mon Dec 17, 2012
First, you should look at the cost-benefit analysis of upgrading the remaining two rooms. What is the cost (money and your time) to finish the two rooms and how much would you be able to market the home for once those upgrades are completed? Does the new price range give you the return that you are expecting?
Next, I would ask if the two untouched rooms are so different from the upgraded rooms that a potential buyer would immediately determine that the house still needs work. If so, then you are detracting from the price. This would be an indication that you should do the work on the two rooms.
Finally, I would look at the neighborhoods where you would like to move and assess the current inventory of homes for sale. If there is not much for sale right now, and nothing that catches your eye, then you likely have some time to compete the upgrades and get your house ready for listing before you find the right house in your new west side neighborhood.
If you'd like another opinion of market value with the completed updates, or if you want some assistance with market activity on the west side, I would be happy to help you.
1 vote
Jean Silver, Agent, Portland, OR
Mon Dec 17, 2012
If you are worried about missing the interest rates, I would get it on the market soon. Your price point and location should sell quickly. Most Buyers like to do things to their own tastes, and if the on;y 2 rooms they would have to do are cosmetic that doesn't seem like a big deal. I will add, however, if the paint is old and dated in the Living room, (the first room you enter?) you may want to spruce that up before going on the market.
1 vote
Tom Inglesby, Agent, Portland, OR
Tue May 7, 2013
I hope you have completed all the projects and are bringing you house to market today at a price that is 5%higher than December. Good luck to you, if the house is priced right and looks great you will do fine. Good Luck to you. Tom Inglesby, Broker, RE/MAX
0 votes
Edith Karoli…, Agent, Winnetka, IL
Tue Dec 18, 2012
Question back to you, 270 K marketing, selling for how much? what is your net to seller?
What have similar homes sold in the last 6 months? Did you go through all these numbers with
your Realtor? YOU must know all of these details....

In my view it all depends how does your home show, curb appeal, entrance door, first impression
when entering the home.... do you have estimates how much it will cost to finish the other two rooms?
If you have detailed information and you are ok with the net to seller once you have paid off your
balance to the lender, paid commission and closing costs, survey etc. etc.

And the rest of the home shows so well, that a new buyer will gladly finish the rest to their own
taste.... It really is a question of what your home is competing with, are all the other homes on
the market completely finished and are in the same price range, then you want yours finished
but how much money do you put in, would you then market it for a higher asking price...

You can ask your Realtor to look at a few competing homes with you, to get a better feel for yourself
and yes make sure it is not just listing for the purpose of listing, but listing for the purpose of getting
it sold, you do not and probably can not go through several price reductions if you do not get
any offers.
Good luck to you.

Hope this helps...

Most Sincerely yours,
Edith YourRealtor4Life and your Chicago and Northern Illinois
and RElocation Expert
Working always in the very BEST interest of her clients
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0 votes
Kathy Mittel…, Agent, Hixson, TN
Mon Dec 17, 2012
I am of the mind you finish the house and sell it looking its absolute best. You will get a better price and if you are in an area of Portland that is very popular and has low inventory, the extra time fixing it up is sure to pay off. I also always recommend staging a home - I feel strongly that staging enhances your home's photos on line and for those buyers who don't have a lot of imagination, they usually get very excited over a well presented house. Another thought is to get an appraisal and tell the appraiser you are thinking of listing your home and would would be the difference in the appraisal once the two rooms were finished and see if it financially makes sense.
Good luck.
0 votes
Linda Heinri…, Agent, Lake Oswego, OR
Mon Dec 17, 2012
I would suggest getting proposals from a couple of sources and make sure the comparable properties used are truly comparable and similar. When evaluating a home and suggesting a price range, we take into account homes that have sold, other options a buyer may have and how the home shows. As you can see it is a bit of a moving target because what we see right now today will be different than what we see 30-90 days out. This is true of potential improvements as well - it sounds like you have done a fantastic job of restoring your home and there is no question that University park is a desirable location. In the end, only you can answer the question about timing, but the low inventory right now has definitely given sellers a leg up in the market.
0 votes
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