David Hopper, Other/Just Looking in Arlington, VA

How much renovation is worthwhile when selling a 60-year old home?

Asked by David Hopper, Arlington, VA Fri May 15, 2009

I soon will seek to sell a 60-year old home (3br, 2 bath) in Arlington, Virginia that has been occupied by tenants for 10 years. Although in reasonably good shape, it needs updating and prep for sale. What renovations and changes will do the most to improve value and help the sale? Is it possible to say what amount spent on renovation will justify itself?

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Jennifer Kla…, , McLean, VA
Fri May 15, 2009
HI David
It's an excellent question and unfortunately not a one-size-fits-all answer. I believe there is a buyer for any house in any condition as long as the price fits the condition and location. I'm not sure you'd see a dollar-for-dollar return on improvements or renovations put into the property - you might see a quicker sale - but not sure all of your money would come back to you. I'd be happy to take a look in person and let you know what I think.
Have a great day!
Jennifer Klaussen
Keller Williams Realty
1 vote
Colin Storm, Agent, Falls Church, VA
Fri May 15, 2009
David; it would be difficult to say without seeing the home itself and the trends nearby. You don't want to spend any money if someone is likely to come along and buy the home for the land. Nor do you want to do, say, a kitchen renovation/update if a buyer will likely blow out some walls to make the kitchen larger or do a full scale addition. Chances are pretty good that your best bet will be a clean up, fresh coat of paint, and a great price. Let the home be a blank canvas for the next owner. But, again, it is tough to say for sure without actually having a look.
1 vote
Abdullah Al-…, , Alexandria, VA
Tue May 19, 2009
Take a look at some homes for sale in your neighborhood and see what their condition is.
0 votes
Meg Fuhs, Agent, Acworth, GA
Fri May 15, 2009
Without seeing your home..... prep for sale at a minimum will be paint, carpet. Suggest there is no old wallpaper patterns. Other than that on the more expensive end buyers love updated kitchens and bath. Granite, tile, updated fixtures, SS appliances are always pleasing to buyers. Clean and bright. Good Luck!
0 votes
Vicky Chrisn…, Agent, Purcellvile, VA
Fri May 15, 2009
David - you need to have someone look at your house. Even though it is significantly less today than a few years ago, there are still homes in Arlington being sold as tear downs - I would not spend money rehabbing if you might sell as a teardown or to someone who wants to add a large addition. Have a REALTOR look at your home and advise you; but whichever way you go remember prices are not what they were.
0 votes
Edith Karoli…, Agent, Winnetka, IL
Fri May 15, 2009
Hi David, a good question, but we are working in the dark here as Realtors, because we do not know the house.

Here is what I usually do and suggest to my clients....

a) pay for an inspection, so that you do not do cosmetics and spend money on those, when there are
real problems to be taken care of, that will show up in the buyers' inspection anyway! So that should be
step one and money well spent as it will also help you price the property right.....

b) Work with a local experienced Realtor who can walk through the property and look at it with the eyes of a potential buyer, if you do not have a Realtor, or are not yet committed to a local Realtor, feel free to contact me directly by e-mailing me to edithsellshomes@gmail.com and would love to refer a trusted Realtor Colleague/Partner of mine who will be of great help.

c) When deciding on renovations or improvements, you want to do the ones that are most important to
any buyer, but often (if the inspection does not bring up problems with the A/C or furnace, the roof etc.)
it is clean clean clean, open free flowing space, lots of light, good clean flooring (whether hardwood, tiles or carpeting clean is the buzz word.... and then often it is up to date, in fashion colors on the walls....

d) the kitchen may need some updating, new appliances could make a difference, but careful, when the cabinets are outdated and the counter tops are outdated when bringing in new appliances stay on the simple side....

If you can work with a Realtor who is also experienced in staging a home, he or she will be able to make suggestions also to what to do and what not to and always consider getting into the house a cleaning crew before putting the property on the market including a landscaper to clean up the outside and make the front yard inviting!

I could give you more detailed suggestions, but since I cannot see the property I have to stick to those general suggestions and contact me if you want me to connect you with an experienced partner agent of mine in Arlington VA, just e-mail me to edithsellshomes@gmail.com
Warmest Regards always,
Century 21 SGR
0 votes
Emmanuel Sca…, , Collin County, TX
Fri May 15, 2009
Hello David,

I agree with Colin and Jennifer Klauss. I would add one thing that can help the sale though. On a home of that age I would consider having a professional inspection, prior to any work and completely documented, just to identify the items a buyer's Inspector will find. From that I would price out repairs to any major issues found and if your budget allows repair the more significant ones. You are still going to have tenants live there while trying to sell. If the item fails or causes a problem during that time you would have to correct it anyhow. Having a list and estimates on hand will also help you counter offers from unrealistic buyers.

The comment about the "blank canvas" is very appropriate here. For example if the carpets are in fair shape don't replace them, just clean them and possibly offer a concession on them. Your choice of carpets and colors are not what another may choose. Even simpler things like refacing cabinets may not appeal to another.

The reason I mention a full inspection, prior to any work and being fully documented, is to help you with the sale. For example it is normal, inexpensive and good to clean, paint and perform a general spruce up of the place before listing it. However, as an Inspector when I enter a home with any heavy cosmetic work performed I have no idea what may potentially be covered up. If I find a stain bleeding through new paint I have to report the stain and that it appears to have been freshly painted. it can place a specter of doubt in a buyers mind of what was potentially covered up. A fully documented inspection might have identified it as an older stain from some innocuous cause that is no longer a concern. Had you provided the report to the buyer before their inspection they would already be prepared for it being in their Inspector's report.

Good luck on selling!

Emmanuel J. Scanlan
PS Inspection & Property Services LLC
214-418-4366 (cell)
TREC License # 7593
International Code Council, Residential Combination Inspector #5247015-R5 (Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing and Building)
Certified Infrared Thermographer (ASNT-TC1A Standards)
Texas Residential Construction Commission, Third Party Warranty Inspector #1593
Texas Residential Construction Commission, Inspector, County Inspection Program
Texas Department Of Insurance, VIP Inspector # 08507061016
Hayman Residential Engineering Services, Field Technician
CMC Energy - Certified Energy Auditor

Knowledge is power, but sharing knowledge brings peace!!
Web Reference:  http://www.psinspection.com
0 votes
jmw, , Arlington, VA
Fri May 15, 2009
Hi David,
I would recommend working with a realtor who will list the property for you. Someone who specializes in Arlington will be able to give you good solid advice based on first hand knowledge of the area and current sales, etc. Without seeing the home, it is very hard to give advice apart from the standard rules of thumb.

Good luck,
0 votes
Jane Jensen, Agent, Mclean, VA
Fri May 15, 2009
Hi David:
It really depends on what your competition is. That has more to do with how you plan on pricing your home. If it's in a higher priced neighborhood and you want to compete on that level, you'll need to do the updates. On the other hand you may choose to price the home lower to attract someone who might not be to afford the neighborhood otherwise. Then you will not want to do the updates.
If the other homes in your neighborhood are selling at lower prices then it is unlikely you'll get alot of the money back for the updates you do. You may get some back, and it will likely get you a quicker sale.
Keep in mind that even if you do get most of your money back on the updates, it's possible, if other neighborhood sales are lower, that the appraiser for your buyer won't give you credit for the full value of your updates, and the home may not appraise at the sales price.
0 votes
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