should Iupdate my kitchen and bathroom before iput my house on the market?

Asked by Lois Karp, Medford, MA Thu Jan 29, 2009

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Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Thu Jan 29, 2009

This is a very common delema for home owners. Here'e a true sinerio. A home owner in our general location decided to do major updating prior to selling their home a couple of years ago. The project included kitchen and bathroom makeovers to the tune of over $60,000. The home was successfully sold for close to the asking amount but the story does not end here.

The new owners decided they didn't like the lay out and gutted the entire home including the work recently done. Would the home have sold with out the upgrades. One will never know but it sure did bother the seller to think he just wasted that money.

It is probably best to price the property right and leave the changes to the new owner. Only they know what their tastes are.
1 vote
Pete Elsner, Agent, Kirkwood, MO
Wed Feb 18, 2009
Don't waste your time or money. Unless you are going to do an all out remodel. If you have old cabinets and think you can just replace the countertops, forget it! Just sell it as is and move on!
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Margaret Osc…, Other Pro, Albany, GA
Thu Jan 29, 2009
Updating your kitchen and bathroom don't have to cost you an arm and a leg! Talk with a home stager or remodeling specialist -- set a budget and stick to it. A bathroom update can be very affordable if the fixtures are not moved. There are some great glazes (rudd products - we buy them at Miller Paint) that can update kitchen cabinets and give them a rich look with some new hardware - for $250 a DIY can have a dramatically improved space! Kitchens are the heart of the home for most people and if they are dated, buyers will deduct more for improvements than you would spend if you went to the trouble yourself!
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Keith Sorem, Agent, Glendale, CA
Thu Jan 29, 2009
Thank you for your question. One of main reasons sellers consult with a professional is to learn what they need to do to get top dollar for their home when it goes on the market.

When I meet with a seller we look at a couple of key issues:
And the competition.

I would evaluate the house as-is first. Based on the competition and how much time we have, I would ask the seller what they expected from the sale. Based on the local market conditions it might be that an "okay" to put a property on the market. However in most markets if your goal is to get top dollar, than at a minimum the property needs to look:
Clean, freshly painted inside and out, decluttered, and staged. Re-modeling would come AFTER the basics are covered. I had a client that invested $6,000 on a new bath. Then didn't have money to re-carpet and paint. Big problem.

So, with you being a Real Estate Pro, I would go visit the homes that represent your competition and see how nice they are. Honestly compare your home to the market. If they all look pretty spiffy, then you need to look AS GOOD at a minimum. If you want Top Dollar, then yours needs to look better.

If a lot of the inventory is older construction, perhaps needing some work, then the bar may not be as high for your home.

Good luck.
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Vicki Looney, Agent, Houston, TX
Thu Jan 29, 2009
The first rule of thumb is "don't over-improve" your property. So if you live in a home that has never been updated and you want to get top or near-top of the market, you need to update it. Have a home STAGER help you plan out what you want to do. Don't go over the top, just replace the oldest of the old and then move on. If you live in an area (neighborhood) that is somewhat depressed, I would probably just re-paint and change out the light fixtures. But remember, any construction in your house is going to take longer than you originally expected so allow plenty of time. You should still have the stager come in and advise you as to which colors to choose and how to go about arranging the decorations in there. That will make a bigger difference than you can imagine. BE SURE not to over-spend on the updates for your neighborhood. You will NOT get the cost of the upgrades back if you invest so much that it brings your property in OVER market.
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Tim Mitchell, Agent, Hoover, AL
Thu Jan 29, 2009
Most likely you will need to do some updates. In this market--the competition is so tough, if you dont update or have a nicer product/home, the buyers will pass you by. It's just like HGTV--if you don't do updates, it won't sell--unless you drop price well below the others. The market is so high w/ inventory--it's a car lot--- the ones that are shiny, detailed, waxed, rims, new tires, etc-- those are the ones buyers are drawn to--- same goes w/ homes today--buyers are finding sellers that have done updates and the home is like new & move-in ready-- those are the ones getting the offers. the others needing updates, new carpet, paint, updated kitchen, they will sit versus the others in most cases...
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Renee C. Bra…, , Fort Washington, MD
Thu Jan 29, 2009
In order to sell in this market, your home needs to be competitive price wise as well as aesthetically. With that being some, a couple of things to consider are the last time your kitchen and bath were updated, is it in line with the other homes in the area and how much updating is needed to make your home shine. Also, the price point makes a difference. If your neighborhood falls within the top 25% of homes in your area then the buyer will in all likelihood be more discerning when comparing homes. Most buyers are visual so if your home does need updating then I recommend having it done before being put on the market. I hope this helps!

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l, , Mars, PA
Thu Jan 29, 2009
Yes I would do it. It is the greatest return on investment in my opinion. Depending on how outdated it is, you might not have to replace everything. You might be able to paint, change the countertops, and maybe change the flooring and it could make a huge impact. If you would like more details, I would recommend that you contact a Realtor in your area to come over and give their opinion. Remodeling magazine does an extensive survey and puts out a yearly cost vs. value report which shows the return on your investment for various home improvements. Here is a link to the web site with the report, as follows:…

I hope this helps. If you have any other questions just let me know and good luck!
0 votes
Lisa Reeves, Agent, Tampa, FL
Thu Jan 29, 2009
It depends on if you are looking to recoup the entire cost of the project in your selling price. In the current market this is hard. It also depends on the surrounding homes - are you in line with the rest of the homes around you? Or are you significantly behind cosmetically that it is noticeable and you would have to lower your price to be in line with foreclosures and bank-owns. If most of the homes on the market around you are updated - small improvements to the kitchen and bathroom may get your property SOLD. Sometimes an allowance may be enough to get a buyer interested.
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