We’re going to try a little something different today. Here are some of the things I hear or read on a regular basis when either looking at a listing with my buyers or when I’m getting ready to list a house for my sellers. It’s going to go like this, I’ll give you what I hear or read, and then tell you what my buyers are saying when they actually see these things in person
“I have a finished basement.” I get this a lot. If you have a house built in the 50’s or 60’s and the basement was finished 8 owners before you, do you realize that finished basement is now 50 or 60 years old? How many buyers do you think in 2019 want to pay a premium for a finished basement from before JFK was president?
“My house is the largest in the subdivision” It’s a two story house in a neighborhood of predominantly ranch. It’s much cheaper to add a second floor on a small lot footprint than build out. Square footage in a home is definitely important. However, don’t be surprised if the two story home doesn’t bring a premium solely by square footage in an area.
“My kitchen has been updated” That was 1980. This is 2019. Unless you find a buyer who enjoys a “retro” kitchen, you are in a bad spot when listing your home. Buyers today are looking for certain cues. The subway tile is big right now, stainless steel is big right now, but it’s probably not going to be in style 30 years from now. It doesn’t matter. The majority of home buyers are looking for houses that have current updates.
“My bathroom has been updated” This is a tough one. It has to do with the way bathrooms have been thought of traditionally and what people expect now. If you have a bathroom that is say, 6 feet by 5 feet, it’s a small bathroom. You can spend a fortune updating your bathroom, and at the end of the day, it’s still small. Therefore, unless you really get the style right, no buyer really cares about how much you spent or what you did to your bathroom.
“Everything has been updated” By whom? This is one of the more interesting issues I see when working with home sellers. Maybe you’re a great carpenter but not so great at electricity or painting. Maybe you are awful at plumbing but want to save a few bucks during the remodel so you do it yourself. The quality of work matters. Much more than you’d ever believe. Sure, you could get lucky and the new home buyers have no idea what an awful job you did. There are going to be many more who won’t buy the house because in person, they can see that the quality of workmanship just isn’t there and they aren’t going to pay a premium for it.
“My family member, who is now deceased, did the work” Maybe this only happens to me, but for some reason, home sellers tell me these things all the time. Your dead family member is important to you. I get that. But, the new buyer doesn’t care even a little bit about how your uncle Moe replaced the electrical in the kitchen with the wrong gauge wire. The new buyers would just prefer not to have the house burn down around them. Also, if uncle Moe did the electrical, and uncle Curly did the plumbing god only knows what else is messed up in the house.
“This kitchen was remodeled last year” But it looks terrible! The workmanship is poor, the design choices are wrong, and whomever buys this house will have to do everything again. I’ve written about remodeling in the past. Be careful about over improving your home. My thought is that you should always remodel with the idea that you are going to get to enjoy the remodel before you sell your home. It makes no sense to me to remodel a kitchen the month before you list the property for sale if you are a homeowner. You’re better off just lowering the price to account for the bad kitchen and move on. And, in this case, you avoid the issue of a remodeled kitchen expense where the style or quality is so bad no one else wants to pay for it.
Something To Remember
Your home is something that you have a personal connection to, but a new buyer doesn’t have that connection. When you make a decision to remodel the home, that should be about what you want and meet your expectations. Other buyers are going to have different expectations, and they will find other homes that more closely resemble what their wants. Your house doesn’t just exist in a bubble. When you list your home for sale, it’s competing against hundreds and thousands of other houses across a real estate market. It’s perfectly reasonable to make upgrades and remodel parts of you home. Be careful with over valuing that work when you list your home for sale and you’ll be fine.