Real Estate Report: Getting Ready for Showing
Getting Ready for Showing: Repairs & Renovations
By Mike Pruner
There are a surprising number of people in Greenwich that are embarrassed about their upstairs bathroom. I’ve had clients who don’t want to list their house until the bathroom has been fully renovated and is at least as nice as the powder room for guests on the first floor. They just don’t want other people, and particularly the neighbors, seeing how bad that bathroom is.
Now a truly disgusting bathroom, what I call a bad memory point, really needs to be fixed. Often though the bathroom is just old and worn. The issue then becomes what to do. What you don’t want to do is to do the cheapest job that you can. The result is a bathroom where the material and the workmanship don’t match up with the rest of the house. The buyer will usually look at the bathroom as a complete renovation just as they did before the owner paid for the work, since the buyer will rip out all of the work that was just done. They will then replace it with the style and quality of material that they want and that fits in with the rest of the house.
So what should you do? Well the first thing to do is to get rid of as much clutter as possible. Have a yard sale or even two sales, give away a lot of stuff to the kids, throw away everything you are not going to move, and box up the rest and put it in neat order in the attic, basement or garage.
Once you’ve gotten rid of as much stuff as you can, hire a professional to clean the whole house. One area that is vital, but often overlooked, is cleaning the windows inside and out. Nothing will brighten up a house and show off the yard like crystal clear windows. Also, if you have any pet, cooking or smoking odors get a specialist to eliminate these odors.
Repair or replace anything that is broken or missing, such missing bathroom tiles, bricks without mortar, cracks in walls and potholes in driveways. Two things that you can do that can make your house standout from the competition is to paint the walls and refinish the floors, particular those rooms near the front door. (I’ll leave staging which I recommend to another article.)
As to determining what renovations you should do before putting your house on the market, the short answer is it varies greatly from house to house. Curiously, renovations are most helpful for houses at the high-end and low-end of the market and can be the deciding factor as to whether a buyer makes an offer or not.
At the high-end we have lots of beautiful houses so anything that looks old and worn is going to be at a major competitive disadvantage. Certainly, repair anything that is broken, but you might want to consider a new kitchen or new master bath if they are badly out of date. If you are planning on staying in the house should it not sell, there’s no reason not to do these renovations since you can enjoy them yourself and they just be what gets you an offer.
Under $800,000 renovations can also be offer determinative, because these are costs that a first time buyer or downsizer won’t have to pay. So once again the renovation may be outcome determinative. Between $2 million and $4 million the question of renovation is more complicated as most of the buyers will be able to pay for or finance the renovations that they want to do. Buyers at these price points are also more particular about style so a significant renovation might actually make the pool of buyers smaller as the renovations are not to the taste of a particular buyer.
I often work with an architect or a contractor in discussing what work might make for the quickest and highest sale. If your house isn’t selling, taking the team approach as to what renovations would make it more saleable can be very useful. Recently, a house in Cos Cob that hadn’t sold and was rented came back on with a newly finished basement. It was a big plus.
Getting multiple ideas from a couple contractors can be a big help in selling your home for the best price.
Errata: Last week I said that co-ops can be hard to finance due to a lack of lenders for co-ops in Connecticut. I based this on two co-ops I was involved with a few years ago. I got a nice note from Charlotte Walker, President of the Putnam Park Association, out largest co-op, that many more lenders have gotten into co-op lending. She listed 10 banks that owners at Putnam Park had used. I’ll be glad to send you her list if you are looking for a list of co-op lenders. MP
Mark Pruner was the #1 Connecticut agent for Douglas Elliman in 2015; firstname.lastname@example.org, 203-969-7900.