Selling an old home (built in 60's)

thomasjokerFebruary 9, 2013

Hey guys

I am trying to sell our family home built in the 60's.
It's a Tudor style home. It's in a nice neighborhood so I can't cheap out too much on reno's. Yet I don't want to spend too much since I probably won't get that money back.

I have some questions:

1) Basement ceilings are about 7.5 feet tall. What color should I make the hardwood in? Dark? Light? I want to de-emphasize the shortness of the ceiling while still appealing to a large market, I don't want to put in laminate because my neighborhood is more upscale relatively.

2) Chandeliers: I have those old crystal ones with tons of crystals pieces strung together. Should I sell these and get cheaper Costco or Homesense stuff?

3) What do you guys suggest for staging? Buy my own furniture and decor items at Costco and Homesense? I think tables would be harder and I might have to rent large dining tables. I was thinking of buying my own bed since I am moving to a condo but then I have to spend the time disassembling and reassembling it again.

4) Old 80's white leather sofa with dark solid wood on sides: still clean but leather cracking a bit, hard to see from far, not new age style, should I get rid of or use it in staging?

5) Old original sliding door to backyard, should I replace this with a French door?

6) Windows: Mine are really old like the originals from the late 60's, never changed at all. So to replace them in the whole house would not be cheap given that I may need to go custom for them. If you put your hand on them, they will feel cold. The upstairs washroom windows are quite nasty, but I didn't know if I should try just cleaning them with a steamer and save the money. Should I change them all? They have grit and some are very dirty, but I am not sure if a powerwasher would clear that up.

7) There's a vent hose in the basement that a terrible contractor routed from the washroom into the furnace room sneakily, years ago. Should I fix this? It would cost to drill a hole in the wall to vent it out.

8) Front doors were never changed. Should I just paint over? Or invest in new front doors?


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1. Wood below grade isn't recommended. Tile would be a better option ans still appear upscale. There is even tile that looks like wood these days if you want "the look".

2. Do you want to keep these light fixtures? You won't get much for them when trying to resell them, plus it's a hassle. Now, if they are super high end, you might find an antique consignment shop willing to deal with them, but if it will significantly downgrade the look of the home to remove them, you would probably be better off leaving them.

3. Staging largely depends on the home's price and style. If it's priced aggressively, you won't have to worry about staging at all. Cross that bridge in a couple of months after you've judged the activity that the listing has generated. But, in a Tudor, you definitely do not want to see a load of modern day style generic crap furniture. If you do decide to stage, look at your local thrift store and salvation army and consignment shops for items that are sympathetic to the home's style while still having good enough bones to work as "modern". The furniture that is in it, if it's from the period, might even work well.

4. Pictures?

5. Pictures? If it suits the home's style and is well made, I personally wouldn't spend money on replacing it. Even if it's kinda lower quality, I probably wouldn't spend money on replacing it unless I found the perfect door on Craigslist and DIYed the install. You aren't likely to see any dollar return from that.

6. Wash them by hand unless you want to be replacing a passel of windows that you break with a power washer. Even on the gentlest of settings, you don't want to be power washing windows. Rent a scaffold for a day if you have to, but clean them inside and out until they sparkle. If their paint needs touching up, the time to do that is while you have the scaffolding.

7. It's unclear as to what you actually mean by "vent hose". And routing it outside may be against code. This is where it will pay you to have a plumber or HVAC person come in and correct this before it ever goes on the market.

8. Picture? If the doors suit the home, restoring what's there by sanding and a new coat of varnish can do wonders. I have a friend with a lovely 1920 Tudor with the cathedral arched front door and she just finished doing that exact thing to the 3" solid wood door with the massive wrought iron strap handles. It's THE feature of the house now!

The thing you want to do is to try to work with the home's bones and not destroy what makes it unique and appealing. Tudor's are lovely homes, but they should never be the setting for a Pottery Bark/Ikea catalog explosion.

Post some pics to get more concrete suggestions.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 7:59AM
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I wouldn't do any of these things. I would make sure the house is clean inside and out, and that there is no deferred maintenance and then price it properly.

Now the thing you call a vent hose probably need to be looked at, but I don't know what it is. Is it from a fan or a plumbing vent?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 8:12AM
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Hhhmmmm... moniker "thomasjoker"...

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 2:43PM
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Can we see some photos? I think it may be that the folks here are going to have some suggestions that you haven't thought of--if the house is all original, it might not be worth doing some of these other things if you are going to leave the rest of it as-is, does that make sense? Kitchen photos and also some basement photos/wall color photos, if the walls are not already painted some sort of staging color?

The people here are usually really good with suggestions. Some are too picky for me, some are sort of outlandish, but when you take them all in total, they can really give you a wide range of options. Your approximate listing price, too, would help.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 2:44PM
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Hey guys thanks for the advice, I am in the midst of taking photos for you guys to see!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 4:33PM
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If youdo not think you will get your money back after the rehab, why not just list it at an AS- Is price?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 9:29PM
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Anyone else find it funny to call a house built in the 60's an "old house"?

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 8:04AM
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I do! Mine was built in 1780. Now that's old!!!!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 8:34AM
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CMarlin--I've been reading through this thread, wondering if he meant the 1860's maybe? We recently sold a 1920's house and moved into a 1950's one--and consider NEITHer of those 'old' (we live in an area where it's not uncommon to see homes that date back to the 1700's, even occasionally the 1600's).

OP--Fix anything that's truly broken--leaking pipes, for example, dripping faucets. CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN! If YOU want the chandeliers, then take them down and put up something else, otherwise, leave them. Don't spend money you don't have to--you're unlikely to get it back.

As to staging--make the rooms look as comfortable, but uncluttered as possible. But not if that means spending money for furniture you won't need later. I do think, the one place it makes sense to spend a few $$$ is for window treatments--but don't go overboard. Go to a place like Marburn Curtains and pick up some inexpensive, but decent looking things.

Other inexpensive things you might consider--a fresh coat of paint doesn't cost much and can make a room look much cleaner. If you're in the mood and have wallpaper? It might be worth removing it and painting. In all honesty, the house we sold recently had been listed twice. In between those listings, we did strip and paint the only 2 rooms with wall paper. Don't know if it 'sold' the house, but the first time around, we had little interest. Second time around, we had a younger, more enthusiastic agent (and those newly painted walls) and it sold in under 6 weeks. But again, it's not worth putting a lot of dollars into getting the house ready to sell--most people want a blank slate that they can personalize to their own tastes. You just have to offer them a home where they can see the potential possibilities.

You are in a bit of a tricky area--a 60's house isn't old enough to be a classic, but it's not new enough to be new. But you only need to find the one right buyer who falls in love with it. Hoping you'll find them sooner rather than later.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 10:04PM
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cmarlin ... that's exactly what I was thinking ... and "old 80"s" ... LOL! I must be really old!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 1:24PM
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The best advice we got was "make it look like the Pottery Barn--no one wants to live in Grandma's house". Once we got done being offended that our wonderful real antique lighting fixtures that cost a fortune were a liability rather than an asset we replaced everything brass with brushed nickel, pulled out the $1000 light fixtures and replaced them with oiled bronze or brushed nickel crap from China, repainted in "Pottery Barn" colors, moved 2/3rds of our furniture out and removed anything remotely personal from the house, so it looked like a hotel. It cost a little money (not really that much) but we sold the house in 12 days at close to asking price in the worst market in history while neighboring houses that were fundamentally more desirable but "as-is" sat for 12-18 months without a buyer. There's more to it than a simple "getting your money back".

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 4:12PM
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That's because even though they were selling it AS - IS, they did not have it priced accordingly.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 7:45PM
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Sorry I mis-spoke, they weren't selling as-is in real estate terms, eg without an inspection clause and all the usual amenities expected in our area. They just hadn't replaced their very nice interior decoration with depersonalized low end trendy stuff.

The changes we did for ~$2/sf lowered the "real" value of our property but greatly increased its relative attractiveness. We happily sold the torn out fixtures we couldn't use in the new house at the consignment shop for a neat profit. A buyer could have done the same and pocketed the proceeds. We were told they wouldn't see the possibility or want to be bothered, and that seemed to be correct. They could have bought one of these other houses, spent the same on minor fix-ups and come out well ahead.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 1:41PM
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