Selling a rental house, needing a complete overhaul

kristine_2009February 16, 2012

We have a house that we have rented out for almost 15 years. Renters have taken quite the toll on it, so much so that we have gutted it (all cabinetry, flooring and walls) and are now fixing it up to sell. This is a small acreage in the midwest. Probably worth around $100K once we are finished with it. (For reference, you can buy a new home here for $200-250K). I wanted to get some opinions on if I am going in the right direction on what I should be using for flooring, cabinets, etc. What I have in mind is white kitchen cabinets (don't want to invest too much in high quality wood cabinets, so I thought if going inexpensive that white would look better)and laminate countertop. We won't be selling the house with a stove and fridge, but I was thinking we should install a dishwasher so there isn't a gaping hole in the cabinetry. I have been considering a laminate wood floor for the kitchen/dining room which are open to each other. New carpet for the rest of the house except the bathroom/laundry room (which are open to each other). Will probably use a nice quality vinyl sheet flooring for those rooms. Looking at going with white woodwork and white (fiberglass 9 panel) interior doors. Replacing all light fixtures, doorknobs, etc with ORB. Paint the entire interior Sherwin Williams Kilim Beige (or similar), and ceilings white.

I guess I am wondering if you guys think I am on the right track. This isn't a high end home, so we aren't going to try to make it look like one. Although, we don't want to look "cheap" either. Am I on the right track, or should I make different selections?

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DLM2000

I'm no expert but your choices all sound reasonable to me and will give an overall fresh updated look. Staying with light, warm neutrals is what I would do, too. There are a million choices in laminate counter tops and you can create a really nice look with white cabinets. You don't mention the age of the house - what is the original flooring? Any possibility it is wood that can be refinished? My one *personal* objection would be the wood laminate but I doubt it would be a deal killer for most people.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 10:53AM
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brickeyee

"Probably worth around $100K once we are finished with it. (For reference, you can buy a new home here for $200-250K)"

That seems like a large spread.

You need to look at what other houses of similar size are using and aim for that.

New housing prices are only indirectly related to the price of existing stock.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 10:59AM
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kristine_2009

The house was built in 1900. The floors underneath are 4 inch typical boards, not hardwood. I would definitely consider refinishing them if they were. Really quite surprised that there isn't nice hardwoods underneath. As far as the laminate wood floor, I could go with something else. I guess I just found one that looked like a good quality floor and fairly durable. When you walk into the house you see the living room and dining room, so I want something that looks nice (and want the DR and kitchen to have the same floor). Do you think ceramic/porcelain tile would be a better choice? I was thinking that vinyl would look cheap in that large of an area, and hardwood would cost more than we are looking to spend.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 11:12AM
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DLM2000

I'd prefer the wood laminate over any kind of tile or porcelain - too hard in a kitchen, too cold in look and feel for our midwest climate (I'm in IL). It's possible that original flooring is subfloor but it could also be finished surface. I've looked at old homes that did not use any subfloor at all and had tongue and groove fir as the finished floor - can be pretty when refinished but may not be worth it for you to do.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 12:41PM
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kats_meow

I would do the laminate flooring. I would probably never put it in but it can look nice and some people object to the tile everywhere.

Around here, it is standard not to have a refrigerator sold with a house but a stove is expected. It would be a serious negative for a house not to have a stove.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 3:16PM
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kristine_2009

We could put a stove in if necessary. I think usually around here they either leave all the appliances or none...but I could be wrong. I agree that the tile can be cold, but my main objection with it is how hard it is on my feet. We put porcelain in out home a couple years ago and ever since then, my feet hurt terrible when I get up in the morning.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 4:42PM
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kristine_2009

We could put a stove in if necessary. I think usually around here they either leave all the appliances or none...but I could be wrong. I agree that the tile can be cold, but my main objection with it is how hard it is on my feet. We put porcelain in out home a couple years ago and ever since then, my feet hurt terrible when I get up in the morning.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 5:29PM
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weedyacres

If you want the DR and kitchen to have the same flooring, then I think laminate is a good choice. There are some nice (and inexpensive) in-stock laminate counters and sheet vinyl floorings available.

We recently gutted and re-did a rental and used some stained maple in-stock cabinets from Lowe's. I like them better than white, since the inexpensive white cabinets available are typically melamine. They look very nice and the total kitchen tab (minus appliances, which we bought used) was about $2200.

Here's a shot of the sheet vinyl we used in the bathroom.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 9:16PM
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kristine_2009

Hmm, don't know what was with the double post earlier. Thanks for the pics Weedyacres. I will check out the cabinets at Lowes. I have been looking at getting the white ones from Menards...they have a Thermofoil finish on them I believe. I like your bathroom vinyl, I haven't picked one out yet. Is that from Lowe's as well?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 10:34PM
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lyfia

I think everything sounds good except thermafoil cabinets. That to me does look cheap. My opinion only though. Thewood stock cabinets from either Lowe's or Home Depot would be a better option imo.

As for what the price would be you really should look at comparables in the area and what they are selling for. As for what appliances you need I know that varies with regions too so I would check on that as well.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 11:32PM
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kristine_2009

Here is a picture of the cabinets we are considering

The "value" wood cabinets at Menards look extremely cheap which is why I had been leaning towards these white ones. I have seen the ones at Lowes and HD in the past, but those stores are about 1 1/2 hrs away from us so I was trying to get some locally which limits us to Menards. I do plan on getting nicer hardware than is shown in the picture, and I would not use the 4dr stack. I think it is ugly since they left it flat and didn't match the cabinet door fronts.
I will try to go out of town this weekend to price out wood ones from one of the other stores.

One more question...should I put up blinds or some type of window treatments or just leave the windows bare? I wasn't sure what would be more beneficial for selling purposes.
Thanks everyone for the input!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 11:54PM
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tinan

Can you paint the existing cabinets and put on new hardware? If you put in something really cheap the new owner may want to upgrade anyway.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 12:28AM
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lyfia

I have never seen a thermafoil cabinet that did not look cheap or feel cheap when you touch them. It seems like unless the current cabinets are falling apart maybe painting them would be better.

BTW I'll take your word on the other wood ones looking cheap, but maybe the drive is worth making once. That is almost my daily commute so the drive doesn't face me though.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 6:34AM
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sheilajoyce_gw

The look around here these days is to leave the windows bare, even the bedrooms. The house looks roomier if you can see outside through sparkling clean windows.

I like the laminate in the kitchen and dining rooms. Easy to clean in rooms where spills are common.

I do like the appearance of white cabinets. They make the room look fresh and more spacious, especially if all the woodwork is also painted white.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 1:44PM
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gmp3

Try ebay for hardware, I've gotten pulls and knobs that were $1.20 each v. $4 each at Home Depot.

I think the laminate floor will be a good choice if you pick one with some texture to it so it looks like real wood. Some of the prefinished real wood and bamboo floors would be almost as inexpensive. I wouldn't do tile, it is cold and difficult to remove.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 3:15PM
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pinusresinosa

Just a quick blurb about white cabinets.

We're in the market right now, just put an offer on a place yesterday in fact (fingers crossed, it's our first home!). We've been renting the same place for the last five years, a small home. Here, we have those nice white cabinets.

We have two young children, and my husband is a messy guy by trade and by habits. The white cabinets drive me insane. Keeping them looking perfectly clean (because if they get a little dirty they look really gross) is an every day task, especially the cabinets near the stove area and near the floor. And, since these cabinets are beveled all pretty-like, they take time to clean- moreso than the cheap, flat white cabinets you see a lot in apartments.

So, even though white cabinets weren't a deal breaker for us while we searched for our first home, seeing them made me cringe in a few of the homes we looked at. I can't wait for my wood cabinets that will hide a little of the mess, so I don't have to clean them as often. Sounds gross, but it's true.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 5:42PM
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kristine_2009

The old cabinets were too far gone to paint, so they have already been ripped out. They were probably atleast 50-60 years old. I will take into consideration everyone's opinions about the white ones and check out some wood ones as well. I went ahead and purchased the laminate flooring and it does have some texture to it and looks nice. I almost wish I would have put it in our house when we built. Our brazilian cherry is a nightmare to keep clean! I have located some reasonably priced hardware on ebay too, bin pulls for the drawers and knobs for the doors. I really appreciate everyone's input! I am excited to see this house completed, especially since it is in such disrepair now. Thank you!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 6:15PM
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kaismom

White versus wood is a choice. Cheap wood cabinets look cheap and cheap white cabinets look cheap. You can't make cheap stuff look expensive. However, they give you a different feel. White looks fresh, bright, airy, and clean when new. Your goal is to sell not to maintain. I would look at multiple homes in your price point and not over do it. If your house lacks natural light, I would lean toward white to give it a feeling of brightness.

I prefer white cheap cabinets over cheap wood cabinets. That's just me. At least they make the room bright and airy. If you get wood cabinets, then you have to make sure that the flooring colors coordinate reasonably well. If you are doing white trim work, I would do white cabinets for consistentcy. If you are doing stained wood trim, I would do wood cabinets.

Tile and porcelain typically cost way more than laminate because of the installation cost. (unless you do it yourself.) There is no way you can justify the cost, IMHO.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 6:24PM
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mpinto

I would look into pre-finished wood flooring, unless the laminate is top of the line. I've seen a lot of laminate that is cheap looking.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 9:26PM
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kristine_2009

I agree that white cabinets may still look cheap, but I guess compared to the wood ones I saw, they look acceptable. The wood ones frankly looked tacky. I may check out HD and Lowes this weekend to see what kind of price difference their stock wood ones are from the white ones at Menards. Quite honestly, I think most of the people looking at this price point are just going to be happy the cabinets are in good repair. Most acreages/farm houses in this area and price range are pretty rough and outdated. We are putting in white trim throughout the house, again because I figured if going cheap that white looks better than "plastic" looking wood. With the floor, I agree that a lot of laminate looks tacky, but I did find some that I think looks like a quality product. You are right that tile would be more expensive and we would have to put down durarock for underlayment. Atleast with the laminate we can lay it right over the subfloor. I will do some shopping around this weekend, but I think it sounds like we are on the right track anyway.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 10:33PM
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calliope

It is very hard for people who need a starter or step-down home in that price range to find a move-in ready unit. Your basic goal should be immaculately clean and in good repair, even if that means modest fixtures and finishes.

There will always be prospective buyers who expect champagne on a beer budget, but save any splurges for show for a few unexpected touches like suggested........better hardware on the cabinets, or a more blingy light or faucet. I think you are heading in the right direction with your plan. Good vinyl flooring for kitchen and bath, decent laminate for the rest.

I like your idea of installing a dishwasher. Don't leave that gap, and of itself is a big hit with a buyer for the money.

There's nothing wrong with leaving curtains out of the equation, other than to perhaps provide privacy when it's on the market. I put up new blinds to all the windows when I sold a little 'extra' house in town, but made sure that they were all up and the rooms bright before any showings. I figured it removed any decorating bias to lookers, kept passers-by from scoping out the house for theft or vandalism, and provided a buyer with some sort of privacy until they could install curtains of their own choiceif they wanted them. If you think windowless looks too austere, just pop up a valance in a neutral shade. Keep it bright! Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 5:15AM
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cocontom

How far are you from Ikea? You could get their cheapest doors (which do look cheap, but really aren't bad when they're new), then leave a note that they can replace the doors in minutes if they don't like them. From a quick search online, it looks like that would be significantly cheaper, even if you had them shipped to you. You could also use Scherr's (they're online only, I think).

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 2:13PM
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kristine_2009

We don't have an Ikea in our state. Thanks again for the ideas and suggestions everyone!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 12:26PM
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