Selling my mom's house - has wood panelling, non-working shower

classicaloneApril 4, 2011

Sometime within the year I'm going to have to put my mom's home up for sale. It's in a rural area that has decreased in population over the last decade, has higher than average un-employment.

Her house is a 1971 1100 sq.ft. ranch, plus carport, with 3 bedrooms and 1 very tiny full bath, with tub/shower combo and 1 even smaller bath off the MBR with a shower. The shower hasn't worked in years, has many tiles that fell off, water's not currently hooked up, but plumbing is close by. The main bath has tiles that fell off behind the toilet and sink; that area has a large square of wall paper over it now.

Except for the picture window in the LR, it has small windows. Every room except for the baths has wood panelling, and all the trim and doors are stained wood. Even with lots of lights on the house always seems dark to me, and every inside photo ever taken there has such a dark background, even if the flash brightened up the people in the photos.

The floors are wood - but I'm not even sure if they're hard-wood - they've always seemed so soft to me - easily scratching and denting. They look pretty bad now, but I think they'd look pretty good if they were refinished.

The house is on a reasonably nice acre lot, and looks pretty nice from the outside - fresh white paint, with freshly painted black shutters. It has a good roof and gutters and has some nice trees and shrubs.

I'm trying to figure out what I should and shouldn't do to get the house ready to sell. I think I should re-do the MBR shower and re-tile the main bath; I know how so all it would cost is the time and materials, and I would use in-expensive materials which is in keeping for the house and the area. I also think I should refinish the flors - again something I could do myself. I also need to replace the vinyl flooring in the kitchen and baths. My sister thinks we should sell it "as-is", but I don't agree. Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions about refinishing the wood floors, replacing the vinyl flooring, and fixing the baths, versus not doing it?

The other area I need help on is any advice on how to help the house not look so dark inside. Would putting up a lot of large, bright pictures on the walls help? Maybe hanging some light curtains on rods that are wider than the windows so the curtains don't cover up any of the small windows?

I would greatly appreciate any input anyone has.

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Could you sell it as a tear down? instead of spending money. What is the condition of the rest of the house--kitchen? bedrooms, walls, heating, under house etc. If you did fix it up, do you have to get permits? Even if you did fix it up would you get your money out of it. Also is your mom still alive and/or who legally owns it.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 3:01PM
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Your suggestions make sense to me. If everything is fresh and new you will sell quicker and at a higher price. If the area is already depressed, the sale may take a long time anyway and it sounds like the current condition of the house would really turn people off.

You may want to paint some of the paneling white too, especially if it is not nice wood paneling, and paint the trim and doors to brighten it up. If you can do the work yourself it should be too expensive. I wouldn't pour tens of thousands in, but a few thousand may really help people see a cute little house and not a wreck.

You should talk to a realtor as well, and see what they think.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 3:02PM
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I'd paint all of the panelling & any wood trim or doors a rich creamy white (NOT builders white!) - if you can do it yourself, your only cost is the paint, and it will improve the house dramatically. Also agree with gmp3 about talking to a Realtor to see what they suggest, since Realtors know the area better than we do.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 3:51PM
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I agree about talking to a realtor. It sounds like you are handy, so retiling the bathrooms, redoing the floors, and painting the trim and paneling wouldn't cost much money. I think they are probably all worth doing.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 4:55PM
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I would hold off on sinking too much money and time into the space until you can get a handle on what your ROI would be. I would definitely speak with a couple of realtors to get their opinions.

You say you're in a depressed area, would you get much of a return on, let's say, $5,000 you would spend to redo the things you mentioned? What are comparable sized homes selling for in the area? (Note, not what are they LISTED for, what are the ones that are actually selling SELLING for?) What is the range / variance in those prices based on condition? Is the land the most valuable part of those listings?

How much is your time worth to you? (Not that it's any of our business, but questions to consider: if your sister disagrees with fixing it up, are you going to be doing this alone, only to split the proceeds with her? or is this to get the most money out of it for your mom?)

Make a list of fixes, starting with the lowest cost and effort (painting probably first) and start there. As ottawavalleygardener mentioned, a little paint goes a long way to freshen up a place.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 5:26PM
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Since the area sounds economically depressed, buyers are probably looking for bargains and know they might have to do some repairs. I'd put in the absolute least amount of work in order to make the house presentable, and then keep the price as low as possible. Painting all the paneling is an inexpensive way to brighten the interior, and then maybe just fix the MBR shower and the main bath tiles. The new owner can do the rest.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 7:17PM
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You need to make it a little better than its competition, whatever you decide. If it's an as-is, it should be the best as-is in the area. If it's a fixed-up ranch house, it should be the best fixed up ranch house in the area. I personally prefer to fix places up before I sell them. There's value in any work you do. You can figure out what a house like that would sell for in its current state, and then what it would sell for if you painted it, refinished the hardwood floors, fixed the bathrooms. I bet it would be worth fixing. If you could post pictures, we could give you ideas. I agree with what someone said about painting the paneling creamy white, not builder's white. I've painted paneling before and used a warm cream color. It looked fantastic. Do a careful job on the paneling otherwise it will look like cheap painted paneling. Use the right primer.

What state are you in?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 11:36PM
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I assume you are going to empty the house, and then paint and refinsh and retile. I would not hang pictures or curtains. The rooms will feel sunnier with a light neutral paint on the walls and no curtains. The house should look more spacious that way.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 8:40PM
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You need to decide if you are willing to invest money and then possibly wait for a sale to get top dollar, or want a quick sale and reduced carrying costs.

I have purchased numerous 'old lady' houses over the years (not all from ladies or the living).

I have a good ongoing business in renting some of the houses, lived in one for ten years before selling, and have managed to give sellers (or estates) a decent return and a quick sale.

Things have not gone as planned occasionally over the years (more costly repairs than anticipated, market downturns) and those house in particular had to be held longer to make money.

I did a lease with option to buy on one and the option was exercised after 3 years.
The buyer had bad credit from a failed business when he rented, but managed to recover and exercise the option nicely.

He got a very good house, I made some money.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 4:21PM
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Brickeyee, OT and I apologize but am curious if you are still buying homes to rent? With the depressed housing prices, statistics show people prefer to rent rather than buy.

Seems to be a good market for buying potential rental property.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 11:50PM
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I picked up to REOs last fall (boy are the banks dumb).

One is low enough priced it may sell easily, the other will likely be rented out.

I will continue looking for others.

The downturn has made the value of houses NOT in great condition even lower (like the ones with 60 year old kitchens).

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 9:47AM
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I second the ideas of getting realtors' opinions and also spending the least amount of money to make the home attractive.

Painting the paneling in a least some of the rooms would not be expensive or time consuming and would make a huge difference. Also fixing the shower is a must.

Re painting paneling, you can prime/paint as is or else fill in the groves and the end result will look just like drywall. Depends on if you want to put the extra step in of filling grooves and sanding smooth.

Speaking from experience, painting dark paneling can make a huge difference in the appearance of a space.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 11:00PM
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How thick is the paneling?

Is it solid wood?

Is it thin paneling over drywall?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 10:14AM
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I picked up tWo REOs last fall (boy are the banks dumb).

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 10:16AM
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I'm wondering if your mom was/is older and couldn't keep up with maintenance (understandably)? If so, perhaps doing a home inspection would be worth it before sinking any money into renovations. Just thinking that if there was some big problem lurking then any renovations could prove worthless.

Otherwise, I would probably focus on painting only and just sell it.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 4:54PM
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