Advice needed: getting house ready to go on the market

bitsyaJuly 16, 2014

Hello all--I have read here for years but rarely I'm helping a friend get her house ready to go on the market & could really use some help!

I will try to link to some photos of the house; will say at the outset these are not good pictures but wanted to give some kind of idea of what we're working with. We've painted in neutrals throughout, replaced all the door hardware, and changed out all the light fixtures. Etc. Etc.

The house was built in 1985 & has been very well maintained.

However-- we know kitchens & bathrooms sell houses--and we've got a kitchen & 2 bathrooms that have not been updated. The kitchen is the biggie--dark cabinets that are not "all that", appliances that are 20 plus years old but still in excellent working order, countertops that have been there since 1985. And a green vinyl floor (also in excellent condition.) The photo is of the kitchen as it is now in process of being painted--if you look at the linked photos, at the end of the album I included two that I photoshopped with tile floor & darkened cabinets.

Money is tight, as is time. We are "refreshing" the bathrooms--painting the vanities, installing new faucets, light fixtures, etc.

But this kitchen just does not "go" with the rest of the house. What would you all do with it? We are wondering/hoping that installing a tile floor (much lighter than the dark green) would help it turn the corner. And maybe darkening the cabinets? We've considered painting the cabinets white--however, in the kitchen & breakfast area the trim is stained dark--which would complicate this idea. The photo is of the kitchen as it is now--if you look at the linked photos, at the end of the album I included two that I photoshopped with tile floor & darkened cabinets.

Will really appreciate any input/help/comments!

Here is a link that might be useful: House photos

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I would leave the kitchen as is. If I did anything, I might change out the overhead light fixture, but that could result in mission creep by having to paint the entire ceiling. The other "might do" thing is paint the ceiling molding - it looks to be the only brown ceiling molding in the house. The floor looks great.

My advice is to stage the kitchen a bit and stop there.

This post was edited by graywings on Wed, Jul 16, 14 at 9:29

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 8:37AM
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Thanks, graywings! A couple of questions--

First--I am assuming you are referring to the rectangular light fixture? This is a new one & replaced an old rectangular fixture--the reason for choosing this new one was that we were trying to avoid painting the ceiling!

As for the ceiling molding: yes this room (kitchen/breakfast area) is the only room with the stained trim. However (not sure you can tell from the pictures)--it's also the window trim, base, shoe molding etc. Are you saying to paint the ceiling molding only?

Our other thought about the floor was that, when looking at the comparables to this house, we are not seeing vinyl. There are obviously updates a new buyer would want to do to this house but our idea was to minimize the trouble involved--knowing that replacing flooring is a big & messy deal. We can do this for the cost of the materials. The other reason for considering flooring replacement is--this entire house, except for the kitchen area is very light & bright. The kitchen just seems like a cave.

"Mission creep"--I had not heard this term before--that surely describes what we've gotten ourselves into!

Thanks so much for your help! The idea of "staging only" certainly is appealing...

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 10:10AM
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I agree with gray wings. I'd leave the kitchen as is. Maybe replace the cabinet hardware, and the light fixture. I'm talking the overhead rectangular fluorescent. But only if it can be replaced without redoing the whole,ceiling. And stage it.

The rest of the house looks great. This kitchen is usable. It is in move in condition. It just isn't trendy. Price it to reflect the outdated kitchen. Let someone buy it and redo the kitchen to their own personal taste.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 10:42AM
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One word (or actually a few more):
General Finishes gel stain in Java and new hardware. Gel stain is positively addictive. It's very easy to work with and easy to achieve a very professional result.

If it's feasible at all, I'd add that light tile floor.

Depending on the price point of your house, the current market, and what buyers are looking for, adding a new faucet (e.g. hans grohe from Costco) and even an appliance package of SS appliances could make sense. In my area, the cost would be certainly recouped.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 11:32AM
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Hi pixie lou & thanks for responding! The comment about the rest of the house really makes my day because we've done all this ourselves on a very low budget. It's a challenge to "neutralize" but at the same time leave in some personality & character.

I personally would prefer an "untouched" house if I were buying, since I want to do my own designs & finishes. Buyers these days though--she had mentioned to one realtor she interviewed about an allowance for appliances at closing (instead of replacing them)--and the realtor told her that she has buyers complain about THAT! I'd certainly prefer to pick out my own appliances instead of what someone else has chosen. Apparently that is not a popular idea these days.

Thanks again for your help! Leaving the kitchen as is & staging would certainly be less expensive & less time consuming than all these ideas running through my head...

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 12:36PM
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The kitchen is fine. Nothing wrong with it. Especailly if your friend is on a tight budget, just stage it pretty.
Welcoming, not cluttered.
Then list it.
Good Luck.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 1:04PM
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oh my goodness, I LOVE the look of those cabinets & the hardware. Yes, that is what we were thinking. Thanks for the name of the gel stain!

The cabinets we have to work with are for sure nothing special but it certainly seems that putting the darker stain on them would give them a richer look. Agree about replacing the hardware: that was part of the plan I forgot to mention, as well as changing out the faucet. And, depending on how much the budget could be stretched, we had thought of getting an appliance package.

Thank you so much for your advice & for the inspiration photo!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 2:58PM
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I'd NOT tile the floor.
I suspect anyone will either live with the cabinets the way they are for a while, or change everything out right away. Floor included. I think if you spend money on the floor, it really isn't going to be a wise use of funds (and likely be taken right back up.) If anything, I'd do a floating or click vinyl floor to cover it up; but it would still be easy for the new owners to take up/out.

New hardware on the cabinets might be enough of an update for now. Or, you could go gel stain. But, the window trim is beautiful as is, and matches...

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 4:00PM
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How do the bathrooms compare to the kitchen and rest of the house? What do the comps look like? Have you talked to a realtor to get an idea on pricing as is vs. with updating the kitchen?

I think you'd have to go for it all or none at all; floors, appliances, cabinets, and hardware.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 7:34PM
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Check your neighborhood comps and get an idea of your market. Young families just starting out would appreciate having a kitchen that may not be up to date exactly but it's certainly not embarrassing either. A young professional couple looking in a hot neighborhood may want a modern kitchen. Kitchens and baths have become status symbols now in certain neighborhoods. The thing is, unlike so many kitchens, this one has real potential to be a standout with "relatively" little work. But that's still gonna be a project. If you do reno, get rid of the moulding above--it's not unique enough to add interest to the room and actually lowers the ceiling and makes the room look more compact.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 7:41PM
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Thanks, butterfly4u! Yet another vote for leaving it as is. I am thinking maybe we should stage it & then step back & see how it looks.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 7:50AM
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Thanks, kirkhall. You make some very good points. I mentioned going on & staging in previous post, to see if that made a major difference...maybe staining the cabinets & replacing the hardware might be done as well...and then step back & see where we are.

Re the trim matching the cabinets: the photos are deceiving in that in real life, the cabinets don't look the same as the trim. The cabinets look a good bit lighter. So that was the reason for considering darkening them.

I am thinking if we do anything at all, that these smaller changes might need to be done first & then decide about the floor.

The rest of the first foor just looks so good, imo--but then you walk into the kitchen & it is a "disappointment". That's how it seems to my eyes, anyway.

Thanks again so much for your advice!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 8:01AM
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I'd stage that kitchen with a light and trendy indoor-outdoor rug with a bit of color that enhances the floor color is all I would do.

Then I'd clean the house until it squeaks and get it ON THE MARKET before the peak summer buying season is over.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 8:04AM
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You can gel stain that whole kitchen in a weekend, with time in between to dry.
Then get inexpensive SS pulls or knobs.

In my area, young professionals are looking for move-in ready and are willing to pay a premium price for it.

How about throwing a rug down in the kitchen?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 9:45AM
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I think you'd get the biggest impact by replacing the appliances. They are dated, and the white looks so harsh against the wood cabinets. I think bright, shiny new SS appliances would distract buyers from the floor. I also agree about painting the crown, trim, and baseboards...they do make the ceiling seem lower.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:03AM
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Thanks for your response, done again. There are 2 full baths upstairs & a 1/2 bath downstairs. Both the full baths are nice sizes & get lots of light. Both are dated--I need to get some pictures & post in another thread. However with the work we are doing on them, I think they'll look fresh & pretty. The biggest negatives in the baths are dated tile (especially in the guest bath) & fiberglass tub surrounds. Biggest negative of all, for me, is that the master bath has a garden tub but no stand up shower.

Yes we have met with several realtors & gotten opinions--the opinions, interestingly, are varied--much like those in this thread. No one, though, has advised full blown tear-outs/renovations.

You very well may be right on the "all or nothing." We all know how it is--upgrade one item & then all the other things that need doing seem to stand out more.

Comps? Yes. And this is where it gets confusing...the comps are all over the place pricewise. Both "sold" comps & those "for sale" currently. Looks like I need to make yet another thread & ask for some help on this.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:17AM
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Thanks, mmmbeeer. Yes, we continue to study all the comps, trying to make sense of where we need to go with all this. There is the thought that, even if we spent many $$$$ tearing out, re-doing, etc., that we might not get good results.

Maybe our goal should be to create a kitchen that wouldn't be "embarrassing"! I do think we can get there b/c I agree with you that it does have great potential. Someone could keep things very simple (i.e. new appliances, countertop & floor) or go the other direction, rip everything out, & create something entirely different.

Thanks again for your input. The ideas from the people here are SO helpful!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 8:15AM
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I had a long talk with my realtor yesterday. In our area (young, busy people), a relatively minimal kitchen and bathroom update returns quite a bit more than the cost, not to mention that it will sell faster.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 8:58AM
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Kitchen looks like a nice size which is a plus. Price point and competition is also a large factor on how far you go. What do sold comps photos show regarding other local kitchens? I think just updating the finishes, like hardware and fixtures will help immensely. (Don't go too cheap, it'll show). Not too sure on the ceiling light. Personally, I think a great paint job with the color working with the stained wood would add a lot. The white color in photo just looks unfinished to me, like a primer coat. Make sure the windows and lighting/bulbs sparkle, often forgotten but important. You won't need to fix up the kitchen to sell the place, you just don't want it to be much of a distraction. Also keep in mind that the quality of the update is just as important as the update itself. The quality of the update brings the ROI.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 9:38AM
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