What to do to prepare for listing

kats_meowNovember 14, 2009

We are planning to list our house for sale in the spring and are trying to decide what to do/not to in preparation for sale. Last two houses we sold we did do quite a bit to prepare them for sale and it did help.

Situation: not a bubble market, not a lot of price appreciation the last year or so but houses are still selling. Inventory is a little under 5 months.

House: about 4300 SF, 5 bedrooms, with 2 detached garages, 1 BR guest house, pool, 2 1/2 acres. Semi-rural suburb to large city. Subdivision of custom homes. Paid $530k for house 3 years ago. That is high end in this area, less than 5% of houses in county sell for over $500k. So have to consider that in considering house. House is beautiful from outside, property has over 100 trees, property is entirely fenced. At time we bought it we planned to stay forever so did things to our taste some of which won't be attractive to others. Some of it is just too expensive to change (our fencing cost over $20k and is unusual because it is meant to keep our dogs in). House is 15 years old:

We know we will repaint a lot of the interior either due to the paint needing it (what we didn't repaint when we moved in) or due to us painting it unusual colors. Some of the repainting will be mean stripping off the wallpaper we painted over and texturizing the walls before painting. We will also recarpet the upstairs.

Specific questions:

1. House is 15 years old, oven and cooktop are original to house and look it. Have new dishwasher. Inclined to put in new cooktop and oven.

2. We put in slate tile in the family room, master bedroom and bath. Rest of downstairs is wood (foyer and living room) and tile. The tile in the family room meets up with the tile in the kitchen and hall which is an entirely different color and type of tile -- this is an open area so there is about a 15 foot length where you have dark grey slate next to brown ceramic tile. I tend to think there isn't much we can do about it. Putting new tile in the rest of the downstairs is too expensive. I guess we could put down carpet over the slate tile but seems a waste since the tile is nice looking.

3. House had lots of built in cabinets, all with a dark stain on them. I didn't like the stain and in the master bath and a small office/workroom we painted them, umm, blue. The ones in the bathroom I am inclined to paint white (these are huge massive cabinets). In the workroom we took out the formica countertop and put in blue granite countertop (for entire length of room), painted cabinets and wall blue. Of course we won't take out the granite, but perhaps paint the cabinets white or leave them blue?

4. Our dogs have scratched several doors (this was early when we moved in and we didn't think them of them doing this...now we clip their claws). These are french doors from the living room to the sunroom, double sliding doors from living room to foyer and door into the workroom (yes, it is painted blue to match the cabinets). I'm not sure if we should replace the doors or try to have refinished and restained.

5. Bathroom has brushed chrome fixtures. Doorknobs are brass. Replace?

6. When we moved in we put fingerprint locks on 2 doors inside and a keypad lock on the side door to the house. The fingerprint locks would never work for DH so don't really use them. They are huge. The keypad lock works reasonably well but people may not like the idea of a keypad lock. Replace the doors? (You can't remove the locks with out replacing the doors).

7. I recently came across the pictures we took when we looked at this house. The yard was immaculate looking with hardly a leaf to be seen (we saw it first in November). So I didn't really think about the fact of their being tons of pecan trees. There were pecans in the yard but not much else. The reality is that leaves are everywhere, very hard to deal with and branches fall with every storm (we spend quite a bit on tree care/removal). There is no way DH and I can keep the place raked and neat ourselves. Is this worth paying someone to come in and do it while the house is listed?

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I know you are not ready to list, but have you talked with any Realtors. I would discuss these questions with them, also check for any open houses that are similar to yours.
I do think you want your house to look up to date, I think 15 is about the worst age, getting old, but not really needing updating, but the buyer wants up to date.
I wouldn't paint your cabinets plain white, look for a softer classy off white.
Replace all the blue, but think hard about the right color, you want up to date and classy.
Replace brass, shows dated.
I'd probably replace the doors.
Will you have as much leaves in the spring? If so, hire the gardener.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2009 at 10:53PM
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Oh, I forgot one thing, can you add more slate to make it all slate? Slate is popular now, that would be a good feature.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2009 at 10:56PM
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Assuming I could still get the same slate...would cost about $12k most likely...more than I want to pay for just one thing. With the blue cabinets in the workroom/office any thoughts of what color to paint...the granite is bl

    Bookmark   November 14, 2009 at 11:37PM
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5. Bathroom has brushed chrome fixtures. Doorknobs are brass. Replace?
Brushed chrome is fine. No one is going to notice that the doorknobs are brass. Cheap shiny fake brass chandeliers are what date a house.

6. I would love a keypad locking door.

7. If you can afford a yard service, that's great. Drive up appeal is important.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2009 at 9:54AM
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Talk to a few realtors before you do anything. They will have a better idea if the blue needs painting over. I know a friend of mine just sold a house with a lot of blue and she told me they got several comments about there being too much blue, but it still sold. However, hers was an inexpense house, I think people expect more from expensive houses.

I wouldn't worry about the chrome fixtures. Ask the realtors about the brass doorknobs. Leave the keypad on the side door, ask the realtors about the fingerprint locks.

If you can afford someone to keep the grounds in good shape it will be well worth it. If you sell in the spring there shouldn't be any brown leafs to rake but you need to keep the property very neat.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2009 at 2:03PM
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A house in the upper price ranges will attract buyers who will plan their own remodel of the kitchen and bathrooms. You want them to look clean, nice and functional for selling so the buyers can move in a do remodel on their schedule. Redoing floors could be in that same category.

Repainting to a neutral attractive color would make sense.

Keeping the yard well raked would be huge in my opinion. If it looks like a lot of raking is involved with owning your house, people will cross it off their list.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2009 at 2:44PM
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I liked sheliajoyce's comment re the repainting to a neutral color, other than that I'd spend my time and energy on making sure everything is neat, uncluttered and CLEAN. People can see past the different tiles , door color etc . but dirt and clutter, not a chance! Of course, I would assume that there are no surprises in store for a prospective buyer, such as a stove that doesn't work, leaks etc etc.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2009 at 8:09PM
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Speak to several Realtors very familiar with your market to pick their brains. If you are upper end people will expect more. This will include new appliances and fresh, neutral paint. The floors are tougher and where a local Realtor's opinion would come in handy.

You may want to hire lawn care for once at least week with additional weeding, pick-up-sticks duty. Our lawn guys do additional work for us every week, but remember they aren't gardeners. We did have gardeners for two years and the gardeners were twice as expensive as the lawn guys. For your purposes, the lawn guys are more than adequate.

We have a key pad lock on one door. Next house, every door will have one! Leave the key pad they are fantastic (we never use a keyed entry anymore).

    Bookmark   November 15, 2009 at 11:36PM
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How hard would it be to match the wood that you currently have? What I'm thinking is you could remove some of the brown tile and create a wood border around it if the wood is also visible in this area. This would create a break between the two tiles and would make the entry have a more custom look.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2009 at 4:36PM
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Thanks for comments. I will talk to local realtor before finally deciding on things. Having said that, we looked at a lot of houses when we were buying this one so I have a good feel for the area. Having sold a couple of houses previously we know to declutter and keep the house spotless and on the last two houses we repainted and recarpeted. We will replace the oven and cooktop in the kitchen...something not really high end but adequate enough that any buyer would feel comfortable using it until ready to remodel.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2009 at 10:17PM
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