What to fix to sell house
I am trying to sell a house that my ex and I own -- I am going to refinance and take him off the mortgage within the month. I am getting a 35 month, interest only, investment property loan (I live in another house that I own).
This house was in crappy condition (due to a wrap-around buyer who bugged out). I am in the process of getting things fixed up.
So far, I am in the process of getting the exterior of the house (including gutters) painted. I am painting the interior as well. I have a heat/air guy coming on Monday to check those systems.
I am purchasing new light fixtures (the ones in the home are 17 years old -- all shiny brass). I am also getting matching oil-rubbed bronze light switch plates. Oh, and I decided to change all the door knobs to oil-rubbed bronze -- the old ones are...well...old and brass.
The kitchen needs major help -- I have ordered new appliances. I will be painting the cabinets an ivory/off white. I bought new knobs, which are oil-rubbed bronze. I will be replacing a leaking sink with either a black or off white one. I plan on having the countertops replaced (they are old and burgandy laminate). I am replacing it with a granite-looking laminate.
The kitchen lighting is a fluorescent fixture -- but the ceiling will not accommodate a hanging fixture, so I have bought a new fluorescent light cover that has oil-brushed bronze accents.
I am having the screened in porch re-screened. I am going to call a landscaper to work on the yard (definitely need trees trimmed/removed, etc.). I will replace the bathroom countertops (very dated) and lighting. I am replacing the ugly vinyl with some neutral vinyl tiles that will go with the cabinets (which I am repainting). I am replacing the bathroom and kitchen faucets.
What else do I need to do? I considered re-doing the floors (mostly carpet at this point), but I think that will be beyond my budget. Should I replace the toilets (they are working). Should I replace the shower fixtures (they are basically builder grade)? There are several door which are poorly hung (they were this way when we bought it) -- do I have them replaced or leave them be? Do I need to supply a refrigerator (not common in my area)?
The biggest problem with the house is the retaining wall (two, actually) in the back yard. The two tiers probably go up 15-18 feet. The second (highest) tier is fine -- the first tier is leaning towards the house. The first tier has been leaning since before we bought it (dumb, I know) -- it does have railroad ties installed vertically in front of the wall, to keep it from collapsing. However, it is 17 years old. The ties are rotting, falling apart, and some are just gone. This retaining wall basically goes all the way along the back of the house, the right side about 2/3 of the house, and the left side about 1/4 of the house. The house was built into a hill, basically. It would cost sooo much to repair it completely.
Oh, the retaining wall and poorly draining back yard equal disaster (standing water in the back and side yards, at best -- if we get too much rain, like a hurricane, the crawl space has been known to flood). I am getting the back yard graded so that the water will move out of the yard (and not into the crawl space). The crawl space has flooded about 4-5 times in 8 years.
So, how big of a detriment will the retaining wall be in selling the house? Should I invest in having it repaired?
I figure it will cost between 10K-20K, minimum, to fix (I am going to get quotes next week). The mortgage is currently 139K. I think the house will appraise for $185K. I am going to pull as much out in the refinance as I can, and use that money to put back into the house. Is it worth putting so much into the retaining wall? With the wall as is, I was figuring I would ask 160-165K for the house. I would take $155K, maybe even $150K (I just want to get back what I have put into it recently).
What do buyers want? I'm trying to hit all the 'visuals'. I'm replacing the outside lighting, the mailbox, and sprucing up the yard for visual appeal. There is a lot for sale here (probably everywhere). Our market is down, but not as bad as most areas (the house is in North Georgia). I hate selling stuff, and I hate having to pay two mortgages! I want to sell as quickly as possible, with as little investment as I can put in. On the other hand, I don't want to be having to refinance AGAIN in 3 years, because I could not sell the house!
I know this is a lot of information. Sorry! I'm kind of floundering (and in a daze of spending -- man, things are expensive!). Any advice on what else will impress buyers would be great. If you have experience with nightmarish retaining walls, that would be great to hear, too!
If you know what, if any, regulations there are regarding the depth of retaining walls (vs. height), that would be great. If I have to fix it, I was hoping to push it back a few feet (right now, there is about 2 feet between the wall and the screened in porch).
Thanks for any suggestions. :)