What 'Home Improvements' are worth it?

Eileen_MAFebruary 15, 2004


I posted this message as a response to the woman whom was considering assuming "more" mounting debt to replace windows in her home "assuming" she would surely get more for her home in the R.E. market if this were done.

I was in Real Estate for "a while" and my advice to anyone reg. "extras" (if you're selling), "Don't do it!"

The best thing anyone can do before selling their home (even in a few years future and although, they are not required of a seller), is to pay a "ruthlessly, hated, and feared (by the R.E community) for his uncanny ability to find even the most minute flaws in a home," Structural Inspector to go through your home and make a list of your home's "faults" for YOU! Better to have hired this inspector to tell you these things (and maybe after a potential shock, you could do these necessary repairs), than have a price agreed on with "that nice young couple" then have that same inspector (or someone just as ruthless) come to inspect your home representing the buyers! Then everyone is back at the drawing board! It can be messy!

No home-buyer wants to hear "I'll have my "someone" do that for free, it'll get fixxed," by a seller. That young wife turns to the Realtor and says "my husband can do that, but we want a professional to do it - if it's the owner who does the repair." Or, "We want the money value off the price of the home for a professional to do it, says the husband!"

Why get less for your home, or put off moving yourself - if you even can - simply because you had no clue anything was wrong? In barter, one person's oversight can be another's gain. Our homes are our best investment and we need to guard our interest! Call a local R.E. broker and tell 'em whom you want and why - they'll want you to list with them in the future, so they should be happy to oblige!

I could add Sooo much more...!!

Just joined today, no "cheapskates anonymous" for me! Great to know all of you are out there!

Anyone Else?

Eileen :-)

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A new article on this subject is linked on the Buying and Selling Homes forum.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2004 at 8:44PM
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Hello, Eileen,

Welcome aboard.

We hope that you enjoy this place.

There are a good many knowledgeable people around here.

And, as mentioned, a number of other discussion forums where one can learn much, as well.

During the discussions, usually a number of viewpoints get expressed, so most of us often learn something. There are frequently differences of opinion, but such is done with respect for the other's viewpoint.

We seldom get into arguments - haven't seen any fisticuffs, yet.

Thank you for your input.

Good wishes to you and yours,

joyful guy.

P.S. A story for your teens, if they may consider smoking.

Sometimes, with a rather whimsical, light-hearted approach, I ask a group at the mall if their imagination is in good shape - of course, it always is - teens never admit to being incapable of anything.

Hold out left hand, palm out, facing upward, fingers spread, "Imagine I have a million cigarettes in this hand".

Hold out right hand, similar fashion, "Imagine I have a million dollars in this hand. You can choose contents of either hand. Which?"

Of course, they all choose the million bucks.

One kid said that he'd take the million - that he could buy a lot of cigarettes with that!

I told him that no smoker gets anything like a million cigarettes at once - it takes years.

So he wouldn't get the money all at once - the money would be accumulated over a number of years, as well.

Another young person that that my comparison was not fair - that one cigarette doesn't cost one dollar.

I grinned and said, "Not yet". Some nodding heads and grins.

I complimented him/her on having a quick mind, said that s/he would go far in this life.

That if s/he, at age 15, decided to use a dollar to buy smokes, the dollar's purchase would go up in smoke - and that dollar would be gone from him/her forever.

If his/her friend used a parallel dollar as an employee in setting up his/her personal financial business (which every one of us has) and sent it out to work ...

... if s/he could have that dollar earn at 5%, when s/he reached age 65 - that dollar would have grown to $11.00+. If could achieve 10%, about $117.00+, or 15%, about $1,080.00.

So don't tell me that one dollar doesn't equal one cigarette - given time.

They sometimes ask/accuse me whether I'm telling them to not smoke, or stop.

I say that no, I'm not. I value my freedom. Never really had any idea of what a wonderful benefit our freedom, measure of democracy (though more political than economic) and of prosperity that we in our countries enjoy (I live in Ontario, Canada) - until I lived for ten years in a country where there was exceedingly little of any of them.

If I want to enjoy my freedom - it's only fair that I support an equal level of freedom for them, as well.

I'm not telling them to quit smoking - just giving them an alternative that they might find interesting.

What they do about it is up to them.

But - smoking is not only potentially damaging to one's health, possibly life - but very costly. In addition - it can be damaging to others near us.

j g

1 Like    Bookmark   February 16, 2004 at 5:17AM
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Hi all again,

Just checked out the Buyer/Seller forum! EEEK!!! I would have never admitted to have been in Real Estate! That's alot of why I got out of it, though!

Actually, I was looking for ideas for a friend who has a cute little house which is holding its value but she seems intent to put in fancy doors, additional cabinets (making her kitchen smaller), linoleum, and superficial decorating that suits her as her deck is falling apart and the house needs new gutters. I won't even go into the landscaping.

She has had different Realtors over on a yearly basis to appraise the house. Ten years, no change. I'm at a loss at what to tell her as she has no money for necessities and scrapes for "nicities". I just say "I don't know" when she asks. A friend is a friend, and it's her investment.

I really don't want to tell her anything at this point - 'til she sells, she can't be sure what she'll get and the buyer/seller forum you referred me to, Hosta, basicly told me what little I learned - "move in condition" and keep your decorating neutral. (Only if you're selling - none of us want to live in a home that's as impersonal as an empty refrigerator). I don't preach to her but sometimes it's sooo frustrating to watch her get frustrated spending all that cash and nothing adds to value - just sales appeal.

Glad to say, Joyful Guy, my kids aren't the least bit into smoking anything, luckily. That was my New Years resolution, however.

I didn't smoke as much as I used to and, was down to two cigarettes a day, when I was hit by a major stress situation. That put a quick end to that now I'm back to about five a day, which is too many. How can I be so frugal and just burn money to ash and smoke?

I started as a teen, quit when I was married for over 10 years and started again 3 years after a bad divorce (big time stress) while going back to college. If I'd been involved in a "quit smoking" website like you've recommended (yes, Ive paid attention) I'd be a non-smoker right now (as I finally cleared up the stressful situation)! Life doesn't come without them, however; but, this one drove me nuts - it would have cost me money! Can't run for a "death stick" every time there's a problem, though! All I can do is work on it!

Thanks for the welcome!

Eileen ;-)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2004 at 9:17AM
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Stick with the basics:

I want a house that doesn't smell of animals or mold. I want a fairly new roof and heating/air system. I want windows that work and don't leak. Everything else is gravy.

People looking at houses don't want to paint over your wacky colors or wallpaper. They want to walk up to a neat entranceway.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2004 at 10:47AM
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Greetings again Eileen,

Tobacco is a tough addiction - one of the most difficult to kick.

Family has weak lungs, which I share. Began to smoke age 16, after about 6 mos. didn't care much for taste. Being frugal, not the cost, either - as you see, I've been frugal for a loo-o-ong time.

So - quit.

Now, age 75 and enjoying good health, am really, really thankful that I had the good sense to have done that - almost 60 years ago.

Have been helping a number of Quitsters persist with cessation at www.quitnet.com for a time.

Some recent quitters say that we who have been quit for years have no business there, where people are suffering withdrawal, but I say that we are somewhat less frantic - and can offer some useful advice and wisdom, along with the empathy. A number of others agree - so I stay.

Good wishes to all for interesting, friendly, worthwhile days ahead,

ole joyful

P.S. Humourous, too. (Canadians say that paint has colour).


    Bookmark   February 19, 2004 at 7:12AM
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Here is a direct link to a study of the value of various home characteristics, that I mentioned before. It seems to be right on point of your original question, albeit for just one region in North America.
My opinion is, first and foremost take care of the structure. After that, do what you can afford to make the home more liveable and enjoyable for yourself; suit your own taste but avoid irreversible changes that are trendy or 'extreme,' with resale in mind.

Here is a link that might be useful: Value of Home Characteristics Study

    Bookmark   February 19, 2004 at 1:23PM
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Clean counts a lot; neat closets, etc. Fresh paint in neutral colors help a buyer see their furniture in place; sure, they might want to change the color, but they know they can live with their things looking fine in the space for a few months. Anything glaring-broken steps; loose shingles, etc. should be taken care of before putting the house up for sale. That said, I bought a house that was very dirty, in need of a ton of work-a furnace, a roof, and then, a bathroom-because the leak couldn't be fixed without ripping down a wall, and the whole thing was gross anyway. It would increase in value a lot if I gutted the kitchen, etc. Not going there, did a cosmetic fix; I don't cook much, and I can't take anymore mess. Why did I buy this house-only thing I could afford-and paint is cheap. Return on investment thus far is averaging 18% a year; hard to get that in other investment vehicles. So sometimes you have to just take the plunge.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2004 at 7:41AM
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The problem is that by getting the most feared home inspector who will find all the minor problems is that you then have to announce all those findings to the buyers, even if they're minor.

The assumption being made is that the buyer will hire their own house inspector who's just as thorough and will find those problems anyway, so its better to be pro-active.

However, not everybody has the money to fix those problems.

And, the buyer doesn't always get the most thorough inspector. The buyer's agent goal is to get the transaction completed as smoothly as possible. By using the most feared home inspector, that increases the chance that something comes up that might scuttle the deal. So, many home inspectors are therefore reluctant to say too much out of fear that an agent will never recommend them again.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2005 at 1:54AM
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I am certainly not an expert, but I have one first-hand experience with real estate. My MIL was a neat-freak, constantly cleaning her house and would tolerate no clutter. She even donated or threw out her Christmas gifts in January. (I was very insulted in past years when I gave her several gifts, and found they were no longer in her home.) But when she passed away last year, her house was immaculate! Her children put it on the market at 2pm one day and it was sold within three hours for top dollar! This in spite of a broken dishwasher, no garage, a dinky tiny kitchen and only one bathroom and two bedrooms. Unless you personally want new windows or new siding or a second bathroom or whatever, don't spend a lot of money fixing up your house. I've seen those charts that you get back 90 percent for a kitchen remodel, 80 percent for a bathroom,etc . I would only spend money on something my family would use and enjoy, never with the intention of increasing the re-sale value. And yes, there are so-called "flippers who but homes, fix them up and re-sell for obscenely high prices, but this is a temporary "bubble" effect, IMHO.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2005 at 12:31PM
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Cleaning the house regularly really makes a huge difference. With regular cleaning, I can see which part of the house needs maintenance or what appliances and any other things found on the house need to be fixed/replaced, etc. As much as possible, I clean the house once a week and do a major cleaning once a month.

This post was edited by neil.corrigan12 on Wed, Dec 3, 14 at 23:48

    Bookmark   December 3, 2014 at 11:46PM
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Eileen- there are things she can do!

The biggest thing she can be doing (and it's free) is reducing clutter, getting rid of unwanted items, cleaning out attic and basement, deep cleanings. Move in ready is right!!

And always staying on top of needed repairs (for her own sake) leaky faucets, cracked windows, furnace cleanings, landscaping (never want to be the house with the dead tree teetering) Spend the money to fix it before it creates a bigger problem.

I've been an agent for 20 years, I have a couple friends who are obsessed with talking about what their house is worth and the return on painting a room or adding a light fixture....

    Bookmark   January 18, 2015 at 6:27PM
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You may not have noticed that Eileen's post was made nearly 11 years ago. Except for the one immediately before your words, the most recent comments are 9 years old.

It's probably safe to assume that this conversation ran its course years ago.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2015 at 10:01PM
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Snidely, this is one of the quirks here on GW. Sometimes threads get revived and although the OP is probably no longer in the picture, others still gain insight or information from the topic at hand.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2015 at 11:33PM
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Actually, I had noticed, thank you. I have friends who report annually they are going to sell their house and 20 years later still live there so I ought I'd comment.

Ellendi- that is exactly why.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2015 at 10:11AM
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Try decorating your frontyard with some turfs and lawns. Landscaping increases the value of your home. Also, if there are areas where water leaks, call a waterproofing contractor to fix it.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2015 at 1:18AM
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