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Thinking about selling......any thoughts?

Posted by hautinglu (My Page) on
Fri, Nov 19, 10 at 9:03

So it's been about a year and half, and I've been slowly fixing up an old farmhouse I bought next to work in the suburbs.

Last year I did the second floor (patch, paint, 2 new bathrooms). This year I hooked up the utilities (gas, water, sewer, new 200A panel, hooked up the shed (20' x 30') with sewer+water+electric, 18 new windows, and new furnace/AC. Next Spring I had plans to finish the master bath downstairs, new flooring everywhere, and possibly a new fence with some spruces.

But now I'm having second thoughts on whether to continue or not. I'm single and I've realized that the suburbs aren't for me (and probably never will be). And I still haven't even unpacked. The house was a gut/impulse buy because it seemed like a great deal at the time: 1 acre lot in a neighborhood with .25 lots, taxes are $1500 per year, and being able to walk to work in the summer. But now I'm also perpetually broke....saving money until the new big project and then broke again.

Has anyone sold an old house that wasn't completely finished or perfect? I'm not desperate to sell, but I've also lost interest in fixing it up either. Should I try to finish up the one bathroom and painting the 1st floor, or try to go with more of an as-is sale to let the buyers decide the floor? (currently the house is all original unfinished pine T&G).

Besides selling, I've considered completely renting it out to a family or subletting two of the bedrooms to co-workers to help stop the financial bleeding.

Guess this is my Friday morning rant =)

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Thinking about selling......any thoughts?

Does the season have anything to do with it? It sounds like the house is convenient in the summer, but are heating bills really high, this time of year?

My advice would be to talk to a realtor, who specializes in fixer uppers...and see how much you might get for the house "as is" compared to fininshing your planned projects. If there's not much difference, you might save money, by selling now. Or, the house might be worth a LOT more money, as a finished remodel.

If the house isn't finished, renting might not be a good option. Subletting would be a temporary solution, but might make it that much more difficult to complete projects or get the home sold.

Since getting the house was an impulse buy, don't rush into another decision this time...find out exactly what the house is worth and make an informed decision :)

RE: Thinking about selling......any thoughts?

The house is definitely more enjoyable in the summer....lots of open yard and large trees. I even was thinking toying with the idea of a wood heated hot tub.

I can't say much about the utility bills because the past 2 summers I didn't have A/C. This past winter the old oil furnace went out and I was unable to get it fixed. I ended up not living there Feb - Apr because it was just too cold. This past Spring I decided to upgrade to natural gas and city water/sewer. That was almost $20k, but had to be done either way.

But you are right. I was just talking to a co-worker who also suggested talking to a realtor first, then figuring out what to do. The area is really busy now real estate-wise. So breaking even might be possible. It's probably worth mentioning it's not the old house that I lost interest's living in the suburbs away from friends and family. I believe I'm the only single person in the neighborhood. I guess it's just a little boring for me.

RE: Thinking about selling......any thoughts?

Talk to a realtor to get details on your market, but where I live it is generally better to finish what you can rather than leaving unfinished projects. (Note that "unfinished" is different from "not updated" though---okay to leave older kitchens/baths/etc., but not okay to leave open walls or primed but not painted rooms, etc.) "Unfinished" homes are typically seen as desperation sales or are bank-owned, so people really low-ball their offers. (That, and you never know exactly what it will cost to finish!) Winter is also a really tough time to sell in a lot of markets, so there would be pros to waiting until summer regardless---especially if that's when the house is at its strongest.

I would talk to a realtor and then map out a plan for the next six months to wrap up the unfinished work. If the baths work but are just old, you can leave those; ditto for the fence. Focus on fixing things that are truly unfinished or not functional. You could potentially finish the T&G floors, too, which can look beautiful and would likely be less costly than new flooring.

If you don't *have* to sell, I'd figure out when the best time for showing the house is, and try to go on the market around then, even if it means waiting a year. If you're in the 'burbs, is it an area where families tend to move for the schools? If so, maybe check the school calendars to think about when people might be househunting with that in mind. A good realtor will know a bit about trends, and also can help sort out what's worth doing and what isn't as far as the work is concerned.

I wouldn't rent the place out in its entirety if you're actively working on it---too complicated and a lot to ask of renters. But you could definitely rent out some rooms cheaply to friends to make the numbers work---I know people who've done that to pay for kitchen remodels, etc. Good luck!

RE: Thinking about selling......any thoughts?

Artemis makes some very good points! The old T & G pine flooring would look beautiful and be a great selling point. As long as the house is functional, I'd just throw up some fresh paint and maybe upgrade some sinks and countertops in the kitchen and master bath.

The same things that attracted you (big lot, low taxes) will attract a buyer with a family. Someone who wants to live in the suburbs. These are usually the same people, who have small children, and want something move-in ready.

I can understand wanting to be closer to the "action" and friends and family. My husband and I live on a small farm, about half an hour from town, so it is a bit of a drive to do anything...especially in the winter.

Let us know what happens, after you talk to a realtor :)

RE: Thinking about selling......any thoughts?

I'm going to see how far I can get on the main living room (500 sq ft) next week. Hope to patch and paint it, then decide on the flooring issue. I wanted to door farmhouse black porch paint on it, but maybe not....or just go with carpet.

In any case, if that works out maybe I'll use that as the main living space and continue with the rest of the house during the winter.

Thanks for the input.

RE: Thinking about selling......any thoughts?

Hautiinglu, do you want to remain single? Because for someone ready to settle down, there's something very appealing about a guy/gal who already has it together enough to have fixed up a solid house in the suburbs. Why don't you have some wine tastings or other type of party and bring the city to you? Go ahead and put in that hot tub!

I see a popular social retreat in your future. And maybe more...

RE: Thinking about selling......any thoughts?

Hey Slate! Well I don't plan on being single forever (who does anyways?) but I do have a desire to go work overseas with my company. The house would be a boat anchor if that opportunity ever arose.

After thinking about it over TG, the best decision seems like to try and sell the house in the Spring, with renting being a last resort. It's not that I don't like the's the suburbs. I thought I could learn to like them, but almost after 2 yrs I really have no desire to live here. Not to mention that a 4br, 3.5bth house is a bit too much for a single guy....think of the hotel in the Shining ;)

I'm going to try to do what I can in the mean time, but will probably leave all the hardwood flooring exposed and let the buyers decide. At this point I'm hoping just to break even and even a lose would be OK.

I need to start interviewing agents who specialize in older homes...but where the heck do I start?

on a side note: I recently had a top of the line Carrier furnace installed to replace the old and broken oil furnace. Well my first estimated reading came in at 7 MCF's at $71. I read that to mean 7,000 on the gas meter. But my actual reading for a single month has been 70,000 (on the meter). So should I get ready for a really big bill or am I reading it wrong?

RE: Thinking about selling......any thoughts?

Just wanted to say, "good call" on leaving the tongue and groove hardwood flooring alone. I was going to say that to some people that would be a selling assset, and for some potential buyers the idea you had of painting the living room flooring black would be a big negative. Spring sounds like a good time to put her on the market. I don't know about your gas reading, or prices in your area, but we had a top of the line Carrier gas furnace installed about 4 years ago. We heat a smaller home than yours (I think), but it rarely costs us more than $100 per month (and we live where it is VERY cold).
Cheers, and good luck!

RE: Thinking about selling......any thoughts?

I guess I'll have to wait and see what people say about the floors. I can always throw down some carpet or a $ credit if I go ahead with the sale. My main concern is whether a bank would even consider giving a loan to a potential buyer. The house still has doubt about that.

Concerning the gas bill...I got to talking to a co-worker and it turns out I completely overlooked the "Per Rev" note on the gas meter. So on the 10,000 MCF dial, I read "8" as 80,000 when in fact it's only 8,000. It only gets to 10,000 after a full rotation. So the gas company was pretty darn close with their estimate of 7.6. Pretty sad that that's the highlight of my week =(

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