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Selling first home

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littleroc02us
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Selling first home  Reply with quote  

I hope things didn't get to messy on the forum while I was vacationing in Arizona for the past 16 days, but now I'm back to a miserable -12 degrees here in Minneapolis. God help us.

So my wife and I bought a primary residence 8 years ago and a rental duplex last May, so I've done the purchasing side of things, but have never sold a home. We owe 166k on the primary and the comps seems to be anywhere from 210k to 230k, but that data was mostly from last fall. We plan on selling our primary and buying a new home in a southern suburb of the Twin cities for the purpose of a better school district for our kid and future kids, plus we can get more house.

We both want to stay very modest on our new house purchase trying to stay below 25% (includes mortgage, taxes and insurance) of our net income and hopefully not even that high as it would limit our disposable cash that we can use to invest with and buy another rental property.

My question is when selling the home if you already have a pretty nice home (I've updated almost every room in the house) compared to others in the neighborhood, does it make sense to make smaller fixes such as replacing 3 old windows that are painted shut, fix some rock trim on the outside of the home, or would it make more sense to just throw some cash at the buyer and say fix it yourself. Again the house is in great shape minus these problems, but I've always heard that your won't get your money back and it doesn't increase your sale price. I'm putting it on the market at the beginning of March after I stage it and touch up each room with paint. What would you guys do?

Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing. (Warren Buffet)
Post Mon Jan 05, 2015 4:07 pm
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oldguy
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quote:
for our kid and future kids, plus we can get more house.



You inadvertently slipped and told us your KUWTJ desires. (I would have said 'we can get the same house for less money'.)


quote:
(I've updated almost every room in the house) compared to others in the neighborhood, does it make sense to make smaller fixes such as replacing 3 old windows that are painted shut, fix some rock trim on the outside of the home, or would it make more sense to just throw some cash at the buyer and say fix it yourself. Again the house is in great shape minus these problems, but I've always heard that your won't get your money back and it doesn't increase your sale price.


That's almost always true. Yes you can increase your sale price but only at a BIGGER price. The best returns are bthrm & kitchen ugrades - but that only gets about 50%. Sounds like you've already done that - ie, spent $40k and added only $20k to the value. (You got 8 yrs of use out of it - but it would be a direct loss if you did any upgrades now).
But do the low-cost things that detract from curb-appeal and correct obvious defects. And paint is cheap. But in general an "as is" sale is best.
Post Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:13 pm
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Wino
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In general, your suspicions and oldguy's comments are correct. The one exception is to fix anything that appears to be a maintenance item. If your gutters are hanging or you have windows that stick (which you do), then it appears that routine maintenance was neglected. This will make savvy buyers wary and will likely LOWER the amount you will be offered. Those who still want the house need to keep some reserve to fix the things that will fail or have already failed due to lack of maintenance.

Note that it is the perception of the buyer that I am addressing, not the actual amount of maintenance that was done (or not done). What I would NOT be doing is adding a sun room or swimming pool, updating counter tops or appliances, or any of a dozen other home improvements. I'm talking about fixing drywall, repainting with light and neutral colors (eggshell white to taupe is about the spectrum you can use), making sure all items function properly.

Another cheap preparation that is often overlooked is to replace all burned-out lightbulbs, and have every light turned on during open houses. This proves that all fixtures work, because the buyer doesn't know if it's the wiring or the bulb; he only knows it isn't working.

Pick up clothing. Empty hampers. Make the beds. Vacuum carpets. Dust all surfaces. Remove any damaged furniture or other worn or torn items.

Other prep items are to have heaters or air conditioners turned beyond the subsistence level many people keep the thermostat set to normally. If it's Winter, set the thermostat to 74. If Summer, set to 66. Another thing is to bake some cookies and set them out. This isn't to give the buyers cookies (but have tea, coffee, and water laid out, as well. This is to make your house smell like fresh-baked cookies. Stay away from the strong-smelling ginger or cinnamon cookies. Just bake some generic sugar cookies or tollhouse cookies the morning before the open house. Aim to be pulling them out hot within an hour of the open house start. Those tube Pillsbury type cookies work just fine. Baking biscuits or other bread items will also work, but you can't leave those out for the potential buyers easily.

Open all blinds/curtains along with all lamps illuminated to make the house bright. Remove ALL items that are personal in nature. Get a rent-a-shed in one of those storage lots or a PODS. Put all photos, portraits, trophies, collections, and much of the darker clothing in the closets into storage. Keep some whites, pastels, and other brightly-covered clothes, but do NOT have the closets full. If you or your wife have dozens of shoes, leave only 4 pairs or so. Remove those shoe box storage containers on the closet shelf. Empty the medicine cabinets of all prescription medications, keeping only simple, generic OTC stuff. Remove toothbrushes, razors, loofahs, and most specialty items in the bathrooms. One bar of soap and one bottle of shampoo on the bathtub/shower shelf is all you need. Put up clean and light-colored towels on all racks, including matching hand towels and wash clothes. If the shower curtain looks bad, replace it with a cheap, simple new one. I have found that Wal-Mart almost always has clearance shower curtains for less than $3. Buy something simple and light-colored. You don't have to like it. It's for display, not daily use.

Remove excess furniture. If it's crowded in the bedroom, remove nightstands or a chest of drawers or a dresser (or all of those). The only item necessary in a bedroom is a bed. Make sure it has a brightly-colored duvet or bed spread. Take out a recliner or end table in the den and/or living room. Remove some chairs from the dining table.

You want the house to appear as if it has been staged, but you don't need to buy or rent special furniture or fixtures. Staging basically means "looks like a generic showroom," but not in the "new" sense. It's like a showroom because there are generic fixtures/furnishings, nothing personal, and only a spartan amount of them. "Light, open, and airy" is what you are aiming for. You want the viewers to see themselves in the house. You aren't selling your shot glass collection from every State, your trophy case full of your fishing tournament awards, or your great aunt's antique rocking chair. Your are selling the walls and plumbing and wiring and yard. No dripping faucets. No sink or bathtub rust stains (easily removed with CLR or other rust remover; Whisk comes to mind). No non-functioning switches/lights.

You want the buyers looking at the house, not at the furnishings. Most houses are bought from the front curb, but the inside can make the buyers change their minds, so make sure as much lawn care and other things out front are taken care of. If in the Spring, you can buy a flat of flowers for $25 or less. Don't have empty flower beds or a stack of leaves or branches laying about. Light a gas fireplace if you have one. The buyer will know it is a functioning fireplace. Don't do this with a wood-burning fireplace, as those require care and observation which the realtor won't be doing. At a minimum, tell the realtor that the fireplace works (if it does).

Lastly, LEAVE while the house is being shown. Just don't even be there. Hire a realtor and let him do his job.

I have done tons of energy improvements to my bungalow in Texas. If/when we sell, I plan to show the historic energy bills on the counter where the cookies are. We pay less than ten cent per square foot for August Houston air conditioning bills, which is much less than the "competition." Rather than saying "energy efficient," this will say, "saves you money every month."

If you have a shed or other out building, then straighten it up and make it accessible.

If you don't want to do any of the low-to-no-cost items above, you might want to have everything removed and put into storage in preparation for your move. An empty house shows better than a cluttered house, but it doesn't show as well as a properly-prepared and staged home.

Another thing you might want to do is have the realtor show you similarly-sized and priced homes right now. What do you like about what you see? What turns you off? Do the first to your place. Un-do the latter. You can do everything above for less than $150 (plus paint), but it can increase your sale price by thousands.
Post Tue Jan 06, 2015 4:25 am
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littleroc02us
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quote:
Originally posted by oldguy
quote:
for our kid and future kids, plus we can get more house.



You inadvertently slipped and told us your KUWTJ desires. (I would have said 'we can get the same house for less money'.)





If I was trying to KUWTJ's, then I wouldn't be trying to stay under the 25% mark, I'd be buying a 3000 square foot home with 5 bedrooms, newly built like all my broke friends are doing. We have to move because the school district in our town is terrible, although the private school is wonderful, but I'm to frugal to pay that type of tuition.

Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing. (Warren Buffet)


Last edited by littleroc02us on Tue Jan 06, 2015 3:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
Post Tue Jan 06, 2015 2:48 pm
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littleroc02us
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quote:

But do the low-cost things that detract from curb-appeal and correct obvious defects. And paint is cheap. But in general an "as is" sale is best.


Luckily my wife is a Horticulturalist and has done an exceptional job with our yard. Smile Our siding and gutters were replaced with vinyl 4 inch after we had hail damage so nothing to do there.

Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing. (Warren Buffet)
Post Tue Jan 06, 2015 2:50 pm
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littleroc02us
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quote:
Originally posted by Wino
In general, your suspicions and oldguy's comments are correct. The one exception is to fix anything that appears to be a maintenance item. If your gutters are hanging or you have windows that stick (which you do), then it appears that routine maintenance was neglected. This will make savvy buyers wary and will likely LOWER the amount you will be offered. Those who still want the house need to keep some reserve to fix the things that will fail or have already failed due to lack of maintenance.




wow that was a long reply. I'm doing everything you've said so far, except replace the two painted shut windows, so in your opinion you think it's worth replacing versus just giving them so money at closing if it worries them.

Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing. (Warren Buffet)
Post Tue Jan 06, 2015 2:56 pm
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oldguy
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except replace the two painted shut windows,


Usually you can go around them with a new (clean & sharp) putty knife and get them to pop loose. Then run them all the way up and down a few times, maybe put some baby-powder in the runs to keep them sliding smoothly.
Post Tue Jan 06, 2015 3:35 pm
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littleroc02us
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So you think just trying to make the old windows servicable enough to sell.

Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing. (Warren Buffet)
Post Tue Jan 06, 2015 3:57 pm
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Wino
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quote:
Originally posted by littleroc02us
So you think just trying to make the old windows servicable enough to sell.
Yes. Just so they operate. The buyers know the age and location of the building, which is probably why the windows are having problems. They should function as windows, though.
Post Wed Jan 07, 2015 12:34 am
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littleroc02us
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I did what OldGuy suggested last night and got the windows to pop open along with the the storm window. They both go up about half way and get tight. One of them the weather stripping is completley rotted out, so I'm going to see if I can fix that. The other one is in much better condition.

Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing. (Warren Buffet)
Post Wed Jan 07, 2015 3:37 pm
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littleroc02us
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An update on our first time selling of our primary home situation. After staging and painting the home myself, we put it on the market 3 weeks ago and had 7 showing the next day, had an over the list price offer and accepted within one day. Compared to comps in the neighborhood we got way more then I anticipated. I was shocked.
Then we found our new home in the southern suburbs of Minneapolis for a very modest price within 1 week. The closing's for both places is on April 15th. It couldn't have worked out more perfect. Now I just hope interest rates stay below 4%.

Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing. (Warren Buffet)
Post Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:49 pm
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oldguy
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Good job! It's great when all the stars align and both ends of a deal go smoothly.
Post Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:36 pm
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KendallCoty
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Curb appeal matters a lot so do a little fixes and then go for sell.
Post Fri Apr 17, 2015 10:46 am
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GardenCat
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Hi Littleroc
Only because someone else just replied...

As folks who like to look at open houses to keep abreast of what is out there, and we own a couple rentals, and we have fixed up our residences over the years...

Curb appeal does matter - It is Spring, make sure the entry and the front are neat, not full of old leaves and debris, and that there is no peeling paint, etc.

Also, as you evidently have one of the better houses in the neighborhood, the stuck windows will very much detract from the desirability of the home, if you can't unstick them and clean them up, replace them - you may not get the full $ spent in return but your house will likely sell quicker

Hope all is well
ciao
Post Fri Apr 17, 2015 3:43 pm
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littleroc02us
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Originally posted by GardenCat
Hi Littleroc
Only because someone else just replied...

As folks who like to look at open houses to keep abreast of what is out there, and we own a couple rentals, and we have fixed up our residences over the years...

Curb appeal does matter - It is Spring, make sure the entry and the front are neat, not full of old leaves and debris, and that there is no peeling paint, etc.

Also, as you evidently have one of the better houses in the neighborhood, the stuck windows will very much detract from the desirability of the home, if you can't unstick them and clean them up, replace them - you may not get the full $ spent in return but your house will likely sell quicker

Hope all is well
ciao


Not sure if you read a more up to date post of mine in this thread, but we did sell in one day for over list price. Thanks for all of your suggestions. The buyers never even mentioned the sticky windows, probably because of the age of the house, not everything is perfect.

Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing. (Warren Buffet)
Post Fri Apr 17, 2015 9:30 pm
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