Fixing to sell: Don't go overboard
Make improvements that pay off
Question: Allison, my wife and I own three properties in Wildernest that we’d like to fix up and sell. We understand that the market is difficult right now everywhere (although we’d hoped it wouldn’t hit Summit County like it has!) What repairs should we make to maximize our investment?
Answer: Great question. Fixer-uppers with upside potential were in high demand when the market was appreciating at a fast pace. Once depreciation took over, speculators disappeared until 2009, when low-end foreclosure properties in some areas of the country became hot properties -- particularly if they were selling at a 50 percent discount from the national peak in summer 2006 (our peak in Summit County was late 2007-08).
Fixers priced over $500,000 aren't as easy to sell today. Most buyers in higher price ranges are buying a home to live in. They want a home in move-in condition that will suit their long-term needs.
There are exceptions. In high-demand market niches with few listings, there is occasionally a fixer-upper that draws a lot of attention. Usually, these fixers sell to buyers who will live in the property and fix it up themselves to save money. Often this is the only way they can afford to move into the neighborhood.
Sellers of fixers in such neighborhoods should make their property as presentable as possible by cleaning out clutter, both inside and out. Many homebuyers can't visualize a property's potential. It's often worth a modest investment to show the house at its best advantage.
Cosmetic improvements, such as painting, replacing outdated floor covering, or refinishing worn hardwood floors can pay off. Some fixers are staged, even though the property needs a lot of work, so that buyers can envision themselves living there.
Presale inspections will help buyers make a decision about whether or not to tackle the project. Make reports available to buyers before they make an offer to avoid having to put the home back on the market if the deal falls apart because the buyer's inspectors discover defects not previously disclosed.
HOUSE HUNTING TIP: How much you spend preparing a fixer for sale depends on several factors. How much did you pay for the property? How much do you owe against the property? Is there demand for fixer-uppers in your area? Finally, how much does your real estate Broker think you can sell the home for given current market conditions?
Sellers who have equity in their home and cash to invest in fix-up for-sale work should consider making cost-effective renovations, like a kitchen upgrade, but not an entire renovation. Ask your Broker what the home would sell for with and without these improvements before doing anything to it.
The investment may not yield a profit, but could recover the costs when the home sells. In areas where fixers aren't selling, sellers might need to enhance the property to sell at all. A good real estate Broker should be able to provide references for reliable, reasonably priced professionals who can do the jobs for sellers who haven't the time or expertise to do the work themselves.
Buyers who bought at the peak may not be able sell for even close to what they paid. One possibility would be to rent the property, if it makes sense financially. You may need to fix up the property somewhat to attract a good tenant. Consult with a certified public accountant about the tax consequences of converting a single-family residence to a rental.
Another option, if you don't have to sell now, is to stay put for awhile and fix the property up gradually over time. Avoid investing a large amount of money in the hopes of getting a bigger return. Inman News.
For answers to your real estate questions, call Allison at 970-468-6800. Email - [email protected]. Want to know the value of your Summit County property? Visit www.SummitHomeValue.com