No. of Recommendations: 0
We are finally getting ready to sell our house: we've cleaned, painted, repaired, and finished a number of projects. The house looks great--except for the kitchen. Kitchen is vintage, early 60's, built-in-place birch plywood cabinets--extremely solid, functional, but no hidden hinges, drawer slides, etc., etc. Our realtor has strongly recommended that we upgrade the kitchen in order to sell the house around an asking price of 350K. Personally, I'd rather sell for $30K less to cover flooring, cabinets, granite, "surprises", and pain-and-suffering--if I were buying, that's what I'd prefer--but then, we're not exactly mainstream on a lot of our preferences.

We've priced out a number of different things from RTA to Lowe's to custom. I don't want to spend a lot of money, but I don't want to do a half-baked job with cabinets that will look good enough for showing but are nothing special and might not last all that long. I'd like to add that refacing and new doors doesn't seem to be a viable option because of the construction style of the cabinets, although I'm fairly sure I can reuse most of the full-height cabinets.

So I'm looking for thoughts from a buyer's perspective. Should I:
Sell as is with a lower starting price;
Do a very barebones remodel with merely adequate cabinets and nothing fancy (~$5000);
Do a nice remodel with mid-range KraftMaid (or similar--about $9000);
Do a remodel the way I would want it (around $12K-15K if I'm careful);
Other thoughts and ideas???? Thanks!

Click here to see results so far.

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 4
Offer your house at the $350K you have in mind, but then offer a kitchen remodeling allowance. The amount can be part of the final negotiations.

Your house will show better if you do the remodel, but that's an expensive one and whoever may have their own ideas of how it should be done/equipped etc. Stories are told of a buyers who remodels the just remodeled kitchen to get it perfect. What a waste.

Realtor likes the allowance because they get commission on the full amount before the allowance (unless you write something else into your listing contract).

Buyers often like the house to be move in ready. The biggest reason to do the work now. But on something like a kitchen, it is very possible to delay moving by a few weeks while the work gets completed.

Realtors tell you paint and carpeting are the most effective upgrades when selling a house. They can probably be done for under $5K. That is not unreasonable for a house in your price range.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Do you need to replace the cabinets or can you reface them?
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Do you need to replace the cabinets or can you reface them?

The wall cabinets could possibly be refaced, but they are full-height with a 12"-cabinet on top of the 30"-cabinet. Lots of doors to buy, lots of sanding and painting interiors--some quite small. Some of the cabinets are not really in the right places.

Drawer stacks are not set up for modern drawer slides--they are just wood-on-wood. The toe kick is only about 1-3/4" high which makes it hard to get up next to the counter and hard to vacuum (previous owner put in dark brick-colored indoor-outdoor carpeting). A portion of the cabinets are constructed a little funny (in a very noticeable way). While the cabinets are very sturdy, that also means I'm more than a little concerned that I'd trash something trying to get out a single shelf, etc.

I am reasonably sure that I'll be able to use at least a portion of the full-height cabinets, although it is going to mean dismantling and reinstalling them. But they are large enough, with few interior shelves, that I think I can get them apart without damaging them.

The cabinets are probably at least 50 years old--things were done differently then. I'd love to figure out a way to simply update them, but I'm just not seeing it. Neither of the two cabinet makers we brought in could see it either. Just painting everything leaves all of the problems stated above (the toe kick thing is a real pain!).

Kathleen
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
...but then offer a kitchen remodeling allowance.

I like that idea, although I'm still concerned (based on what our realtor has said) about turning off potential buyers. Will have to discuss it with her.

Part of the problem is that I'm still trying to get my head around the 350K--I've looked at the sales comps, I know the area is doing very well economically (oil boom), but it's a lot of money and I feel like the house should be perfect.

Another part of my problem is that it's a pretty large kitchen (especially for the 60's), so there are a lot of options for remodeling.

Realtors tell you paint and carpeting are the most effective upgrades when selling a house.

Refinished almost 800 square feet of 1935 oak flooring two weeks ago--after painting 3 rooms, 2 bathrooms, and a hallway. Painting included ceilings and installing crown and base moulding. Still have punch-list stuff, but the kitchen is the only thing that really stands out.

Thanks.
Kathleen
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Yes, put in the kitchen. Very few people can visualize anything other than what is there and the kitchen will drag down the price much more than the replacement will cost you.

Have a Costco nearby? They are having a big sale on cabinets right now, through the company that provides them for them. Nice looking, all wood, with those soft close features. Or look to see if there is a Wolf Classic cabinet supplier in your area. We put these in our cabin and they are fabulous, yet cheap. I would replace the cabinets with 42' cabs if you want more bang for your buck.

We will be replacing our kitchen here at home for it's sale in two years. Besides the fact that the cabinets she put in are cheap white and can't be kept clean, our area requires granite counters to sell at a decent price in a reasonable time. What is your competition like? I am sure the kitchen in our house is a big reason why we got such a good deal on it. Kitchens are probably the number one reason why buyers will walk away from a home. Eliminate the objections before you go into putting a property on the market.

IP
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
Kitchens are probably the number one reason why buyers will walk away from a home. Eliminate the objections before you go into putting a property on the market.

Pretty much what our realtor said. I have a pretty reasonable design down (better, I think, than what the one cabinet maker suggested), so I'm going to keep looking for a good deal on something that looks as though it will hold up. It still won't be the ultimate kitchen I had originally planned, but it will be nice.

Our competition is all over the map--which is part of the problem. Our location is one of the best in town--but most of the other, newer, homes don't have the trees and shade we do, which are a huge deal in SE New Mexico. Original house built in 1935, but all the systems have been brought current. Have some monster homes around us, which keeps us still the smallest home in the neighborhood--but they aren't on acreage--we sit on 2.5 acres (1-acre pasture out front)--effectively a horse property in town.

Thanks for the suggestions on cabinets, etc.

Kathleen
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Stay away from Home Depot. I received an initial estimate from them. After the initial drawing was done, the estimate doubled and the time to supply the cabinets went from several weeks to several months. I bought cabinets elsewhere.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
previous owner put in dark brick-colored indoor-outdoor carpeting

You have astro-turf in your kitchen? In a 350k house?
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
previous owner put in dark brick-colored indoor-outdoor carpeting

You have astro-turf in your kitchen? In a 350k house?


If you wanted to do at least one improvement to the kitchen that will definitely pay off -- get rid of that carpet!
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
You have astro-turf in your kitchen? In a 350k house?

When it was initially put in, I'm sure the owners liked it as much as the wood and fake stone paneling they put in everywhere to "fix" the old, peeling paint.

And whether or not it is truly a $350K house remains to be seen.

If you wanted to do at least one improvement to the kitchen that will definitely pay off -- get rid of that carpet!

If only it were that easy!! Carpet is glued (thick, black stuff) to the linoleum/vinyl underneath, which is glued to the wooden substrate underneath--oak flooring in the original section of the house; plywood (?) in the addition. Don't think the carpet goes under the cabinets, but pretty sure the vinyl does. I will probably need to take up all the flooring down to the joists (after I've taken out all the cabinets) in order to check a few soft spots and get the floor good and flat. The primary soft spot is near where they took out a stairway down to the basement/garage, so who knows what I'll find there!

Kathleen
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
The idea about the kitchen allowance might not work if the buyer’s lender does not approve it for a normal mortgage be sure to look into how lenders would handle that. The problem is that there is no way for the lender to get an accurate appraisal with the improvements until the work is done. The concern is that $30K could be spent on the remodel but it might only add $15K to the house appraisal when it is done. Another concern is that instead of costing $30K there could be cost overruns and it might really cost $40K, so the buyer might not be able to finish the remodel.


When I bought my first house it badly needed to have the kitchen remodeled since it had avocado green countertops and green linoleum floors among other similar features but the kitchen was otherwise functional. The problem was that the house was at the top of my price range so if the kitchen had been already been redone then I could not have afforded the house.

I was willing to put up with the kitchen for a while as a necessary tradeoff so be carful about adding improvements that will make your house too expensive for some people.


..Do a nice remodel with mid-range KraftMaid (or similar—about $9000);

Do a remodel the way I would want it (around $12K-15K if I’m careful);


I think you are kidding yourself if you think you can do a major remodel for those amounts for a large kitchen even if you are doing the work yourself.

You would be tearing out the old kitchen, putting in new plumbing and wiring, flooring, cabinets, countertops, and appliances. And you will likely have some unexpected glitches along the way.

From what you have said it sounds like the kitchen is so old that doing things like refacing the cabinets or a partial remodel would be beating a dead horse and not add much real value since the kitchen would still be far below average for a $350K house.


You also have to consider how long it would take if you started he kitchen remodel today.

I would think that three months would be optimistic and six months would not be out of the question. That adds costs in having the house that much longer and if interest rates go up by the time the new kitchen is done then the house housing market could cool off in your area.

If you are going to be buying another house with a mortgage then the interest rates on your next mortgage could be higher then too.

It sounds like your local real estate market is pretty hot right now which will help you find buyers that will be willing to put up with the kitchen if the house is priced right. You could try listing it the way that it is right now for a couple of months and then if it does not sell you could still have a new kitchen in it by the spring selling season if you need to put one in.

If you have not signed a contract with the real estate agent yet you might want to shop around for another agent to see what the other agents suggest doing.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
I bought my house with a nasty kitchen, not to mention a number of other issues (none structurally mostly cosmetic) but I'm a single guy and was looking for the best value in the best area.

The kitchen was the first thing to get upgraded but I had zero plans in spending huge amounts of money. My house (at that time) was around $380K. I probably spent around $12K to upgrade it. Some work I did myself but I shopped around for contractors and bought most of my supplies from Home Depot (I didn't use them for any work in the house).

I replaced the appliances, painted the cabinets and then replaced the doors on them, replaced all of the fixtures, got a granite countertop, added some recessed lighting and a nice porcelain floor ($1 tiles at HD).

While it isn't an "A" kitchen I don't think it would ever be in the space that I had available nor do I think you ever get your money back if you spend $30K+ on a kitchen. For a 45 yr old house the kitchen looks nice and, at least, shouldn't be a turn off for any buyers whose primary reason for shopping in my neighborhood is the reputation of the schools over the last few decades.

Rich
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
...but I'm a single guy....

The majority opinion on this poll is strongly to leave it and set a lower starting price. I suspect the majority of our market would be families with 2-4 kids, and remodeling is definitely more challenging with kids. Does this change anyone's position?

REALLY appreciating the discussion from everyone!!

Kathleen
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 3
The majority opinion on this poll is strongly to leave it and set a lower starting price. I suspect the majority of our market would be families with 2-4 kids, and remodeling is definitely more challenging with kids. Does this change anyone's position?

REALLY appreciating the discussion from everyone!!

Kathleen


There was recently a thread on either this board or the building/maintaining board about someone looking to do something as small as paint the new house he bought before moving in with his kid. This was worth $3K to him.

Moving is hectic enough. No one wants to deal with a kitchen remodel and a move.

Time and time again I have dealt with clients who had a hard time even buying a place because the paint colors were not right. Most buyers have zero imagination, or where they do have it is in imagining the cost associated with the changes they want to make is so very much higher than what they really are.

Those who can visualize the changes they want get bargains from houses like this, because they are such a minority. Your doing this limits your pool of serious buyers and gives these savants leverage to place you over a barrel price wise. These real estate truisms evolve because experience tells us they are true. It will sell faster and you will make more money by redoing the kitchen. Almost no one wants to buy a project. They want perfection. If you sell them your problems expect it to be at a serious discount.

Eliminate the objections before the buyer can object.

IP
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
The majority opinion on this poll is strongly to leave it and set a lower starting price. I suspect the majority of our market would be families with 2-4 kids, and remodeling is definitely more challenging with kids. Does this change anyone's position?

I think you should ask yourself "what is your goal for this house"? Are you trying to get as much money out of it, or are you looking to sell with the least headaches?

If you're looking to get as much money out of it, than a basic kitchen remodel would probably give you the biggest potential buyer's pool. Because it would be less of a turn-off for young families (if you feel that's the main market for this home).

If you're just looking to sell it with the least headaches, than it's probably best not to do the remodel (since who knows what else might crop up once you start taking out appliances and cabinets) knowing the final sales price will probably be lower since anyone buying will need to put a lot into it to get it to today's average features.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
...to shop around for another agent to see what the other agents suggest doing.

Asked a number of people for agent recommendations--only names that anyone mentioned were the one who sold us the house (I won't use her) and the first agent I had out.

This agent (she's been there for 25++ years, well-known, as respected as any agents there, etc.) thought the kitchen was wonderful and the counters (faux-brown-marble laminate from the 70's with lots of wear) were gorgeous. Her only concern with the flooring was a spot where a previous owner spilled bleach--agent thought we should put a small rug over that to hide it. She was late because she couldn't find the house, she brought no comps with her, and she only had part of the legal (technically we're on two lots). When she came back with the comps, she brought a very poor quality aerial plat of the lots. Only problems were that she had the wrong lots and she still brought no comps. (She did, however, know all the gossip on all the people around us.)

Agent we're planning to use has renovated 3-4 houses and took a series of construction classes at the local community college in order to understand houses better. She called the state engineer to get the details on the ins and outs of domestic wells vs. water rights--that alone put her miles ahead of any realtor I've ever dealt with. She had a number of good suggestions for a few problem areas. She came well prepared to discuss pros and cons of comps, and looked at comps from several different angles (other houses on our street, houses in the general neighborhood, houses around city that match our physical description), which is a big deal since there aren't a lot of really good comps for us. While I don't want to do the kitchen, I was not at all surprised that she strongly recommends it.

Kathleen
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 4
Agent we're planning to use has renovated 3-4 houses and took a series of construction classes at the local community college in order to understand houses better. She called the state engineer to get the details on the ins and outs of domestic wells vs. water rights--that alone put her miles ahead of any realtor I've ever dealt with. She had a number of good suggestions for a few problem areas. She came well prepared to discuss pros and cons of comps, and looked at comps from several different angles (other houses on our street, houses in the general neighborhood, houses around city that match our physical description), which is a big deal since there aren't a lot of really good comps for us. While I don't want to do the kitchen, I was not at all surprised that she strongly recommends it.

DING DING DING, you found a WINNER. That is half the battle. The other half is listening to her.

IP
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
I hate it when sellers hide flaws under rugs and such. It makes me wonder what else they are hiding.

Since we are entering the slower part of the housing market, why not list now and see what happens and what the feedback is. If it doesn't sell by March, pull it off and redo the kitchen in time to put it back on the market in April.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Since we are entering the slower part of the housing market, why not list now and see what happens and what the feedback is. If it doesn't sell by March, pull it off and redo the kitchen in time to put it back on the market in April.

I usually don't recommend playing this game, since it's pretty darned easy via websites like Zillow and Realtor.com to see the listing history. However, in this case that is not a bad idea, assuming they don't need this time to do the work to get the listing ready for the spring season. Around here, that actually starts right after the Superbowl, so there may be less time than you think. The relist could advertise the replaced kitchen, and higher place, providing a good reason for the relist, so it should not be a negative to go this route if the timing works.

IP
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
..."what is your goal for this house"?

Therein lies part of the problem. While sitting in my nice, new home with my computer and warm floors, etc., 1200 miles away from the other place, a huge part of me says "just get rid of it".

Then I look at the numbers--my best guess (questions in to agent) is that we'd get about $300K and it would take longer with the existing kitchen. With the new kitchen, I think $345K+ is quite doable, and in a much shorter time span. Pretty substantial dollar difference. Also, there is a reasonable probability that carrying costs for the longer time on market would be about the same as the time to redo the kitchen plus shorter time on market, so I'm mostly ignoring that particular variable.

And while the first week of my last remodeling session nearly killed me (no TV, no internet, no computer, no humans, no books), by the end of the second week I was pretty into it (and I had bought a stack of thick books at the second-hand store). At the end of four weeks I could almost have gone another several--the transformation was pretty amazing. Part of me would love to do the kitchen just to see it.

Another new variable is the government shutdown. While oil is booming, another major employer for the area is the Department of Energy. One of my questions for my agent is how they anticipate the shutdown impacting things. Waiting until after Christmas might not be optional.

If only there were some guarantees and fewer variables....!!!!

Thanks.
Kathleen
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
I hate it when sellers hide flaws under rugs and such.

Yes. That agent lost me when she said that.

...why not list now and see what happens and what the feedback is.

We agreed with our agent that the house could be shown to select buyers whom she felt would not be scared off by the existing kitchen--kind of an informal, word-of-mouth listing.

In the mean time, I'm researching cabinets and flooring, and getting all my punch-list stuff ready for my next trip.

Thanks.
Kathleen
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Most buyers have zero imagination....

Any speculation as to why this is? Thirty years ago, I could understand it a bit better. But with Lowe's and Home Depot and HGTV, it rather surprises me that it is still this way.

Kathleen
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Most buyers have zero imagination....

Any speculation as to why this is?


Speaking only for this unimaginative buyer, when they were passing out the interest in and talent for design, decorating, home improvement, etc. I was over in the "More Butterfat, Please" line. Loewe's? Isn't that a movie house chain? I actually used to watch Men in Tool Belts on HGTV, but just for the eye candy factor. Now it seems to be nothing but real estate shows.

Phil
Rule Your Retirement Home Fool
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2
Thirty years ago, I could understand it a bit better. But with Lowe's and Home Depot and HGTV, it rather surprises me that it is still this way.

Kathleen


Most people don't watch those shows or go to those stores. I know we talk things up a lot on TMF, but we are not mainstream. Life is busy, and most people don't have the time to tackle projects, or the desire to do so.

As long as DH has been married to me, as many houses as I've dragged him to and pointed out how we could improve it, he still doesn't see it. Just not capable. Or he gets paralyzed by what he considers the worst phrase in the world: "It has Potential."

IP
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Does the buyer actually have access to a kitchen allowance to remodel or does it reduce the amount of the mortgage?

After buying a house, many buyers don't have the cash to remodel a kitchen. If it only reduces the mortgage and can see why it is not viewed as having as much value.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
Agent you're planning to use has good advice. Follow it. In particular, given her experience with renovations, she can probably recommend both products and contractors, saving you time & money.

My own kitchen serves me well, as it has for 20+ years, including when we were a family of 4 (we're empty nesters now), so my feeling was that if we were to sell, the kitchen that's been fine for us will be fine for buyers. Wrong. A very successful agent was kind enough to visit a couple of years ago, look at it with fresh eyes, and give us her unbiased opinion, which was:
- Nobody buying in this neighborhood wants vintage 50's cabinets with laminate countertops.
- Most buyers want move-in ready, and will not even consider the house with its existing kitchen, regardless of price discount.
- Buyers think a new kitchen will cost $100k, and those few who do make offers will discount their offers accordingly.
- In fact, a very nice new kitchen would be only $50k. So spend the $50k to avoid the $100k haircut. Don't spend too much; it's easy to go overboard.
- A kitchen specialty place will be too expensive; use a general contractor or handyman (she had one she recommended).

(For a $350k house, my guess is you can halve the $50k/$100k numbers above.)

A crappy kitchen is great for buyers, but bad for sellers.

FYI, we're in the process of renovating our kitchen now. We're going overboard (changing floorplan, cabinets, everything, despite the Realtor's advice), and it will be fabulous. So if we sell in a year or two, it'll sell quickly because kitchen will be new & fabulous. If we stay 20 years, we'll have the use of it for that time, and the next renovation (assuming styles will change in 20 years, which is probably a safe assumption) will just be a facelift.

Good luck!
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Most buyers have zero imagination....

Any speculation as to why this is? Thirty years ago, I could understand it a bit better. But with Lowe's and Home Depot and HGTV, it rather surprises me that it is still this way.


I would say it's 2 things:

1 - a lot of people just aren't "visual". In their mind they can't imagine another color on a wall and picture what it would look like. So trying to imagine all the pieces of a kitchen (walls, countertop, cabinets etc) they have no idea how different styles would look together.

2 - a lot of potential buyers just don't care. As long as something looks clean, new-ish, and contemporary, they don't really care about the particular color or style of cabinets, or countertop or wall color. Maybe they like "dark" cabinets, but they don't care enough to want to pick out the particular shade themselves. It's not a hobby for them, and they would see it as a chore, and maybe even feel overwhelmed by all the choices.
Print the post Back To Top
Advertisement