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Is there a realtor in the house? (semantics: finished vs. unfinished space) (Read 935 times)


Needs more cowbell!

    I will preface this with NEVER again will I ever willingly own a house that is older than I am.  Not unless there are some very exceptional circumstances (like someone else has done all the work updating it and bringing insulation and windows and electrical and plumbing and foundation and everything else up to snuff.  And removed all carpeting).

     

    We have owned a circa 1920s house for nearly 12 years.  We purchased it with the intent of fixing it up and building on land we previously owned.  We never intended to live here long.  Hubby made lots of promises re: projects he wanted to do himself and he got a good start on many of them, but for the last 6 years or so we have lived in a kitchen that is only about 2/3 complete and have several rooms with no trim.  He refuses to buy any of this stuff stock, instead fancies himself to be a carpenter.  Ugh.  I would have been perfectly happy with Ikea cabinets.  He wouldn't have it.

     

    He's finally sick of the 60 minute round-trip commute, especially as our kid attends school down near his work and it's really difficult for us to be very active in his school or get our son together with his friends when some of them live an hour away (charter Montessori school that draws kids from several counties).  Our favorite LBS and their daily shop rides are also an hour away from our current residence, but if we moved 45 minutes South of here we'd be 15 minutes from DS's school, DH's work, and our favorite bike shop (as well as more job opportunities for me without an hour commute each way).  So we've got a fire under us to get this place sellable in the next year or two.  We have a LOT of work to do before that is doable.

     

    Biggest issue our house has is NO storage.  I mean, the entire freaking 1550 sq. ft. house has ONE tiny closet.  That's it.  The basement is only partial (the part accessible from inside the house used to be coal storage and is now home to litter boxes for 4 cats and the other part is entered from outside.  Neither are habitable for anything but spiders).  Our upstairs is essentially converted attic space (the ceilings are literally 6.5' tall--I can stand flat-footed and touch them without any issue...and I am <5'4" and have short arms).  DS's room is up there and is the largest room in the house.  The other 2 rooms are TINY and have severely sloped ceilings that reach to or almost to the floor.  One room has space for a twin bed and that is it--no room for so much as a single dresser or wardrobe.

     

    Our plan is to convert the larger of the small rooms into a bedroom for DS, then we will convert his room into a room for us.  Our bedroom is currently a room off of the living room on the main floor (the only room with a closet).  There is a shallow, but semi-wide nook outside of DS's current bedroom that we can convert to a closet, fortunately.  Our current bedroom will become our living room, then our living room will become our dining area.  Our current dining area is basically a glorified hallway and having even our small table in there is a major PITA, since the room has 5 entrances (living room, sunroom/office, kitchen, stairs, bathroom).  To get anywhere in the house one has to walk around the damned table.  So that room we'll convert into a library of sorts.  The entire house was apparently laid out by someone with half a brain (on a good day).

     

    Long story short, we're wondering how to handle the tiny room that we plan to dedicate to storage.  I'm of the mind that we should gut it and return it as much as possible to a rough attic, that way prospective buyers will see that the house is really a 2 bedroom house with attic space, rather than a 3 bedroom house with no storage space.  When we bought the house it was actually marketed as a 4 bedroom house, which is really friggin' dumb, since it only has one cramped bathroom.  No one really looking for a house with 4 formal bedrooms would have had any interest in a small house without more than 1 toilet.  

     

    The hallway separating the rooms is already pretty gutted, since we had to tear up the carpeting from the previous owner's cat using it as a litter box.  We'll be tearing out all of the carpeting upstairs, as we have already done downstairs.  Downstairs we have pine plank flooring, upstairs we plan to keep it simple and use porch paint on plywood.  That way the next owners will have an easy time laying their own choice of flooring and we will have something that will work for us in the short term (apparently some people actually do painted plywood as their permanent flooring and I have seen some neat things done with different color patterns).

     

    Hubby thinks we should leave the storage room alone, including carpeting.  I'd just as soon have that allergen breeding ground gone.

     

    Anyone been through a similar renovation process prior to selling or have any insight to how a scenario like this one would play out in terms of what a realtor would recommend?

     

    Here are some shots I took of the rooms the other day.  Mind you, the smaller room is mostly full of empty electronics boxes.  2/3 of what is in the larger of the 2 rooms belongs to my pack-rat spouse.  I've finally talked him into throwing out the majority of his 20+ year old shoes, including the pair that are duct-taped all around the toe-box. Roll eyes  

     

    Larger room -- future kid's room (we're hoping the wallpaper only goes 2 layers deep...eek!).  There is a window immediately to the left in the first photo.  2nd photo is looking into the hall and the tiny room:

     

    Itty Bitty Room...I'd like to see the carpet out of this one, as it will be dedicated "attic" space:

    I shoot pretty things! ~

    '14 Goals:

    • 2 olympic distance duathlons -- 6 days apart -- PR at least 1

    • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)


    Feeling the growl again

      Someone may always use a finished room for storage if they so chose (we do that with a "bedroom" we have, which is not really suitable as such).  If your purpose for changes is selling, appearances matter and a finished storage room is better than an unfinished one.

       

      When prepping a house to sell the thing to remember is it doesn't have to be the way YOU would want it, but the way the majority of buyers are likely to want to SEE it.  Likely they will make their own changes once they own it.

       

      When you list, a room must meet certain criteria to be called a bedroom.  But if you don't WANT a certain room listed as a bedroom, I'm sure you can argue that with your listing agent.

       

      MTA:  The age of the house thing cuts both ways.  I would not touch any house made in a subdivision by a mass builder, built within the past 20 years, with a 10-ft pole.  They were build for max profit so all possible corners were cut....fewer nails holding the shingles/siding on etc.  Right down the the appliances, they were built with "contractor grade" materials to get the house sold with little concern for long-term quality.  That said, my house was built as a custom and even then I can't believe some of the corners they cut in building their own house...I'm still doing repairs/replacements in a 20-yr old house as a result...on things that lasted 40+ years in my parents' house from circa 1912.

      "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

       


      Needs more cowbell!

        Someone may always use a finished room for storage if they so chose (we do that with a "bedroom" we have, which is not really suitable as such).  If your purpose for changes is selling, appearances matter and a finished storage room is better than an unfinished one.

         

        When prepping a house to sell the thing to remember is it doesn't have to be the way YOU would want it, but the way the majority of buyers are likely to want to SEE it.  Likely they will make their own changes once they own it.

         

        When you list, a room must meet certain criteria to be called a bedroom.  But if you don't WANT a certain room listed as a bedroom, I'm sure you can argue that with your listing agent.

         

         

        Oh, I totally agree with you on the subdivision thing.  Plus they are usually ugly Garage Majals.  I'm super bummed right now because our dream house is on the market exactly where we would want to live.  It's on over an acre of wooded property (no lawn to waste time and money messing with) and set back from the street.  Full, unfinished basement with at least 1 daylight window, great floor plan, not too big (we don't need more than 1500 sq. ft. with a full basement and efficient layout), nice paint colors already in place.  Unfortunately we are in no place to sell at the moment.

         

        The thing about prepping a room to look the way buyers are likely to see it is that with the carpeting it doesn't say storage room to me.  I'm not at all clear on whether a finished room is required to be listed as a bedroom, either.

        I shoot pretty things! ~

        '14 Goals:

        • 2 olympic distance duathlons -- 6 days apart -- PR at least 1

        • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

          I wonder if you could get a local realtor to walk through with you and tell you what they think is necessary to do to make it saleable for the people who buy in your area. (Even if you had to pay $100 or so for a consult fee, it would be worth it.)

          "Don't feel like running today...suck it up and run ...you're an athlete." (John Stanton, founder & owner of The Running Room)

           

          "The person who starts the race is not the same person who finishes the race."


          Needs more cowbell!

            I wonder if you could get a local realtor to walk through with you and tell you what they think is necessary to do to make it saleable for the people who buy in your area. (Even if you had to pay $100 or so for a consult fee, it would be worth it.)

             

            Yeah, I'm thinking that, too.  Once we get rooms rearranged so that the house is more livable for us (we're probably going to be here for another 2-3 years and it's long overdue) I'd love to have a pro tell us what specific things we should do...with that spare room and with the entire house.

            I shoot pretty things! ~

            '14 Goals:

            • 2 olympic distance duathlons -- 6 days apart -- PR at least 1

            • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)


            Needs more cowbell!

              Here's the "dream house" I referenced upthread.  I've never before seen a house for sale that is SO exactly what we would want. *sigh* Undecided

              I shoot pretty things! ~

              '14 Goals:

              • 2 olympic distance duathlons -- 6 days apart -- PR at least 1

              • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

                Just an idea, but you may wish to hire your own "home inspector" who can pinpoint any negatives or deficiencies in regard to what a prospective buyer would want to know about. I think this is probably their primary responsibility, and they should know about structure, use and function, and mechanical issues.

                 

                Also, having a realtor walk through and give you some ideas would be very useful (and it might be free).

                 

                Good luck! 

                "I can do 440 in 220"    Half Fanatic #846    "90% of running is half mental"    If I collapse, please pause my Garmin

                 


                Needs more cowbell!

                  Definitely not a bad idea.  No longer can a person put a house on the market as-is.  Very different market from when we purchased.

                  I shoot pretty things! ~

                  '14 Goals:

                  • 2 olympic distance duathlons -- 6 days apart -- PR at least 1

                  • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)


                  Feeling the growl again

                     

                     

                    The thing about prepping a room to look the way buyers are likely to see it is that with the carpeting it doesn't say storage room to me. 

                     

                    I am not saying it is right or wrong, but I'll point out that again you are making assumptions about what they are looking for.  Wink

                     

                    Me, having the room finished would always be better than seeing it laid bare.  As I said, our storage room is not bare, perhaps we will want to use it for something else someday and this way we can just empty it and use it.  It doesn't cost you much if anything to leave as-is.  

                     

                    Another vote for a cheap consulting walk-thru by an agent.

                    "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

                     


                    Needs more cowbell!

                      Me, having the room finished would always be better than seeing it laid bare.  As I said, our storage room is not bare, perhaps we will want to use it for something else someday and this way we can just empty it and use it.  It doesn't cost you much if anything to leave as-is. 

                       

                      Yeah, maybe it's better to paint over the weird paneled walls and ditch the ugly green curtains in favor of cheap bamboo blinds from Overstock.com (damn, I love that site for just about anything.  Nearly all the window coverings in our house came from that site and for cheap).

                      I shoot pretty things! ~

                      '14 Goals:

                      • 2 olympic distance duathlons -- 6 days apart -- PR at least 1

                      • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

                        I can't see demo-ing a room to make it unfinished.  Generally the things that go into valuation (within a  local area) are square footage of living space, number of bathrooms, and how recently the kitchen has been upgraded and to what degree.

                        Runners run.


                        Needs more cowbell!

                          OK, so leaving that room mostly alone makes life easier.  At the very minimum we'll plan to prime over that weird patterned paneling and replace the dark tab-top drapes (which don't even fit properly) with cheap bamboo blinds or something.  The carpeting in there is the only remaining carpet in the house that is in good condition, too, since the room has never been anything but storage, so it's not flattened or showing any signs of wear.  The previous owners really had a thing for pink, though.  The entire downstairs was cheap pink carpet with shit for padding that we tore out and replaced with pink planks.  Upstairs DS's room was more of the same carpet, but in baby blue.  Larger tiny room is nasty, old, smelly rose-color.  The hallway up there and stairway runner were the worst, though--tortoiseshell shag!

                          I shoot pretty things! ~

                          '14 Goals:

                          • 2 olympic distance duathlons -- 6 days apart -- PR at least 1

                          • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)


                          Hey, nice marmot!

                             

                             So we've got a fire under us to get this place sellable in the next year or two.  We have a LOT of work to do before that is doable.

                             

                             

                             

                            Are you sure that's true?  In your post, you stated you bought the house 12 years ago with the intent to fix it up.  It sounds like you haven't done much fixing, so the house is more or less in the same condition you bought it.  I'd be surprised if you couldn't sell it in its current condition for pretty close what you paid for it.  Sure, it needs some work so you're not going to sell it for a mint, but then you didn't buy it for a mint either.

                             

                            Personally, I wouldn't want to end up spending $50K* and two years of my life fixing up a house in order to sell it for $40K* more than I could have sold it had I done nothing to it.

                             

                            (*I just made those numbers up.  Not saying the work you talked about in your post would cost that much.  Though the work you outlined sounded like it might have a non-trivial cost.)

                             

                            You may also want to consider renting out the house, if there's any market for rentals in your area.

                             

                            Either way, best of luck.

                            Ben

                             

                            "The world is my country, science is my religion."-- Christiaan Huygens


                            Needs more cowbell!

                              Are you sure that's true?  In your post, you stated you bought the house 12 years ago with the intent to fix it up.  It sounds like you haven't done much fixing, so the house is more or less in the same condition you bought it.  I'd be surprised if you couldn't sell it in its current condition for pretty close what you paid for it.  Sure, it needs some work so you're not going to sell it for a mint, but then you didn't buy it for a mint either.

                               

                              Personally, I wouldn't want to end up spending $50K* and two years of my life fixing up a house in order to sell it for $40K* more than I could have sold it had I done nothing to it.

                               

                              (*I just made those numbers up.  Not saying the work you talked about in your post would cost that much.  Though the work you outlined sounded like it might have a non-trivial cost.)

                               

                              You may also want to consider renting out the house, if there's any market for rentals in your area.

                               

                              Either way, best of luck.

                               

                              Oh, a lot has already been done...$13k into the kitchen (tearing it down to studs, floor completely gutted--we could see the sand under the house), replaced nearly all downstairs windows, tore out carpeting in entire downstairs and replaced with pine planks, new roof 2 years ago, new power-vent water heater.  Just lots of things not finished, like the trim that was removed prior to painting rooms and never replaced, cabinets without doors, drawers without faces.  We've put at least $25k into the house, already.  Most of the stuff that needs doing is finishing things, removing the rest of the nasty carpet upstairs, painting, etc.  It's not the expensive fixes, but the fixes that will make the house appealing as a starter home.  We're not doing anything like knocking out walls or building new ones.  DH wanted to do some built-in storage and I already put the kibosh on that...he doesn't have a good history with following through on these DIYer projects, so any storage we add will be in the form of Ikea stuff that we can take with us when we sell, but will give us places to put our stuff in the meantime.

                               

                              We talked about the rental thing, but for many reasons we don't want to go that route.  We don't want to risk ending up with problem tenants or tenants that would make it hard to sell the place, or dealing with tenants that can't find a new place to live once we do sell (there's a real dearth of rental properties because of how many people have lost their homes to forclosure or who have simply sold and chosen to rent temporarily).  The legal issues inherent to renting often do not fall in favor of the homeowner, either, unfortunately.  Plus we'd still have to do a lot of the same work to make it rentable that we will need to do to make it sellable.

                              I shoot pretty things! ~

                              '14 Goals:

                              • 2 olympic distance duathlons -- 6 days apart -- PR at least 1

                              • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

                                as always...when you do get ready to sell, take about half your stuff to a storage unit so your house looks spacious...

                                 

                                Every time we have moved (19 times in 28 years) we do that...and our house has 'usually' sold without too much hassle...but it now depends on if anyone has money...and I know Michigan is hurting on the employment scene...

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