Should I Renovate or Sell As Is?

Ruth Lerner is a Brookline REALTOR specializing in Brookline, Chestnut Hill, Brighton and West Roxbury, Mass. real estate. Since 2002 she’s represented both buyers and sellers with a post-transaction satisfaction rate of 97%. You can contact her on her website, and find her on Google+FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter.

home-improvement

 

When prospective home sellers invite me for a consultation, the most common question is not, “what is my home’s value?” but, “should I renovate or sell the house as is?”

Several considerations are made to answer the questions of renovating or selling as-is.  At the top of the list is the local real estate market conditions.  No one answer can be given to this question, and discussing the house without understanding the market is futile.

The advice here applies especially to South Newton, Chesnut Hill and Brookline, as well as parts of Boston, where land is scarce and the houses are old.  There is a great demand for luxury housing in the Boston area, which drive the pressure on the land and tear-down markets.

Brookline, for example, has a very high demand for land and tear-downs.  An old house which can be taken down can be worth more than a bigger house, if the land is larger and buildable.  Furthermore, the zoning of a parcel dictates how many units can be built and the size of the homes.  This is key knowledge to the equation.

Once the local real estate market and the town zoning is understood, review the considerations below to learn how I advise my clients.

In order for me to recommend renovations to a house, these are the things I look for:

  1. The home owners have energy, patience, interest, and financial resources to make changes. If a you some cash and bit of interest in renovating things, some projects may yield a return greater than 100%. Make sure you do ONLY those projects.  Don’t make these common home improvement mistakes.
  2. The home is in generally good shape already. Maybe you already have a new kitchen, so modernizing the bath would increase the value of the home. Or the home is in perfect condition other than some old carpeting, then I recommend changing the carpet. Another scenario is if the inside of the home is updated, but the exterior is a bit shabby. Here I recommend investing in making the house look great outside.
  3. Market conditions favor home buyers. Home buyers, to distinguish from investors or developers, tend to want to do less work. Walking into a house which is ready is highly valued by young families and overworked professionals.

In order to recommend selling your home as is, I look for the following:

  1. If you can’t do the work, or it will be a great burden, then don’t! Even projects which may be a good financial investment re not worth your stress and exhaustion.
  2. The home needs too much work. If your house hasn’t been updated many years, or if the house is in a consistent condition throughout, then sell the home as it is, to the right buyer. Don’t waste time and money on renovating a pink, mud-back tile bathroom if the kitchen is to remain avocado color and the wallpaper is peeling in the dining room. It is likely the next owner will take on a major project and your bathroom may be turned into a pantry. Don’t put money into a part of the home, when the rest will remain outdated.
  3. The market favors developers. A developer is not paying a premium for upgrading something. If the devlopers are the strength in the market, they may be able to offer you more than a home buyer. Always speak with a local and highly experienced agent before you may any such decision.
  4. Your house is in the immediate Boston Area and you are sitting on a chunk of land. On a large lot in Boston, Newton, or Brookline, the house is almost always secondary. If the lot can be subdivided, if it can be turned into a multi-unit property, or if your house is small – the value is in the potential, rather than the house.

Whenever you consider selling your home, you must first speak with a real estate agent who can identify the strengths of the house. Learn the current market value of your home (Zestimates do not count), and who is the most likely buyer for your home. Only then decide to renovate or sell as is.

Thinking of selling your home?  Interested in a free market evaluation of a property?  Contact me today!

This post originally appeared on Ruth’s blog, which you can see here.

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