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At Home: Don't over-fix up a home to sell it

Marni Jameson writes about the best ways to fix up a home, but not over-fix it, to sell.
BY Marni Jameson Published: February 11, 2013
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/articleid/3753770/1/pictures/1948989">Photo - This Concord, Calif. home was so run down a local news agency dubbed it: ?The Dump at 4101 Nulty Drive.? The Beanes, who have a property investment company, bought it for $190,000. They put $130,000 into it, fixing termite damage, upgrading the kitchen and baths, replacing flooring, painting inside and out, moving the laundry room to make it more convenient, and pushing out a wall to take the house from 1800 to 2100 square feet. It sold in October for $455,000. ?When we asked brokers for their price opinions, their highest sales estimate for the improved home was $310,000,? said Michael Beane, who saw the situation differently. Photo courtesy of SMB, llc.
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This Concord, Calif. home was so run down a local news agency dubbed it: ?The Dump at 4101 Nulty Drive.? The Beanes, who have a property investment company, bought it for $190,000. They put $130,000 into it, fixing termite damage, upgrading the kitchen and baths, replacing flooring, painting inside and out, moving the laundry room to make it more convenient, and pushing out a wall to take the house from 1800 to 2100 square feet. It sold in October for $455,000. ?When we asked brokers for their price opinions, their highest sales estimate for the improved home was $310,000,? said Michael Beane, who saw the situation differently. Photo courtesy of SMB, llc.

Sellers also need to find that sweet spot when fixing up their home for sale — that level of improvement that will help the home sell faster, net the most money, and eliminate reasons for buyers to lowball you, said Wood.

I also asked my real-estate savvy friends Susan and Michael Beane, who own a property investment firm that buys homes to fix up and sell, for their thoughts on how to improve — but not over-improve — a property you're fixing to sell:

•Be objective. Walk through the home with fresh eyes. List what needs improving. “Most buyers don't have a lot of imagination,” said Wood. “If the place has dated finishes, and looks run down, in the buyer's mind it will always look that way.”

•Start at the curb. The property needs to look clean and appealing when you drive up.

•Modernize. Even if your home is 50 years old, buyers want updated interiors. “The age of a house can't change, but freshening up the interior with new paint and flooring can make it feel like a new home,” said Wood. That's the feeling buyers want.

•Improve kitchens and baths. “The trick is to not overdo for the neighborhood,” said Michael Beane. Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins.” Contact her through www.marnijameson.com.


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