LESLIE: Gary in North Dakota is next and he finds The Money Pit on WDAY. And what can we do for you?
GARY: Well, I have a house that I’ve lived in – one owner – for the past 30 years. And I’m thinking I’ll probably be selling it in the next two or three years. And it needs a number of things done with it and I’m wondering which might be the most cost effective or the best for resale. Such as I’ve never reshingled it; it has the original windows; the interior is the traditional mid-70s dark mahogany. And I’m wondering where I should start.
TOM: Well, that’s a great question. Gary, it’s 30 years old? Is that correct?
GARY: Yes, it is.
TOM: So it was built in 1965, 1975? Something like that?
GARY: 1975, yes.
TOM: 1975. OK. Well, first thing you want to do when you to get a house ready to sell is remember that the people that are buying your home are really buying it for space. So you want to do as much as you possibly can to create space inside that house. So think about, first of all, getting rid of clutter, storing furniture away. Start working on that now. You’ve got plenty of time to do that and now is a great time to tackle it. The second thing is to neutralize everything in that house.
LESLIE: Yeah, absolutely. Make things more neutral; especially if you have everything that’s dark mahogany. Something dark can seem very small and overwhelming. And I think if you can open it up and brighten it up with some lighter, more neutral colors; that will really allow people who are looking at the house to sort of envision their belongings in there.
I think as far as your shingles outside, I don’t think you need to redo them. But make sure everything’s painted nicely and cleaned up well and really just paid attention to the small details. I don’t think you need to invest in residing.
TOM: Something you might want to invest in, Gary, is to have a home inspection done. Because when it comes time to sell your house, the buyer is inevitably going to hire a professional home inspector to evaluate that property and figure out if there’s anything wrong with it. You can kind of get on the front end of that by hiring a home inspector now. That would be an impartial expert advice that would come in and do a home inspection of your home that would include all of the structural and the mechanical systems. And that person might come up with a checklist of things that you can tackle.
And I’ve got to tell you, it’s nice to have that information early on before a buyer is involved. Because, this way, you can decide whether you want to repair something or replace something.
LESLIE: Well, also, then you know the legitimacy of their claims.
TOM: That’s true as well. You want to find a good home inspector, Gary. There is a website for the American Society of Home Inspectors that I would highly recommend. That’s ASHI – A-S-H-I.org. That’s a nonprofit association of home inspectors that have all passed tests and adhere to a strict code of ethics and a standard of practice. And they’ll do a great job for you. You put your zip code in there and it’ll return several home inspectors in your area.
So those are all good things to think about doing when you’re getting your house ready for sale. Now if you want to talk major improvements, probably the best ones that give you the best return on investment – I would say, Leslie – kitchen and bath.
LESLIE: Yeah, but those are also sort of iffy ways to renovate as well. While they’ll give you a big return, if you make highly stylized choices, you might deter people from buying. Because if you pick something that’s just so outrageous, you know, that means they have to work to do when they move in.
TOM: Yeah, very right. So, basically, the theme running through this whole conversation, Gary, is neutral. Keep it neutral and create space. OK?
GARY: The only follow-up I have on the neutral question is, you know, with the dark interior and wood work, I’m debating over painting it, sanding it down and restaining it or replacing it.
TOM: Well, painting it would definitely be … no, I think you’re talking about wood trim, right?
GARY: With the wood trim. You know, all the doors and all the door and window trim are all dark.
TOM: Yeah. Well, you know, there are some people out there that like natural stain wood. But I would not sand it down and restain it. The question is whether or not you want to paint over it. What about the walls that surround it?
GARY: They’re just sheetrock that’s textured.
TOM: But are they painted light colors or neutral colors?
GARY: Well, they can be repainted very easily. They’re kind of a light neutral color but each room is a little different. I was thinking it’d be even better to be maybe (inaudible).
TOM: Well, let me tell you, if a relocation company was to take over your house – these are the folks that are experts on selling property quickly – what they would probably do is they would take out all the carpet in the house and replace it with a tan carpet; they’d send the painters in and paint all of the walls with an off-white paint; they’d probably leave the dark trim because some people like that. But as far as the walls and the carpet, I would definitely make them as neutral as possible.
GARY: Alright, well I’ll do that and I’ll also check out those tips you gave me as far as some of those websites.
TOM: Alright, terrific. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.