Will remodeling or reducing the price move a condo quicker
June 10, 2009 9:22 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about selling (or renting) my condo. My kitchen and bathrooms are out of date with formica counter tops, old looking appliances and ugly flooring. I know that other condos in my complex that are on the market have been updated with more contemporary looks, but they also look like they've been on the market for a while. What would cause the place to sell faster? Spending the money to update it or reducing the asking price by whatever amount I'd put into a remodel?
posted by willnot to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
Sell it faster = remodel. Faster is going to be relative in the current market.
posted by torquemaniac at 9:28 AM on June 10, 2009

To me, I think the key question is, at what cost will re-model.

Personally, I am a contractor, and could do a lot myself, or have friends who would give me a great rate. If it were me, I would re-model - because I could do it at a discount rate, and sell it at a retail, top-dollar rate.

If you are going to pay retail, top-dollar - and then plan to sell it at retail, top-dollar - then why go through the hassle of doing the work.

Only re-model if you can sell the re-model for more than it cost you.
posted by Flood at 9:33 AM on June 10, 2009

It's all subjective. We just bought a place and I would have preferred that the "renovations and upgrading" which were done to sell the place faster hadn't been done and that the amounts expended on them had simply been taken off the selling price. Especially since it was done half-assed to sell the place and we've had to re-do a lot of it anyway. People buy new construction because they get to pick the finishes, or the buy someone else's place with the knowledge they'll have to change things to get exactly what they want. Or people keep looking because they can't imagine what the bathroom would look like with a different vanity and won't buy until they find the vanity they want.

On the other hand, I've had no trouble renting my place, even though the counters and cabinets are terribly out of date and the guys who sold it to me had no trouble selling it, once they priced it below the recently redone condos in the same building.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:35 AM on June 10, 2009

There's no easy answer. There is a middle ground, though, which is doing a cosmetic remodel. Repaint, maybe put down a new floor, replace the stove if it's old and ugly. But leave the cabinets and counters as-is. Make the place look a little fresher, with the message "you can live here a couple of years and then remodel it the way you want".
posted by Nelson at 9:43 AM on June 10, 2009

Put it this way in todays economy a cheaper condo with older stuff might actually sell faster then a more expensive better looking condo.

Try selling it for a little less you might be amazed.
posted by majortom1981 at 9:46 AM on June 10, 2009

My understanding is that the majority of buyers (my realtor says 90% but I think that might be too high) either prefer a home that they can move into immediately without the hassle of finding contractors, getting bids, living through the work etc or have no imagination and get turned off by cosmetic problems. Certainly a house with a purple shag carpet in the living room will sell much, much better if it is replaced with a cheap beige carpet than if a more generous carpet allowance is included in the price. The more high-end the home, the more you get back for cosmetic improvements. In general, I think you will get more money by spending the money on the remodel.

However, if there are already several condos on the market and yours, fixed up, would not be any better than the others, then you might consider going for a significantly cheaper price without the update. (Just make sure it looks really clean.) Then you would stand out as being the affordable fixer-upper. There will be fewer potential buyers but you have no competition in that niche which might produce a faster sale than if you were competing head-on with a several other identical homes. (After alll you only need one buyer.)
posted by metahawk at 9:59 AM on June 10, 2009

The most important thing is that it be clean and look as though it's been maintained. We sold a house recently (last couple of months) in 4 days (but we spent months cleaning out every drawer, cleaning every surface, taking care of every thing). We sold the house before that in 10 days. Same thing. Paint or scrub the walls, clean or replace the flooring, tighten every screw, stop every squeak. Clean the windows. Make sure there are no funky smells. Then price it a bit lower, and it will sell quicker than the competition.
posted by clarkstonian at 10:11 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just a hunch, but I think that the market is changing and tastes are quickly going to move away from the current style. Dark wood and granite countertops are going to to look very dated "over-done" in a few months. I think lowering the price and cleaning are the best things to do.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:19 AM on June 10, 2009

I had a townhouse to sell a couple of years ago. There were two similar units within steps of mine that were on the market. The owners of both did extensive renovations including granite counter tops on the kitchen and marble bathrooms. I'm sure they thought it all looked fabulous but let's just say that what they chose was a little garish for my taste.

I just didn't have the patience or inclination to have a lot of work done on my place even though it was a little dated. We made it sparkling clean, had it professionally staged and priced it to reflect the fact that we knew it needed some cosmetic work. I figured, why impose my taste on someone else?

My townhouse sold within three weeks of being listed. The other units ended up having to drop their prices pretty significantly and I'm sure they had to eat some of the renovation costs. The people who bought my unit ended up doing a new kitchen and new bathrooms.

That's just my experience. If we were to try to sell the house we have now, I'd use the same strategy. And if we were looking at houses, I'd rather do my own renovations than buy a brand new place where someone else chose all the finishes.
posted by Kangaroo at 10:23 AM on June 10, 2009

I've been looking at buying a house or condo since September. You would be amazed how many units are still on the market from then. Sure, the spiffy condos LOOK nice but you do pay a premium. If I were you I would consider a middle ground ... list it for a reasonable amount of money and include a $5,000 to $20,000 allowance for the new buyer to do the remodel (allowance dependent on the asking price, etc.)
posted by Happydaz at 11:05 AM on June 10, 2009

At the rate that housing values are dropping, any amount you put into renovations will probably quickly depreciate.

On top of that, interest rates are quickly rising (Today's 10 year treasury (the one mortgage rates are indexed to) auction was at 3.99%; the previous one was 3.19%) which further pressures prices.

Price your condo aggressively under your neighbors and get it sold now. Don't chase the market down.
posted by de void at 12:06 PM on June 10, 2009

De Void is 100% right. This matches our experience exactly.
posted by Carmody'sPrize at 12:49 PM on June 10, 2009

See what similar condos in your neighborhood have been selling for. Get your realtor's best guess for what you can get for yours. Would the difference cover a full kitchen remodel? I'm guessing it wouldn't.

However, it's amazing what a couple thousand dollars can do. Repaint everything, buy a new stove and dishwasher, maybe redo the floor. It'll look a lot better and get buyers past that sinking feeling when they see a nasty kitchen.
posted by zompist at 2:08 PM on June 10, 2009

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