Christina T. Allen
Real Estate Broker
408.234.3306 Mobile
Signature Realty
20440 Town Center Lane, 4D1
Cupertino, CA 95014
408.253.5151   FAX

Christina Allen 





  May 7, 2003     Saratoga, California Since 1955

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A good remodel can lead to a successful resale
By Jean Newton
Is remodeling worth living through the process of cooking family dinners in the microwave, sweeping up endless sawdust and dealing with construction delays?

Most Realtors say it's worth the trouble since a good remodel leads to a successful resale later and today's buyers are looking for homes that are ready to be moved into.

While every Realtor has a favorite list of what should be remodeled or updated, the decision usually depends on whether the homeowner is staying for the long term or fixing a home up on a short-term basis in order to put a "for sale" sign out front.

"There have been many surveys covering which remodeling projects add the most or least value to homes. Personally, I think whatever is done needs to be done tastefully and be appropriate to the home value," said Judy Tucker, a broker associate with Windermere Silicon Valley Properties in Saratoga. "You can't expect to put a $150,000 kitchen in a $500,000 home, especially a tract or townhome, and recover most of the value. You also can't put unusual or out-of-place features in bath and kitchen remodels and recover their total cost."

Pools and tennis courts, for instance, are a couple of items that don't usually recover their cost, said Tucker. She believes buyers are not looking for homes where they have to tackle major remodeling.

"Buyers prefer fairly recent and tasteful, neutral kitchen and bath updating. Dual-pane windows and doors are good. Other niceties are closet organizers, crown molding, new baseboards, handles and locks. I consider flooring, whether it is refinishing hardwood floors or new carpet, drapes and paint to be decorating rather than remodeling."

According to Joette Schenck's list, a Realtor with Alain Pinel in Los Gatos, updated kitchens and updated bathrooms are the most important remodels, followed by a large master bedroom with plenty of closet space. Updated floors, fireplaces and a ceiling without popcorn are high on her list. Molding and recessed lighting continue to be a plus. Her final recommendation is that a garage should still be a garage.

Instead of turning a garage into an extra room on a whim, real estate broker and attorney Christina Allen of Signature Realty in Cupertino urges homeowners to seek the advice of an architect, designer or contractor to see what is the best way to improve the look and design of a room.

"When remodeling, you may want to consider whether or not to change the layout by moving some walls. Moving or removing a few walls can improve the appearance of a room substantially, but the homeowner should seek the advice of a professional first," Allen said.

Since remodeling costs time and money, Allen said many people make the mistake of trying to do it themselves and the end result is that they will inevitably pick the paint, wallpaper or light fixtures that do not highlight the strength of the property.

"If you are going to the expense of remodeling your home you want to make sure that your choices will enhance the market value of the property and not just value to you," Allen said. "The general consensus is that kitchens and bathrooms add real value to a home. For every dollar you spend in the kitchen or bathrooms, you will get most of it back through the increase in the property value."

This holds true even in a down market, where a homeowner might not get an increase in the property value but might be more likely to sell a home faster than someone who did not remodel their kitchen or bath.

For the kitchen, Allen recommends new cabinets, sinks, faucets, appliances, floors, countertops, windows and lights. She cautions against spending money on remodeling the rest of the kitchen but keeping old appliances.

To spruce things up in the bathroom in addition to replacing old sinks, countertops, toilets and fixtures, Allen suggests new bathroom towels and accessories or even a new shower curtain to give the bathroom a new look without costing too much.

"The first thing you need to consider before remodeling is a budget. The second thing you must be willing to accept is that most remodeling projects are under-budgeted. So first come up with a budget, then adjust it for the overage. Then sit down and plan what you will do," Allen said. "And don't wait to remodel until you are about to sell the house. Budget for remodeling in phases so you can enjoy living in a beautifully updated home."

For Ky Nyborg of Alain Pinel Realtors in Los Altos, it's important to understand what home improvements will pay off when it comes time to sell. "Just because you pour $20,000 into your home does not mean that your house is worth $20,000 more. A common mistake is to spend money on amenities that are only peripheral to the value of the house," Nyborg said.

Nyborg said a recent survey conducted by Remodeling Magazine indicated the average amount spent on a major kitchen-remodeling job in the United States was $21,262, while refinishing an outdated kitchen averaged $8,507. The all-out kitchen makeover nationally recouped 90 percent of its cost, while the more moderate remodel was valued at 94 percent.

Nyborg believes repainting proves to be one of the most basic and the most bankable of all fix-ups. "There is almost nothing a coat of paint will not fix, at least if you plan to sell within a year or two," Nyborg said. "In the short term, changing floors, cabinetry, fixtures and sinks only counts when your house is so functionally outdated that a $4,000 investment adds $14,000 to the value.

Copyright SVCN, LLC.



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