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Home improvements to consider before selling

September 30, 2011
By MARIO D'ARTAGNAN - Real Estate in Perspective , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

If you are getting your home ready to place on the market, there are a few home improvement considerations to make that could add value. Buyers are very picky about bathrooms and kitchens, and therefore will make offers based on the home's functional obsolescence. What this means, generally, is that if there is $4,000 in depreciation due to out-dated cabinets, fixtures and countertops, a buyer is likely to make an offer for $4,000 less than your asking price. The same would apply to bathrooms that are out-dated.

As a former owner of a custom tile business, I renovated my share of bathrooms and kitchens. Tile is not only beautiful to look at, but it's also very durable. Now, we are not talking about ceramic tile at a cost of 79 cents a square foot. It's tough selling a $400,000 house where the owner renovated with cheap tile. I have always preferred porcelain in all areas because it is durable. Porcelain is also available in various texture finishes and comes in many sizes and colors.

If you are considering new tile, I would stay with neutral colors because just about any furniture and decorations will blend with neutral or earth tone colors. Today, you can buy porcelain tile for as little as $1.50 a square foot. I have always recommended tile at a price between $1.50 and $5 per foot. You cannot go wrong somewhere in the middle.

The larger the area, the bigger the tile. If you are considering tiling a complete first floor, you can go with larger tiles like 16-inch or 18-inch, or even bigger depending on the size of the house. Depending on the layout of the house, setting tile on a diagonal is more attractive to the eye. I love the homes where I walk in and see a great tile job where the tile flows from room to room continuously. In other words, no separation at door jambs. Sometimes, tile can be set right over the existing tile depending upon the texture.

If you are going to renovate a tub surround or shower, this would be the best time to change out the shower diverter and install new fixtures because the plumbing is exposed. I had totally gutted bathrooms right down to the studs, replacing drywall, hardy board, cabinets and even toilets. A bathroom can look like Tuscany after a quality tile installation. Both kitchens and bathrooms can be renovated at a reasonable cost. One should consider a tile backsplash above the kitchen countertops. Tumbled marble is a great look and blends with granite and other materials.

Kitchens can be upgraded with new cabinets, granite countertops, new appliances and fixtures at a cost that won't necessarily break the bank. You would be surprised at how much of a great price you can negotiate today. Due to a weak economy, contractors and distributors are offering huge discounts on material and labor. If you are a do-it-yourself individual, I have a few words of caution. When I was doing tile work, I'd walk into a home where the homeowner attempted to install tile. I ended up ripping out everything the homeowner did because he did not understand setting materials, application, how to make precise cuts and lack of grouting knowledge. There are too many home improvement cable networks that show the finished job, but really don't show you how to set tile. It is a craft. And, it doesn't happen in 30 minutes. So, if you haven't set tile before, find someone who has the experience. That's the best advice I can give you.

Homes that have been upgraded generally sell faster, and it is possible to recover your costs depending on how much you spend. My suggestion would be to call three contractors, find out exactly what they include in their price, and whether they warranty their work. I would also ask them to provide before and after photos of some of their work. The lowest price is not necessarily the best price. The sweetness of a job well done far exceeds the bitterness of a poor job you spent very little for.

Mario D'Artagnan is a broker associate with The Jim Fischer Team at Fischer Realty Inc. He is a former Florida Real Estate Commission investigator, a former real estate instructor and a published author. He is also a U.S. Air Force veteran. For more information or questions, contact Mr. D'Artagnan at: mariodartagnan@yahoo.com, or call 239-565-4445.

 
 
 

 

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