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Is it worth it?

We bought our house in 1979 for $65,000. 3 story farmhouse style. Excellent neighborhood. Over the years we scrimped and saved to raise our family. The house only got things that we absolutely needed - storm windows, roof, new appliance here and there. My husband retired last year (he's 70) - I'm still working. Our house needs help (for example - every downstairs window (they are big - 82" long) must be propped open with a big dowel and some are very unstable / we only have 1.5 bathrooms - how did we raise 4 kids / we never put in central air - high ceilings and big trees help, or so we told ourselves). We paid off the mortgage long ago, and have no debts. Part of me feels that we should fix it up regardless of whether we decide to stay or downsize - because we would get more money for it. The other part says - you've lived like this for 35 years - better leave things alone! I was wondering if we could get a home inspection first that would point out the major issues that we really should fix regardless of whether we sell or stay. Any suggestions??

Re: Is it worth it?

You don't usually get back all the costs unless you do it all yourself. If you are planning on downsizing, I think you would be money ahead to sell and let someone else do the fixing up.

Re: Is it worth it?

Count me too with Keith, and here's why:

1. A massive remodel job is not for everyone. It takes a good strong stomach and a deep pocket to complete.

2. Not only you won't recover your investment, but what if the future buyer tears everything again...

3. The market is heating up in many parts of the country, it is turning to be a "seller's market". In conditions like these, houses sell fast regardless their condition - so why bother?

Re: Is it worth it?

You might want to talk to a realtor - more than one realtor would be better. A house which is too dated looking can sit on the market for a long time especially if there are lots of other homes on the market. Many people like the deal of a fixer upper, but many others want a home move in ready. A realtor might be able to point out upgrades which will best increase your resale value and help your home move on the market should you decide to sell. It also depends on what you would like for yourself. Some people are very affected by the environment they live in, other less so.

I started ripping down wallpaper the day we moved into our house because I couldn’t concentrate on anything surrounded by this horrible plaid stuff. In my first home I pulled up carpeting before I’d unpacked the dishes because it was filthy and a beautiful hardwood floor was underneath. However, my mother in law happily lives in a house with the carpet disintegrating beneath he feet even though she could afford to replace it. It just doesn’t bother her, while I can hardly keep myself from pulling it up when visiting.

Have the realtor show you some homes that you might like. You might find a home with features that more suit your lifestyle now – like a master bedroom on the main floor. However, you might also decide you really like your present home best.

You put your money in your priorities – to raise your kids well and keep your debts down. Excellent! Now, if you have the money to fix your house up and decide to stay awhile, go ahead. If it is time to move – have fun looking. Be a little adventurous. If you are having trouble parting with a house you have had for 35 years – watch Disney’s movie “Up”.

Re: Is it worth it?

4- Many remodelers (including myself) prefer to buy a home that hasn't been touched, altered, ruined... You have no idea what the new buyer wants to do with the house when you're gone. Let them decide.

5- As pointed out above, you won't get your money back.

6- You lived there for decades. That alone has value. Sell the house and buy a nice condo where theytake care of everything for you. Spend your money traveling and enjoying life.

Re: Is it worth it?

So the guys all say it's not worth it monetarily. Probably so. But from my perspective, you've sacrificed for years; if you still love the house and it would make you happy, then do it.

I'd replace the windows (a buyer would likely appreciate them) and anything else that keeps the house from deteriorating. Maybe spruce up by painting.

If you're looking at interiors, kitchens and baths sell a house. You needn't do high end trends; classic works and you deserve it. You might be able to save $$$ by painting existing cabinets, retrofitting the interiors with baskets, etc., and replacing the countertops.

Just my opinion.

Re: Is it worth it?

Here is the question you have to answer, if you fix it up will it be because it is the old home place and because you plan on staying? If not then don't waste your money. Consider this as your part of life and enjoy it. One advantage to down sizing is you don't have enough bed rooms for the kids to move back in.:)


Re: Is it worth it?

If you fix it up then do that only for you. Anyone else who comes along will want it done differently. If you're selling, make only the repairs absolutely necessary to market the house with some paint to brighten it up- anything more is usually wasted money unless you're in a really tight market. It may take a little longer to sell that way but it's better money for you if you have the time.

Downsizing is almost always a smart move once you no longer need the space and it's always cheaper keeping up with the utilities in a smaller home. That's more money to have fun on!


Re: Is it worth it?

Sometimes it happens that a family is tired of their home and wants to move somewhere "new." But since their home is looking tired, they spend a lot of time & money to fix it up so they can sell it -- then realize they rather like their house now and decide to stay.

Having your house paid off and no other debts is a wonderful financial position to be in. At this point, you could sell your house for $1 and be money ahead. (Consider what you paid in down payment, principal, and interest to be "rent" over these past years.) If you remodel, you can "lose" money if the remodeling costs more than the increase in market value the remodeling supplies, but really, you will *still* make money on the deal because your cash-on-hand will be greater after the sale than it is now.

If you are committed to selling, any improvements you do should be to shorten the time your house is on the market; that is, to make it attractive to a greater number of buyers than it is now, not to increase the value. Time on market can be costly: insurance, utilities, and upkeep (and if someone did have a mortgage, interest payments) all take away from the financial benefit of selling the house.

The #1 most important "improvement" that helps a house sell quickly is cleanliness. Thankfully, it's also the least expensive. If the buyer doesn't have to do any work before moving in, it sweetens the pot that much more.

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