Q: We hope the real estate market will continue to improve since we plan to sell our house in about a year. The house is not old by Grand Junction standards, mid-1970s, but it feels pretty dated. How can we best spend our money, without over-spending, to increase its appeal at sales time?A: Where to spend the money sort of depends on the condition of the house; though being 1970s, if little or no previous remodeling or upgrading has been done, a few things can be taken for granted: harvest gold, green, pink or blue bathtub and sink and very likely a harvest gold refrigerator. We will come back to these.Right off the bat, get up on your roof or better yet have a professional get up there. A roofing inspector, rare as they are, can give you an honest estimate of the life left in your roof. If it is original, there may not be many years of good service left. Since every house needs a functioning roof, I suggest starting there. Be sure to get bids from three roofers since costs may vary by as much as 50% from one to another. Whichever company you choose, be sure they are bonded and give you a transferable warranty on roof life and workmanship.Window molding has a hard life in the Colorado sun, wind and low humidity, so molding and caulk may need to be replaced and will be cheaper than replacing windows. However, dealing with molding is a lot of work. If original, the windows are old and inefficient so it may be a good decision to just replace them with vinyl casing windows and all new trim and paint.Speaking of paint, take a look at that, too; paint becomes another victim of our wonderful but harsh 300 days of sunshine and springtime winds. Touch-up rarely does the job on an old house even if only one side is excessively weather-worn, so price doing a full paint job yourself vs. having it done professionally.Back to the inside of your house and into the kitchen and bathroom. These two rooms get you your best return on investment for interior upgrades or remodels. However, halfway jobs, while costing less will return less on your cash outlay, too. In the kitchen it may mean taking out walls but see if you can revamp the design to get it open, flowing and light. Match the appliances with one another in color style and brand. Definitely replace, do not attempt to refinish or recondition, the cabinets and countertops. Add lighting, add lighting, add lighting - recessed can lights, hanging halogen lights, under cabinet lights. Lights can be a relatively inexpensive yet very appealing part of a kitchen makeover.In the bathroom, replace the flooring. New fixtures, mirrors and again, lighting; these are all part of the bathroom package that really needs to be done as a unit if you want to get best return on your money and you want to make your house more appealing in the sales market next year. The dated tub color can be taken care of with special paint or you can replace the whole shower-tub enclosure with tile or fiberglass units, depending on taste and budget. Do replace that dated colored sink.Too few homes, especially older ones in Grand Junction, have adequate bathroom ventilation. While in many homes an opening window can do the basic venting job, an ultra-quiet, high volume ventilation fan in the bathroom will really set your house apart for the competition.You may or may not want or need to do all of this to make your home the one on the block where the sign says "SOLD" rather than months of "FOR SALE"; but you asked where to put your attention and your money so here are a few places to focus your thinking.------------------Doug Van Etten is a local Realtor with Keller Williams Colorado West Realty. He is also founder and organizer of the Real Estate Investors Network of Western Colorado (www.REIN-WesCO.org). For information about buying or selling a home, investing in real estate or joining REIN, contact Doug at 970-433-4312 or DougVE@kw.com.
Local real estate Q&A: June 29, 2012
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