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Local real estate Q&A with Doug Van Etten

Doug Van Etten
YOUR JOURNEY HOME
Free Press Real Estate Columnist

Q: We are getting ready to sell our rental house and I want to know when to quit “getting it ready”? My husband was not content to just change the carpet. He put laminate flooring in the kitchen, now he wants to change out vinyl in the bathrooms and laundry room. When is enough, enough in preparing to sell a house?

A: That is such a dilemma — how much to do to a property to get it ready to sell.

In the Grand Junction and Fruita home sales market, in many cases buyers are setting high standards for what they will purchase. How much you do to the house may depend on how it compares to other houses like it in the neighborhood; how many homes are on the market as competition; and what the condition the similar price and style homes sold in 2013 have been in.



If the rental was well worn, you may need to do what you have mentioned plus paint, repair or replace appliances, light fixtures, sinks or sink hardware and maybe even toilets. Keep in mind that in order for the house to sell, your house should be in the top 5-10% of its competition in condition and among the bottom 5-10% in its price range. Stiff competition will mean more work on your part to get it ready and looking great to sell.

Keep in mind that you want to keep all rooms and elements of the house compatible as much as possible. Replacing the carpet and spiffing up the kitchen with new appliances and lighting while leaving those 20-, 30- or 40-year-old bathrooms will not generate a good return on investment. In a case like this, it may be better to pick one of two possible options: either put a few hundred, or thousand, more dollars into the reconditioning in order to compete with those in good condition; or, do very little and sell the house in essentially “as-is” condition and expect to reap a lesser price due to condition.



While the Grand Junction housing market is not flooded with properties for sale in most price ranges, buyers are most often taking their time to find what they consider the “right” house for them. They will balance price, with condition, location and maybe other factors before making a purchase.

Your choice is to weigh how much time and money you want to put into the house vs. how long you want it to sit on the market and how much less you are willing to receive in purchase price compared to what you might have gotten were the house in better or worse condition. Since it is vacant and not generating income, you also want to factor in holding costs of mortgage payments the longer the house is on the market.

Look online at interior and exterior photos of houses for sale that are your competition. From there decide, do we want to receive a purchase offer on the high end or the low end of the competition.

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Q: My grandmother lives with us and our house is for sale so we can buy a larger house to make both her and us more comfortable. My question is, Realtors I have talked with tell me that when it is being shown, grandma is going to have to leave the house. She is not very mobile so what should I do?

A: Realtors would like to be able to show a house when no one is present. It lets the clients roam the house, open cabinet and closet doors, admire the view, etc. They may want to just soak up the condition and ambiance of the house interior.

Realtors and prospective buyers also like to be able to chat frankly and openly about what they see, like and do not like about the house without having to talk in hushed voices to avoid being overheard by a resident.

All that being said, Realtors and buyers are most often understanding of special conditions that may need to be met in order to view a home for sale. In the Grand Junction home-showing process, a Realtor most often calls the listing office to set an appointment. Showing instructions given to them at that time can state there is a person who needs to be home during the showing. With prior notice like that, both the Realtor and buyer can be prepared to know they will not be alone and can plan their visit to the house accordingly.

While it is desirable to have no one home, it is by no means a requirement for showing the house.

Doug Van Etten is a local Realtor with Keller Williams Realty. He has been helping buyers, sellers and investors achieve their real estate goals for more than 20 years. For more information on investing and investment properties, consider joining the Real Estate Investors Network (REIN), http://www.REINWesCO.org and read Van Etten’s blog http://www.GJRealEstateAdvice.com.


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