De Moraes column: Some things to consider when pondering a remodel |

De Moraes column: Some things to consider when pondering a remodel

With the warm weather, you may be starting to think springtime is coming a little early this year, and you possibly may be thinking of what to do to get your home ready for sale. Remodel? Not so quick … Don’t get stuck in the HGTV trap just yet.

Where, or do you even start that remodel is the first question. That $75,000 kitchen in that $500,000 house may not make the most financial sense. Furthermore, you are also banking on the buyer liking what you did in there. If you are looking at staying put in your home for a little while longer and want to freshen things up, do it for you, not the buyer in 5-10 years.

It is hard to put an exact number on what the return is on your money for improvements because it is more important to stay in line with the other homes in the area and not “overbuild.” Buyer’s won’t want to be in the million-dollar home next to a bunch of $600,000 homes.

If you are looking at freshening things up this spring to sell it, you may want to look at more important items that won’t scare a buyer away, such as maintenance. The number one turnoff to most buyers is deferred maintenance on a home. Take your remodel money and put it into fixing up money. Most buyers are more interested in putting their own time and money into making the home theirs by customizing and upgrading, not by maintaining.

Take a look at the mechanics of the home, the condition of the foundation, driveway, roof, decks, siding — these are all items that tell buyers how the rest of the home has been taken care of. These are the items that buyers are more worried about when looking at a home than the Formica counter tops, wallpaper or almond colored sinks and toilets. After all, if history repeats itself, and they wait long enough, buyers will pay a premium for those vintage items anyway, right?

If you are compelled to spend a little more money and want to freshen things up, go buy some paint and get to work. Get outside and work on the curb appeal of your home. Trim the hedges, plant some flowers, etc. You want your home to scream “Welcome” as a potential buyer walks up to the front door.

If you’re just champing at the bit to spend a little money inside, take a look at the general layout of your home. Does a wall need to be removed to open things up? Are there four bedrooms and one bathroom? Does the master bedroom have its own bathroom?

As a final thought, don’t try to do it yourself unless you really know what you’re doing. Too often, that hack job remodel is the biggest turnoff to a buyer. Do it right or don’t do it at all.

Sean de Moraes is an agent with Roaring Fork Sotheby’s International Realty. He can be reached at

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