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Most Bang for the Buck on Inherited Homes

January 7, 2010
by Scott Levitt ·  

Q&A: Improvement for an Inherited Home?
Counsel sellers to get the most bang for their buck…
inherited home

Q: Where should a seller interested in a sale on an inherited home spend improvement money?

A: As the parents of baby boomers pass on, this question is on the minds of many sellers who find themselves with an inherited home that could use a little T.L.C. The question is, where?

If your seller is interested in selling an inherited home and wants the biggest bang for the buck when it comes to improving the property, the focus should be on curb appeal.

While renovated kitchens and bathrooms were big return sources during the housing boom, your top goal with this sort of property is getting prospective buyers off the street and interested in the house.

However, there are two major pitfalls with interior improvements on quick-sale, inheritance listings:

  1. Sellers of inherited properties are usually focused on getting the most money out of the house as fast as possible. This means a strong push for fast, cheap renovation. We all know that the word “fast” and “renovation” don’t belong in the same sentence! Renovations can drag on, and depending on the market, the home can be losing value during the renovation. Add to this the fact that shoddy renovation can actually have the opposite effect on a buyer’s impression of a property.
  2. A quality interior renovation of one part of a house can quickly reveal the flaws of the rest of the house. Just put a Viking range in a kitchen with an avocado-colored Kitchenaid refrigerator from 1972 and you’ll see what we mean. Soon your buyers will be saying, “Well, the appliances look great, but if the cabinets were replaced the kitchen would be perfect. Maybe if the seller will replace the cabinets I’d consider it.” Partial renovation of a dated home can be the first domino in a long line of improvements.

Granted, this advice can vary based on niche market conditions and property specifics. But dollar-for-dollar, curb appeal improvements will help differentiate the home from others in the area and turn Saturday drive-bys into phone calls. (It’s hard to see that new toilet from the road!)

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