One of the top five questions asked in my career and especially in today’s  market “Should I update?”

The answer is always several fold when a client calls me and asks me we what they should do? If I sold them the home I know it inside and out so I can talk about it over the phone at great length.   I can send them photos of what I am talking about or refer to some vendors than I know they job will get done properly.

To backtrack a little the minute I walk into a house with my client for them to potentially buy I am instantly thinking “resale”.  The poor people haven’t even moved in yet and I have them moved out in my mind.   I know years down the road they will be calling me to list the house so I have to make sure it’s marketable now and in the future.

In this market which I have to say 60% of my business right now are short sales.  I have listings that are a few % points away from being short meaning they owe more than what the home is worth and my sellers will have to come to the closing with the difference or they are on the market short because of hardship of some sort.  Most have tried to modify their mortgage and without success.  Instead of foreclosure the bank suggests short sale to the borrower and then they meaning the borrower/seller contacts  me.

In looking through MLS listings a few days back to compare  my listings on the market to others I researched to see what the mortgages were on the houses currently on the market and I saw a very thin margin on most.  It explained to me why most houses had been on the market for over 120 days w/o price adjustments.

I then researched properties that sold in less than 14 days that were not short sales to see the common denominator if there was one.  Most of the properties that sold in less than 14 days were all completely updated beautifully.  New kitchen cabinets, granite counters, every bathroom brand new, new or shiny hardwood flooring.  It did not matter the style of the house or if it was on a major interstate highway.   Before 2008, it didn’t matter if the house still had original everything.   Buyers would jump on it, take a nice Line of Credit out after 3 or 6 months after being in the house since the value had gone up and finish  to their liking.  Well, guess what? People can’t get LOC’s now  Underwriting today for a mortgage with  great credit  requires much patience for all involved.

So, what am I saying?  If the house needs central air, new kitchen cabinets, appliances, hardwood floors (not pergo) instead of carpets, refinishing of hardwood floors, new toilets, sinks, shower stalls and door, people will have to use their own money to update their new home instead of borrow.   If the house needs a new roof or furnace the mortgage company will not give you a loan until it is replaced.   Even if the list I just rattled off can get broken down into a 5 year project they are all big-ticket items.   Buyers want the beauty right now.  I see that especially in the condo market.  I am seeing condo’s in Bloomfield, Connecticut that have been updated to the max sell for $125,000 + or more than the condo’s with the same floor plan that need wallpaper removal in every room, original kitchens and baths, unfinished basements or lower walk-out level.  People that are downsizing and have left their large updated homes don’t want to waste their precious 401K or pension fund $  on updating.  This thinking I believe is here to stay until money eases up and I don’t see that happening for a few years or maybe never.

Before you do anything in this market make sure your Realtor is consulted whether you just purchased or plan to sell in a few months.  We can tell you what is going to make a difference to a buyer and what is not.  You and create a beautiful space indoor and have a front door that is chipped and dinged everywhere with loads of fingerprints. The door knob has dents in it and is half connected and the door can barely open.  Guess what? This is where Realtors have to convince their buyers to go inside regardless!   It alllllll starts at the front door which they are looking as they pull into the driveway.  So, please get your Realtor involved before you open up your checkbook.