Renovation: Our Before & After Written by Shane Phillips
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With the persistent low inventory in the Wichita housing market and the associated rising prices, helping a buyer find the “perfect” home in their budget has become challenging these days. As such, I often hear prospective buyer’s express openness to purchasing properties needing some minor renovating. In fact, statistics suggest that as many as 1/3rd of all buyers would consider a home that needs some remodeling or updating. And why not? Buying an outdated property provides a home buyer free rein in design, can usually be purchased below market value, and is still considered a popular investment in the housing market. However, the best fixer-upper depends as much on the house as it does on the chosen remodel plan.
My wife and I found ourselves facing this very decision in the fall of 2018. While on a listing appointment, I began detailing the desirable amenities of a property to its current owners and in attempting to sell the clients on signing me as their listing agent, I, in turn, sold MYSELF on the possibilities of their property. A mid-century ranch sitting on a full wooded acre lot in an established East Wichita neighborhood feeding into Andover Schools! It was NOT love at first sight. In fact, Sarah and I were incredibly happy in our current home, built just three years prior, in a quaint French Country-styled community full of character and charm. This new listing wasn’t our style cosmetically either, but the bones were good; the Class IV roof was just 18 months old, the zoned HVAC system was brand new and the homeowners were very meticulous at documenting the routine home maintenance they’ve made over their 20-year ownership.
Like most who’ve seen HGTV’s popular shows or browsed Pinterest boards, we were full of ideas and vision. We loved the character and floor plan of this mid-century home, the lot size seemed perfect for both kids and pets, the mature trees had built a beautiful canopy, and of course, the cosmetic possibilities seemed endless. What wasn’t endless was our budget, however,we made the decision to go for it! Being in the industry, I felt like we had done our homework: we interviewed and lined up a contractor, evaluated and reevaluated the plan and were ready to tear into a home that had been relatively untouched since its original 1970’s construction.
Now, coming up on two years, Sarah and I have made significant updates to our home. It certainly hasn’t been without its frustrations, but it’s good to look back at pictures to see the progress we’ve made. I doubt we will ever be completely “finished,” but now that we are on the other side of this project, here’s what I’ve learned and what I tell my prospective clients should they be considering taking a similar path to the “perfect” home:
• Creative freedom; you can build, renovate, and design the house the way you want. When the dust clears and the paint dries, your home will be full of personal touches rather than the remnants of someone else’s life.
• Deciding where in the home you want to spend more money (a bigger/better kitchen, master bathroom, outdoor living space, etc.).
• The opportunity to make the home worth more than you paid but be careful as renovations have the potential to run over in both time and money.
• Homes needing some updating are typically below market value because the majority of buyers want “move-in ready” properties.
• Pay less in taxes as older homes have no special assessments and property taxes are calculated based on your home’s original sale price.
• Renovations are costly; usually more than you originally budget because you don’t have an exact total of what everything will cost, making the financial bottom line uncertain.
• Homes needing some updating can be a risk because you never know when things are going to go wrong or what you might find when you remove a sink, drywall, windows or flooring.
• If you need to make structural changes (removing walls, installing beams, etc), you’ll need a building permit which can compound costs.
• Living in a construction site is less than ideal especially with children. Having limited access to all parts of your home can be stressful and unaccommodating.
• It will not be anything like what you’ve seen on television; it certainly will not be completed in 30 minutes and can take months or even longer to completely finish updating your home.
I’ve heard many buyers suggest that building a new home would be overly stressful on their marriage. I typically respond that if that is true, then buying a fixer-upper would likely be one of the most trying times of a marriage. But, if you’ve found a location you love, remodeling is a fantastic option to improve on the things you love and resolve those you don’t. For a buyer who loves the character of older houses or homes within established neighborhoods, but not the cosmetic palette of those same homes, the notion of buying a property needing updating can be truly enticing. There are countless buyers who’ve done this very thing in amazing communities like Riverside, College Hill, Lakepoint, Vickridge, Brookhollow and Eastborough.
So, if while house hunting this buying season, you find a home in a good neighborhood that most buyers are passing on due to its outdating, it’s possible that you might be able to snag that outdated property for below market value, invest some time and money renovating it, and end up with a like-new home full of character and personality. For inspiration, plan to attend The Junior League of Wichita’s - Kitchen Tours this summer, Saturday, June 6. In the end, the route to the budget-friendly “perfect” home may be following an unconventional path.
For more before/after photos of our project, click here: https://tours.tobieandrewsphotography.com/1089750?idx=1
Coldwell Banker Plaza Real Estate
12221 E. Central
Wichita, KS 67206
We thoroughly enjoyed photographing the "before and after" photos of this beautiful home! Please contact Tobie Andrews Real Estate Media for all of your residential and commercial photography needs. Photos, video, and drone. Let us help you! tobieandrewsre.com