Not All Home Improvements will Help Your Homes Property Value

Chairs on patio and porch at luxury hotel

If you want to prepare your home in thoughts of selling in the near future or making the right choices for resale even further down the road, think twice about doing the following home improvements:

1) TURNING YOUR GARAGE INTO A MAN CAVE – Believe it or not, that awesome hide-away for the kids or the football game can hurt the value if you are loosing your garage. It did happen to one of my sellers in the past. First they took away the garage for more living space (even though they left the door in). This change took away value mostly because it no longer conformed to the neighborhood even though the living space increased. The garage was in the basement and sometimes below grade finished living space does not always get a return on its cost (according to an appraiser I know). This property took a hit on the appraised value and my clients actually had to lower the price for the buyer to cover it. Not to mention the price hit but not having a garage is less attractive to buyers. So so many people want a garage, especially in Pennsylvania.

2) INSTALLING A DECK OR PATIO (This is something that you are better of doing) – If all your neighbors have a deck and you don’t that is typically a reason for the appraiser to give you a hit in value. You don’t confirm to the neighborhood comps. Who does not love outdoor space, anyway? I had a house that had trouble selling and I can tell you a buyer bought the neighbors listing because it was cheaper and had a deck. It was the same square footage. Ouch!

3) DONT REMOVE OR COMBINE BEDROOMS – If you have gone from 4 to 3 and have the same space, keep in mind you would be comparing to 3 bedroom homes which are typically lower in price thus loosing value. Square footage does not always matter. It has been my experience that buyers want a 4 bedroom rather than a 3. Alway keep that extra bedroom if you have it. It will generally give you more value.

4) DONT REMOVE CLOSETS – If you can make more or make a walk-in closet. If you remove a closet, the room may not always be considered a bedroom. Women today have so many clothes, and even some of those men do. Closets are always a perk!

5) REMOVE WALLPAPER – Wallpaper may not decrease the value on an appraisal but it will make the buyers walk 99 percent of the time and the home harder to sell. Wall paper is an immediate check list for work and it is a bear to get off no matter how you do it. It is very hard to change and get to the popular neutral colors . I have literally had people refuse to go into a house because the every wall in the home was wallpapered. There have been sellers that have issued credits to have wallpaper removed and have removed it all. Be wise.

6) POUR A NEW FRONT WALK – I have sold new construction homes and one builder in particular gives the buyer temporary pavers to start for the front walk way. The pavers can look nice if they are cared for. After a couple of years they often need to be reset and adjusted if you are keeping them. I asked an appraiser if the value increased if the seller poured new walk way for $5000. The answer was no. There is still a walk way just made of something else or replaced with different material. If it was a high end finish then maybe an increase in value.

Talk to your real estate agent before you do anything major if you are even considering moving. You will be glad you did.

Leena’s Greek Food

The snow was a little treacherous last tonight so my husband drove me to my Home showing in Murrysville, PA.  So after we decided we would try a new restaurant.  One of our choices on the list was Greek Food at Leena’s.  We had read reviews that it was amazing food and that it was in a gas station and I said ” mmm . . .  I don’t think that sounds so great”  He said that other reviews said don’t be turned off by it.  So I agreed to go and we were not disappointed.  So you basically pull up to a gas station and it is inside a convenience store like a subway.

My husband and I got the gyro salad and it was amazing.  The owner is very generous in his portions and even let us sample the Falafel.  Don’t forget to take some baklava with you.  It is a hidden gem.  Don’t miss it if you love Greek food.  The address is:  4180 William Penn Hwy, Murrsyville, PA 15668


What is a Short Sale?

SP_EWP_029-300LA short sale is when the lien holder bank takes less than the debit owed on the property. Often times better than a foreclosure (but not always). When a homeowner can no longer pay their mortgage for reasons such as job loss, divorce, health status or death of an adult family member, or even a job transfer with the housing market not baring a sale price to cover what is owed on the property. These are the same reasons you run into foreclosures.

The seller usually has to call the bank and request to go through this process. This can be before the home is listed or while it is listed. The home owner often times has to prove hardship and explain reasons for needing to do this.

A short sale will effect your credit, but from what I have been told from mortgage lenders that I work with is that a foreclosure hits your credit worse and for a longer time than a short sale. Many sellers want to get the challenging situation behind them. Often times you can recover quicker in a few years and go on to re-purchase a new home if you get things cleared up and work on your credit.

In the transactions that I have processed, the some of the banks often want to get 85% of the appraised value at minimum for the home. There is also a lot of paper work for the sellers and the buyers need to be patient. I have had short sales take 6 weeks and even up to 5-6 months. The processing time can depend on the co-operation of the buyers and sellers and even the bank processes. The larger the bank the more red tape.

If a seller is going into bankruptcy, it is advised to speak to your lawyer. Often times, a short sale is not worth the effort if the property is going to be included in a bankruptcy.

If you are considering a short sale, you need an agent that has the patience to work through the process with you. One of the nice things about the short sale process is that some banks have actually paid my seller’s to close as a short sale rather than let the home go into foreclosure. It was not the case with all situations and all amounts were different. So the bank is rewarding the seller to avoid foreclosure.

Should I Purchase New Appliances Before Listing My House or Offer a Buyer an Allowance?


As a listing agent, I help home seller’s with tips with getting their home ready. This can be answered many ways and often times depends on the situation.

Here are some key points:

1) If your appliances are older and/or are not in style, and not well cared for, this can make a bad impression. As a seller, you can be seen as someone who does not take care of things. A buyer may think “if the seller does not take care of this or that, what else is lacking that I cannot see or did not notice?

2) Replacing the appliances give you more control over the costs. You may find an amazing deal for a new refrigerator. Often times a buyer would want probably an allowance for more than list price or try to get an upper-end appliance out of the deal. Can you blame them? So in replacing an appliance, you are keeping control of the situation. A new or updated appliance gives the buyers more of a value that they can see for the investment. You have heard the term, “Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes.” ?

3) If you replace the appliance(s) then you are causing the home to show better and giving the buyer a chance to see what the appliance is going to look like. This gives it more of a fresh new feeling. Don’t give the buyers a reason to turn away from the deal.

4) When any buyer purchases a home, there are things people have to buy to make things work in the home for them. Also if a buyer has to put appliances on their to buy list, it substantially increases the out of pocket costs after just buying a home.

5) In the Standard Pennsylvania Real Estate Sales Agreement today, the range/oven is a standard inclusion in the home. If you are taking the range, then you have to write in that it is excluded and then this choice sticks out like a sore thumb.

6) Seriously consider trying to at least leave all kitchen appliances. I had a seller that insisted on taking her brand new stainless steel refrigerator. Honestly, I thought that was a selling detraction since the buyers were seeing it and not getting to have it.

7) When I sell “first time home buyers” a home, they often don’t have the extra cash to purchase these appliances, so leaving it will make the home sell better for that type of buyer. Leaving all appliances lets the buyer roll these costs into the mortgage.

This question can also be applied to other subjects including flooring More on that another time.