I am back at my desk after two and half weeks of being displaced and I couldn't be happier. The GRUBB Co. had decided to do a little end-of-summer remodeling, which meant that several agents were politely shown the door (including me). Hmmm . . . what had been billed as a few days, turned into a few weeks, and then some.
Unfortunately, those of us dependent on our hard drives and desk tops would have to make do some other way. (I leaned on the girls in our escrow and marketing departments, thank you very much) Such is the course of renovation; it's never as easy as we might wish or as seamless as we were lead to believe.
No matter the inconvenience, it's worth it! I actually enjoy the process of renovation and rejuvenation - and the purging that goes along with it. It offers the opportunity to design a space to fit our needs - not someone else's and edit unnecessary "stuff."
Currently, I have my sights set on a kitchen renovation at "Casa Gardner" that encompasses some well-placed French Doors, a butler's pantry (never mind that I don't have a butler), Carrera marble counter tops, and new skylights that let in the sun. (Now if I can just get my husband, Cliff, on board).
I've discovered that with property values on the rise and with the return of confidence in the marketplace, banks seem to be much friendlier about issuing and expanding credit lines to qualified homeowners (the operative word here is "qualified").
"How much do you need?" my personal banker, Patty Edmonds at Wells Fargo, asked me? (Gee, what a difference a few years make!)
I'm not sure, but can I have it just in case?
That isn't to say that one should always tap out the built-up equity on their home in order to make improvements, but given recent sales - especially on "turn-key" properties - it's a smart time to invest in what is very likely, your single largest asset. Since the cost of a new kitchen far exceeds the spare change in my coin jar, my choices are to live with the kitchen AS IS (perish the thought), or borrow against the equity to renovate (I vote for the latter).
Keep in mind this avenue works only IF you have a fair amount of equity in your home, BUT if you do, it may be very worthwhile to consider updating and replacing outdated bathrooms and kitchens at this point in the game.
Because Buyers like them and will bid aggressively for designer bathrooms and kitchens. If there is an adjacent family room, so much the better. I am convinced that one property I represented in Oakland earlier this year saw an additional $200,000 on the sale price after a $40,000 upgrade in bathrooms. (That's not a bad return on investment.)
Here in Piedmont, we have seen homes go as much as $500,000 -$600,000 OVER the listing price when the house was "camera ready," exceeding everyone's expectations, especially the Sellers. (WOW!)
But we're not selling our home for a few years yet.
Excellent, so why wait until you do? Chances are, I am going to show up and encourage you to "update" if a move is on the horizon and improvements haven't yet been accomplished. Why not enjoy the kitchen and bathrooms while you still own and live in the house? Why give the new owners all the pleasure?
That's my story and I'm sticking to it. "Oh, Patty . . . "
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.