We had a realtor over to the house on Thursday. Joe sold the condo above ours last summer, for an amount that truly shocked and impressed us (TRUE shock and awe). Of course, that was before the real estate market and the economy took a spectacular nose dive into a pile of pig poop. We aren't planning on moving right now -- and after Joe's visit I'm not sure we'll be moving EVER -- but we'd asked him to come by and tell us what types of things we'd need to do in order to get the house ready for sale, perhaps next spring or summer. In a very nice, very helpful, very professional way, he told we were being smart by thinking ahead, but given the laundry list of tasks he set before us, I'm not so sure I buy that. I don't think we're smart -- I think we're fucked.
I knew we had some upgrading to do. I knew our kitchen was fine but probably not of "buy me immediately!" quality. But here is what we learned (other than the fact that unless the market turns around in the next year, we'll be eating a large chunk of change -- this is what Lunchboy gets for buying at the top of the market. Oy.):
1. Our walls are textured and this is bad. We should have someone put a smoothing layer on them, but only if this is cost-effective.
2. Our walls are painted colors other than beige and this is bad. We should promptly paint them (he suggested November Rain by Benjamin Moore). After the smoothing is done, of course.
3. Our counters are not granite and this is bad. We should rip out all our lower cabinets, install a corner sink and a new, L-shaped counter/cabinet arrangement. But only if this is cost-effective.
4. Our decision to refrain from installing an overhead light in the bedroom was bad. (there is a cap in the ceiling but no actual electrical wires and it would cost like $500 and many holes in the ceiling and walls to rectify this). We should rectify it.
5. The tile on the basement floor is bad -- it makes people think that there might be water problems. Eeeep. We should consider putting Pergo or bamboo over the entire basement floor to cover the tile and warm up the space.
6. Our decision to enlarge one basement window to make it an official "egress" window is good. We should also wall off half the basement and install a closet to make it an official 2-bedroom. If we do this, we might actually be able to sell the place for what we paid.
7. Our (my) decluttering efforts have been good but inadequate. We will have to get rid of or store at least half our stuff before putting the place on the market. My attempts at decorating were transparently bad. I got the impression that our condo's lack of resemblance to the Crate and Barrel/Pottery Barn catalogs was a mark against us.
None of these were personal comments, of course. Joe looked at the place from the point of view of how best to sell it quickly. I am grateful for the insight. But please pardon me while I drink myself into a coma of sufficient strength to blunt the cost and stress of actually implementing these changes. It's hard to see the benefit of sinking $10K-$20K into a house that we'll be lucky if we break even on. And that's AFTER all the other stuff we've done, like insulating and drying out the basement.
Renting doesn't look so bad at the moment...