Thursday, June 16, 2011
Can You Have Your Cake and Eat It Too? (Part 2)
edited from article originally posted in the Berkeley Voice, Real Estate Section, June 10, 2011
The Hills Newsgroup recently published our article discussing the importance of putting in some effort to make a house a dream home, especially in the Bay Area. The next question is which improvements make the most economic sense? Kitchen and baths are often good choices to upgrade and offer high returns on investment. However, most of the difficult choices involve other living spaces – such as a family room, deck, media room and so on. We often help clients with these decisions.
We recently advised a client not to build a deck on the upper level because it would ruin the beautiful lower level patio that leads to the garden, by covering it from above and having the deck supports go down in the middle of the lower patio. We recommended a much smaller cantilevered deck which wouldn’t interfere as much with the lower patio.
We advised another client during the purchase of a house in Kensington. The clients wanted a play room for their children. We found a house with a huge semi-basement space that was begging to be converted into living area.
We discussed various possibilities with them and got preliminary estimates from a couple of contractors for them to consider, prior to making their offer for the house. They were pleased that they could achieve their dream space, even though it was not visible at present. They made an aggressive offer and they won the house in a multiple offer situation.
Six months ago, we had another client who wanted a three-bedroom house close to shopping and public transportation. We found the perfect house that was half a block from the bus route and main artery of the city. It had only two bedrooms, but plenty of room for expansion. Our happy client is in the middle of a renovation to add on a third bedroom and a family room and bath downstairs.
Most homeowners don’t think to ask the advice of a Realtor in advance of the improvements. We recently spoke to sellers who had spent an enormous amount of money putting in skylights, energy efficient windows, new drywall and a fantastic garden. But, the square footage of the tiny house was the same after the 100K in renovations, and the bathroom and kitchen were not considerably changed. When we did a market valuation of the property, it didn’t look like they were going to get their money back! That was unfortunate, but they realized that it was all worth it for the last 10 years that they lived in the house; working on it and raising their child in it had given them tremendous pleasure.
Ultimately, not all decisions have to be made with an economic justification. If that were the case, would we even have kids in this modern society? We do things that are just to improve the quality of life and make us feel good. Go ahead, make your dream spaces. Keep in mind the financial impact to your pocket book, but don’t let that be your only decision making factor.
Click here for Can You Have Your Cake and Eat it Too? (Part 1)