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What’s the best option: Sell or remodel

Dear Gail: We’ve recently become empty nesters, and our home is over 4,000 square feet with five bedrooms and four bathrooms. We absolutely love the neighborhood and our house, although it is dated. Many of our friends are in the same situation and contemplating whether to stay and remodel or downsize.

We’ve done a little looking and it seems that a smaller house with the upgrades we’d want to do — as we look at it as our forever home — will cost the same as what we would sell our house for. Any suggestions on what we should do? Especially if we decided not to move at this time but maybe in a year or two. — Carol Ann

Dear Carol Ann: Many of my clients that I’ve worked with for years are in the same situation. I would say it’s about 40 percent are remodeling and 60 percent are selling. But many who are selling are moving closer to family.

Before starting any remodeling project I would first meet with a Realtor. He or she can give you a professional opinion on what’s selling in the market, where your home falls within selling prices and what remodeling, if any, you would need to do now to get the most out of your house.

If you spend the time to remodeling say your kitchen and bathrooms, which are very expensive to do, you won’t get the full price of what you spent back dollar for dollar. Plus, what you do might not be what others like.

I had a client with a small kitchen but an oversized family room. They so desperately wanted to gut the kitchen but not go as far as changing the layout. I really felt that anyone buying their house would want to enlarge the kitchen, add a big breakfast bar and island.

So just doing new cabinets and counters without a different layout would most likely not be the best investment. Rather, leave it as is and let the new homeowners do what they would like. Again, a great area to review with a Realtor.

Though I’ve worked with many clients over the years who wanted to remodel until they decide to move, Realtors know best on what will give you the best return on your money depending on when you put your home on the market.

But let’s say your not up for the move now but also not up to spending the $40,00 to $100,000 to remodel your kitchen and baths. What can you do?

One client that was in this situation had whitewash cabinets from the ’80s, which turned quite pink. They were both retiring in a year and a half, so they wanted to stay where they were but were not up for a big project.

She was pretty handy and had painted the powder bath cabinets and changed the sink, faucet and lighting, which along with her time only cost $300. She didn’t change the flooring as it was the same throughout the first floor, and she wasn’t up to the project of replacing all of it. It was dated but not worth the investment as again, someone else coming in may have different ideas.

For her, just doing the powder bath gave it a facelift that she was happy to live with. She’s now going to tackle the other baths and then the kitchen. Her counters are Corian and in good shape, so we’re going to leave as is. But we are pulling the 4-inch Corian backsplash and update it with a pretty tile.

For all these areas, painting or re-staining the cabinets and adding new sinks, faucets, lighting and cabinet hardware can really freshen up the rooms without draining your savings.

Gail Mayhugh, owner of GMJ Interiors, is a professional interior designer and author of a book on the subject. Questions may be sent by email to GMJinteriors@gmail.com. Or, mail to 7380 S. Eastern Ave., No. 124-272, Las Vegas, NV 89123. Her web address is www.GMJinteriors.com.

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