Let’s Start Pushing for “Blue” Construction in SF

Two things are certain right now: Our California drought doesn’t have an end in sight, and construction is booming in San Francisco.

The push for “green,” or eco-friendly construction erupted several years ago. But what I’m wondering is whether architects and builders can start including “blue,” or drought-friendly features in future renovations and new construction.

A recent piece on NPR discussed how Australia—which has a nine-year drought in its history—began addressing its water shortage problem by revamping home plumbing systems. Consider Melbourne, which gets 23 inches of rain annually (similar to that of San Francisco in a typical year). Half the homes in Melbourne now have systems to capture and store rain, and newer homes are being built with dual plumbing systems to recycle graywater. For example, rinse water from the washing machine goes to the toilet for flushing.

Melbourne is now down to 40 gallons per person per day, including outside watering. Californians average two to four times that amount.

Green construction is great, and should continue. But it would be awesome if, in the future, homeowners and builders would take the lead from Melbourne and create “blue” construction properties.

Ignore the “Homestead” Scam

It’s inevitable that after you complete the purchase or refinance of your home, you receive a notice in the mail from a company with a random name like “TRS” offering to prepare a Declaration of Homestead for you. They typically request anywhere from $25-$75 to draw up the declaration and send it back to you so you can take it to City Hall to record the document.

When you get the letter, throw it out. It’s a scam.

A homestead declaration, in a nutshell, is a legal document that protects the equity in your home from creditors. The reality is that homestead protection is automatic in California, so there’s no need to pay anyone to create it for you. These companies target first-time home buyers who may not be aware of all the facts.

All Deeds Must Record At Same Time for Condo Conversion

As the current crop of TICs converts to condos, I’m seeing many owners listing their TIC interests prior to the actual condo conversion of the entire building. This means the buyer is expected to step in at the tail end of the condo conversion and work with all existing owners as they refinance and everyone completes the conversion process.

In other words, whether there’s a group loan or fractional financing in place, all new condo deeds have to record simultaneously. If there is one owner in the group who doesn’t have a loan, that owner needs to wait until everyone’s refinancing/new purchases are completed prior to obtaining a condo deed.

This is a very important fact to know when you’re getting ready to sell your TIC interest as a condo. It’s critical to communicate with TIC partners so everyone is on the same page about all owners’ refinancing or sale plans. You’re all in this together until the condo conversion is complete, and no one can record a condo deed any earlier or later than anyone else.

If you’re a TIC owner on the verge of condo conversion and you’re aiming to sell before your conversion is complete, make sure your TIC partners know of your plans. One of them may also be planning to sell within the same timeframe, and it’s most advantageous to go on the market at the same time. It won’t do anyone any good if one owner has a buyer in place and then discovers that another TIC partner is going on the market two weeks later. That sequence of events will only delay the first sale, and the lack of coordination could actually kill both sales if buyers grow impatient.

And if you’re a buyer, make sure you receive a deed that clearly states the unit is a condo. You’ll have a new lot number, and you will not be sharing title with anyone else.

The Most Competitive House Markets in San Francisco Right Now

If you’re aiming to buy or sell a single-family home in San Francisco, it’s important to take note of the selling patterns in the city’s various neighborhoods. You’ve probably read my blog post from earlier this week on the hottest condo markets, but when it comes to overbidding on houses, the landscape looks slightly different.

The neighborhoods where buyers are overbidding most intensely are varied, and there are many. Here are the most competitive markets according to the average overbid percentage:
Inner Sunset 26.18%
The Mission 22.47%
Glen Park 21.95%
Inner Parkside 21.61%
Miraloma Park 20.48%
Noe Valley 20.14%
Bernal Heights 19.94%
Ingleside Heights 19.51%
Forest Hill 19.45%
Ingleside 18.96%
Crocker Amazon/Outer Mission 18.18%
Eureka Valley 17.77
Sunnyside 17.69%
Central Richmond 16.58%
Outer Richmond 15.38%
Potrero Hill 15.15%

The Runner-Ups
Central Sunset/Parkside 14.93%
Outer Sunset/Outer Parkside 14.80%
Excelsior 14.74%
Portola/Silver Terrace 13.93%
Mission Terrace 12.81%

The Most Competitive Condo Markets in San Francisco Right Now

One of the keys to success in the current San Francisco market is knowing which neighborhoods are the most competitive. Armed with that intel, you can more easily gauge how much to offer on a property, or what list price will work to your advantage.

As many of my regular readers know, I’ve been running a feature highlighting extreme overbidding for several months, regularly inducting new members into the SF Overbidders Club. The reality is that we have many neighborhoods in San Francisco that are showing double-digit overbid percentages, and it’s important to know what the selling patterns are when you’re determining values.

When it comes to the San Francisco market, these patterns can change pretty quickly. My sales data is based on reported MLS sales in the time period April 1 – May 12, 2014, so it’s the most current info available.

Here are the most competitive neighborhoods and their average overbids right now for condo sales:
1. Cow Hollow: 21.87%
2. Cole Valley/Buena Vista Terrace: 21%
3. The Haight: 19.85%
4. Eureka Valley: 18.69%
5. Noe Valley: 16.28%
6. NoPa: 15%
7. Pacific Heights: 13.88%

The Runner Ups
Bernal Heights: 11.37%
Mission/Mission Dolores: 10.49%
Potrero/Dogpatch: 10.49%
Corona Heights: 10.16%
Hayes Valley/Alamo Square: 9.6%
Presidio Heights: 8.52%
Lower Pacific Heights: 8%
The Marina: 7.61%
Mission Bay: 6.32%
SoMa: 6.61%

As for more specifics on how much you should offer or for what price you should list your home—well, that’s my job, and I’m happy to work for you. Give me a shout at 415.823.4656 / ebermingham@zephyrsf.com and we can talk about how I can help you. And yes, I’ll be hitting up the single-family home market later this week so you can see where the hottest markets are right now in the city.

Microhoods Key to Bernal’s Home Values

bernalheights
Bernal Heights has many distinct areas within its neighborhood. From the hip enclave of Precita Park to the winding streets on the East Slope, the price of real estate literally varies depending upon which part of Bernal you’re in. So it’s important to lean heavily on sales in your particular part of the neighborhood when you’re accurately trying to determine property values in Bernal.

To help buyers and sellers with that task, I’ve deconstructed Bernal Heights into seven unofficial microhoods, complete with their respective price averages and low/high prices, as well as recent sales volume.

A few ground rules: My geographical boundaries are rough approximations, and there will be some overlap with streets that fall on microhood borders. Also, sales information is for single-family homes sold from September 2013-March 10, 2014.

North West Slope
Average Price: $1,195,589
Low: $699,000 High: $1,688,888
Number Sold: 10
northwestslope
The North West Slope has quaint tree-lined streets, hidden staircases and lots of charm. It’s near Mission Street’s bus lines and not far from the 24th & Mission BART station/30th & Church J Muni, as well as The Front Porch, Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack, Cole Hardware and Safeway. Five homes on the North West Slope sold above $1.3M over the past seven months, including a 2BR/2BA at the top of Bocana listed for $1,095,000 that sold for $1,610,000.

North of Cortland
Avge Price: $1,260,818
Low: $910,000 High: $1.6M
Number Sold: 11
northofcortland
This area just north of popular Cortland Avenue is generally its most expensive. Because who doesn’t want to be in walking distance of restaurants, cafes, shops, a grocery store, and library? North of Cortland’s narrow streets are dotted with architecturally appealing homes and have a village-like feel. There’s also easy access to Bernal Hill’s trails. Notable sales include the renovated Victorian at 228 Ellsworth for $1.6M, and the contemporary home at 77 Anderson, which had a down-to-the-studs renovation and sold for $1,499,000 in an all-cash transaction.

Precita Park
Avge Price: $1,206,125
Low: $934,000 High: $1,605,000
Number Sold: 8
precitapark
The Precita Park microhood has really blossomed over the past several years, and the high real estate prices here reflect that. From Precita Park Cafe and Hillside Supper Club to Harvest Hills Market and Precita Bark dog wash/shop, there’s a nice selection of retail businesses for locals to enjoy. And the park itself is a great place to relax and unwind, particularly for kids and dog owners. Prices for houses ranged from $934,000 for a modern cottage on Shotwell to $1,605,000 for a 4BR home just up the hill on Folsom.

East Slope
Avge Price: $1,097,467
Low: $700,000 High: $1,575,000
Number Sold: 15
eastslope
There was a time when Bernal’s more remote East Slope was home to dirt trails and vacant lots. As the area developed alongside Highway 101, streets were paved and staircases built to help people get around on the hilly, sometimes twisty streets. (In fact, a couple streets are only accessible by stairs.) Prices for homes on the East Slope aren’t stratospheric; the roughly $1.1M average was influenced by three sales for $1.4M+, including the 4BR contemporary view home at 365 Franconia that sold for $1,575,000. East Slope dwellers appreciate their low-key microhood, and even have their own architectural design review board to maintain the character of the area.

South East Slope
Avge Price: $937,500
Low: $750,000 High: $1,375,000
Number Sold: 6
southeastslope
The South East Slope is bordered by 101/Bayshore Boulevard and Alemany/280, and isn’t wildly convenient to the retail portion of Cortland. But the houses offer good space in a neighborhood where it’s a challenge to land a single-family house for less than $1M. For example, a really cool, 3BR/2BA mid-century modern home with east bay and southern views sold for $789,000 at 463 Nevada. And the best part? The Alemany Farmer’s Market is at your doorstep!

South of Cortland
Avge Price: $918,000
Low: $660,000 High: $1.5M
Number Sold: 9
southofcortland
Similar to its North of Cortland counterpart, the South of Cortland microhood is in proximity to the heart of Cortland Avenue. And you can actually find homes in the $700,000-$900,000 range. (Though the recent $1.5M cash sale half a block off Cortland at 330 Banks is the most expensive home ever sold in this microhood.)

Holly Park/St. Mary’s Park
Avge Price: $1,000,556
Low: $750,000 High: $1,255,000
Number Sold: 4
hollypark_st.mary's_south
Situated between Cortland and the Excelsior, Holly Park/St. Mary’s Park probably has the highest population of homeowners whose properties have been in their family for years. The homes in St. Mary’s are laid out on streets shaped like a bell, and St. Mary’s Park itself also has a popular, fenced-in dog area. Just to the north is Holly Park, which was renovated about ten years ago and is very popular with locals. It’s also only a few blocks from Cortland’s Avedano Holly Park Market, as well as the heart of the retail area. And nearby Mission Street gives you access to bus lines. Single-family home prices are solidly in the $900,000s, with the high-end topping out at around $1,255,000.

Spring a Good Bet for More Inventory

We’ve been operating at a very low housing inventory to date in 2014. It seems like there are anywhere from five to twenty buyers for every property that comes on the market, creating consistent multiple-offer situations and substantial overbidding.

I do expect this activity to continue throughout the year. Our economy is strong in the city, and there is seemingly no end to the number of buyers who are materializing and willing to pay very high prices for homes. But I believe there are many homeowners who are in the process of either planning a move or seriously considering one. It’s hard to pass up an opportunity to cash out, especially if you own a home in a very “hot” neighborhood.

As a result, we can expect a spike in inventory as soon as April, which will scatter buyers around a bit more. Coupled with new construction condo projects beginning sales in the Spring, the pressure should ease a bit on the resale market.

What’s the takeaway? If you’re a buyer who’s planning to start looking in the Spring, it’s important to get sorted out now with your financing. And if you’re a homeowner, this is the time to start preparing your home with painting, repairs and staging so it stacks up well against the competition.

Here’s My Favorite SF Liquefaction Map

This being earthquake country, it’s important to know what sort of ground lies beneath the home you own or are planning to purchase. In San Francisco, there are liquefaction zones, which are essentially landfill and are not recognized to be as stable. I’ll let Wikipedia explain it in more detail here.

Yes, people are buying and selling property all the time who live in what are deemed liquefaction zones. Some of the most popular neighborhoods, in fact, are those which are very much a part of these zones. Think the Marina, North Beach, South Beach, Mission Bay, South of Market, and the Mission. But that factor isn’t stopping developers, who are building new condo developments at a frenzied pace in the last four of those neighborhoods.

That’s because the more modern the building, the better the engineering. Properties built more recently are designed to withstand large earthquakes, particularly those properties situated in liquefaction zones. Of course, if the big one hits, it won’t be just homes in liquefaction zones that are affected.

So be sure you have some idea as to the quality of your foundation and your home’s overall structure. And check out the liquefaction map when you need it for a reference point. View and download it here.

Don’t Leave Money on the Table By Selling Off Market

I’ve written favorably about off-market sales in the past (most recently, here). And I still believe such sales can be beneficial for all the reasons I mentioned in that blog post from a year ago. But the market has changed a lot since then, and I firmly believe that limiting exposure to one’s home in the 2014 market creates a high likelihood that you’ll leave money on the table.

A recap: An “off-market” sale is one that occurs without an agent having listed the property in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database. All agents who pay a membership fee to the San Francisco Realtor Association have access to the MLS. By restricting access to your home to agents in various smaller networks or within one agent’s company, you’ll never know what price you can truly attain.

That’s because of the phenomenon that’s taken hold of the current market. In the past, you could pretty much look at comparable sales, and price your home accordingly. And because of consistently low inventory, there would likely be a buyer ready to make an offer. But buyers in the 2014 market—similar to those who purchased property in the last half of 2013—are proving to be willing to offer prices above the comp level.

For example, that Noe Valley 3BR house listed for $1.3M? The listing agent and sellers most likely thought that listing at $1.3M would land them in the $1.5M range. However, even they didn’t anticipate receiving 15 offers and accepting an offer from all-cash buyer who offered $1.8M. Had those sellers decided to go off market, they could’ve been out a few hundred thousand dollars (or more). There are plenty of examples of this sort of dramatic outcome happening right now.

So before your listing agent suggests bypassing the MLS in favor of marketing to a specific group of agents, keep in mind that you’ll never know how much you could’ve attained by fully marketing your home.

Sell Now If Your Home Calls for Compromise

435317thstreet
We’re almost two months into 2014, and homes are selling like hotcakes. Limited inventory and high demand are driving the market, and as I tour homes in all neighborhoods of the city throughout the week, I wonder: Why aren’t more people selling?

Because now is absolutely the time to put your home on the market if you have any inclination to do so. Maybe you have that job relocation possibility in Denver? Or you’ve owned your house in the Sunset for the last 25 years and would rather be living in wine country? There are plenty of reasons you might be considering a big move, and I’m here to tell you that you should take advantage of the market while it’s still in your favor.

The best part is that if your property requires any type of compromise, buyers are much more willing to make one (or three) in the current market. For example, the cottage above in Corona Heights was awful cute. But it was located on a busy street, had no garage, no real expansion potential and was very small with one bedroom that was more like an alcove:
17thstreetBR
Though the home took three months to sell, the point is that it sold. For only a bit less than its $699,000 list price.

What are some other compromises that buyers in the current market may overlook? Here are some of the most common ones:
- No parking, or tandem parking with one or more cars
- House with no yard or outdoor space—or one that backs up to a restaurant or school yard
- Extensive foundation or structural work needed
- Original-condition and barely livable kitchen or bath
- No closet space
- Location that’s not near retail or public transportation
- Situated on a high-traffic street, or transportation line
- Low level of natural light
- Condo with particularly limiting HOA restrictions (pets, rentals)
- Awkward floor plan
- Low curb appeal that can’t be easily helped (I’m thinking faux stone, or starters)
- Ridiculous amount of stairs at the entrance
- Older building with no heat
- Multi-unit building with low rents and deferred maintenance.

I could go on. But you get the point. Give me a shout (ebermingham@zephyrsf.com/415.823.4656) if you’re ready to talk about your property’s value. I can craft a custom marketing plan that will win over home buyers and convince them that they can work with whatever objections they might have.

Buy the Right Insurance for Short-Term Rentals

The biggest mistake homeowners make when using their property as a short-term rental on sites like Airbnb is having insufficient insurance.

Though Airbnb guarantees up to $1M for property damage, there’s no coverage for an extremely important item—personal liability. If a guest is injured on your property, you’re on your own.

What you need to have in place is a vacation rental policy, which includes coverage called “personal injury,” says Roger Larson of Larson Insurance Brokers/TWFG Insurance Services. This protects you if a short-term tenant is injured during his or her stay. Larson says that many property owners assume they’ll be covered for personal liability on their existing policy. But liability on a primary home policy doesn’t cover any type of rental exposure.

Larson also clarifies that if you’re renting your condo, there’s no additional risk to the homeowners association. HOAs have commercial policies that cover the common areas.

Of course, the larger issue with short-term rentals is that properties in multi-unit buildings are, uh, illegal. And most HOAs don’t allow short-term rentals in their Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs).

But if you’re listing your home on Airbnb anyway, be certain you have the right type of insurance.

20 Ways To Cut Your Water Use By 20%

We are in a serious drought situation in California. Not only was last year the driest calendar year in California since recording began in 1849, but the state’s population has nearly doubled since the 1970s. San Francisco is a dense city, and we all have to take responsibility for making sure we don’t use more than our fair share of water.

Gov. Jerry Brown recently called for people to reduce their water usage by twenty percent. I thought I’d share 20 of my favorite ways to save water; when enough individuals follow these sort of tips, it adds up to a lot of water saved:

1. Run the washing machine for full loads only.
2. Flush the toilet only when absolutely necessary.
3. Use a dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand.
4. Limit shower use to a max of five minutes; you’ll save up to 1,000 gallons monthly.
5. Turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth, lathering your hands or shaving.
6. Consider buying a dual-flush, low-flow toilet.
7. Water outdoor plants/lawns in the early morning or late evening.
8. Cut your watering to two times a week instead of seven.
9. Plant drought-resistant trees and flowers.
10. Use a broom to clean the sidewalk and driveway, not the hose.
11. Install low-flow showerheads.
12. Run the washing machine for full loads only. Max out at two loads weekly. Yes, it can be done. Not everything has to be immediately washed after you’ve worn it.
13. While you wait for hot water, collect the running water and use it to water plants.
14. Soak pots and pans instead of running the water while you scrape them.
15. When doing laundry, match the size of the load to the water level.
16. Love baths? Keep them to a minimum. A full bathtub requires up to 70 gallons of water.
17. Install water-saving aerators on all your faucets.
18. Check your faucets and showerheads for leaks. Drips are deadly in droughts.
19. Wash your pets outdoors, in an area that needs watering.
20. Water dry spots in your landscaping by hand instead of running the entire irrigation system.

Ror more tips, check out the non-profit organization Water Use It Wisely.

Why Price-Per-Square-Foot Is a Shaky Data Point

People love to talk about the price-per-square foot when comparing San Francisco property values. There’s also a tendency to reference this type of information when making a decision about how much to pay for a home.

But I don’t recommend using price-per-square foot as a reliable data point, because it has its flaws.

The bottom line is that there’s no standardized square footage source. So square footage quoted in the MLS and marketing materials is typically based on either tax records or past seller appraisals.

It’s no secret that tax records can be wildly inaccurate and outdated. Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu recently visited our sales meeting at Zephyr and talked about how antiquated the city’s computer systems are. Throw in the fact that our tax records go back to the early 1900s, with some having disappeared after the 1906 earthquake. Even if sellers make an honest effort to update their own tax record through city channels—for example, if they’ve added a legal bedroom and bath—the square footage they’re adding isn’t based on one standard source.

Equally important is the fact that San Francisco’s housing inventory varies, from houses with unwarranted bedrooms and units to TICs that represent a percentage of their overall building. Unwarranted, or “illegal” rooms are those completed without permits, and those spaces are not recognized as part of the overall square footage. TICs will not have a registered individual square footage count in the tax records; the number stated usually represents that of the entire building. It’s virtually impossible to compare apples to apples when it comes to this data point.

Past appraisals could be accurate, but I’ve seen cases where there are two or three appraisals on hand that have all had different square footage counts. And as you might expect, sellers and agents typically reference the highest number. As one agent recently commented to me, “The square footage sometimes grows over time.” She mentioned one property in particular that had changed hands three times over a ten-year period, and each time, the square footage increased in the MLS.

Square footage is strongly referenced in new-construction condo developments, because buyers are paying well over $1,000/square foot for such properties. However, there have been cases when buyers discovered that the square footage quoted for a particular unit was more than the actual size. And when you’re paying $1,000/square foot or more, that can make a big difference.

So if you’re comparing values by price-per-square-foot, do so with a grain of salt.

Ten SF Real Estate Predictions for 2014

Welcome to another exciting year in San Francisco real estate. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re interested in buying or selling property. So it’s important that you understand what to expect in 2014.

In 2013, we experienced the return of extreme multiple-offer situations, consistently low inventory and many homes recovering equity after the economic downturn. New construction began blanketing the city and many new developments are in the pipeline.

So what’s on tap for the new year?

I have a few ideas:
1. We’ll be seeing a more balanced market. We hit our peak in the summer of 2013 with wild buyer behavior and sellers flabbergasted at the prices they were being offered. But with the holidays cooling things down and buyers gaining some perspective, I’m predicting I’ll have fewer entrants in the SF Overbidders Club this year. Higher mortgage rates are widely expected, and more supply created by new construction and fewer underwater homeowners will keep things even.

2. Inventory will hit the market right away. “After the Super Bowl” has traditionally been the timeframe that has ushered in new inventory. However, January 2013 offered new inventory immediately, and I predict that January 2014 will be no different. I’m already seeing off-market listings being promoted among my colleagues for early January showings, and many agents are reportedly holding new listings back until mid January. Sellers want to capitalize on the strong market presented in 2013.

3. Home values will experience modest increases. The average citywide price for a single-family home was $1.3M+, and just above $1M for condos—well above the averages of most other cities in the United States. But demand continues in San Francisco, especially in popular, central neighborhoods near public transportation, retail areas and services. We’ll see appreciation in the 3-6% range.

4. Competition will still be fierce among buyers. There will be multiple offers on most homes. A whole new crop of buyers will be entering the market this year, and there are only so many properties available. I’ve already met with half a dozen prospective buyers in late 2013 who are ready to get going, and I’m sure my experience as a Realtor isn’t isolated.

5. The luxury market will make a strong showing. More than 350 houses and 120 condos sold for more than $2M in 2013, and one TIC even sold for just under $4M. San Francisco attracts local and foreign luxury buyers, and will continue doing so this year.

6. The “list low, sell high” strategy will prevail through 2014. Houses sold for an average of five percent above their list prices in November-December 2013, and condos for approximately four percent over. (Buyers frequently paid 20%+ for homes with all the amenities in hot neighborhoods like Mission Dolores/The Mission; Noe/Eureka Valleys and Bernal Heights.) This activity is the direct result of sellers listing their homes below true market value in order to create bidding wars, and the strategy paid off handsomely in most cases. There’s no reason to think it won’t continue this year.

7. The TIC market will remain stable. The restrictive condo conversion legislation passed in San Francisco in 2013 didn’t seem to have had an impact on the number of tenancy-in-common (TIC) units sold. A total of 341 TIC units changed hands in 2013, which was only slightly less than in 2012 (357 sold).

8. More southeastern neighborhoods will have their breakout years for owner-occupier buyers. Though neighborhoods such as Bayview, Visitacion Valley, Portola, Crocker Amazon and Silver Terrace aren’t typically where most home buyers start out looking, the reality is that these are the neighborhoods where you can still purchase a single-family home for well under $1M. My clients purchased their first house in Crocker Amazon last month, and they used an FHA loan so they could reserve their cash for fixing up the property. We had to prevail over 18 other buyers who submitted offers, so it’s clear that the southeastern portion of San Francisco is catching on.

9. Cash sales will continue in notable volume. About a quarter of house and condo sales in the city were sold in cash transactions in 2013. Foreign investors and the tech sector will again drive cash sales in 2014.

10. New construction condos in central San Francisco neighborhoods will cost you well above $1,000/sq foot. Several condo developments along the Market corridor and in Hayes Valley sold out quickly with prices averaging $1,000/sq foot or more. In the hot Mission district, it was more like $1400/sq foot. These sales results will set the bar for 2014 new development pricing. After all, there are plenty of people who love new, shiny finishes, not having to worry about maintenance and transit-rich, central locations. And they will pay a premium for the opportunity to live in a building that delivers all three of those qualities.

Should I Remodel My Kitchen Before I Sell?

Three potential sellers have recently asked me this question, so I thought it would be a good time to let everyone know where I stand when it comes to remodeling in order to sell your home—particularly if you’re thinking of selling in the new year.

Kitchens are typically the primary renovation target in a property. The kitchen is where everyone pretty much lives these days, and it’s the core of a home. You can certainly command more money when you’re selling if you have a remodeled kitchen. Buyers come through the property and don’t knock money off the list price for the new kitchen they “need” to do. But that’s only if they like the remodeling you’ve done.

And therein lies the rub: If you’ve just renovated your kitchen to make it more appealing to buyers, whether you will achieve that goal will largely depend upon the individual buyers out there at the time you’re selling.

However, sellers have been successful with “light” kitchen remodels—updated counter tops, perhaps some painted or replaced cabinetry, and new appliances. These are the types of jobs that can be done relatively quickly with a committed contractor, and can sometimes make a big difference in how much a buyer will pay.