Portland Area Real Estate Appraisal Discussion

Portland Appraiser Offers Advice on Home Renovation
May 21st, 2015 1:34 AM

Portland Appraiser Home Renovation

Recently a Portland, Oregon homeowner had the following home appraisal-related question.  The question is edited for clarity.

“We are moving into a new house and I am curious about suggestions on how to fix the place up and find value.  My husband tells me that I am trying to make the house something that it is not.  He says that the styles and designs that I have selected ‘do not fit the house.’  I do not agree.  Should I worry about overdoing it?  We have a small renovation budget and our projects will all be DIY stuff like upgrading fixtures, etc.   Do you have any advice?”

The following is my best answer without viewing the house or studying market data specific to the property.

Whenever I am counseling anyone on a renovation, the top concern is always not to do too much.  The key to maximizing value for most homeowners is to bring the property just up to the level of the majority of the homes around it.  It is generally not considered a good idea to improve the property to a higher level than most of the other homes in the area, unless the neighborhood is going thru a major change like gentrification.

With that said, style and design also need to, as your husband says, “fit the house.”  However, from a value standpoint, a design that fits the house is not necessarily one that is of your or your husband’s taste, rather one that matches the desire of the typical buyer.  When in doubt, I always default to my wife’s taste, for a happy wife is more important than home value.

Joking aside, the idea is that if you appeal to as many buyers as possible, you are more likely to receive maximum value for your house.  Avoid selecting styles that make bold statements, unless the design of the house itself makes a bold statement.  A good place to find styles that appeal to buyers is to look at speculation (spec) homes being built in your area.  Spec home builders are always looking for styles that maximize appeal and increase the profitability of new construction.  Here is a link to a past blog that explains more about the relationship between cost and value of changes to your home.

If you have a home that you are thinking of remodeling, I am happy to consult with you.  My answer might be surprising and could save you thousands of dollars.  Call or email me anytime.

Did I leave anything out or do you want to join in the conversation?  Let me know in the comments below.

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Thanks for reading,

Gary F. Kristensen

It's easy to overdo it. I sometimes walk into a house and think, "It looks amazing now, but this is just tomorrow's foil wall paper and avocado-colored carpet." Part of me wonders if design and style changes more quickly because of the internet too. I'd like to see a study on that. Trends can change VERY quickly with mass access to new ideas.

Posted by Ryan Lundquist on May 21st, 2015 7:58 AM
Thank you for the comment Ryan. You're correct. There are many homes in Portland that are selling for a premium because the owners kept everything vintage and retro is hip right now. If the owner had renovated these properties, they would have lost every dime on the updates and probably more.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on May 21st, 2015 9:59 AM
Great advice Gary. I hear so many times people saying that they built their house so that they would be happy, which is good, but just to be safe it is a good idea to also make sure that IF they had to sell the home would appeal to a lot of other people because if it doesn't then you've cut out a lot of potential buyers and probably reduced your return on your investment.

Posted by Tom Horn on May 21st, 2015 10:16 AM
Well said Tom. For most people their home is their biggest investment. Upgrades and updates can be done in a way that are both helpful to the investment and enjoyable to live in.

Posted by Gary Kristensen on May 21st, 2015 10:22 AM
Sounds like less is more and everything in moderation and I'm sure I could think of some more cliches but that would not be interesting. Great appraisal blog.

Posted by John Tsiaousis on May 28th, 2015 6:00 PM


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