Blog by

<< back to article list

Renovating Bathrooms before Selling?

The bathrooms, no matter new or old - should always look neat and clean. A clean and neat bathroom speaks volume about the personal hygiene of the current owner. For us hygiene crazed North Americans, the cleanliness of a property is oh-so-important. And if renovation is necessary - awalys awayls hire a licensed plumber!

October 12, 2011

Market Ready

Q. Is it worth renovating my bathroom before I try to sell my apartment?

1-photo-6.jpg

A.Depending on how bad your existing bathroom looks, making a few affordable updates might pay off. “It’s really the grunge factor” that you need to consider, said Clare Donohue, a New York kitchen and bath designer who runs One to One Studio. “If you bring a stranger in off the street and they look at your bathroom and are creeped out, you’d better renovate.”

Also important is the apartment’s asking price. In New York, said Burt Savitsky, a senior vice president at Brown Harris Stevens, “if you’re dealing with an apartment that’s under $2 million, you have a better shot” of recouping renovation costs. “At that price point, most buyers are less able or less willing to do major renovations.”

Above that price, he said, many buyers will be planning to do their own renovations. “People come with decorators and want to put their own stamp on a space,” he said. “The one thing they really don’t want to do is pay for someone else’s work. If someone put in beautiful pink-and-gray marble that doesn’t appeal to the buyer, they’re going to have to pay for it and then rip it out.”

If your bathroom seems like a candidate for renovation, it’s important to keep a lid on the cost. “I can’t imagine someone who puts more than $25,000 into a bathroom getting more than their money out of it,” Mr. Savitsky said. “But under that, in the $10,000 to $15,000 range, it may really help you.”

And most buyers negotiate a purchase based on an apartment’s condition, he noted, so a fresh new bathroom can potentially put a seller in a stronger position and boost the selling price. But stick to the basics: install simple fixtures and tile in white or off-white. Don’t splurge on steam showers or radiant floor heating, and don’t replace bathtubs with glass shower stalls.

“A lot of people love stall showers,” he said. “But when you do that in an apartment that only has one bath, you’ve limited your appeal to a couple with older children or no children.”

To keep costs down, Ms. Donohue recommended retaining the location of the existing toilet, sink and bathtub, since rearranging the plumbing requires more-extensive renovation.

Another trick is to install a pedestal sink. “The vanities that you can afford for this kind of renovation tend to look cheap, but a pedestal sink makes the room look bigger and is usually more affordable,” she said. “Also, a good water-saving toilet is essential.”

And if your bathroom has a charming old cast-iron tub that has worn with age, it can be reglazed “to make it look new, white and clean,” she said, for a fraction of the price of a new one, by a company like Porcelain Industries (800-698-4023 or porcelainindustries.com).

“If you put a new faucet in, reglaze the tub, plaster and paint the walls, and get a fresh shower curtain,” Ms. Donohue said. “That’s the kind of fix-up that makes it look like a brand-new bathroom but costs only $2,000 or $3,000.”

Questions about repairs or redecorating done in preparation for putting a home on the market may be sent to marketready@nytimes.com. Unpublished questions cannot be answered individually.