Or They Know Resale is a Forlorn Hope

I can’t imagine why resale value isn’t a major consideration for home improvement anymore:

Q: For a while, the industry was saying that future resale value was driving consumers’ kitchen design choices, which seemed to result in an ocean of beige, which they perceived as “safe.” Is that still the case?

A: In our survey, resale value seemed to be a motivation for about a third of the people who were remodeling, so it is meaningful but not the most important thing. That’s been consistent for the past couple of years. They’re doing things they like and picking things that are going to fit their own tastes.

“Improving the look and feel” was the No. 1 motivation, claimed by 79 percent. Other motivators that trumped resale value concerns were to improve function (59 percent); upgrade appliances (52 percent); and improve storage (48 percent).

“I will never be able to sell this place for anywhere near what I’ve put into it, so might as well make it nice if I’m going to die here” is the motivation for almost every remodeling choice I’VE made in the past decade. I mean, sure, would it have been near-impossible to sell our place with a caved-in bathroom and a kitchen from the cheaper end of the early ’90s, but let’s not pretend it was a decision predicated on optimism about the housing market.

If you’re gonna write a trend piece, fine, but try to ground it in reality.


5 thoughts on “Or They Know Resale is a Forlorn Hope

  1. my grandma learned that TRUE design is the melding of ALL PAST ERES. the best of the best. following trendy this trendy that is a fool’s money pit. i deplore the wholesale destruction of old solid for ‘new’. guess what NEW IS OLD EVENTUALLY. as if SPAS will not be tired eventually. where is the SOLE? buying only new is a joke. because the old stuff is better made. IKEA? i had a chance for a pair of empire bookcases. i should have gotten them.
    yes. we need new kitchen counters + sink, BUT we are not gonna rip up the old extra nice linoleum floors or the deco tiled walls, OR the pretty nice SOLID cupboards. and we are not gonna get a fucking trendy stone counter OR A FUCKING STAINLESS STEAL fridge!

  2. I hold the same basic concept when working on Betsy: If I ever had to sell her, I’m not getting back out of her what I put in there, so why not make it awesome for me? that doesn’t mean, however, that I won’t save all the old parts (AM radio etc.) just in case. 🙂

  3. We love to cook, so we remodeled the kitchen to have two sinks, so we can do prep work without getting in each other’s way. We went for stone counters because they make it much easier to sluice all the water into the sink without some annoying edge around the sink holding back the flood.
    We redid our bathrooms, because the old, early 1990s fixtures were starting to fall apart. We always wanted a whirlpool bath and one of those blast-you-three-ways shower towers. The whole thing was going to be so expensive with the tile work and plaster work and plumbing that the added cost of the fancier plumbing fixtures was less daunting. In for a penny, in for a pound.
    We redid a lot of the orange peel walls to be flat plaster, because we hate the look of orange peel walls, and it’s hard not to notice the walls in the rooms we use most.
    We weren’t thinking about resale value. We had bought the place to live in it. If we had bought it as an investment, we would have done a more careful analysis.
    P.S. Stewart Brand, in his book How Buildings Learn, noted that office space is typically remodeled before being put on the market so it suitably bland and generic, and then it is remodeled again before the tenant moves in, since each tenant wants the space customized to meet their needs. It’s a waste, but it’s much easier to rent a generic space, probably because most people lack imagination.

  4. After a disastrous semester of English 101 with a TA from the ISU journalism department, any discussion of trend pieces and trends & fads still makes me want to climb the walls 20 years later. Makes me kind of like ol’ pansypoo up-thread.
    Before the housing crash, “everyone” was suggesting pseudo-stylized modern fixtures and bland colors because of “resale” value in the houses because we could treat them like ATMs – even when the buyers or owners weren’t planning on selling for years or decades. If there was a failure of imagination, it was on the part of sales and marketing bozos that guide so-called design trends. This still exists, but it’s not as bad as it was.
    Genericization is a sales tactic; most real estate properties should be as bland and generic as possible because potential buyers invest intellectually as they renovate in their minds. It’s never affected me, but I’ve got all that time in architecture school falsely inflating my artistic ability.

  5. function … and the upcoming upgrades are probably going to be to make the thing ADA compliant, in case we do spend eternity here…

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