Updated Feb 17, 2014 at 2:21 PM
Nancy and Thomas James’ Dana Point home has expansive ocean views, four bedrooms, a wide deck for entertaining, solar paneling – even an elevator.
But until recently, the 3,258-square foot house – now on the market for $2.29 million – lacked something basic. It had just one bedroom closet.
That setup had suited the Jameses just fine. Over the years, the couple tore out closets to repurpose bedrooms they weren’t using. Thomas and Nancy James, both chiropractors, weren’t focused on whether that could be a stumbling block to a sale someday.
Without closets, though, the rooms could not be counted as bedrooms, prompting their listing agent to observe, “ ‘You do realize this is a really expensive one-bedroom home?”’
A house that’s outside the norm for a neighborhood can hobble the owners when it’s time to sell. Some real estate agents and appraisers, however, say many sellers these days feel too much pressure to remodel even standard homes, whether it’s because of popular TV shows and flashy home design websites, or because friends or agents recommend it when it’s not really needed.
In the case of most homes being readied for sale, “You shouldn’t remodel the home,” said Mac Mackenzie, an agent at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Irvine. “People (looking to sell) are paying too much attention to television, and they’re not getting the proper evaluation.”
The value of real estate depends on the location, market segment and cycle, said appraiser Steven R. Smith of Redlands, who’s conducted appraisals of homes in the Los Angeles area and throughout the U.S. over his more than 30-year career.
“The exact same (remodeling) money spend in the wrong location or market segment may not be recaptured, while in the right location or market segment it may be more than recaptured,” said Smith, who’s evaluated such homes as a 249-acre Rancho Mirage estate with an 18,400-square-foot main house and its own 19-hole golf course. Software billionaire Larry Ellison snapped it up three years ago for just under $43 million.
Many houses about to go on the market could use clean windows and perhaps carpet and paint. Maybe a new roof and some other repairs.
Even contractors find themselves pushing back on homesellers’ urge to upgrade.
Paul Paniagua, owner of All Pro Builders in Fullerton, said he’s persuaded people about to put their homes up for sale not to remodel, even if their agent suggested it.
“I try to talk them out of it,” Paniagua said. He tells homeowners, “Why don’t you put the house up on the market for what you’re asking for and see what type of offers you get? If you’re absolutely being low balled and truly believe it’s the kitchen, we can talk about some things we can do.”
He added, “Some people can just throw a countertop on and that’s night and day.”
Often times, homebuyers are looking for the total package – a home with modest upgrades throughout, said Ryan Lundquist, a Sacramento appraiser who writes about the housing market.
It’s the Hong Kong textile king versus the New York City waste-hauling magnate in a legal battle over renovations to a $7.3 million landmarked town house on the Upper East Side.
Chinese fashion exec Alfred K.T. Chan and his business-partner wife, Fiona Madeline Cibani, claim their next-door neighbor Susan Frank Stamell — heir to her family’s waste-hauling business — is refusing to give them access to their property at 118 E. 78th St. to install scaffolding for a gut renovation of their neo-Georgian home.
Chan, who owns an empire of high-end department stores, says he already has received approvals from the city and the Landmarks Preservation Commission to complete the work.
The five-story limestone building — built in the 1860s — had been chopped up into 11 apartments when Chan and Cibani bought the property in 2010.
They want to restore it to a town house by adding brick garden walls, skylights, a rooftop terrace and decorative ironwork, according to court papers.
But Stamell — who served as New York ports commissioner under Mayor Ed Koch in the 1980s — and her lawyer husband, Jared, are making a stink over quality-of-life issues surrounding the project.
“What happens in this type of situation is you’re imposing a lot of burden on the neighbors,” said Jared.
“Imagine if someone is pounding on your walls and causing dust at your house and that goes on all day long.”
In a December 2013 e-mail, Jared Stamell demanded a halt to the construction, claiming it posed a fire hazard and a potential structural hazard. He wants his neighbors to pay for an independent engineer to certify the project.
The Stamell town house is located at 116 E. 78th St., one door from the Chan-Cibani place
The block is part of the Upper East Side Historic District.
Susan Stamell is no stranger to legal battles — she was convicted on fraud charges in 1996 for allowing her family’s barges to dump pollution in New York Harbor when the sludge was supposed to be shipped out to sea.
She was sentenced to four months in jail in 1996, but was allowed to spend the time at her luxury home off Park Avenue to care for her young children.
The fashion moguls are also suing their neighbor to the west — real-estate investor Jacques Blinbaum.
Blinbaum had griped in a January 2014 letter to his neighbors’ attorney that the scaffolding ruins the view of the sky from his yard and could give intruders easy access to his home.
Chan and Cibani want the court to grant them access to the property.
Kitchen remodeling and repair is going back to the basics, according to a Pennsylvania Home Show vendor. Homeowners are looking for ease over trends, such as basic white appliances and basic countertops in laminate and quartz because they’re easier to keep clean than stainless steel and granite.
James Pickard from Kitchen Saver says that doesn’t mean kitchens will be boring: Dimension is important. That can include sinks that stick out to avoid a straight cabinet line to picture-frame-type looks on cabinet doors.
Neutral colors and distressed finishes are popular in look, Pickard said, but in laminate materials. “I want this to look old but not be old,” his customers say.
Among the top five trends in kitchens:
Posted: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 10:06 am
As Bona Vista celebrates Disability Awareness Month, I would like to make you aware of a program that helps those with disabilities become more comfortable and your home or work fully accessible. We have a program that can help you with these renovations: Adapt-Abilities.
Adapt-Abilities has a professional staff with over 15 years of experience and extensive knowledge in specializing and remodeling homes for persons with disabilities and Americans with Disabilities (ADA) guidelines for businesses. We are licensed, insured and bonded, and references are available.
If your house seems confined and your wheelchair doesn’t move around freely we can help. We build custom ramps for your home. Our staff will come out and assess your home, give you a quote and start building upon your approval. Adapt-Abilities also can widen doorways around homes and businesses.
When you or a loved one is not able to navigate around their home, it’s frustrating. Simple tasks such as showering, bathing and toileting are no longer simple. Adapt-abilities can remodel bathrooms to make these tasks easy again.
We also can provide your home with a specialty commode called the “Tush Push.” This innovative aid easily lifts you to a standing position with just a touch of a button. We are giving back independence to individuals.
Adapt-Abilities also specializes in grab bars, Roll-A-Ramp dealer, lead inspection and general contracting.
We also can come into your business to make sure you are meeting the ADA guidelines. If your business if confused by the guidelines, we will be happy to help. Adapt-Abilities offers a free quote for your home or business. You can call us at 765-863-7771 for more information or to schedule a quote. You can also visit us online at www.adapt-abilities.com. Remember to celebrate Disability Awareness Month by joining in our many GiveBack Days during the month of March. Follow us on Facebook @Bonavista Programs and Twitter @Bonavista_ for coupons.
Posted in Lifestyles on Tuesday, March 4, 2014 10:06 am.