Ask McEnearney: How much do cosmetic fixes cost?

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Hope Peele of The Peele Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact The Peele Group at 703-244-6115 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: How much do cosmetic fixes cost?

Answer: This is a common concern for both buyers and sellers! Lately, my team and I have had lots of experience with getting homes show ready and with helping buyers who have purchased a home in need of a bit of TLC before move-in. While every situation is unique, there are some standard costs that we are seeing — which of course are subject to change — but knowing the numbers can help you put these costs into perspective.

As a seller, it’s normal to worry about the costs associated with getting your home ready for sale. We understand that it may seem as if the money could be wasted, especially if buyers want to move in and change things to their liking anyway. However, most buyers overestimate the costs involved in painting, replacing carpet, and other cosmetic fixes. Your final sale price will reflect those worries because buyers are less likely to compete for your listing if it’s viewed as a “fixer upper.”

As a buyer, it can seem daunting to have to spend even more money to make the home move-in ready. After saving up for years to come up with a down-payment and closing costs to buy your new home, the thought of having to spend a bunch of extra money to make a “fixer upper” move-in ready can be scary.

So, let’s talk about some real examples of recent work. This will give you have a better idea of just how expensive it really is to paint and spiff up a home — whether you’re buying or selling.

One of the first things that many people do to make a new home “theirs” is fresh paint! We recently had a home painted in South Arlington that was a bungalow with 1,209 square feet. The cost, including paint and labor, was $4,500. Another home that we are currently working on is in Old Town and it is historic with 1,182 square feet of character, lots of ornate woodwork and some walls and ceilings to repair. That paint quote was $5,800, due to the extra prep work.

Painting costs will also vary depending on whether you want to paint all the ceilings, closets, and woodwork, as we did in those two instances, but this is a good estimate for planning purposes.

Aside from the walls, floors are another concern for many moving into a new home. For some, a “worst case scenario” would be old, dirty carpet that needs to go away, but even hardwood floors can sometimes need some TLC or even replacement.

Raul Vasquez, owner of Federal Contracting, has worked with many of our sellers and buyers, and has recently given us some ballpark quotes for several different approaches to flooring. In a basic 20×20 family room, it would start at about $675 to replace wall-to-wall carpet. Nowadays, many are opting for luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) which is a nice option that looks like hardwood but is much easier to care for and maintain. For the same size room, you could install LVT instead of carpet starting around $2,500. Although more expensive initially, it may make sense long term.

If the existing hardwood is in relatively good shape but just needs to be refinished, it can get a little pricier. One recent home that we worked on had all the main level flooring refinished, which was just over 1,500 square feet, and this cost $5,250. Another option is a professional grade polish — this can be a great, lower-cost option that conditions and refreshes the wood to a lovely shine. Pricing for this will be significantly lower than refinishing but will depend on the condition of the wood.

Another big thing that many new homeowners don’t realize is that reglazing a bathtub is easy. Many tubs don’t need to be replaced, just reglazed and that is much cheaper! A standard bathtub reglazing costs about $400, whereas a new porcelain-enameled cast iron drop-in tub is running anywhere between $1,348 and $3,810 on the local HomeDepot site today, and that doesn’t even account for the installation work.

Now let’s talk about that final cleaning! Even when a home seems to be in tip-top shape, especially since the emergence of COVID, many buyers are opting to have a service come do a thorough cleaning before moving in. While many sellers have their homes cleaned before going on the market, the process of showing the home and can sometimes track in dirt so the new homeowner may want their own service. For a home of about 2,000 square feet a cleaning would start around $450, including appliances.

Federal Contracting provided several of these quotes, and is a Class A contractor, licensed and insured and serving Northern Virginia and D.C. since 2005. They offer all the above work and more. Please note that the specific numbers quoted here are estimates for work done in the spring and summer of 2022. Exact quotes will, of course, be subject to timing and your specific needs.

I hope these “guesstimates” have helped! Ideally, a seller is putting their home on the market move-in ready. This is usually reflected in the sale price. However, if you need to do some work before moving in, I can provide some guidance while you are shopping for a home, so that you can make informed decisions. Helping you to get quotes for work needed is just one of the many services we offer.

Hope Peele is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia. She grew up in Old Town and currently lives in Del Ray. As a partner with The Peele Group, Hope is dedicated to guiding her clients successfully through the many faceted process of buying or selling a home. Contact Hope at 703-244-6115.

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. www.McEnearney.com Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria