Remodeling to sell? The biggest mistake homeowners make

A local remodel lender says open floor plans and new appliances can go a long way when remodeling a home. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/zazamaza)

Spring is just around the corner, and many homeowners are getting their house or condo ready to sell.

There are hundreds of remodel resources available to homeowners, but here are three top tips from a local remodel lender.

Robert Montagne is founder and chief executive of Fairfax, Virginia-based Walnut Street Finance, which specializes fix and flip and construction loans for resale renovations.

No. 1: The cable shows are right. “Open Floor Plan.”

“People update their house with fresh paint and maybe new floor coverings,” Montagne said. “But they are doing it to a functionally obsolete floor plan. The floor plan is chopped up. It’s not open. There are many rooms. And those just don’t trade in this market.”

No. 2: Creating that open floor plan does not need to be a major project:

“It means that you might want to open up that dining room wall into the living room, but it does not mean a gut renovation. It is strategic demo,” Montagne explained.

No. 3: The kitchen should be at the top of the list. But don’t overthink it.

“The thing about kitchen renovations that people sometimes get frustrated by is that they think it needs to be a complete gut renovation, with new cabinets, new countertops, new appliances, and it really doesn’t,” Montagne said.

Montagne says seven-year-old appliances in good working condition are fine for a resale. Anything older than that should probably be replaced.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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