80°Partly Cloudy

Dear PoPville – When Selling a House What is more important – Historical Details or an Open Floor Plan? Any Realtor recommendations for the former?

by Prince Of Petworth — January 22, 2013 at 2:30 pm 74 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Vileinist

Dear PoPville,

I have a 1912 Wardman rowhome in Eckington, designed by Albert Beers, 10 minutes from Big Bear and Rustik, on the G8 and 80 bus routes, about 12 minutes from Rhode Island Ave Metro Station. We’ve renovated but have kept all of the original details like trim, built-ins and parqkay floors. The house is spacious, move in ready, with a large yard and two parking spaces. We’re thinking of selling, but the realtor thinks that no one’s interested in houses with original character, and recommends pricing it well below other updated homes that have open floor plans and no original details, because she assumes that someone’s going to want to do a major upgrade. Is she right? Is no one interested in a historically interesting home? If he’s wrong, does anyone know of a DC realtor who specializes in selling homes with original character that aren’t a top of line upgrade?

  • Anonymous

    Find a new realitor.

    • Anonymous


      • +1. If you’re in a good location and the home is livable but may need “updates” (granite stainless blah blah blah) I would consider possibly offering a bit of remodeling rebate. But when I bought my house, I was very happy to have a good price for what was a “builder’s grade” reno. I’ve lived six years with the ugly bathrooms – because – why? You go in, shower, pee then leave.

        I’m starting to think of kitchen reno now, because I can afford it, and it isn’t the best layout, but honestly, in hundreds of dinner & other parties, no one has ever refused an invitation because of my cheap white vinyl floor or non-stainless appliances!

        • Anonymous

          victoria, this doesn’t answer the question at all. your place was renovated, cheaply. this house has original details. you’re talking about apples and oranges.

          • And you are failing to understand the basic issues and totally missing the point. Which is. . . .

            No – You’re missing it totally. I’m talking about apples and granny smith apples or golden delicious apples or fugi apples. If you price a property right, smart people can look at it and understand that it might need 50K to swank up the kitchen etc. or be happy with it as it is and change it to their own liking later.

    • Try Ramsbury Group in Dupont Circle

      They specialize in this

  • Joe C

    1) Rip out your parquet floors and replace ’em with some dark, factory finished, “hand scrapped” wood floors.
    2) Rip out the millwork and replace it with 1×3 pine painted white.
    3) Replace all original doors with hollow doors
    4) ????
    5) Proft

    • Anonymous

      Keeping “original details” often is a cute word to describe keeping old walls with old dead rats and roaches behind them. A restoration can be a mix, keeping original details that matter like woodwork and fireplaces and bathroom fixtures, but prospective buyers like updated homes because they signify that old and unwanted details aren’t kept. Nothing wrong with A well done open floorplan on a classic house in my opinion, just the people who are prudish about design needing to follow their specs.

    • Anonymous

      Haha, I love the use of this formula. Except here, unlike for the underwear gnomes, it seems to be true.

  • Anonymous

    Talk to Angela Jones at Long & Foster’s Brookland office. She is very good with these sorts of houses.

    When my husband and I were looking, we specifically looked at houses that still had original details as opposed to those houses that looked like someone had just set a condo into a rowhouse. There are plenty of people who want the original.

    • Anonymous

      We’re renovating ourselves precisely because we want to preserve this type of historical character. Houses that were on the market post-renovation were all the cookie cutter renos that the OP describes.

  • Anonymous

    Definitely find a new realtor.

    • Anonymous

      …and a dictionary. Unless you really do have margarine floors, in which case, I stand corrected. 😉

  • Anonymous

    That’s just ridiculous. Plenty of people would prefer original details.

  • JS

    You need to find a new realtor.

  • Recent Buyer

    Totally agree! Get a new Realtor who understands the demand. I was specifically looking for a place that had historical charm with modern elements (Kitchen etc.). All of those details like trim and the floors are soooo important. Make sure you keep them.

    The place I just bought had a modern kitchen that opens up to a living room that has a lot of historical charm/elements.

  • Fire him. What a bozo. Sounds like he wants to get in a bunch of bids and sell your place in a week, rather than taking the time to get you the best possible price.

    If you have a great house, others will see that too. In this market, you might as well just go FSBO and offer a 3% fee for the buyer’s agent. Save yourself the 3% sellers fee and hire a real estate attorney to handle the closing documents. The place will sell itself in this hot market in that location.

    • Anonymous

      +1, inventory is super low in Eckington too

  • anon

    If given a choice I would take the home with the original details retained. However, many homes in this area that still have these original details are in pretty poor shape, and the cost of lovingly restoring all of that woodwork is much more expensive than just ripping it out and creating an open floor plan.

    So, the question then becomes what the market wants: old charm or open floorplans? Your realtor seems to think the latter. One question you don’t address: does this “charm” include an outdated kitchen and bath? Those are two things that can be worth updating and don’t preclude keeping some old details in the living areas. If the choice is between a time capsule from 1960 and something thoroughly modern, well then your realtor has a point.

  • Anonymous

    I looked for houses for two years, mostly in Capitol Hill. There, at least, the houses that were renovated with open floor plans sat on the market much, much longer than those with historical details. The ones with original character are rarer and probably more in demand as well.

  • Anonymous

    As someone who is the midst of buying a house, I would say PLEASE don’t get rid of the period details! They add so much character and charm. The majority of the houses on the market these days look exactly the same.

  • I think you will find plenty of people that prefer the historic details and you should be able to sell without lowering the price. Your realtor (if you stay with that person) should be thinking about how to play up those features.

    We have a renovated house with an open floor plan that we like because we have people over pretty frequently and it allows everyone to spread out throughout the house comfortably. I have friends with original chopped up rooms and it feels claustrophobic if more than four people are in a room. At the same time, I understand why people would prefer the original layout. I think based on previous comments on the subject on this blog, they might actually be in the majority.

  • Laura 1988

    I am a Realtor. I specialize in unique properties and buyers that are seeking something other than “vanilla”. As such, those types of buyers are a niche market. Most Realtors would rather have a listing that appeals to MORE buyers, not less. Most buyers prefer a renovated house. You say you have renovated, but do not state what you have renovated. The kitchen, bathrooms, heating, a/c, plumbing and electrical system? What exactly, besides “keeping” the original trim, built-ins and floors, have you done? This is critical to pricing your property. If you still have electrical wires and plumbing from 1912 then that will lower the value of your house even if you have lovingly scraped the paint from every piece of trim and window sill.

  • Anonymous

    Get rid of the details and tell me when you dump the mantle and mouldings and I’ll be there with my truck~

    • Anonymous


  • jessica wilkie
  • TakomaNick

    I fell in love with a couple houses that Kevin Wood was selling a few months ago. They had great historical detail. I’m not sure if he specializes in that but I talked to him and I know he actually lives in a historic rowhouse in Columbia Heights. I didn’t make an offer on his listing on Kansas Ave NW but I still wish I had that house.

  • Anonymous

    Contact Rock Creek Realty http://www.rcrdc.com/. When searching for our house, Ben showed us listings with original details intact and ones that had been gutted and renovated. While he didn’t steer us to one over the other he was very good at identifying the renovations where the contractors had cut corners or used cheap materials.

  • m

    This is a great question and I wonder about the facts vs. passionately expressed internet forum opinions. A lot of people love the hardwood floors, molding, etc, but I wonder if that really reflects the marketplace? My feeling is that it doesn’t make economic sense to make renovations you don’t like just because you think they will increase your home resale value, unless it’s one of those renovations that is proven to increase value commensurate with its cost (e.g., an extra bathroom.) Other than that, you should make the renovations you like while not destroying existing value. But it’s not easy to figure out — we own a rowhome with original wood floors, which we actually hate, but have been told we ought to keep for resale value. Of our own accord we would prefer a place with out that precious historical detail.

    As for the value of your house, maybe you are not hearing your realtor correctly. It’s one thing to have original trim; it’s another thing to have ugly layers of old paint, old fixtures, old kitchen … There’s a lot more to renovating and updating than just crown molding!

  • I cringe when I see “original charm” used to mean “original plumbing and electrical” or a half-“way” update only where it’s easy to access (yes, I can see the original iron pipe for drinking water in your utility room).

  • I’m a Realtor and I renovated my home in Petworth and we kept many of the original details… ie: radiators, and even reconstructed many of the original and multi-piece moldings. I renovated the baths too, but we used original era subway tile and white carrara marble mosaic and chrome. The homes look best when they look either very modern or tastefully restored. If they look just like the discount rack at Home Depot then the values suffer I think.

    I am a real estate agent and our office is right here in Petworth – though we sell DC, MD & VA. Give us a shot… we can tell the story of your home and compliment its characteristics.

    Phil Di Ruggiero Agent/Owner
    GreenLine Real Estate, LLC – 3927 Georgia Ave, NW DC
    http://www.GreenLineRE.com | 202.725.2250 – C

    • GA


  • Your realtor is simply looking for a quick sale. Price reductions, even large-ish ones really don’t affect their commission, so it is in their best interest that your house sell as fast as possible, so they can go on to the next one.

    Pricing your house lower than any of the comps in this market is simply idiotic. Sellers in this market should be looking to set new comps, not fit within the existing ones.

    To answer your general question. It is subjective. Many people like original details, many don’t. I would have to say that the style preference of the younger late 20 to early 40 demographic that are buying homes in DC in droves, generally like the more open “modern” floor plans.

  • brittany

    your realtor is totally right–no one wants original details. price it low so someone can rip all that artwork (which is what it is) out and replace it drywall, track lighting, and cheap white moulding.

    also, send me the listing i will buy it right now at the price your realtor wants to list it for. the market is almost completely devoid of well-maintained, but historically accurate houses.

  • Historically interesting home + clean, updated, and renovated in the “right” places (i.e., kitchen and baths, hvac) = LOTS OF INTEREST

    Historically interesting home + not so clean, sorta updated, walls repainted and other superficial “updates”= LESS INTEREST

    It depends on what you mean by “we’ve renovated”; I’m in the market for precisely this kind of home (in a slightly different area), and the best homes I’ve seen are those that have preserved original character (as you indicate) but have managed to integrate modern conveniences (the ones they always rave about on those renovation shows–kitchens, baths, mechanical systems, etc….)

    If your realtor is hinting that someone who would buy your home would want to do a major upgrade, perhaps your renovations aren’t as appealing as you think, and you’re getting distracted by whether someone would or would not want “historical interest.” Just going by what you’ve said…

    Check out some of the listings for homes in your area, and look at the quality of different renovations and compare them to yours. There are many houses in Eckington with beautiful stain-grade trim, pocket doors, original, restored stairs/railings, original fireplaces with mantles, but at the same time, have recessed lights, brand new kitchens, central HVAC, etc… That’s what you should compare to.

  • saf

    Removing all the historic details from a home is NOT a “major upgrade.” Find another realtor.

  • Anonymous

    It sounds like your realtor does not have your best interest in mind. There IS a market out there for people that want homes like yours. It appears to me your realtor is just being lazy and does not want to do the legwork to find that type of buyer for you. I tend to agree with others on this board and think you should consider finding another realtor.

  • Anonymous

    I couldn’t agree more with the commenters that say original details is just as sought after as an open floor plan!! We looked far and wide to find a home with character…something glaringly missing from many of the “open concept/ condo-style” rowhouses of today. In the long run, the original detail homes will be worth so much more.

  • Marcus Aurelius

    This is one of those questions that offers enough detail to provoke a strong response but not enough detail to provoke an informed response.
    I disagree with the realtor’s claim that no one wants original details, but there is a difference between an updated home with original details and a somewhat recently somewhat renovated home with original details that still need some work to bring out.
    I wouldn’t slam the original realtor without some clarification on:

    What exactly this person means by “renovated”? The disclaimer at the end says the home is not a “top of the line upgrade.” Are we talking a 2009 renovation or a 1999 renovation? Are we talking a complete renovation or a partial renovation? Is there still work that needs to be done or redone?

    Are the “original details” in good shape or are they in need of restoration; if so, how much restoration?

    Does “historically interesting” mean functional and practical? An odd, impractical layout is probably not going to be made more attractive just because it has original details.

    By all means, invest in a second opinion from another realtor but if it’s consistent with the first opinion, don’t reject it just because it’s not what you want to hear.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure that “historical details” and “open floor plan” are as mutually exclusive as everyone is making them out to be. The two can coexist IMO.

    With that said, I agree with Joker in that the majority of the 28-40 set that are looking would probably prefer an open floor plan (anecdotedly)

    • Anonymous

      I HATE the houses where every single wall has been removed from the first floor so it’s just a big warehouselike space. But have seen some nice remodels where the openings have been widened, maintaining some sense of space being divided up into human-scaled spaces while making it feel more open. “Open floor plan” does not have to mean “no walls,” and I wish more flippers realized that.

  • anon

    Full time developer/flipper here. I do between 5-10 homes a year all over NW. My two cents:

    I absolutely try to keep SOME semblance of the original detail in the house. However, when doing a full scale renovation to modify the room layout, it’s pretty difficult to save everything. You can try, and people on this forum may tell you otherwise, but when you have a discerning eye, you’ll notice when one piece of base is different from the rest because your demo crew couldn’t save a piece. Same goes for door detail (5 receesed panels versus brand new solid core doors with only 2) hardware, just about anything.

    As far as doors, many of the headers with the transoms above the door have sagged in old homes, and you’ve got crooked lines. The hinges squeak, the hardware doesn’t always work. This is all speculative. You can save a lot of this stuff, and obviously something 50 years old or more isn’t going to have the functionality of something brand new.

    I’ve installed solid core doors in my more high end properties, opened the floor plan, exposed brick walls, but kept old railings and cased opening trim to keep some detail that is easy to save. But many of my buyers want an updated home. Forget about the radiators, a real forced air system is much more functional. And when you are trying to maximize your usable space, this is a no brainer.

    Bottom line, you will find people that want old and new, but you’ll mostly find people that don’t know what they want. It’s up to your realtor to sell the home. And if you’ve kept it in good enough shape, someone will want it, ESPECIALLY in your neighborhood.

    And if they don’t, someone like me (preferably me) will buy it in a heartbeat.

    • saf

      ” Forget about the radiators, a real forced air system is much more functional.”

      No, that’s not true at all. Hot water radiators are much more efficient, and make the house much more comfortable.

      • Amen. Especially if you’re an allergy sufferer – no dust blowing around the house all winter. If I ever move, it will be to another house with some kind of radiant heat.

      • Anonymous

        I have a question on just this topic. We’re renovating and wondering for resale whether it’s better to keep radiators or switch to central air heating. Any thoughts?

        Also, does anyone know of a DC discussion board where people talk about renos and these types of real estate questions?

        • Prince Of Petworth

          Hahaha I know of a good discussion board 🙂

          In fact we had that exact discussion: https://www.popville.com/2010/05/dear-pop-radiators-or-forced-air/

          • Anonymous

            Wow, very helpful, AND the comments are overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the radiators, so it makes this an easy decision! Thanks!

          • I think that people who are against forced air systems are passionate about it because it’s something that they’ve had a bad experience with and researched. I also think a lot of times it’s a quality of life issue (allergies, etc), so people who have lived miserably for years with forced air systems are going to rail against them because they want others to know. But I think the general population is ambivalent.

            I’m on the pro-radiator side, but take that into account when going by comments on the internet. Also, don’t forget that you can always update your radiators–there are very modern, very cool radiators available today.

      • I think you mean: “A real forced air system is NON-functional.”

        • anon

          Wow, lots of radiator love here! Sure, the radiator units themselves are more efficient than the whole HVAC system, but you’ve got to think of your property envelope. The R-value of your party walls (assuming you live in an interior unit, not an end unit) is pretty strong with brick and plaster, as the properties are able to share heat because these materials are porous. But what’s the thing everyone should notice about their old property?

          No wall insulation! Old windows and doors, and low standards of roof insulation prior to updated code tend to allow for a great deal of heat loss.

          If you can strategically place your supply lines throughout your house, upgrade your windows, and insulate the front and rear (and especially your roof with at least an R-38, though I believe recent code has increased to an R-40) I’ve noticed that heating bills tend to be more consistent, and the space you gain, IMO, is significant.

          I realize I’m in the minority here, but it’s worked for me. But then again, I’ve had much more experience removing the radiators than keeping them, so maybe I’ll revisit this when I find the right property.

  • Definitely time for a new realtor. Google Jason Martin. He’s awesome.

    • Anonymous

      No offense to the realtor posters, but your contrary advice to the OP’s realtor would be more credible if it didn’t include a solicitation.

      In any event, here’s some real proof that I can offer in favor of keeping as much original detail as possible. We recently refinanced our rowhome in NW. Our hose was described in the appraisal as “a restored Victorian style rowhouse with many of its original period details,” but with the “kitchen and bathrooms renovated to current market standards.” One of our comps was a rowhome a few doors down that had been completely gutted and renovated a few years ago to create an open floor plan. The appraisor deducted $25,000 for the renovation because, he said, the renovation the house now “lacks character and is not as appealing as restored homes in the market area.”

      Granted, this is only one example, but at least it’s one involving a professional.

  • DC

    I disagree that you should fire your realtor. He may be telling you exactly what you need to hear. But one thing you should consider is asking your realtor to bring in 5-6 colleagues to price the house. This way, you get realtors’ opinions without having them try to sell you on using their services.

    I say this because I disagreed with my realtor about how to price my home (although I wanted to price it too low). He had 6 other realtors come in and price it and he presented me with all of their opinions. It helped set the price and we were competitive without having to wait too long.

    If your realtor won’t do this for you, then I would get a different one.

  • Houses with complete renovations make sense if the house was a gut job.

    If the house has original details in tact, makes sense to keep them.

    Plenty of people like original details, layout as opposed to the open floor plan.

  • ET

    I echo others – find a new realtor. I don’t think they have your best interest at heart (though I don’t have pictures of the interior to say otherwise)

    There are definitely buyers who don’t want any of the old and there are buyers who want some of the original details. It may be a bit of blanket statement but I would think that someone looking for a hose in a neighborhood with a high percentage of older houses want the older house. Sure they want updated plumbing and electrical and likely wouldn’t mind a kitchen/bath that was newer but these are buyers who likely would prefer some of the original home details to still be evident.

    I would hazard a guess that there are those that would prefer more modern interior – but there are plenty of real estate companies that specialize in turning really bad houses into sellable stock who give that characterless interior (we see them on Popville all the time). There is a house in my neighborhood that a real estate company/flipper got a hold of. This property was fixed up and still sits on the market when several other comparables have since sold (one went from a “coming soon” sign to a “sold” sign). They likely priced their places reasonably while the flipper is either priced too high or over improved.

    If you have updated smartly and priced it reasonably it will sell. Don’t you take less just because someone else will want to strip out everything and start from scratch (people with the money to do that are few and far between and anyway would likely pay market price considering any renos the price they pay to get what they want).

  • Anonymous

    Can’t give you an objective answer without knowing more. Do you have some pictures of what your house looks like? Can you provide more specific details on what your renovation entailed?

  • Anonymous

    things to upgrade: HVAC, pipes, electricity

    things to keep/refurb: claw foot tub, wiring for wall scones, dumbwaiter, built-in ice boxes, old switches (but make sure they are no longer wired/safe), hardwood floors, solid doors, glass knobs

    • m

      I believe that a lot of the old wood floors so prized as “historical detail” in houses around here was actually only ever intended to be a subfloor with carpet or something else on top — but now it’s seen as the main flooring. Which sucks because it’s hard to maintain that way.

      • Anonymous

        That’s not really true.

  • i hope by now you’ve found a new realtor.

  • Kvatch

    Though this may not help you in the short term, I think open floor-plans in the old row-houses is a fad that will pass with time.

    We bought our Wardman specifically because it had most of the original details with just enough upgrades to make us happy, and frankly… I wouldn’t change a thing.

    I’m sure you can find a realtor that will work with you to find buyers that want what you have. Remember, DC is a seller’s market right now. Don’t spoil that advantage by working with a realtor that isn’t interested in selling unless fits their definition of easy.

    • +1. Doesn’t have to be all or nothing!

  • anonymous realtor

    I’m an agent with ten years experience. I’ve also gutted and renovated my own 130 year old house in DC. I would keep the historic details–inventory is so low out there and there are many buyers who are serious about buying. I assure you many buyers are looking for a home with period details. Any experienced listing agent knows this market and knows

  • anonymous realtor

    I’m an agent with ten years experience. I’ve also gutted and renovated my own 130 year old house in DC. I would keep the historic details–inventory is so low out there and there are many buyers who are serious about buying. I assure you many buyers are looking for a home with period details. Any experienced listing agent knows this market and would not give you that advice. I have two buyers who would likely consider your property today. No solicitation from me, just my two cents.

  • Anonymous

    I’d join with others in voting to keep the historical details if you have them.

    But, I think some people underestimate how hard it is to rehab a rowhouse and keep the historical details intact. Building codes and “green” guidelines don’t always help. For example, if you want an energy efficient home (and be code compliant) you need to insulate exterior walls, which means installing furring strips and moving the interior surfaces in. There goes your charming old plaster and window moldings, since they won’t fit.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Homeowner,
    I can’t say I am the authority on real estate by any means but can say in the last few years have learned quite a bit, buying and renovating a few homes in the DC area with my husband. Both of us work professionally but took this up as an investment. I knew nothing about real estate prior to this and quite honestly learned everything from our real estate agent who has been a tremendous help, and is savvy on pretty much every property type in the DC area. (We’ve seen a lot of different types of properties with her) She recently purchased for herself an older DC home with much character, so I doubt what your agent says is true. I would definitely suggest speaking with her. Her name is Amy Levin– 301-641-5695. With having an open floor plan, parking and a large yard- it sounds like there is no need to reduce the price. Good luck!

  • Anonymous

    Here is a recent home buyer perspective:

    We just bought a 1909 town house that was completely gutted of all it’s original detail. It’s a huge house, with big yard and two parking spaces, plus the kitchen and baths were updated, so that attracted us. It is also NOT an open floor plan (which I hate, so I’m happy they at least kept the original layout).

    I really really wanted a house with original detail. It just wasn’t happening, and location was definitely most important for us. Now, I am looking to restore some period-appropriate details that were removed such as lighting fixtures, staircase, mantel, moldings, etc.

    I hate that developers strip out all the charm of old houses and replace it with cheap fixtures/plastic doors instead of actually restoring it. I know they’re looking to make money, and it’s much cheaper to do it that way, but darn it sucks that all that history is destroyed!

    My point is, if a house with original detail had been available in our chosen location at the time we were looking I would have paid a premium for that over just another “gut job” as long as it had an updated kitchen and baths (as those get very expensive to redo). If your house is reasonably modernized (ie kitchen & baths) with original features and original floor plan, I don’t think you should change a thing!

  • Mari

    It’s been a few years since I’ve gutted my most of my home but you can update and keep some character.
    Kept –
    Radiators- but replaced some with ‘new to me’ radiators from Community forklift, also added a SpacePak for AC.
    Floors- had them pulled out and cleaned and laid over a more level subfloor. Threw oriental rugs over them.

    Clawfoot tub (Community Forklift)
    Solid bedroom doors
    Insulatation- lots of it, everywhere.

    There is a negative with an open floor plan- noise. This is a factor when there is more than one person in the house. I noticed it when I knocked out the walls and opened it up. There is more light and I could hear more of my roommates , now husband’s movements around the house.

  • Original in Eckington

    Original requester here – good questions, everyone! I don’t want to write a novel, but here are the basics updates we’ve done in last 3 years:

    – Kitchen is updated w/ stainless appliances and wood block counters (no marble, this is what I meant by not top of the line, which would have been a ridiculous thing to even think of when we moved to this neighborhood in terms of recovering costs)
    – Bathrooms are updated – original bathroom has reclaimed clawfoot tub, pedestal sink, etc., basement bath nicely painted w/ new sink and toilet)
    – No central AC (I know this reduces the sale price, I’m not interested in making that change)
    – Original radiators, trim and built-in shelves and cabinets (painted white)
    – Original parquet floors downstairs and original hardwood stairs and upstairs floors
    – House’s original layout includes a somewhat open main floor (large opening between living and dining rooms)
    – House is bright and spacious and has 2 level balcony out back with large yard and privacy fencing
    – Basement is semi-finished (habitable but not fancy)
    – Plumbing and electrical have not been upgraded since we lived here, some of it was upgraded about 10 years ago, but we haven’t had any issues so we haven’t done further upgrades
    – House has a lovely layout, is totally functional, but does have the little quirks of a 100 year old house, like imperfect door hardware, as someone mentioned.

    As to the statement “There are many houses in Eckington with beautiful stain-grade trim, pocket doors, original, restored stairs/railings, original fireplaces with mantles, but at the same time, have recessed lights, brand new kitchens, central HVAC, etc… ” I have only seen 1 house like this on the market in the last 3 years – if you know of any others, I’d love to see them!

    And thanks for your input, I was hoping you all would have something to say!

    • MJ

      Hi original in Eckington,

      I am a DC agent as well and by your description I agree 100% with your agent. Between a fully renovated home with original details and a gut reno with less character, the original one would fetch the higher price, hands down. However, between a partially renovated home with butcher block counters; no CAC, upgrated plumbing, or electric, and a fully renovated home even with IKEA or home depot upgrades, the fully renovated home would prevail; regardless of your mantel, pocket doors, and beautiful banisters. You agent is right, price it below the comparable full renos.

      By the way, this house in Bloomingdale is an example of a home with original details and excellent upgrades. This house got multiple offers and I happen to know it will close way over asking. This is a reno done right that blows apart any open floorplan, run-of-the mill reno. Check out your white elephant: http://www.redfin.com/DC/Washington/136-Rhode-Island-Ave-NW-20001/home/10047908

      Good luck!

    • another anon

      Not to add more confusion to the mix but here it goes. It sounds like you have a great house. If you are trying to get top dollar here’s my quick advice (without ever seeing the home). 1) Curb appeal – make sure it makes an amazing first impression. 2) Keep original details as much as possible but also try to open up spaces that are tight (i’m mostly thinking of the kitchen and dining room know this type of home). 3) Add a full bathroom – people love them and will pay for them. 4) Make the most of the Basement – get it as tall, open and bright as possible. 5) Have a plan for Central Air – even if you dont want to go through the cost or expense, provide potential purchasers with an estimate or two from a reputable firm (and yes, keep the radiators!).
      Hope this helps!

  • MJ

    I might add; what I’m saying makes sense right?
    Why on earth would a 100 year old home with old plumbing, old electric, no CAC, and minor low-budget upgrades sell at or above the price of fully renovated comparable homes? Because of parquet floors and old hardware? Not a chance. No free lunch here.
    Even the most uneducated buyers have a heart feeling that tells them that a 100-year old house not-fully renovated equals expensive repairs and annoyances. That’s the main reason they flock to the fully rehabbed home and I can’t say I blame them at all. Like I said earlier, if you manage to upgrade all those things and keep most of the original details you can then be comparable or beat the fully, but pedestrian reno’d homes.
    Now, I also want to add that if you price the house lower, as the agent suggested, to the point where it looks like a great deal, you should get multiple offers because there is virtually zero inventory out there. If there is a good deal, multiple people are bidding on it; trust me on that one. If you price it low and only get one offer, then it means that it was priced at market value. If you price it high, it will just sit there and accumulate days on the market and then you’ll start getting lowball offers. I would listen to your agent; he/she seems to know what to do (even if it hurts your feelings).

    • TL

      I thought everyone was crazy until I saw this post. The realtor is being honest and straight forward. As far as open floor plans vs. original details it’s all relative and beside the point. Everyone has a different opinion. All that matters is a successful sale of the house, which is the end goal. The owner needs to remove their personal sentiment and think about the facts. Does the home have a new roof? Dated electrical and plumbing cost a lot of money to upgrade (I did this in my own home (Wardman) and it cost over $30K). Radiant heat is nice but having central AC in the summer is better (I also added central AC to my house and it cost over $20K). How many bathrooms are in the home. Most Wardman style homes have 1 ½ baths. A lot of the upgraded homes have at least 3 ½ baths, which will add more value. A semi renovated basement will not compare to a fully finished basement. The overall look and character is a bonus, but potential added cost are also important to potential buyers. Will the buyer have to sink a lot of extra money into upgrading the home in the future?


Subscribe to our mailing list