All About ReDecorating

By Peggy Brown

Melville, N.Y…..Thomas Tripodi says he’ll never forget the Versace designer bathroom in the house he was marketing for $4 million-plus.

“Its was waaay over the top,” says Tripodi, associate broker with prudential Douglas Elliman Rea Estate, in Long Beach, and owner of The Tripodi Group, which sells luxury homes. So while that bathroom obviously appealed to the owners, prospective buyers were turned off, Tripodi says. “If you’re selling a big house, the bathrooms have to be perfect.”

Like kitchens, bathrooms…those essential, private spaces…are rooms buyers scrutinize when shopping for a house, real estate agents say. And in today’s buyer’s market, sellers need to tread carefully. It’s important not to do too much…making something too quirky or personal, like that Versace bathroom, or spending so much they risk pushing their price too high.

Not doing enough can be a danger; too… the gross-out factor can be very high. A bathroom that’s not clean and sparkling is “a definite turnoff,” says Audrey Williams, a licensed sales associate at Century 21 Laffey’s Westbury office. “I’ve seen quite a few houses where my buyers will walk in, look at the bathroom and then make a U-turn and walk right out.”

Williams says that, for a house to sell in this market, having updated bathrooms is “extremely important because you have so many homes on the market right now.”

If you plan to redo a bathroom, you won’t necessarily get all your money back but you’ll probably do pretty well, according to the most recent survey by Remodeling Online magazine, done last year in conjunction with the National Association of Realtors.

In the Middle Atlantic region, a midrange bathroom remodel, costing about $17,000, would recoup nearly 71 percent upon resale, the survey says. An upscale job….about $54,000. would recoup less, about 60 percent.

Just spend that remodeling money wisely: Another survey last year by the Realtors’ group showed that only 36 percent of buyers thought a separate shower enclosure in the master was “very important”…and a mere 13 percent thought a whirlpool bath was.

“If you’re in a midrange neighborhood, you have to look at what your competition has,” says Stephanie singer, a spokeswoman for the national Realtors’ group. “You want to keep your eye on the neighborhood.”

Adding items such as a bidet or a multifunction showerhead doesn’t necessarily add value if houses nearby don’t have them. She suggests going to open houses in your area to find out what your neighbors’ bathrooms are like. Some real estate agents advise against making any major improvements in this market.

“Right now, you have to price the house right to get it to sell,” says Vivian Rosenthal, a licensed saleswoman at the Coldwell Banker in Commack. “It’s not a great time to invest any money in the house.”

But, while renovations may not translate into a higher sales price, they could help make the house more appealing, others say. “It could be something that someone could just move right into,” says Sandi Lefkowitz, vice president and sales manager of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, in Glen Head.

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