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Real Estate Investing – Renovating with your stomach –


The whole idea of renovating for the purpose of maximizing your Real Estate Investment is to make the property keenly attractive to potential buyers so it will sell quickly.

As a Real Estate professional my advise to clients is to do it right or do nothing.  Most buyers have a good eye and will decide on the property because of several key features and mentally put other’s in the category of “plan to redo” after purchase.  What that means is that they will plan to rip it out and do it the way they want later.

Doing nothing takes all the fun out of thinking that you are a Real Estate Investor, so the next question is what do you do to do it right?  The first step is thinking with your stomach and not necessarily with your head, especially if you are living in the property while you are fixing it up.

After layout design and flow of a room and a house the most important resale attraction is finishes.  In a bathroom this is al about tile and color.  In a recent visit to a major tile showroom I asked the advise of one of their designers about which color and tile would work best in the bathroom that I was redoing. This is for a top upscale location and image was critical for resale.

Price was not an object since the bathroom was small and the return on investment would be very high.

After getting relatively sick as I walked through the giant showroom with so many choices I was happy to be given a tour by an “expert designer”.  After describing the size and concept of the bathroom, including the fact it had an open shower.  I also explained to him my dislike for subway tiles. The first thing he showed me was all white glossy tile.  I told him I had originally thought of that however I ruled it out because I thought it to be too stark and institutional looking.

He showed me several other options some of which I liked and others I was not too excited about. Since I have been self declared “interior design impaired” I was getting more apprehensive that an attack of “I can not do this” would come on , I switched the subject to the brain wave and filled in the blanks that this was for resale and where the property was located.  As a Real Estate broker I wanted to know what was being done in the top most expensive homes in the area and of course what was best for resale.

Porcelain Carrara marble look alike was his first choice, along with gloss white subway tiles for the walls.  I pushed the conversation, again on the mental level to the “best choice for tile in the bathroom for resale”  He brought me to the Carrara marble section.  He said one look and it would sell the house.  The price difference was only a couple hundred dollars and thinking with my head, this seemed like an excellent idea.  Clean, simple and elegant.  White Carrara marble on the floor and gloss white subway tiles on the floor.  He showed me an area of the showroom that had carrara marble on the floor and had me take a picture of it.

I was mentally happy that what I thought was going to be a most difficult and yet the most important decision was being made.  i went back to the office and began looking at Houzz and other online sites to see images of bathrooms.  Indeed, Carrara marble floors and gloss white subway tiles were a rage.  Clean and timeless.  Then I started getting sick to my stomach.

I have always hated Carrara marble.  I have seen it in too many bathrooms where people have put it in trying to make it look like they invested a lot of money in the bathroom and it looked like a HomeDepot trick rather than upscale money.  Eventually the two looked the same to me.

I did not like the grains, just made my stomach turn.  Then the subway tiles.  After working in NYC for so many years and actually seeing subway tiles in original use, being ripped out for good reason, I felt those pangs of nausea rising.  I realized that every time I would walk in the bathroom I would be sick rather than be in love.  I believe it is better  to renovate for investment with something that you yourself love rather than for all the money in the world, chose something just because it is thought to be a safe and reliable designer choice.

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