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October 23, 2023

Good Value in Behind-The-Scenes Home Improvements

New furnace

I meet with new buyer clients frequently who tell me they’re okay with “doing some work” and not paying for another owner’s remodel. Most of the time, they’re referring to updating kitchens and bathrooms. Buy a house with a tired, 1940s kitchen and bath, tart them up, and you’ve added immediate value.

However, there are certain property upgrades that should be appreciated and valued more than I think they are in San Francisco. Here are some improvements that I think buyers should put at the top of their appreciation list if the sellers have already done them:

  • New foundation
  • New furnace and ductwork
  • New roof
  • Seismic upgrades
  • Dry rot/termite damage repair, particularly if it relates to what’s called “faulty grade” (earth-to-wood contact), decking, front stairs
  • New electrical panels and systems (especially as insurers reject some homes due to outdated electrical).

Though you can’t necessarily see these sorts of repairs in slick marketing photos, they’re important building components that need attention and represent substantial expense. I think buyers should highly value these sorts of improvements if the seller has already done them, because they’ll translate into saving time and money during property ownership.


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