2011 Apr 15th

Condos Don’t Grow the Way Kids Do

I understand that it is often difficult for buyers, especially first-time buyers, to envision what a property could look like.  They may not have much experience with renovations or even with decorative changes like painting, window treatments or moldings.  They may not be able to see past a tenant’s mess or ugly furniture.hiding-bed

When I’m out working with my buyers, I try to point out things that can be upgraded easily and affordably.  I’m not talking about redoing an entire kitchen or moving walls.  Much smaller changes like new appliances, new cabinet hardware, or new light fixtures often make a big difference.  One of the big mistakes these buyers make is to dismiss the condo that sometimes is a gem in the rough in favor of the one that is “finished” even when the “finished” one may be much smaller.  It’s important to keep in mind that you can always make decorative changes but you can not make a condo any bigger than it already is.

I see young couples outgrowing small spaces all too often.  So I urge my buyers to look again with an open mind and a little imagination.  Down the road, you may really wish you had the extra space.

  1. Craig

    I agree fully with Lori. You can change most anything about the interior of a condo. But you can never change its size or location. Almost any home you buy will have something you don’t like and want to change anyway. So you may as well buy the biggest unit you can afford and change it to suit your tastes.

    My 1300 sq. ft. condo sat unsold for 5 months and was vacant for much of that time. I’m sure its lack of furniture and decor had something to do with that. But others’ lack of vision was my gain because I got it at less than market value as a result. With some new paint, light fixtures, bathroom vanities, new appliances, and a glass tile backsplash in the kitchen – it’s now my dream home. It only took a $6k investment to transform the place. The morale: picture a place in your mind not as it is, but how you can make it – and don’t be afraid to do a little work.

  2. Lori Turoff

    What is it with back splashes? Why don’t builders bother to include them? It’s one of the cheapest fixes you can do (and you can even do it yourself) that makes your kitchen so much nicer!

  3. teaorcoffee

    I agree, too. But at the same time, many people will outgrow whatever space they are currently in – be it 1000 square feet or 1500 square feet or 2500 square feet. It is more than just HAVING the space – it is managing all the junk we manage to accumulate as well.

  4. Craig

    I wouldn’t say backsplashes are cheap. Mine cost me one grand total with installation. The tiles consumed more of that total than the labor. I wouldn’t recommend installing glass tiles yourself. In more upscale $600k and up condos, builders usually include backsplashes. But in most cookie-cutter condos here in Hoboken, you can bet they’re not included due to cost cutting.

  5. Lori Turoff

    You could certainly spend $1,000 on a backsplash. I’ve seen incredibly gorgeous, hand-made tiles that cost upwards of $20 per tile! Here are a few: http://www.oldhouseonline.com/category/old-house-directory/ceilings-and-walls/decorative-art-tile/

    You can also go to Lowe’s or Home Depot, take a free course on how to install tile, and buy field tile for 10 cents and intersperse some decorative tiles at about $2 a piece and have something way nicer than sheet rock.

    To me, glass tile is a fad – it looks nice today and will be very dated tomorrow. My point is that a little imagination goes a long way and does not have to cost much at all. Plus, you will end up with something unique.

    Toll Bros. does not install back splashes in Maxwell Place, Harborside or Hudson Tea, nor does MetroHomes. Fields uses generic, tumbled-marble in it’s condos (better than nothing). Garden St. Lofts may have glass tile – I can’t remember. It is rare.

  6. Craig

    I considered whether glass tile is a fad that would eventually be dated. That’s why I chose a classic and simple subway pattern that should age well. With glass, it’s not the installation on the wall itself that’s tough. It’s cutting it. You need a special wet saw (they are messsy, so you’d better have a garage) and I doubt most Hoboken homeowners are going to have the know-how to cut glass with one.

    I’m shocked that the high-brow buildings you listed do not include backsplashes for all that money. Well, Hudson Tea doesn’t surprise me. You don’t even get plank hardwood flooring or central A/C there – the stock finishes and features in that building have never matched the pricing. The mid-range new construction in my price range that I looked at included backsplashes: Vesta, Ava’s Court, and Satori Lofts.

  7. Lori

    Backsplash does not have to be made of tiles people. Just like countertops don’t have to be made of stone. I have diamondplate backsplash and butcherblock countertops.

  8. Lori

    Lowe’s has some very interesting metallic backsplsh tiles that are adhesive backed. Look nice w stainless appliances.

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