The High Road: ‘Renovated’ is like grade inflation

To paraphrase Crocodile Dundee, that’s what I call a renovation. (Flickr photo by Zusjes Weblog)

In the incendiary days of our overheated market just four or five years ago, you couldn’t give away renovated properties.

Flush with Wall Street largesse, seemingly all buyers wanted to impose their own taste on any apartment or townhouse they considered.  So what if it took wads of cash, endless frustration and overwhelmingly large pools of patience?

Buyers wanted to do their own thing.

Those days are pretty much in past, and I imagine they’ll be back.  But the properties that sell quickest of late are those that have been renovated already.

However, the definition of “renovated” is very much open to question and, therefore, to abusive use of the term.

When most of us hear the word, we think of gut-renovated, a top-to-bottom remodeling.  That means new hardwood floors, impressive kitchen, stylish baths and possibly walls that have been moved, removed, skim-coated or graced with built-ins.

What I’m seeing more these days is “renovated” apartments in which some combination of the following improvements have been made: kitchens that some years ago received a slick of stainless steel and a gloss of granite; baths that have been upgraded with reglazed tiles, new vanities and sinks of dramatic design; walls with fresh coats of paint; closets that have been customized; sound-deadening windows; and refinished floors.

Such upgrades certainly are welcome, but rarely do they involve tearing something out and replacing it with something better.  Nor do they necessarily represent work that is trending today rather than that now over the hill and out of favor.

The so-called renovated properties may well be not only dated but far from re-imagined and comprehensively improved.

If a property hasn’t really been renovated, how about using other words that more clearly reflect the extent of what has been done to it?

Let’s reserve “renovated” for all that it means.

Tomorrow: Certainty trumps price

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
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