Saturday, February 2, 2008

Appliance purchase

CAUTION: This post is tedious. But if you are considering flipping a house, this will give you a tiny taste of what you are in for: roughly 752 decisions that go like this.

My original budget was $1,500 for the fridge, range, dishwasher and over the range microwave.

I already had decided to spend an extra $100 or so to get stainless-look appliances, because that seems to be a crowd-pleaser. A small amount of money well spent to make my flip a standout for buyers.

Then I realized my estimates were based on an electric range rather than gas. So that was another $100.

I got to Lowe's Friday ready to buy.

Frigidaire was the cheapest, but I wondered whether its "silver mist" finish looked a tad chintzy. Whirlpool's pseudostainless "satina" finish had miniscule streaks in it, making it look more authentic.

Would a buyer care? Would they be so stunned by "stainless" in a house in this price range that they wouldn't care? Or would it be a turn off? Is it worth a few hundred dollars?

These are the intense intellectual debates in my head while staring at a refrigerator.

I was leaning toward Whirlpool, when then I began to wonder if the fridge was too small at 17.6 cubic feet ($600). Did it seem dinky? Would that turn off buyers?

The next size up was $850, but an even bigger, nicer actual stainless one -- 22 cubic feet -- was on clearance for $800, down from $1,000 -- clearly a gorgeous fridge, which seems funny to say.

The salesperson totalled my prices.

Whirlpool was $2,050 with tax and delivery, while Frigidaire was $1,700.

This one? Or this one?

I found a chair in the flooring department and called my adviser, Laura.

A first-time homebuyer, the likely market for my flip, is often oblivious to the things that affect an appliance purchase once you own a home -- consumer ratings, energy usage. You just think, hey, new fridge. So what should drive my purchase?

Laura made a good point: Energy Star has achieved the type of recognition that might ring with homebuyers if I could advertise a home with "all new, Whirlpool Energy Star appliances."

Whirlpool's upgraded fridge and dishwasher had it. Decision made.

Whether I get my money back on that extra expense, we'll have to see.

But no one will pass over this house because of the fridge.

Tips on appliance purchases:

  • Measure. Measure everything. Yes, appliances are supposed to be a standard size.

One of the very first flip television shows I saw re-ran recently. The flipper had put in new kitchen cabinets, which typically are based on standard appliance sizes, but both the fridge and dishwasher didn't fit -- the day before her open house.

  • Measure the space where the appliances will go. Measure the entryway and doors they need to pass through to get to the location. Measure the appliance in the store. Use the same tape measurer for all of this.
The first time I shopped for appliances, I had a tight space for the fridge. The measurements on the store's display signs did NOT match the measurements listed on the sticker inside the fridges. Fortunately, I figured that out before purchasing.

  • Develop estimates by shopping online.
  • Ask about matching prices or other discounts. I got 10% off at Lowe's because I purchased a whole set.
  • Check on delivery. Lowe's does Saturday and next-day deliveries. Other stores don't keep their items in stock and can't guarantee quick delivery.


Mark said...

What did your comparison shopping at Home Depot turn up?

littleitalygem said...

I do not frequent the Orange Devil.