Did We Make A Profit Selling Our Second House?

We answered this question after the sale of our first house (spoiler: we bought in the bubble and sold in the recession), so now we’re back to do it again – but this time the coins stacked a bit more favorably, thanks both to selling in a slightly better market and by not sinking as much into this house’s improvements (it helped that we didn’t need expensive upgrades like a new roof and windows this time around).

We managed to sell this latest house for $23,000 more than we bought it for back in 2010. And our best estimate is that we put around $14,500 into improvements that stay with the house (i.e. not furniture or other decor that moves with us). That means we made a net gain of about $8,500. Here’s an estimated breakdown of where the money went:

  • Kitchen renovation (including appliances, new flooring, backsplash, lighting, counters, opening the wall, etc): $6,955
  • Deck building/staining/sealing: $1,783
  • New patio: $1,252
  • Built-in desk in the office (it conveys with the house since it was custom-built for that area): $124
  • Laundry appliances & built-in shelves: $712
  • Hall bathroom update: $168
  • Guest bathroom update: $51
  • Crown molding that we added throughout the house: $218
  • Fireplace upgrade with new tile/mantel: $147
  • Board & batten in hallway: $57
  • Pergola over carport: $214
  • Column update for porch: $198
  • Window boxes/plants for them: $132
  • Paint/stain for every room, built-in, and outdoor area (this doesn’t include furniture paint/stain since that comes with us): $800
  • Landscaping, light fixtures, curtains, and miscellaneous other items that stay (like new border tile & toilet in the master bath): $1,700
  • Total: $14,511*

*some of these prices are total costs for projects, including some items that won’t convey with the house – for example the bathroom makeover costs include art and accessories that came with us. So this isn’t a perfect tally.

But regardless of how meticulous our math is, we’re incredibly grateful that in just a few years we were able to increase the value of this house so much – especially given our experience with our first house (to which we barely boosted the sale price at all – stupid market!). But of course, we owe a 3% fee at closing to pay the buyer’s agent commission (but we would have owed twice that amount if we used a seller’s agent, so we’re thankful for that as well).

In the end, we probably broke about even on this house. House flippers we’re not. But house lovers? You betcha. The thing we’re most excited about is finally getting to roll all of the equity that we’ve built over seven years of paying the mortgage on our first two homes into this new house – nearly cutting our mortgage balance in half. Yeehaw! That was definitely worth the wait.

What about you guys? Have you added up what you’ve spent on a house and compared it to what you got back? We always hear kitchens, bathrooms, and outdoor “square footage” (decks, patios, etc) tend to up the resale value of a house. Has that rung true for you? One thing we haven’t really heard much about are built-ins, but we think they’re such a nice feature (like the built-in desk we made for the office, the ones in the dining room that we inherited, and the one that we added to the laundry room).

So built-ins will definitely be making an appearance at the new house (especially since we’re already starting to notice a lack of built-in storage here). They add a nice feeling of function + customization, and both of the built-ins that we added were under $125, so that’s definitely some nice bang for your buck!


  1. Alex says

    I still can’t believe that fireplace upgrade was less than $150 bucks!! Are you kidding me?? And 200 measly clams for ALL THAT CROWN MOLDING? Rock on, Petersiks. That is bananas. !! :)

    • Alisha says

      That’s what struck me, too, about this breakdown, Alex! Looking at all the big projects collected together, I am reminded how obtainable they actually are! @Younghouselove–I cant believe so many of the projects that made such a difference to your whole house vibe were soooo affordable! The board and batten. The crown molding. The bathroom upgrades. The patio addition. THE KITCHEN.

      Thanks for allowing us to dream with some helpful perspective! I love this break down!

  2. Gretchen in Tennessee says

    I should have 9 years equity in my house, but thanks to the market it’s not as much as you’d think. These days breaking even is difficult to do, so you two should be VERY proud! Obviously your (previous) home is BEAUTIFUL and it’s not a surprise that it sold in the blink of an eye! :) And I’m sure this one will end up just as stunning!

  3. says

    Thank you for sharing this! I love how you guys keep it real. So many design/DIY blogs make me feel completely inadequate (says the girl whose latest paint project is covered in tiny bugs from drying outside), but not YHL. You guys make good design seem attainable by showing us every little trick (and cost) along the way. THANK YOU.

  4. Steph says

    I love how much you guys share with us. The people who bought that house from you are very lucky. :) And I too love the optimistic view of things. :)

    I bought my house a year ago & since it was a foreclosure (a foreclosure in really good shape) it’s already worth more than I paid. But I don’t so much care about profitting off it some day as much as I actually did it for the long term equity.

  5. Anne says

    Ahh, the “depression of 2008-2009” … ugh. I bought in Jan 2008, got laid off in Nov 2008, couldn’t find work until late 2010, so we couldn’t do improvements. We’ve done some but it takes a long time to recover. I’m guessing at this point I would lose 10% – 20% of the purchase price if I sold right now. Better than the 40% loss of a few years ago. So we are just hunkering down, improving a bit (no point in over improving and adding to the loss) and hoping to break even in a year or two.

  6. Casey says

    The British Columbia bear is back – bursting through your stack of quarters like the rebel ad he is!

  7. Megan A. says

    I’m impressed by the classiness with which you go about talking about money. It’s refreshing! You give enough details to get your point across, but you don’t just lay it all out there. So, thank you for that :-)

  8. Cara D says

    We paid way too much for our house due to first time home buyer and really wanting to be out of the apartment. But we do plan on keeping it for our forever house so all our upgrades are for us only and we aren’t worried about resale. That being said I bet we have spent more on upgrades than we would get back. It did apraise for more than we paid 4 years ago though so that is something.

    I am working on built in bookcases for the playroom right now. Actually buying the kreg crown pro today!

  9. Jaya says

    I just have to say that your honesty about this whole process is so refreshing and really appreciated! Thanks for sharing all these details – it’s very helpful!

  10. Morgan says

    Hey, I didn’t get this post in Feedly for some reason. I think you mentioned a few posts ago that you were having feed issues… The only reason I know I missed it is because I saw that you posted it on Facebook but it’s not in my reader. I did get the Arhaus giveaway though.

  11. Charlotta says

    Well, we did a full bathroom makeover before selling our apartment and it might have paid off – hard to say when the market over here hasn’t gone down very much.

    As for when we bought our house I think the location was the thing that made the price go up with around 30% from the original listing price. We wanted it mostly for the location and the fabulous garden…

  12. jeannette says

    i love your wordy posts. never stop.
    ouch, i missed the bad news on the profit for your first house.
    the thing is, in addition to equity for young people in a very hard time, you derived your living and invented a whole new medium from both of those houses, made a life for yourselves and baby clara. priceless.

    finally, real is always good. thank you.


    • says

      Aw thanks Jeannnette! It’s true that we never could have guessed that this would turn into a job for us. We’re so grateful that we wrote that first post back in 2007…


  13. Rachel says

    You guys should feel great about your selling price for this house and the last house- a recession is the perfect time to move up the property ladder- if the cheaper house you’re selling lost 10% of its value but so did the more expensive house you’ve actually benefitted! A lot of people don’t think about that and are scared to sell their houses in a recession when it’s the ideal time to trade up!

    • says

      Oh yes, the new house was super on sale (it sold for 50K under assessment and 100K less than a similar house up the street that had already been updated). So it really did feel like this diamond in the rough (very very rough, haha!) that we were looking for!


    • Debby says

      My husband just said that. You don’t get as much for your house, but you don’t pay as much for the new house either. Love this blog. Don’t even know how I happened on here, but I come back every day!!! Congrats on your new home. Just bought the same paint sprayer so I could paint my 90’s honey oak cabinets. Estimate for the job from outside contractor…..4K. No way. I can do it for under $500 including the cost of the sprayer. I have redone cabinets before. 43 cabinet doors and drawers. Wish us luck. You two inspire me.

  14. Angela N says

    That is fantastic that you were able to cut your payment so much!! Totally our goal to have no payment on our house by the time our kids get to college age. (They are 8 and 5, btw.)

    We had a significant amount of equity in our last home after moving 3 times before it. Then we found out our home had defective chinese drywall. UGH!! Losing it all and taking a huge credit hit with it. (We are currently still dealing with it.) Unfortunately the builder wanted nothing to do with it and the chance we would win a lawsuit are slim to none. All our equity lost. :-( But we bought a new home just as the market started to come back here in FL and we are already up aprox $35k based upon the new ones selling in our neighborhood. Fingers crossed the markets keeps up for a bit here so we can gain back some of the equity lost.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *