229 Ricardo Road in Strawberry
From the street, this home had no pizzazz at all. We needed to conjure up some curb appeal or potential buyers would drive right by. First thing, I had some small trees removed that were cluttering the property. It opened up the sightlines and drew people in to the home.
Over the years, I’ve added at least a million dollars to trustee’s pockets in Marin by removing excess vegetation and clearing sightlines.
Mill Valley home improvement walk-through
But I had more of a transformation in store. The attorney/executor for this Mill Valley property was very agreeable to my plan to resurface the home’s interior. She fully understood the benefits, having been referred to me by another attorney I’d sold a home for a few years ago.
After work began, the executor to the probate called me from the house, flabbergasted. Even though she knew what was going to happen, she was amazed at seeing how much brighter and more appealing the home had already become midway through the upgrades. Suddenly she had a better sense of where this project was going and was very supportive.
The vision hurdle
Most often, I hit a snag because the seller and attorney have trouble visualizing the huge impact of cosmetic upgrades. Because they can’t imagine how small changes will dramatically transform the home, they balk, complain or refuse to pay for them.
Clients say, “The place needs so much work, why should I spend $30,000 on cosmetic upgrades? The new owner will renovate anyway.” True, but you have to meet people half way.
The purpose of resurfacing the home is so people can understand the home’s potential.
Of course, profit is a factor, too. I make sure the seller makes a substantial return on their outlay for the refurbishing (generally a 300+% gain in Marin and 500% in San Francisco, depending on the location and other factors).
Sellers don’t know where to turn
Most sellers don’t consider making these improvements on their own. How do they find the right specialists for painting, replacing countertops and refinishing floors? They aren’t sure who to trust, how much it should cost and how to figure out the timeline or the best sequence of events.
When I meet a client for an in-home consultation I give them a list of cost-effective upgrades, a price range to perform them and a timeline — on the spot. And I can bring in my own seasoned team to seamlessly get the work done.
Of course, the trustee may still opt to do nothing. But I make it easy for them to increase the value of their home. My upgrade team, which I’ve worked with for years, is deployable in days. In short order, we make the home much more marketable. That’s why we’re such powerful allies to the estate.
Simplifying the sale
I was one of four agents competing to list 229 Ricardo Street. The seller said she chose me because I solved her problems instead of creating more. I met her at the property and put together all the vendors who would transform the home. Other agents just gave her a list of contractors and left her overwhelmed.
An overpowering case of the blahs
This house suffered from the usual neglect: dark and dreary paneled walls, heavy drapes, thick older carpet, rusty metal fireplace, antiquated kitchen and dysfunctional bathrooms.
The home did offer some nice surprises, though. When we pulled the carpet and padding from the riserless stairs, we found beautiful dark wood steps that took to staining and refinishing marvelously. The change helped bring back the majesty of the mid-century modern home.
The good news
More than 300 people toured the house in the two weeks we had it on the market. Nine offers poured in and I negotiated to remove all contingencies so the offer we accepted was ‘pending close’ at time of acceptance. When properties look good, we have that kind of leverage.
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