It's beginning to dawn on me that my family and I are probably NOT going to be able to live through the remodel of our new/OLD home - or as I've lovingly taken to calling it - the S***t Shack! (Yes, you can take the girl out of Sacramento, but you can't take Sacramento out of the girl).
Through six other home remodels, the boys and I have huddled in a room or two, subsisted on microwave meals for months, and put up with the dust and mess that invariably IS a construction site, but in our current case, I may have been a tad too optimistic . . .
I don't want to appear ungrateful here; we saw a "fixer" opportunity, seized it, and went in with eyes wide open (well, partially open). Moreover, we caught the market just right and sold our previous home earlier this spring for a healthy profit, which allowed this current adventure to come about.
That was ALL great!
But when I went downstairs earlier this week to retrieve the laundry (and can I just interject that washers and dryers have NO business being in the basement), I discovered a pool of sewage had seeped through an abandoned plumbing pipe and left a rather large puddle on the floor.
(Ewww, Yuck! I'll spare you the photos.)
Hey, I'm willing to camp through a remodel, but even I have limits.
Knowing that construction is, unfortunately, still a few months away, it's probably time to rethink our strategy . . . and move out! Like saner more rational folk, we'll downsize into temporary housing for the duration.
A thoughtful "strategy" isn't just an important component of life and the challenges we face day in and day out, it's also a HUGE component of selling or buying a home as well.
Certainly, it can't have escaped anyone's attention that Realtors have developed an unusual "strategy" here in the Bay Area that includes full disclosure, fresh paint and staging, and camera- ready presentation. These gold standards for selling one's home with the expectation of receiving offers above the list price, go hand-in-hand with advantageous market timing, full market exposure, and good old-fashioned know how.
But perhaps the most important "strategy" a Realtor employs is pricing a home appropriately from the start. Granted, this isn't always easy to do, especially when we are taking the listing prior to investigation and often weeks or months in advance of a home's actual debut. Nor do Sellers always greet our suggestions with unbridled enthusiasm and acceptance. (In fact, they often don't.)
However, if we misjudge this critical component and price higher than the market supports, based on our Sellers' insistence or worse yet, on our lack of understanding of the current marketplace, than the resulting sale will take much longer than it should have and likely, bring far poorer results. (I hate it when that happens.)
"Can't we just continue to market the home aggressively until we get what we want and need?"
Uhhhh, "No" (or rather, yes, you can, but it's a fatal mistake).
Unfortunately, Buyers neither care nor respond to what you want or need. The plain truth is that the best results come about rapidly (and in our market, that's typically no more than 14 days). Statistically, the longer your home stays on the market, the less likely you are to receive your list price.
Trust me, when Buyers find a property they believe to be of value to them, fits their family's needs in particular, and is difficult to replicate, they will step in quickly and make a serious offer. It's what I refer to as the "value proposition." Conversely, if it is perceived as overpriced, they'll stay away.
(BTW - the "value proposition" is as much at play for the $5,000,000 house as it is for the $500,000 house. "Value" is ALWAYS about perception and it isn't the same for everyone.)
"But my house is better, nicer, more special . . ." and so it goes.
I believe you and yet, it doesn't necessarily matter. The recent home sale down the street has set the market value and IS your home's comp moving forward. Remember, the market defines the "value" of any given home at any given time!
It may also be true that your home isn't as nice as you thought and suffers by comparison, which will absolutely affect its value. (Please don't shoot the messenger.) Which is another way of saying that the condition of your home is incredibly important so protect this valuable asset and don't let it fall into disrepair. We can keep our homes meticulous inside, but if we're not paying attention to the roof or foundation, it's likely to catch up with us come time to sell.
So take heed and be strategic about your home's care, pricing and your presentation. Come the offer date, you might be pleasantly surprised, and isn't that a happier ending?
(Which is a whole lot better than the surprise I received this week. I need a mop - and a new house!)
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Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.