“A bit of shopping, flower market, sconces & tea!“ Jill’s cheerful text message said, after landing safely in London to visit her elder daughter, Anna. (I’m certain she meant scones - not sconces.)
Since hiring Jill, nearly. a decade ago, she’s become so valuable in her role as “project liaison,” that we’d truthfully be lost without her. Jill expertly mans (womans) the ship and coordinates 1001 moving parts with expert precision.
But no wonder the typo, Jill manages half a dozen projects simultaneously . . .
and orders hundreds of lights throughout the year (sconces playing a big part of those orders). Consequently, leaving work behind, even when you're on another continent, can be tough to do. (Real estate is a demanding mistress.)
Along with specifying lighting, counters, tiles, wallpaper, etc., she's organizing ALL of the vendors, inspectors, and marketing professionals as the properties evolve from “lived-in” to “transformed.“ It’s not a reach to say Jill probably dreams of lights (and where they are in transit), along with paint swatches, plant varieties, garden accessories, etc. . . . But while she's on vacation, I'll be stepping back into the role I gratefully relinquished years ago (and missing her all the more for it).
Managing multiple projects (and multiple personalities) is no simple feat, mind you. Despite our coordinated cadence, carefully constructed calendars, and cautionary tales, a physical move often takes Home Sellers much longer than they realize or have budgeted the time to accomplish. (Hint, start with your drawers and closets; don’t leave them until the last minute.)
Once clear, we bring in the hauler who, invariably, loads his truck with out-of-date paint cans, chemicals, excess building materials, rotting boards, old doors and windows, and broken toys that the Sellers overlooked, forgot, or abandoned in their storage rooms, garage, attic, yard, basement, or under the house. (We got this.)
With a clear runway, the painters can now begin their tasks, which can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the size of the project and whether they are tackling both interior and exterior surfaces.
After that, it's on to floors and carpets. Add on another week . . .
After painting, refinishing, repairs, and renovations, the entire house needs to be cleaned, the windows washed, new lighting installed, smoke and CO detectors plugged in, and then the stagers arrive . . . .
While the stagers create the magic inside, we’re making sure the outside gardens fare just as well. That’s often when Jill and I grab the truck and head out to the commercial nursery to load up plants while Sarah and Kate tackle last minute runs to Home Depot.
Once every new shrub is in place, the pots have been potted, the welcome mats have gone down, and fresh flowers appear, the photographers arrive to shoot and measure the house for marketing.
Enter Tate and Anna who create our ads to ensure the house is fully exposed in print and social media - locally, regionally, and internationally.
In other words, it takes a village, as well as the efforts of many talented individuals to bring a house to market in good working order and camera ready. Our small village happens to be run by Jill.
Who runs Jill? For better or worse, Sarah and I do (I speak for us both when I say, "ta-ta for now." Enjoy the trip but don’t stay away too long.) because ultimately we're the ones responsible for every decision and every outcome.
Finally, it’s not lost on any of us how difficult it is for Sellers to let go, to trust the journey, and to move into faith . . . . it’s a GIGANTIC ask under the best of circumstances (and moving is many things but it isn’t THAT)! So here's a preemptive “thank you” for what lies a head; for your patience, for your understanding, for the checks you'll be required to write, and for your willingness. Chip, chip cheerio! (I bet no one is England actually says that.)
Just know that while you’re more than likely, cursing the process, we’ve sold hundreds of homes, and our goal is to get you and your property across the finish line as painlessly as possible. In other words, this isn't our first trip across the pond. (See how I did that?), thus the prodding, the pushing and the pulling (and sometimes, the difference of opinions).
BTW, if you are wondering whether or not it still makes sense to spend the money to prep your house given that the return is likely to be less than it might have been a year ago, the short answer is “yes, it does.” Although you may not see 4 X on your investment, you are far more likely to SELL the house and that’s the intended goal, yes? (Yes.)
In a marketplace that’s currently shifting, softening, correcting, and "enhancing" (semantics to be sure), creating the "emotional hook" Buyers need to experience before they will tentatively plunk down their hard-earned dollars is going to be more important AND more VALUABLE than ever (sales year-over- year are down 16%).
And on that proper tidbit of advice, scones anyone? The Brits certainly got it right with clotted cream and jam. Yum.
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Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 670 essays on life and real estate.