There are many places where lower sale prices limit the amount of preparation for homes coming to the market. It just doesn’t make sense to put a lot of money into a low priced home. In much of the Bay Area though, detailed property preparation is the norm. Rightly so. Where prices are high, buyers have high expectations.
As Bay Area home sales prices rapidly increased in the areas we cover, Michelle and I realized that we needed a system that would enable us to list homes in whatever condition they may be in when the listing docs are signed and transform them into stunning properties that fetch top dollar. Then when the pandemic struck, we know that we had to incorporate safety measures so that our sellers would be confident that their safety was assured.
Although it’s very satisfying to turn a bland home into one that will blow your socks off, the primary objective is to maximize our client’s return by getting the highest return on investment when the home sells. Our goal is to obtain a minimum of $2 return for every $1 invested, and frequently, the returns are substantially higher. Although we understand this process is not for every agent or every market, in our region, homes that have been upgraded reap significantly higher prices and put a substantially higher profit in the seller’s pocket at close. As a result of our system, our clients often net far more from their sale than they thought possible.
It’s not just our clients that invest in their home preparation though. Michelle and I provide a lot more than other agents when we list a home for sale.
Once we have a signed contract to sell a home, the first step is to schedule a home inspection, termite inspection and a consultation with our staging expert, who was preciously an interior designer. All this is at no cost to the seller and everybody involved follows Covid-10 protocols to the letter.
Our stager tours the entire property with you, inside and out, to create a plan that will maximize its potential. The recommendations made only include things that we know will actually improve the home’s value. In most cases, we see an exponential return for every dollar invested.
Sometimes, any changes may be minimal – decluttering, re-positioning items of furniture, minor landscaping improvements etc. In many cases new paint, carpet, light fixtures etc. come into play. Even some kitchen or bathroom improvements.
Once the inspection reports have been received, we scrutinize them thoroughly and make such recommendations as may be appropriate. We always recommend that any significant issues that arise from the termite report are attended to, for example. With regard to the home inspection report, we recommend that anything major or structural be dealt with, as well as anything safety related.
Regarding any repairs or improvements, we maintain a database of contractors with skillsets that cover every eventuality. From general contractors to handymen and everything in between, we know people who are known to provide the quality of service we expect at reasonable prices. Many of them rely on recommendations from real estate agents for most of their business.
When we list a home for sale, we run a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) for the home that includes a current “as-is” market value and an anticipated revised market value factoring in our recommendations. This helps to demonstrate the value of making the improvements we suggest.
Not every seller will want to make these changes, and we appreciate that. It is always the seller’s decision regarding what changes they are prepared to make. There are some key points that should be taken into consideration though. A home that has the “Wow” factor will always have a much wider appeal than a home that is just average. The result is usually a quick sale, with the likelihood of multiple offers and a sale price that may be much higher than anticipated.
Once we reach agreement on exactly what is to be done, we produce a project timeline, a calendar that defines what will happen and when. It often comes as a surprise how quickly even major transformations can be carried out, but this is where the benefit of having recommended contractors available comes evident. In most cases, it is critical the home get to market as quickly as possible and we often work to aggressive timelines.
Once we get to that stage, we keep in touch with any contractors, suppliers involved at every stage of the process, to make sure everything is completed on schedule. There is no charge for any of this — it’s built into the commission we receive for the completed sale.
Once the transformation project is completed, the final step is to clean the home. We have professional cleaners that we recommend and cleaning should include deep cleaning, carpets, tile grout, windows, sanitizing and anything else required to make the home sparkle.
When the final cleaning is done, our stager returns to check that everything is as it should be, to supervise delivery and positioning of any furniture that is being hired, and to make any final adjustments. This is quickly followed by our photographer, who will take an unlimited number of high dynamic range (HDR) photos and also shoot a large number of 3-D photos that are asssembled into the Virtual Walk-Through presentation. We are then ready for the home to be presented to potential buyers.
At this point, the home is listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), distributed to literally hundreds of Internet sites including Zillow, Redfin, Realtor.com etc., and also a dedicated website, purely for that particular home. We also promote it to our database of agents active in our area and utilize Social Media and print advertising as appropriate.
In these times of Covid-19, it is important to control showings very tightly. Open Houses are not currently allowed and all Covid-19 protocols have to be strictly adhered to. As a result, we schedule all showings very strictly.
With the current high level of buyer demend coupled with a shortage of Bay Area home sales, we typically ask our sellers to wait until the home has been on the market for around a week before considering any offers, then review them at this time. The result, in many cases, has been a large number of offers and a sale price that significantly exceeded expectations.