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Learning To Let Go

A few years ago, a dear friend, with terminal cancer, asked me to sell his house. At the time, I did not appreciate how difficult it would be for me to say goodbye to him and to sell a home where I had enjoyed Thanksgiving meals and so many fond memories. It was hard to accept that anything needed to be changed to sell this property. It was a lively gathering place, always filled with laughter and warmth. The new buyer would be lucky to live in such a fine place as this. It would sell quickly, but it didn’t happened that way…

There was transition period, with the challenge and sadness of the upcoming funeral followed by his precious wife moving off island to be closer to their children. Throughout this time, the house was an active listing. Considering the situation, it was difficult to show the house to prospective buyers without the added stress for the family. To complicate matters, a once fully furnished house was practically vacant following the move. Suddenly there was a shift in priorities; it was time to get to work. The first order of business was to address issues deemed deficiencies by potential buyers: the kitchen and master bath needed updating; the roof needed to be replaced; there was no air conditioning; the carpeting in the master bedroom was old and soiled; and the walls needed a fresh coat of paint.

As much as possible, I wanted to keep the cost for improvements to a minimum. We started with the kitchen. A complete kitchen remodel is not a great idea when selling a home. I have sold properties to buyers, who immediately removed the new cabinets and granite to create “their” ideal kitchen. However, it is not a bad idea to give the kitchen a face lift . We kept the original cabinetry, but the tile countertop was replaced with granite. The fluorescent light fixture in the ceiling was removed. The electrician added recessed lights there and in the bathroom. We bought a new refrigerator, stove and a new faucet. In addition, we converted the wet bar, facing the living room to an open island for the kitchen with the same granite.

Without doubt the biggest deal killer in this home was the master bathroom. It was filled with four inch tiles everywhere! To tamp down the overload of too much tile, we removed the four inch tiles on the floor and added dark brown ceramic tiles, which resembled wood flooring. The cabinets were replaced new vanities and a marble countertop with new sinks and individual mirrors. Please note, smaller mirrors are easy to change to suit the tastes of the buyer for future bathroom renovations and are not budget busters. To tie the improvements to the original tile in the shower and tub area, we added artwork and the red towels gave the space more cohesion.

When you sell a home with no air conditioning in a hot and humid environment, it is hard to hold a buyer’s interest. Without a breeze, the old fans and poorly functioning windows provided no relief of the oppressive heat pouring in the windows from the midday sun. Most people will forgive a hot house if the bedroom has an air conditioning unit in good working order. So, we added a split AC unit in there with a new fan to help direct some cooler air into the hallway. This was certainly money well spent.

As with any home, the overall objective of the staging comes into play. Here the furniture was designed to focus on the spacious floor plan with just enough furniture to provide ideas of how the new owners would personalize the space. We also wanted to highlight the enviable outdoor features, especially the covered lanai overlooking the golf course and the inviting pool.

After the completion these improvements, we easily found the buyer and received our full asking price. Before closing, we replaced the roof to save the buyers from the hassle of this messy experience. Just a note about this: if you know the roof needs to be changed, it certainly is easier for all parties involved to replace a roof on a vacant home. If it is a contingency for the sale, why not take care of this issue instead of offering a credit? This thoughtful gesture will be much appreciated!