Everything must go. That thought drove me as I cleared out my parents’ home of 50 years. Little did I know, once everything was gone the real work would begin.
The ultimate goal was to get the 1,700-square-foot California ranch house empty, fixed up and on the market by the end of March. I had a lot to do in four weeks.
Empty, the old homestead looked even more tired than before. The furnishings had buffered the facts that the carpet had seen more miles than a foot army and the wallpaper was more dated than Betty Crocker’s hairdo.
I looked around the home I grew up in, and instead of seeing a refuge where I once tanked up on food, sleep, clean clothes and abundant parental love and advice, played hide and seek, and blew out lots of birthday candles, I tried to see it through a buyer’s eyes.
Boy, did that change my perspective.
Besides the carpet and wallpaper, the cottage-cheese ceilings, dowdy drapes and worn out cabinets also had to go. The fix list grew faster than kids.
I called my good friend Bill Wood, who not only owns a couple dozen rental houses so can fix places up in his sleep, but also has his real estate license.
Unlike other Realtors who encouraged me to sell the property “as is,” Bill said if we updated the place and didn’t overspend we’d net more and sell faster.
“What would it take?” I asked.
“One month and $15,000.”
“How much more would we get?”
“Probably $50,000 more than if you sold it as is.”
“A fourth grader can do that math.”
“Plus,” he said, “when a home looks new and move-in ready, buyers are less likely to ask you to drop your price for paint or carpet allowance.”
I pushed up my sleeves. “Let’s go,” I said.
“No way” came the chorus from friends, family and those in real estate. “You can’t bring this place into the 21st century that fast for that price!”
Oh yeah? Watch.
Bill’s contacts and my ability to make quick design decisions on a budget made us a formidable pair.
In the one week I was in town, I cleared the house, had an estate sale and selected paint colors, carpet, engineered-wood flooring, tile, hardware and window coverings. (Proof that a task will expand or contract to fill the amount of time you have.) The rest I did by puppet string from Florida.
Bill lined up painters, flooring crews and a handyman to do tile, electric and plumbing work. Crews began the last week in February. One month later, we were ready for market.
Here’s what we did and what we spent:
You did all that for what?
Paint, removal of wallpaper, scrape ceilings — $7,150
Laminate floors, carpet, 4-inch baseboards — $3,835
Floor tile — $106
Wood blinds — $695
Six canned lights — $175
Stovetop vent hood — $240
Bathroom light fixture — $100
Bath counter materials — $150
Two bath sinks — $80
Two nickel faucets — $60
Towel bars -$40
Two toilets — $196
Café doors — $150
GFI protected outlets — $40
New wall plates throughout — $40
Handyman six days — $1,200
Join me next week as I talk about the upgrades we didn’t do and why.
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through marnijameson.com.