They’re planning to sell in March . . .

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We have friends who are planning to sell their Ballard home, and it is beautiful. It wasn’t always that way; Mack remembers visiting them the first winter after they bought it, one of them working on a Ph.D. thesis in the kitchen, rainwater pouring down the inside wall. “We’re getting to it,” we were told.

Today, a second-story addition (designed by Chris Serra of BjarkoSerra Architects) has given them three bedrooms upstairs, two for the kids and a master with roughed-in bath, a full bath in the hallway, and it’s perfectly integrated into the original home, which no longer lets in rainwater! The new kitchen is to-die-for, and it’s turned into just a fabulous home.

But, it’s time to move on, and although the non-Ph.D. of the home is a carpenter who has done most of the work, there’s still a few unfinished projects, a few unstarted projects(!), and some buttoning-up to do. The exterior hasn’t been painted in this millennium, there’s trim details and touch-up paint needed on the inside, the deck has to be rebuilt, the basement is a mess, the new kitchen is gorgeous but the new fir floors suffered from a burst pipe, we’ve got some ideas to add this and that . . . how do we decide what’s worth doing over the next few months?

So, we walk around the house with them, and talk. After an hour or so, we start to bring things into focus.

We decide that the visuals are paramount, so the paint is a priority. The permits haven’t been signed off on the decks, so correcting the stairs and completing that project is a priority. Finishing off the master bath will return about ten times the cost, so that is a priority.

There are secondary, “nice to do if we have time” items. Finishing the basement may be cost-effective, but it’s not a priority. If there’s time and budget, creating a clean, light, and finished laundry area would be beneficial. Since it’s dry (so far!), we can use staging to help illustrate how the spaces can be used beyond that.

Of the two bedrooms on the main floor, one is currently used as an office (no more waterfalls), and it’s not necessary to take out the shelving and create a closet. The other “bedroom” is being used as a TV room and has a closet, so there’s nothing that needs to be done there.

The living and dining rooms are gorgeous Craftsman-era and look great as-is, the kitchen floor survived the pipe burst and while it no longer looks “new,” it looks better than any refinished fir floors from the 1920’s does!

A couple of days after we thought about things, and reported back to the owners, they replied, thanking us for helping them prioritize, and re-focus on the things they need to do that will help sell the home.

The point of this story is to remind our clients that it’s worthwhile to call us in well before you start doing things to get the home ready for the market. Our friends could have thrown thousands of dollars and weeks of time on projects that would have made the home better for them to live in, and maybe not had the time or money to finish the projects that would make a buyer want to live in it!

Six months is not too early, a year isn’t too early – heck, if you’re thinking of doing anything to your house at all, you probably want to know how it will enhance the value of your home, so why not have us over, even if it’s for something as “small” as a bathroom or kitchen remodel, or a deck or patio. Besides, we might have some ideas or resources that will help you achieve a better result while saving money!

BTW: please don’t “feel bad” about taking our time. We are easily bribed by a cup of coffee and a tasty snack!

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  1. Glenn Roberts on September 1, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Come on over, Mac. See the 3/4 finished new bath. Some day you will list this house…if I have anything to say about it.

  2. Nice Seattle Homes on September 1, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Should we bring beer, wine, or fizzy water?