There are a lot of hard things about this job. While I really hate being the bearer of bad or uncomfortable news, I prize honesty and straight-shooting above my own discomfort. One of the hard things is telling good people that they need to do some work on their house before being able to sell at a certain price-point. No one wants to hear that they need to give the kitchen a face-lift to sell at what they were thinking, and it’s natural to respond immediately, “I don’t want to do that now—we could have enjoyed that kitchen ourselves all these years!” At that point, I generally say, “I know, and I feel your pain. I totally get it. But given the market and the competition, you’ll either need to do the work or sell at a lower price-point.” I die a little bit inside when I do that, because yeah—who wants to spend money just to fix things for someone else? But usually, the face-lift makes sense because it will net sellers more money in the end, so often they do it.
I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to go down like that! If you have the money, I want you to enjoy renovations now that you may eventually have to do anyway. I’ve freely offered my design and renovation advice for the last few years because I’m trying to save you some hassle and financial pain later. A number of people have taken me up on my offer.
Before I tell you about that, let me just reiterate: I do this absolutely for free, with no strings attached, for a few reasons. One reason is that I don’t have a design degree or any official-looking credential (beyond client reviews) to point to. The other is that—honestly—I’d much rather you save yourself from this stress later, no matter who you end up listing with. Obviously, I’d love to have your business and I do a great job for my clients (as they’ll tell you), but that is not the expectation at all. I think what happens sometimes is that people are afraid of getting snagged by a realtor before they’re ready to choose one, so they end up not asking one for advice that could save them big bucks and headaches later. I’m sensitive to that and have a “no harassment” policy 🙂
Enough of that. Let me give you some examples of what I’m talking about. Recently, I walked through a house with a couple who was saying they might sell in a few years. They wanted to know if they should replace the carpet, change paint colors, enclose the porch with glass, etc. I told them, based on what I’ve seen in their market, what all they should and should not do: don’t spend money to replace the tub, change these colors here to [specific colors I recommended], don’t encase the porch with glass, do replace carpet with hardwoods, etc. Each house and market is totally different, so don’t take my list as generally-applicable advice, but the point is this: as I walked out the door after an hour of looking at things and talking, they said, “well, I think you just saved us thousands of dollars.” And I thought, “yes, yes I did.” After that I connected them to a number of service providers and left them alone.
So here’s another point: sometimes people mistakenly think they’re adding value by doing certain renovations. Another thing that’s hard about this job is telling a seller that they’ll need to change the paint color in a room that they just painted. Or hearing, for example, that they JUST re-tiled the bathroom (with a very unsuitable color or design). I don’t mean to make anyone feel paranoid (and if you’ve been to my house, you know it’s far from perfect), but all of this is to say, don’t be shy, y’all! Just ask me to come look and we can chat.
A word about design: I love it, genuinely. I don’t know if it’s because I have a lot of artists in the family or what, but I find the whole process of thinking through colors and staging pleasurably immersive. I spent two whole weeks this summer staging a 6500+ sf house, using all of the seller’s own stuff. When I got done with the place, the seller said, “I hired a designer to do what you did and I never liked it. Then I got my sister, a designer, in here and she worked on the place for a long time. What you’ve done here is better than anything I’ve seen, and I love these rooms now!” Then she told her neighbor (also my client) to “do whatever Shen tells you to do. If she wants to move art or whatever, just let her do it.” Boy, do I love hearing that! (And I told her to please give my husband the same instructions :)) I don’t mean to toot my own horn too much, but clients have been very happy with my design work (despite the lack of a degree in it), and I’d be pleased to help you out in this regard as well.
Take care and cheers, my friends.