Hearing your phone chirp at you first thing on a Saturday morning isn't always the most welcomed reception. Then again, I don’t ordinarily receive text messages like the one directly above. I think you will agree, this is not your ordinary ‘home sale’ story.
That text was an update from our client Blake and her husband Rob, as they left their house, right before the first of two designated “Showing Blocks” we set up for the first weekend their house was on the market.
Almost 48 hours later, we were under contract, 5+ percent above our original asking price. And even that, was not the highest offer on the table.
How does something like this happen, you ask?
We'll get to that in a moment but let me first take you back about 14 months.
When we originally met, Rob and Blake had recently relocated from the Seattle area for a job opportunity. Renters and brand new parents, at the time, they were looking to put some firm roots down in Austin.
With that said, I’ve been helping home buyers for close to fifteen years and I can count on a few fingers the number of times someone has called me up out of the blue, introduced themselves and followed up with, “Oh by the way, we found a house that we want to buy … can you meet us out there.”
Funny enough, the very first time I met Rob and Blake, we were standing in the interior of what would eventually become their new home.
Except for on that particular Sunday, I was forced to relay the unfortunate news that the listing agent had just returned my call to inform me the sellers accepted a contract, hours earlier. For a young couple, smitten with what they thought was their ‘dream house,’ that’s a fairly crushing blow to take.
We agreed to momentarily pause the search. I was headed out of town the next day anyway.
As luck would have it, the last day of my vacation, the listing agent called to inform me that the original buyer got cold feet and the house was back up for grabs. Except there was already another interested buyer, working on an offer.
Never fails. This type of thing always happens when I’m out of town. I asked the listing agent to buy us another day, as I was certain Rob & Blake would have substantial interest.
Never having purchased a property before, or even made an offer for that matter, they were willing to follow my lead. I advised them on the stakes, the options and the opportunities. Fortunately, their offer was selected, a mere $500 higher than the competing offers. In less than a month’s time, they were newly minted homeowners. Things came together nicely. The dream home was, in fact, theirs.
So, you can imagine my surprise when Blake sent me an email just a little more than a year later that read something like . . .
"Hey, remember us, the one’s who just bought a house we love and put in new flooring and custom draperies . . . yeah, we are moving again. Rob’s company is relocating us to Atlanta. We need you to come out and discuss listing the house. We leave in a couple of months."
At first, I was a little concerned. Hot market or not, 14-months is not a lot of time to gain substantial equity in a home. Not to mention, less than a year and a half earlier, they’d purchased the home in a multiple offer situation, close to the height of the market. It was a 40-year-old mid-century modern that had been gutted and remodeled.
Slick house, no doubt, but not a lot of room for a quick up-sell.
Typically two or three years is the minimum seasoning time before you begin to start seeing an actual profit. That is, when you back out the costs of purchase and sale. In other words, we had no other option than to reach for maximum profit, to keep them out of the red. That could be a pretty massive challenge.
Or so I thought.
What I failed to account for was the fact that Rob and Blake, both very talented graphic designers, had equally adept taste & genius in curating the furniture & finishes of their home. When I met them at the house, it was the first time that I’d actually seen it furnished and finished. The house was a vacant ‘flip,’ when they bought it.
Just a few steps past the front door, it was evident to me that with a little fine-tuning and scientific staging, we were looking at potential walk-off homerun. Their tastes and selections had transformed a nice house into a beautiful home.
It truly was a work of art. I believe, no I know, that was one of the primary reasons the home was in such high demand once we finally put it on the market.
Trust me when I tell you, they aren’t all like that. A friend of mine, who is also in the business, likes to say, “It’s easier to polish a Mercedes than rebuild a Volkswagen.”
Truth is, some houses literally take MONTHS of preparation. In fact, as I write this, I’ve been working with one client on getting his house ‘showcase ready’ for close to FIVE months. On the flip side, though, homes like Rob & Blake’s, while rare, can sometimes be spit-shined and ready to go in a matter of weeks.
We work with homes and clients on both ends of the spectrum. Our systematic Value-Driven Approach is geared toward crafting a unique “prescription” for each and every property we work with. One that has proven the ability to uncover sometimes hidden pockets of profit.