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Sell By Listing Your Home On Time – Express Homebuyers
Today Brad Chandler and Jeremy Nix (Director of Construction) are on East Capitol Street in Washington, DC to do a preliminary walk through at a renovated house that’s just about a week away from listing. They’re looking for outstanding issues and pointing out problems that could keep you from listing your home on time.
The accompanying video starts out showing you what the house looked like when Express Homebuyers purchased it. What a mess! Look at it now though, all shiny and new, upstairs and down.
Follow along here as Jeremy shares their initial renovation plans for both the interior and exterior and learn what’s important for you to consider when renovating and then preparing to list your properties. You’ll also get an understanding of what his thought process is as he starts to close out a project.
This isn’t a final punchlist review. It is a good opportunity to add a few things to the list before the final punchlist. While these additions to add a little extra to the cost, they’ll make the final project much better in the end. And a week ahead of time gives the contractors enough time to make the fixes without having it end up as a last-minute fire drill.
Outside, the original scope of work only included taking down the awnings and removing the satellite dishes and repairing the downspouts and gutters. Later on though, they decided to paint the brick to help the house stand out from the houses on either side of it.
Painting a Ceiling is Easier Without Furniture in the Room
Inside, the contractors had retouched part of the ceiling, hoping the paint would blend. But it didn’t and now they’ll need to repaint the entire ceiling. Had Brad and Jeremy not come through for a preliminary walkthrough now, they wouldn’t have noticed that issue until after staging furniture was in place. Then there would have been the risk of getting paint on the furniture and it would have taken twice as much time and labor to remedy.
Jeremy had actually visited the house a few days before this walkthrough too, to make sure everyone working had the appropriate materials they needed to close everything out.
Open Concept = Modern
As they continue through the house, Brad asks about taking down a wall between the front living area and the kitchen. Jeremy explains that they did that based on comparable sales in the neighborhood. What he means by comparable sales is they looked at what else was selling based on location and per square foot prices. What they figured out is it would be impossible to sell for the price they wanted unless they took down that wall, opened it up and made it a bit more modern.
They also added an island in the kitchen, a bathroom in the basement and reconfigured the laundry area a little bit. Seventy years ago, when this house was built, there wasn’t a great use of space planning.
These days, buyers want houses that are more open and have more flow between one room and the next. So while they could have come in, kept the existing configuration and simply fixed up what was already there, taking that route wouldn’t have allowed them to get the values they needed.
Before they head upstairs, Brad notices the digital thermostat. Jeremy recommends always upgrading to a digital thermostat as standard process, even if you’re not replacing the HVAC unit. It greatly improves the efficiency of the heating and cooling systems.
How to Keep Some Character
The wood floors are original in this house. And Jeremy always tries to keep them if possible because it adds so much character to the house. Sometimes they have to tooth-in and repair some bad areas of the floors, but then they stain them dark so it covers up any imperfections.
As Jeremy’s going through this house, he’s talking with the contractor and making sure they’re all on the same page. Jeremy wants to ensure the contractor understands what his expectation and time frame is. He’s looking at what still needs to be fixed or touched up. In the front bedroom, he’s noticing smoke detectors are in, the closets are good to go, light switches are installed.
In the upstairs bathroom, the vanity is missing. Jeremy has already talked to the contractor, who has it with him. He doesn’t recall if the vanity will be white or a dark pepper color. The color they choose depends on what the ARV (after repair value) is. Same goes for whether or not the mirror is a plain finish or has a border around it. Sometimes you can get away with “whatever,” but when you start getting up in sale price, you want to be more specific on what the contractor is putting in.
Based on what they’re seeing here, Jeremy is confident they’re on track to get this home listed next week.
On the way back downstairs, Jeremy points out that oftentimes when they refinish the stairs, they paint the risers white, to lighten and brighten the hallway. Leaving it all dark makes it seem more closed in.
Making Adjustments to Maximize ARV
Before they get to the basement, Brad and Jeremy step out the back door to take a look at the patio area. The plan is to install a privacy fence on both sides. This is part of an adjustment to the scope of work to maximize the ARV. Initially there are many things you may or may not be aware of needing to do. But as the project progresses, you can see what the final product will be and you come up with ideas that can really improve the property value.
They’ve added a pargecoat, which is a thin layer of concrete spread across the stone or brick, to the existing brick retaining wall at the back of the patio to smooth it out. It was somewhat damaged and the pargecoat beautifies the wall, eliminating the need to incur the great expense of ripping it out and redoing it. Ultimately, they will paint this wall the same color as the brick on the house, to unify everything and help this house stand out from the row houses on either side of it.
Back inside and downstairs, you see the basement space has been opened up as well. Why did Jeremy choose to build out the basement? Because it adds to the square footage and ultimately adds to the value of the house. Plus, it’s cheap to refinish a basement.
They’ve added a wet bar, a full bathroom and new recessed lighting. A new HVAC unit, water heater have been installed. A new washer and dryer are on the way. They increased the panel size to accommodate all the new electric that was put into the house. This is basically an all-new house. It’s got all new electric, plumbing and duct work.
Recommendations for Moving Forward
The renovation of this house went fairly smoothly. Moving forward, Jeremy recommends focusing a lot more on the details and taking a very proactive approach. Before you even have the first contractor come out, make sure you have a wire tight scope of work. You can’t expect contractors to know what you’re thinking and know what you want if you’re not specific. That type of expectation will ruin your budget as well as relationships.
One week later, here’s what the house looks like, completely ready to go on the market.
If you find this video helpful and want to get more valuable real estate investing tips, fill out the form below and/or subscribe to Brad Chandler’s YouTube channel at Express Homebuyers.
Listing Your Home On Time – Real Estate Investing Tips
Brad: Hey everyone, we’re here on East Capitol Street in DC, a little cold today, February day. We’re going to do a preliminary walk-through here. We’ve got a house that we hope to have listed on Friday. Come on, let’s go check it out. Do you want to talk about the outside of the house, Jeremy?
Jeremy: Yes, so originally when we put scope of work together, it didn’t include doing much to the exterior. We were going to take down these awnings. We were going to remove the satellite dishes, do what we needed to do with the gutters and downspouts but we didn’t really have much else really on the scope of work.
After we started finishing the house and saw what the product ended up looking like, we decided that we wanted to make our house stand out a little bit, with the two houses next to it. We’re going to actually end up painting the front of the façade and the back as well to make it pop a little bit and stand out.
Brad: Awesome. We’re here for as we mentioned the preliminary walk-through. Can you do it in this condition with all the construction going on?
Jeremy: Yes, the idea of today was to come through and ultimately share with everybody what our thought process is as we start to close out a project. While we’re not doing a final punch list, we’re kind of getting an overall preliminary punch list so that way, we can kind of say, “Hey, you know what? Maybe we want to add certain things to the scope of work,” and I can show you a couple of things we’re going to actually end up adding.
It will be a little bit extra but it’s going to make the final project a lot better overall.
Brad: Sounds great. When are we trying to get this house listed?
Jeremy: It’s going to be listed next weekend. Today’s Friday so we’re going to list it the following weekend. I’ll come through today. We’ll put a few things out for the guys, make sure they get that taken care of. That gives them ample time to be able to correct those items prior to the house being listed so it’s not a last minute fire drill.
Brad: Okay, so it looks like we’re close enough that if we wanted to list it prior to Friday, we probably could but from a sales perspective, you want to get the house listed on Friday because that’s when most of the eyeballs hit the market.
Jeremy: Yes, that way, I’m not sure exactly if we’re going to stage this property quite yet or not. We’ll have to talk with the staff back at the office to see but we still have to schedule the photos, and those have to be processed so you have a presence online.
Brad: All right, cool, let’s walk around and see what we’ve got. It’s going to be hard for viewers to see but you had them touch up some spots that weren’t great. You were hoping that the paint would blend.
Jeremy: Yes, that’s what they had done. I don’t know if they already know about this but I’m going to obviously point this out to them, that that obviously is not acceptable.
Brad: Like Jeremy said, wholesaling, you have to be repainting. If you’re standing here, you can see the break lines and it doesn’t look good at all.
Jeremy: Ultimately what happened is if we waited until next Wednesday or Thursday to come through and do this final punch list if you will, then now that we have staging in here, and then we get paint all over everything. It takes guys twice as long to do that type of stuff when there’s furniture in here.
Same thing, I was here a few days ago because I knew we were getting closer so I made sure they had all the appropriate materials they need to close everything out, and we’re on track to be on line.
Brad: Was there a wall out to here with a hallway here?
Brad: Why did we decide to flip this kitchen?
Jeremy: Based on the comps we had from everything, they just made sense to take the wall down and to get the ARV that we needed.
Brad: When Jeremy is talking about comp, when we buy a house or we’re getting ready to buy a house, we look at comparable sales. We look at what is selling based on location per square foot prices, and what we figured out is that it would be impossible to sell for the price if we didn’t open this up and make it more modern.
Jeremy: Right. I don’t know exactly what the dollar figure would be for this specific task of relocating that wall but you can tell that it opens the whole house.
Brad: When Jeremy mentioned ARV, that’s after repair value so once the house is fixed up, obviously we’re created a lot of value. We look at it from an after repair value so we can look at returns. The island wasn’t here.
Jeremy: Right. We added the island. We added a bathroom in the basement. We reconfigured the laundry room area a little bit. Those were the two, this and the basement bathroom addition, were the major.
Brad: How old is this house?
Jeremy: I think it was built probably in the ’50s.
Brad: This house is in the 70 year old range. A lot of the houses in DC are very narrow, and they didn’t have an open floor plan. It’s just the way it was. There wasn’t a great use of space planning. Is that the way to say it back then?
Brad: Now when we come into houses, we generally open them up because people don’t want to be sitting here watching television and have no idea what’s going on in the kitchen. They want to have more of a community feel. They want to see and talk to people in the various rooms.
Jeremy: Yes, they all flow. It’s much greater, everybody wants an open concept.
Brad: We could have come in and just replaced everything and it would have looked completely different, and we would have never gotten the values that we had to get. That’s why we had to do these things.
Jeremy: That’s right. When we go upstairs and take a look up there, there’s one bathroom upstairs. It’s a 3/2, there are three bedrooms upstairs with one full bathroom, and then there’s one other full bathroom in the basement.
Brad: I noticed the digital thermostat. That’s pretty much standard.
Jeremy: It’s standard. We put a digital thermostat in there. Even whenever we’re not replacing a unit, we’ll just go ahead and have the HVAC contractor upgrade the thermostat as a standard thing.
Brad: I put a Nest thermostat in my house in October, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. For $200, I can sit here right now, take the temperature of my house, and if, “Oh, I left the heat on 71, I’m going to turn it down,” beautiful.
Jeremy: The good thing about digital thermostats as well as an advantage versus the old school I think it’s just the mercury slide – I don’t even know what – just the thermostat. From what I understand, for every degree you lower the house for the temperature, you save one percent on your efficiency bill for the year.
Brad: Yes, I actually get emails with my efficiency throughout the month. One last thing, I’m lying in bed, I’m cold or hot. I don’t have to walk downstairs. I just pull out my phone and change it. God forbid you got to walk downstairs.
Jeremy: Yes, technology is great when it works.
Brad: Yes, it works so far. What did we do with the floors in this place?
Jeremy: Actually, these floors were original. We tried to save that as much as we can because it adds so much character to the house. When you come back through with a prefinished product, it just takes away some of the character of the house.
Brad: They look great.
Jeremy: We’ll have them tooth-in and make some repairs for some of the floors that were bad, and it always happens, but usually what we’ll do is stain them dark so it covers up any imperfections, no big deal.
Jeremy: We’re still working on the bathrooms but we got a little bit of stuff in here to do, just some minor stuff that needs some taking care of, but for the most part, we’re moving along, and it should be good to go for listing this upcoming weekend.
Brad: If we’re not here today, what exactly are you doing?
Jeremy: I’m going to go through overall talking with the contractor and making sure we’re all on the same page so he understand what my expectation is, he understands what our expectation is as a company that, “Hey, we’re going to be listing this product on the market the following weekend, and we got to make sure we’re on deadline.” He understands it’s a deadline.
Brad: Okay. Let’s take this room just as an example. Let’s get a little more detail. When you come in here, what do you see? This is more of a high level, like you said earlier, making sure we’re on the same page. Then when I come back in next week, I’ll be really detailed about, “Hey, you missed a spot here.”
Jeremy: This is making sure we’re on the same timeline.
Setting expectations is really what it’s at. Here, we’re going to make sure we do have closet good to go, smoke detectors are in. This is a high level thing.
Brad: The fan covers aren’t in obviously but that’s a last second thing. You have some issues over with the baseboard over there.
Jeremy: This is high level. They know they have to do this stuff obviously. It’s high level.
Brad: This is one of three bedrooms in the house.
Jeremy: Correct, we have the bathroom here. They still have to put the vanity in. I’ve talked with the contractor already. I know he has that with him.
Brad: Again, if they haven’t really finished, there’s not much you can do except to make sure they have the timeline.
Jeremy: Exactly. For this, for the bathroom and things, we’ve already taken the time preliminarily if that’s the right word to where we’ve worked out some of the bugs and some of the potential kinks that we might run across so that we’re on the same pages, all being proactive.
Brad: This mirror here they’re going to install doesn’t have a border. Do we typically put in here?
Jeremy: It varies. It just depends. Some will and some won’t. For this project, this mirror will be fine.
Brad: Okay. What kind of vanity are we putting in?
Jeremy: I believe it is a dark color vanity. I can’t remember if it’s dark or white. It will either be a dark pepper color or white.
Brad: How do we determine if it’s dark or white?
Jeremy: Sometimes we’ll spec it out. Other times we won’t. It just depends on what the ARV is for the property because sometimes you can get away with whatever, and other times, whenever you start getting up there a little bit higher in the sales price, then you want to start being a little more specific on what the contractors put in.
Brad: Okay great, we have two more smaller bedrooms up here, nothing really. It’s the same thing. You’re looking just to make sure nothing major is going to be a huge time suck.
Jeremy: Absolutely. From what I’m seeing so far, we’re definitely on track to hit the deadline of next week to be able to get this listed.
Brad: Awesome. You said we did some work in the basement?
Jeremy: Yes. On a lot of our properties, whenever we sand and refinish the stairs, we’ll paint the risers white. It just makes our hallway a little lighter and brighter whenever you go up. If it was all dark, it would really close the room and hallway in. It makes it brighter. Can you imagine if it was dark all the way up and down?
Brad: Before we go downstairs, is there anything outside you were going to do at this point?
Jeremy: Yes, actually there are a couple. We can go ahead and talk about that now. We got a decent patio out here that was existing. Did you want to go out there?
Brad: Yes, sure.
Jeremy: We have the patio out here. What we’re going to end up doing is putting in a privacy fence from the house out to the concrete wall here, and the same thing on this side. Greg was out here the other day, and we talked about the next portion of stuff we’re going to change, adjusting the scope of work to maximize the ARV.
There are a lot of things that you may or may not think that you need to do initially whenever you’re at the property but as it progresses, you can see what the final products are going to look like. You think, “Wow, if would have just put this six foot privacy fence in after.” We’re just being a little bit more proactive at this point and doing it prior.
Brad: When you’re doing your walk-through back here a week prior to listing, what are you looking for?
Jeremy: I’ve already talked to the contractor again. We’re going to have the same pargecoat on this brick up there to make it all uniform. Basically what the pargecoat is for people that don’t know is we’ll take just a thin layer of concrete that they spread across the face of the stone to make it smooth.
You can see what the brick looks like back there. It’s a little shoddy. It was a lot worse down here in this area. You can see on the backside. This was brick.
Brad: Okay. I’m assuming from a cost standpoint, instead of wholly ripping it out and redoing the brick, we put this over and it looks beautiful, and it’s a lot less expensive.
Jeremy: Absolutely. Then what we’re going to do ultimately is we’re going to end up painting this the same color that we’re going to paint the brick in the house. We’re going to paint the house as well because it will make the house stand out a bit better when we have it listed on the market so it won’t blend in with the other two row houses next to it, so it stands out.
Brad: Great tip for investors or homeowners looking to sell their house and improve the value, if you have brick retaining walls that are falling apart, rather than replace them, you can cover them.
Jeremy: You can see on the backside here where there was originally brick. We actually have a parking pad up there. They have the fence up there they have to repair. It’s supposed to be nice this weekend so the guys are focusing on trying to close out the stuff on the inside and then work outside over the weekend.
Brad: Anything else out here?
Jeremy: They’re going to take down this huge antenna that really dates the age of the house.
Brad: I’m assuming we’ll paint these?
Jeremy: Yes, these are actually going to be replaced. This is going to be new. There are going to be steel posts there. These are new as well. Shall we go downstairs and take a look, see what we have down here? Down here, they finished this off.
Brad: What was it like before when we bought this place?
Jeremy: I think this was all cornered up. There were a bunch of walls down here. There were a bunch of different things. People just do things makeshift over the course of 70 years, a lot of hairy homeowners if you will have come through and done their own thing to make it what they needed to make it for their own place.
Brad: All new down here.
Jeremy: Yes, we added a wet bar down here. We added the bathroom as I mentioned earlier, all new HVAC, all new duct work. We had to increase the panel size to accommodate all the new electric that we put in the house. We have all new recessed lights everywhere.
The old panel didn’t have the oomph that it needed to supply the new upgrades.
Brad: Why did we finish the basement?
Jeremy: It just adds to the square footage. It’s cheap to finish a basement as opposed to having to go out and add additional square footage. It’s square footage that you can capture.
At the end of the day, it adds value. It actually helps sell the house because you’ve got a bigger house. You can throw a wide screen TV down here. There’s a lot of stuff you can do down here. You can even have a bed, a fold-up couch for if you have guests that come over, use this as a guestroom. We can show you the bathroom that we did down here that did not exist prior to use buying it.
Brad: There’s going to be a full bath, which again would be great for guests or if you’re down here watching TV. As we said earlier, you don’t have to walk all the way up the stairs to go bathroom. Can you imagine that?
Jeremy: Right, too much effort. Nice wet bar here, storage closet.
Brad: This is just the utility room, correct?
Brad: Did we put in brand new HVAC and water heater?
Jeremy: Yes, all of that is new. The washer and dryer will be over here on this side, all plumbed in, all new. It’s basically a brand new house. It really is. There was a lot of framing that was done to the original stuff. It’s literally all new ductwork, all new electric, all new plumbing. It’s literally a brand new house.
Brad: Anything about the house or the process that you learned? I know you’ve done a lot of houses. Was there anything special about this one?
Jeremy: To tell you the truth, unfortunately not. I wish there was something I could tell you we learned from this one, I guess other than the fact we had some contractor issues in the beginning and we learned a few things about different contractors and the ways you have to handle certain contractors.
Brad: Anything you would do differently that you could give some advice on? What went wrong?
Jeremy: I think really we are going to be doing moving forward is focusing a lot more on the details and making sure – you’ll hear me say this quite a bit – to be proactive. By proactive, it starts from the very beginning of the project, before you even have the first contractor out here.
Make sure you have a wire tight scope of work. You can’t compare apples to oranges. You can’t expect it to be, “Hey, you know what? We’re going to have a wet bar down here,” and not properly communicate that to the contractor, “Hey, you know what? We want a wet bar down here,” because that could change your budget significantly and ruin the relationship.
Brad: Awesome. Hope you guys enjoyed that. If you want to see more, subscribe to the channel by hitting subscribe, and also fill out the form below. We’re going to have some awesome content coming up in the days, weeks, and months ahead.