Let me start with a story that has nothing (and everything) to do with real estate.
A few years ago I started having heart palpitations. It was simply annoying at first, until it happened in the middle of the night and I thought I might die. I didn’t know much about it so I researched it on the internet. There were tons of articles and WebMD info about heart palpitations. It started by saying that most of the time this condition is harmless… unless it’s not… then you might die. Then it gave a list of 50 things to improve the symptoms. The list seemed to be the same for every health problem I’d ever had: reduce stress, eat better, exercise more-unless it increases the heart palpitations of course. So I went back to bed with lots of info but no clear direction.
After another night of not sleeping and more online research, I went to see my doctor. I explained my problem and her answer was that I should cut out caffeine for 2 weeks and see if that worked. To be honest, I was pissed. I took a half day off work, drove into the city, paid for parking, waited in the office, sat on the crunchy paper, had my pulse taken, turned off my phone etc. etc. for something this simple? Not ok. I told her I needed a real fix. She said…”Ok, here’s how this looks; I send you to a specialist, you go to the appointment, they do all these tests, hook you up to a machine that monitors your heart for 2 weeks, and you have to check in every couple days. But before they can start all that, they send you home with an order of no caffeine for 2 weeks.”
Aha. I understood. She short circuited all my overthinking and personal problem solving with a clear direction. The simplicity of it was initially confusing but in reality she had seen thousands of people just like me and knew how to best help me with the least amount of pain and hassle.
My job as a Realtor is similar. Clients can access lots of online information about homes, neighborhoods, and schools all without me. They hire me because I am their advocate against information overload, helping sort out the meaningful content from the noise. There are so many decisions to make in a transaction and it is impossible to pre-plan for all of the possible problems. For example – when should you have a sewer scope done and when should you skip it? What happens if there is a sewer line issue? You might have been the winning bid, but your bargaining power is decreased when 3 other buyers are lined up in case you don’t want to buy the home. Should you buy it anyways? The answer is… it depends, and that is what I help clients decide.
Information is great, but it’s different than knowledge. At an average price of over five hundred thousand dollars per home in the Seattle area, it’s important to know when to have open heart surgery, and when to simply lay off the caffeine.
To A/C or not to…..That is the question
Ever since we purchased our current home without A/C thirteen years ago, this conversation has been a hot topic (pun intended) for my family. I argue that for $10,000 to install the new system, we could spend quite a few nights camped out at The Westin. In fact, 5 days per year at $200 per night means we could hotel it for ten years before we were in the hole. On the other hand, my husband claims that a good night’s sleep allows for better work days, therefore upping our overall earning power which would offset the cost.
Fueling the discussion recently, Seattle has had particularly hot summers in the past few years. Last summer saw 12 days over 90 degrees and 26 days over 85 degrees. The year before was the previous record at 22 days. Not to mention the 116 days over 70 degrees. Typically Seattle only has 10 days a year with temps over 85 degrees. With the heat climbing, I know we aren’t the only ones dreaming of A/C on another sweaty sleepless night.
So how does having A/C play into the value of your home? Here comes the tough truth… it doesn’t add value to your home. It is a fabulous feature to market, and the buyer will be very happy to have it, but I couldn’t take the value of a home and add $10k because of the A/C. I help folks from all over the country purchase in Seattle. The locals never assume a house has A/C, and people from the East always assume it has A/C. Either way, they don’t make their decision to purchase it, or whether it is worth the price, based on A/C. In that moment there are too many other important considerations, mostly about location, lot size, room size/count, overall condition, schools etc.
So here is my advice. If you want to get A/C for the enjoyment and comfort of your family, go for it!! Consider it an investment in your well-being. As for us, after 13 years of discussion, we have decided to make the investment. And since we will apparently be getting a better night’s sleep, we will be extra ready to help you sell your home- A/C or not. J
Bonus Round – Ideas in case you don’t want to purchase full A/C
- Buy a small local unit. It’s good for one room at a time. Cost $400
- Once the sun goes down, open all windows and turn on fans to blow the hot air out. It usually cools down enough at night making for a natural A/C.
- Visit your friend who has A/C. We all have that one friend with A/C. Now seems a good time to catch up. (Give us a call if you want to come mooch off of ours).
- Starbucks – At $4 per coffee, the price of A/C is built in, so stay and hang out all afternoon.
- Movies – So cold you’ll need a sweater.
- Small plastic pool – for the adults. Put it in your front yard, pull up a lawn chair and put your feet in. It will give your neighbors something to talk about. If you want to give your neighbors another reason to talk, leave it there over the winter.
My teenage son’s bathroom is a source of angst in my house. No, not from the teenager himself, but the mess left in his wake. Every day I walk past the usual basketball shorts and balled up socks on the floor. The damp towel barely clinging to the rack, deathly scared to join the shorts on the floor. The myriad of personal grooming items scattered on the counter grow in number as a new scent or 10 blade razor system is added and never used. Despite its incredible radius, most of the time I just don’t notice the mess. I call this “Selective Blindness.” My husband, however, does not have selective blindness causing much angst which we shall save for a future post, or my therapist/hairdresser Amy.
Because I don’t see his messy bathroom anymore, I figured this is what it’s like for my clients when they put their home on the market. Thankfully, my clients’ bathrooms are rarely as messy as my teenager’s. Nevertheless, clients will clean up their whole house, install new carpets, paint the walls, and declutter the kitchen, but when I go into their bathroom they still have out their razors, toothbrush and soaps out! This is another version of selective blindness.
The most important part of making a bathroom presentation-ready is to have ALL personal items put away. Even Shampoo is a very personal item to a buyer who is in your home looking at your shower. To you, it may blend into the natural landscape of the bathroom, but all a buyer sees is the mental image of a stranger showering in their potential new home.
I understand that there’s a practical reason for having these items out. Toothbrushes and razors are used every day. Unfortunately, getting a home ready for sale means suspending some of the everyday comforts of home. Ask anyone who has eaten Teriyaki for dinner five times a week to avoid messing up their kitchen for showings – not practical. Selling your home can sometimes be stressful, but I promise that this part doesn’t have to be!
So… what to do? Don’t worry, there’s an easy solution. Get a shower caddy or basket to hold all of your bathroom items and tuck it under the sink. Pull it out when you need to use it in the morning. Before you leave for work, tuck it back under the sink and out of sight. A quick wipe of the counters and you’re done. The bathroom will stay tidy for the duration of the home being on the market with little additional effort.
Our own son will be a college kid in a few months, but I am not going to bother buying a shower caddy for him…we all know why right?