10 Jul2017

The magic number: How do you get the highest price for your house? - Testimonial from Brad and Shaunna Verhulst

Setting the asking price for a house can be complicated. You have to account for the home's square footage, research local house values and estimate how much improving and staging a home will add to the asking price. After doing all that, you might be surprised.

Sometimes, that’s a good thing.

When Shaunna and Brad decided to put their house on the market in January, they met with Chris Small, a real estate broker with Small & Associates Real Estate. Their Church Hill property, known as the Adams Crump House, had been built in the Federal style in 1813, and it had significant, historic value.

“The house was like an estate nestled in townhouses,” Chris said. “It’s probably one of the most enviable Federal-style houses on Church Hill. It’s special.”

Historic properties can pose problems when they come on the market, though. So at his initial meeting with Shaunna and Brad, Chris offered ideas for making the home's appeal more apparent to buyers looking for a more modern lifestyle.

“He suggested repainting some rooms in modern colors, bringing in modern furniture to replace our antiques and adding a large island to the kitchen,” Shaunna said. “Sometimes, it’s hard to hear somebody critique your house, but we agreed because it would open the house to buyers we would not have gotten otherwise.”

Making sure a property reaches the greatest number of potential buyers isn’t an exact science. But assessing a home's strengths and weaknesses can be fairly straightforward.

“I look at the unrealized potential of the house and what helps me to get people to see those features,” Chris said. “It’s different in many cases. I’ve done houses where we’ve spent $35,000 to $55,000 and made money back twice over.”

The work Chris suggested for the Adams Crump house came in at a lower price: $10,000.

Shaunna and Brad agreed to the plan. They settled on an asking price, too: $570,000.

Then, after Chris inspected his team’s improvements and alterations, he suggested that Shaunna and Brad do something unexpected: raise their asking price to $599,950.

Shaunna and Brad were initially nervous about raising the asking price because they were moving out of Virginia, and they didn’t want the sale to drag on too long. But Chris showed the couple other Church Hill houses on the market, and they agreed with his suggestion.

“More money is always good,” Shaunna said, with a laugh.

“I was confident we’d be in the right place,” Chris said. “I look studiously at homes in the immediate area because house prices are local. I recently sold a house in the Museum District for significantly over what others said it was worth, for example. But they were only looking at square footage.”

As it turned out, the market supported Chris’s instinct. He promoted the listing heavily with advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and nearly 100 people showed up for the open house.

“We got the first offer seven days after we listed it,” Chris said. “It was three percent below our asking price. Then, the next day, we got an offer for $600,000.”

Shaunna and Brad accepted the offer.

“It was nice that it sold so quickly,” Shaunna said.

For his part, Chris wasn’t surprised.

“It’s where I thought we could go,” he said.

In the end, getting an offer significantly above what Shaunna and Brad initially hoped to get came down to a few key steps, from well-selected improvements and staging to social media advertising and a well-timed open house.

“Most important was giving them the right advice and helping them execute it,” Chris said. “It wasn’t one thing – it was a cocktail of things that showed the house to its advantage.”

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  • 5413 Patterson Avenue, Suite 200
  • Richmond, VA 23226
  • 804-353-1250
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