The 80/20 Rule Applies with Home Preparation

Craftsman Home

Craftsman Home

I just got off the phone with past clients that are in the process of getting their Dad’s home ready for sale. The home is a stunning Craftsman home in a prime historical district. The home has character and presence, the only problem is Dad let maintenance go for the last several decades.

We talked about the scope of work that is underway, and could sense that this has been a big undertaking for the family. I have been consulting along the way and from the outset understood that this is a very worthwhile property to resurrect, but could become an overwhelming all encompassing job as well.

When we discussed individual repairs, I reminded the son that the 80/20 rule applies when selling a home. That 20% of the fix up items will yield 80% of results, and it might even be 90%/10%.  The advice that I am about to give, does not apply if this is your own home. Obviously, this type of property deserves loving, detailed attention, but if an owner is looking to get their home on the market, a detailed perfectionist approach may drag out the process for months if not years, and be a financial loss.

The goal should be, with big broad brush strokes, to eliminate a buyer from feeling overwhelmed by work and show off the homes potential. The work should allow a buyer to move in with little expense. A buyer may see details that need to be improved, but they can be done at a later date. A future project that they can get excited about. They can make the home their own. It is this new buyer that is ideally suited to spending the time, money and effort with these finishing details.

So what are these “Big broad brush strokes” that I am referring to? Let me give you an example. Usually I can redo the interior of the average home for around $10,000.  2440 Marber was the perfect example. This actually was Dad’s old home and he hadn’t done anything in years. We repainted the interior, refinished the hardwood flooring and put down new linoleum in the kitchen and bathrooms. It took less than two weeks to complete and you can see the difference.

2440 Marber – Before & After Photos


Below is an outline of the costs:
Interior Paint: $3,450 + remove “cottage cheese” on ceiling $1,525 = $4,975
Install Baseboards: $725
Linoleum: Kitchen $716, common bath $275, master bath $235 = $1,226
Total: $9176

So with less than $10,000 we eliminated pink flowered wallpaper on the ceiling, ugly old carpet and resurrected the beautiful hardwood floors. Essentially 90% of the visual surfaces were redone, new and gleaming. There is no doubt that they home could benefit from a new remodeled gourmet kitchen, but this would cost $30,000+ and take 3 months to coordinate and execute, and still leave the rest of the home in need of repair.

If the buyer had seen the home prior to the $10,000 in repairs, they may have causally estimated the costs of fix up to be $30,000. Eliminating this $30,000 concern, opened up the market to buyers unable or unwilling to fix the home or see the vision. In addition it put an extra $20,000 in the sellers pocket.

Seeing the big picture or having a vision of what improvements will yield the greatest return is not always easy, especially when the home is your own. It is for this reason that we provide our clients with free consultation and assistance when it comes to helping them maximize value. We invite your questions or comments.