Dark kitchens with black quartz countertops, ivy-covered home exteriors and a considerable amount of chintz might make some listing agents’ heart sink. The Chester County, Main Line area luxury real estate market in Pennsylvania is overflowing with large family homes featuring these design fads from 15 years ago.
But one of BHHS Fox and Roach top listing agents Jim and Michelle Bernardine (Team Bernardine) can see a home’s good bones through the cosmetic nightmares of their target area and help sellers capitalize on an opportunity. In fact, maximizing value-add on home reno is their stock and trade.
That early conversation with sellers about the home improvements necessary to attract top dollar can be tricky. By that point, sellers have disconnected from the home and they’re reluctant to part with any dollars upfront. That’s when a concrete timeline, intel on the highest value remodeling projects, proven track record and the ability to persuade comes in for an agent looking to make the case for the big picture.
Jim and Michelle have lost count of the number of times sellers have quipped adamantly during a walkthrough: “You need to know; I’m not changing anything.” Yet by the end of the home tour, they have agreed to do $150,000 worth of work.
Counsel clients: ‘Think of your home as a bank machine’
Team Bernardine does pre-listing improvements on around 70 percent of the homes that they list regionally and typically manages to Double a seller’s return on those renovations. Being in the construction business for over 25 years I know houses inside and out and have the contacts to get them finished, and Michelle knows the market like no one else!
Team Bernardine proposed improvements usually include a comprehensive plan for design, construction, and staging, with costs ranging from $50,000 to $500,000.
To get clients on board, Team Bernardine asks them to look at their house through "BUYERS EYES". Would you buy this house in this out dated condition? Buyers want a move in ready houses, not projects dealing with contractors, time and lots of money. How many thousands of dollars do you want to come back, and how fast do you want to sell? In this market, the houses in the best condition and fully updated are the homes selling.
If they want the higher price tag (and of course, many do), they’re hooked!
Top 5 home improvements
McLaughlin’s top five home improvements are critical to helping sellers maximize returns. They include:
- Exterior paint
- Interior paint
- Staining of hardwood floors to dark or gray
- Resurfacing kitchen and bathroom counters
- Painting wood cabinets in the kitchen
They give clients a clear timeline over a two-to-three-month period: home improvements on average take three weeks, with around five sub-contractors on the job.
In deciding where to make improvements, Team Bernardine is pragmatic, weighing what buyers will truly worry about — starting with essentials like the roof. A pre-listing before the inspection is a must and informs what they prioritize.
Design as icing on the cake
Then there are the design elements that attract the attention of buyers browsing homes online.
People don’t understand that subliminally, what is attracting them, is contrast. If everything is beige or light green, the consumer can disregard the most expensive homes and not find them very interesting. It’s the contrast that holds their attention.
401 Red Fox, Wayne PA undergoing major remodel
Team Bernardine uses professional photography and two-minute “TV-style” videos with ambient noise, short interviews, and lifestyle shots to promote listings.
You need reliable contractors to achieve these types of projects and home transformations. With our experience of being in the field for over 25 years, we have deep connections in the industry and can steer you in the right direction to qualified contractors.
We take what is a very unsellable, undesirable home in today’s market and make it chic.
Here are some projects we are working to get to market.
1426 E. Strasburg, West Chester PA undergoing major remodel
Some finished houses