Monday, August 17, 2009

Enter Pete the Painter

This weekend, the condo will have been on the market for three months.

So much for a quick sale with the condo “as is.” Since May, I have decluttered enthusiastically but otherwise rejected suggestions from the agent and also from friends to “freshen” the condo.

Yesterday, my son asked during a phone conversation if I am being stubborn about making home improvements. “Yes,” I said. “Yes, I am being stubborn – not about making improvements, but about spending money.”

He reminded me what one month’s rent in San Francisco will cost me. Then he said it’s time I was willing to spend close to that on the condo in the hope that the improvements will result in a sale.

“Great stuff is happening here, things you will want to do and be part of,” he said. “Sell the condo and get here.”

Here are some of my freshening options:

• Paint the entry way.
• Paint the long hall.
• Paint the dining room.
• Repair cracked tiles in the bathroom floor.
• Replace some missing grout in the kitchen floor’s terra cotta tiles.
• Paint the kitchen cabinets.

“You have THE UGLIEST kitchen cabinets I have ever seen,” offered one friend. She has said this more than once.

She is right. I also have an older laminate countertop and older carpeting. I admit it. I have chosen to spend discretionary funds on plane tickets, not on updating the condo.

Last Thursday I had lunch with five buddies from my water exercise class. I brought fortune cookies to the table, and ripped mine open immediately. I read it and howled. “Listen to the wisdom of the old,” it read. Everyone at the table was older than me, and I am not young.

“What should I do to the condo, oh wise older women?” I asked.

Here are their collective answers:

• Do absolutely nothing.
• Do everything the agent suggests.
• Do only what you can afford.
• Do absolutely nothing except lower the price.

The fifth woman removed the fortune from her cookie, read it and tossed it across the table to me. It read: “The simplest answer is to act.”

The painter is coming over on Wednesday. Stay tuned.


  1. Good luck, Pat. Sounds like quite the adventure.

    Jeremy Kohler

  2. I imagine it's less than rewarding to do home improvements on a place you are planning to leave. Maybe you can be on the DIY/HGTV network.

  3. My friend who is an agent says that it will be money well spent. That makes no sense to me: I would think that people would perfer to buy something that was habitable -- which your condo certainly is -- but has not had much done to it recently, so they could change it to suit their own taste without feeling they were undoing work that had just been done. But I am told I am wrong... by people who have a lot more experience of such things than I have.

    But whatever it takes to get it sold is worth doing!

  4. I'm a Realtor who stumbled upon your blog. You mentioned in a previous post that there are 19 other condos for sale that are your competition. (Keep in mind- that's just in Creve Couer- Don't forget that buyers look in the surrounding areas as well- in reality you are competiting with close to 50 other condos).

    Buyers do not think about your condo the way you do. They have not learned to overlook its imperfections as you have. Buyers want the best condo for the cheapest price possible. And in this market, they have many options. The real question is how does your condo compare to the others for sale?

    If there is another condo in the same price range with nicer cabinets - it will get the offer. If there is another condo that is more updated than yours- it will get the offer.

    How do you compete? Either make yours the most updated condo or make yours the cheapest condo. Sellers never like to hear this, but in the current market, this is how you get the offer. Don't make the mistake of telling yourself that you are "waiting for the right buyer" to come along- that's a lie sellers tell themselves when they don't want to face reality. Every buyer is the "right" buyer. They need a reason to choose yours over the competiton. To sell, you need to do what you need to do. Otherwise, you will spend another Christmas in St. Louis. Good luck with everything.