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A Day with the Gals: Fixing Up the Fixer-Upper

Posted by Johnine Larsen on April 1, 2014
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His grandmother lived in Washington; he lived in Colorado. A young man in his mid-twenties, Brad flew regularly between the two states, because even though he lived in Colorado, the responsibility of caring for his grandmother had fallen to him. And he took his responsibility seriously. Brad supported his grandmother financially, and he visited her as often as his time and money would allow.

But he needed more money to keep paying for her group home, so Brad wanted to sell his grandmother’s old Queen Anne co-op. Brad found Johnine through one of her past clients, and the two agreed to work together.

photoThe Queen Anne co-op, though, was not a pretty sight. Brad’s grandmother had lived there for more than forty years before moving to the group home, and everything in it was old, old, old. Yellowed walls, scuffed cabinets, stained carpet. Even with the best staging, this home would look far worse than its actual value. Johnine estimated she could sell it for only $185,000 as-is.

“You can get more if you remodel,” Johnine told Brad. “For every dollar you put in, you’ll get two dollars back when it sells.”

Brad was reluctant. Conducting a remodel this extensive would require time and involvement—but Brad lived in Colorado. photo 2It would demand many flights back and forth. Flights that he could not afford.

“We can find a way to do this,” Johnine encouraged him. “Every improvement we make will mean that much more money for your grandma.”

“I can’t,” he said. “I’m all for fixing it up and getting a better sale, but I don’t have the time or the money.”

“I can do it,” Johnine said. “I’ll manage the whole thing for you.”

“How much would it cost me?”

“Nothing. The remodel would cost you, but I’ll manage it for free.”

“Why?” Brad asked.

“Because I heard your story, and I want to help you and your grandma. If that means managing a remodel, I’ll manage a remodel.”

Brad wanted to do it. But again, he ran into the problem of money. A full remodel would cost $25,000—far more than he could afford. But Johnine had another idea: Brad would pay for what he could, and Johnine would front the rest of the money. He would pay her back once the house sold.

Brad agreed.

26316_4He put forward $6,000, and Johnine put forward $19,000. Then she picked the materials and selected the contractors. She managed the whole project for free, and Brad did not have to do anything.

When the remodel finished, Brad listed the co-op with Johnine, and it sold for $245,000. Minus the cost of their improvements, Brad and Johnine had earned $35,000 extra for his grandmother.

Johnine and Brad both made leaps of faith—Brad might not have paid her back, or he might have listed with another agent; and Johnine might not have done what she promised. But they had trusted each other, and it worked out well for everyone.

That’s how the Real Estate Gals view business. It’s about relationships. It’s about people. We want to know our clients, and we want the best for them, and we want to do the right thing.26316_10