In Houston, the mansion of a former professional baseball player sat on the market two years. Two different brokerages represented the property during that time, and still, it failed to sell. Things were dire for the owners, who would soon face foreclosure. In a final effort to sell the home, they brought in Tricia Turner, CEO of Tricia Turner Properties Group brokered by ExP in Houston.
“It should have sold for $4 million [when it was first listed]. But when I entered the home, I saw clearly why it hadn’t sold,” says Turner.
The home was cluttered with dated furniture, as the couple couldn’t afford to spend anything on staging or cleanup, and Turner knew that was needed to sell the home. In a two-week time frame, she and her team brought in a cleaning crew and removed all the dated or dingy items. Those items were replaced with new, stylish furniture, and key areas like the pool deck were staged to entice interested buyers. Turner spent a total of $9,000, but the home sold for $3 million, and the transaction closed one week before the home went into foreclosure.
Turner and other brokers offer an array of services to help their clients maximize profits, which she says leads to more money for everyone and a better experience for the client. Brokers know better than anyone what sells in their communities, and are therefore positioned to help clients in this way.
Through her Make it Pretty Program, Turner offers sellers services including cleanup, staging and minor repair work to transform their homes into listing-ready shape. Her motto is “Fix now, sell for more, pay at closing.” Turner pays for the costs upfront, and the money is recouped once the home is sold.
She’s realized over the years that many reasons prevent homeowners from possessing the funds to fix up their homes when it’s time to sell. Seniors might have lots of equity but no cash. Medical issues act as a continuous siphon. Fixed incomes and raising children are expensive.
She belives that these life circumstances should not prevent sellers from making the most money on their homes. She says that nearly three-quarters of her clients use the Make it Pretty Program.
“If we can invest a few thousand dollars, the sellers get a better experience and sell it faster, and everyone makes more money,” says Turner. “We absorb the cost at first and bring in the manpower. I believe it’s our job to help homeowners with their biggest assets and to go beyond the call of duty.”
Pay It Forward
Kyle Morris has a past that informs how he operates in the real estate world today. As someone who lost everything as a result of substance abuse, he knows what it’s like to be at the bottom, and he worked hard to get back to equilibrium, he says. If it hadn’t been for the people who took chances on him and helped him throughout his journey, his story might be very different, he adds.
“It all started when I had been sober for six months and got my real estate license in March 2017,” says Morris, broker-owner of Morris Property Group powered by F.C. Tucker in Carmel, Ind.
At the time, he was learning the business, but not selling much, so he had more time to devote to putting in extra effort with his clients. The first home he helped rehab was a rental property in need of siding, new carpet and a landscaping makeover.
“I didn’t have anything else to do. I did it myself to stay busy to protect my sobriety. I knew how to do DIY stuff,” he says.
After that, he acquired his first client: a woman who was in foreclosure and owed the bank $70,000. He spent several hours and $2,500 of his own money to fix up the property. When he listed the home, it sold for $100,000 in a matter of two days.
“The look on her face and her overwhelming gratitude made me think that I was onto something,” he says.
Morris’ business grew through word-of-mouth, and today he’s a busy broker with a sizeable team of agents. Still, he and his team are committed to rehabbing the homes of clients in need. They use their own money and sweat equity, as Morris believes it’s his way of giving back to the community that held him up when he needed it. The efforts pay for themselves.
“I don’t make any cold calls. Just this month, I’ve [acquired] a dozen listings. We do something differently and with good intent and nature,” Morris says.
He and his team renovated 100 houses last year and are on schedule to do the same this year. Not every house needs the same amount of work, he says. On average, two out of three homes they sell have some level of upkeep or renovation completed by the team.
“It’s really been the most amazing experience, [including] the way it’s grown exponentially. It’s been mind-boggling,” he says.
Leverage Expertise and Connections
For years, Tana Lee worked as an interior designer for residential and commercial clients. A local builder convinced her to get her real estate license, and now she provides design consultation to her clients at no cost. Thanks to her years in the interior design field, Lee compiled a long list of professionals in the industry as well—a boon to her clients who need these services.
“I enjoy sharing my expertise in a how a room can be transformed,” says Lee, SRES, broker-owner of Red Truck Real Estate in Billings, Mont. “I am happy to share my resources with my clients so that they are hiring reputable contractors who can get the job done right.”
One of her clients, an elderly woman who had lived in her home for a few decades, had boxes upon boxes of her belongings stacked in every room. The home needed a host of cosmetic updates as well.
“She had spent her life as an elementary teacher and had the biggest heart. Her health was failing, and she was relocating out of state to be close to her children,” Lee says.
Lee knew that her client lacked the means to ready the house for listing. She also knew, however, that if she sold the house in its current condition, the client would lose out on tens of thousands of dollars in equity.
“I reached out to my connections of suppliers, installers and contractors, and we were able to give the home a fresh makeover of new paint, flooring and lighting without her having to pay upfront for the expenses. The renovations cost less than $15,000, and the home sold for $60,000 more than it would have likely sold for before.”
Since the client’s home was paid off, the suppliers were willing to submit their invoices to be paid out of escrow at closing, which avoided any requirement to come up with the money out of pocket.
“It felt amazing to help my client, who spent her life giving back to others, in this way.”
Lee says that she provides some level of design advice and coordination to about half of her clients. She also offers move-out cleaning services for her sellers so that the home is in move-in-ready condition for the buyer. This service, she said, is beneficial to all parties involved. Final walkthroughs are a breeze thanks to a freshly cleaned home, and the buyer is happy.
“Sellers are pretty excited to hear that they don’t have to go back and scrub out the refrigerator or showers,” she says.
When a home is as marketable as possible, everyone from the broker and the agent to the buyer and seller benefit. Sometimes, all it takes is consultation. Other times, clients need more help. Look at the skills and expertise that exist in your brokerage and see how you can leverage them to help clients at the beginning of the transaction. The upfront effort has the power to pay dividends in the end.