This entry was posted on 8/28/2006 11:26 AM.
This past week I caught up with a friend I haven’t talked with in a few months. After school she moved away to start a new job and bought a house. She bought it knowing that the home would need some repairs and improvements before it could be sold for its highest possible price. She has been gradually making progress on the house, but it definitely has not had her focus. Now with a potential job change her house is not ready to sell. We talked about how quickly the repairs and improvements could be made so that she does not have to hold off on what is best for her career.
This got me to thinking about my own house and the list of things I know I want to do before renting or selling it. The list has grown over the last year of living in it from what was initially crossed off in the first two months. I asked myself, if I had to put a for sale or for rent sign in the yard today, would this house be ready to go? I realized I need to get busy. I would not want to miss an opportunity to sell or rent because my house was not ready. When I first bought, the list of things to do was at the front of my mind. By the time I finished unpacking, fixing up the house was no longer as big a priority. The things that used to stand out have become endearing and expected.
I wonder if there is a time period after which people lose momentum. The mother of one of my clients told me how when she first started investing in real estate her father would help her as long as she completed a whole list of improvements and moved every year. She could either sell or rent the house, but she had to move into a new purchase. Before she married her husband she had moved up to a really nice house and had a few great investment properties. Now she is trying to teach similar lessons to her daughter. Having a twelve month deadline did not give her time for inertia to set in.
Two of my other clients bought a historic home in East Nashville this summer two months before they were ready to move to town. Since this house is one I drive by on my way home, I am getting to watch all the great improvements being made. By stretching out the time between the purchase and the move, they are giving themselves time to channel all the initial excitement into increasing the value of the property.
There definitely are people who continually improve their homes over years. It seems more common for people to make most of the improvements they ever will when they first buy. And then others regain focus right before they sell. The Seller has the greatest advantage in a sale when the home does not need updating, repairs, or improvements. And most of these things take longer or require more effort than expected. My new goal is to get my house ready to sell now, even thought I plan to keep it indefinitely. That way I will get to enjoy it at its best and I will be nurturing my investment.