Parting is Sweet Sorrow

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Yesterday was bittersweet for me. Several weeks ago, I wrote about how I recently listed a property up in Boulder Creek. The amazing thing was, we got an offer on this property after having it on the market just four hours. At the time, it all seemed a bit too good to be true…and of course, many folks would counsel that one shouldn’t accept an offer with the property having received such little market exposure. However, the offer was everything the seller was looking for, and I didn’t feel that we could reasonably expect to get a better offer.

When I wrote that blog entry last month, I said I would give you all an update on how it went. We Realtors like to say that every transaction is different – and it really is. There’s always some kind of wrinkle, and it’s very rare that a deal happens without absolutely no hitches whatsoever. This deal was no exception – there was a fair amount of drama, and delay, around the release of contingencies. But both the buyer and seller hung in there, and a couple of days ago I met with my client, the seller, at the title company to do the seller sign-off. The buyer’s loan should fund tomorrow, and title should record the day after that – just one day past the date specified in the contract.

So yesterday, after I finished showing some property up in Boulder Creek to another set of buyers, I stopped by Johnny’s Supermarket and picked up a six pack of Corona and a six pack of Diet Coke, and then I headed up to visit my cient at her house, where I suspected she’d be busily packing up. I wanted to say good-bye, again, and to retreive the SupraKey safe that was still fastened to her door.

My client was in fact there, packing up, with a good friend of hers. I tempted them into taking a beer break, and we had a chance to talk a bit. It really is sad to see her leave – she’s a great lady, down-to-earth with a really keen sense of style. She certainly worked wonders on the house – as I told her, it pretty much sold itself.

We got talking about her friend’s condo in San Jose, which she bought a bit before my client bought her house up in Boulder Creek. She was speculating that it had probably risen in value a couple hundred thousand dollars in that time period – slightly less than my client’s house had increased in value, however, my client had put a lot of money into her property, whereas her friend had done practically nothing to her condo – it had risen in value simply on the crest of the surging market.

The truth of the matter is, to have maximized her profit on the property, my client probably didn’t need to do most of the things she did to the house.  However, I don’t think that she did everything with “profit maximization” in mind – rather, I believe she enjoyed remodeling her home, and wanted to make it a comfortable and pleasing place for her to live for a while.  It’s hard to put a price tag on that.  Had she been interested in simply maximizing per profit, she could have done just the simple things which I outlined in another blog entry.

I’m not quite sure how much money she put into her house – let’s say it was $60,000, and that her house sold for $550,000.  She bought it for $320,000 which means that her profit was around $170,000 (minus closing costs, such as commission, etc.).   Had she been a bit less generous with the the marble, slate, wood floors, stainless steel appliances, etc., and focused on just the essentials, she might have spent only $15,000.  Granted, the house would not have been so beautiful, and it wouldn’t have been quite so appealing – but she may still have been able to sell it for $525,000 (although surely not so quickly).  This would have yielded her a profit of $190,000 – much closer to the amount of appreciation her friend believes her condo has received.

All those numbers I just quoted – they’re pure speculation, but they’re decent ballpark figures.  Let’s not forget something, though:  a house isn’t about numbers.  It is, first and foremost, a place to live – a place for you to experience your right to a little quiet enjoyment. Up in Boulder Creek, in her lovely home on Acorn Drive, my client surely enjoyed a fair bit of that, comfortably surrounded by a home that reflects her own style.  And that’s priceless.

And now, in a couple of days, she’ll be gone.  The new owners will, I am sure, continue to enjoy the property as much as my client did.  She’s created a bit of a legacy that will live on in that home.  That home is probably going to miss her, even though I’m sure the new owners will take good care of it.  I’m going to miss her, too.

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