Case Study: North Shore
Prepare for sale a mid-century modern town house in Reston that overlooked a fairway at Hidden Creek Golf Club. The main level had been extensively remodeled in the last five years creating a unique open living space and gourmet kitchen.
The owner had purchased a larger home in Reston and had already moved into it.
This end-unit townhome overlooked the golf course with an unobstructed southeast view from the kitchen giving the home a warm vibe of a bright, upbeat lifestyle.
Goal: Decide which specific updates
We had to discuss and decide which update was going to attract a homebuyer, and which would be okay to leave “as-is”. My list included both bedroom-level bathrooms which were not updated, and the deck off the living room was old and unsteady.
Focus: Materials and Contractors
A contractor was selected to replace the deck with an entirely new structure and extend it by two feet. This project would require approval from the Reston Association, and a licensed deck contractor. The bathrooms would be clean but no updating would be done.
Before and After Photos
The photos are intended to demonstrate that significant work was done by the owners and contractors. The finished work improved the marketability to a broad audience of home buyers who would appreciate the Reston setting, custom kitchen, and natural beauty of the property.
The photos are intended to give a better picture of the amount of work that was done. This home was not a “flip” or investment property so there was a budget and limit when deciding which projects to complete which would bring the highest return.
After eight years and a major remodel of the main level, the owner had moved into a larger home nearby in Reston. This townhouse was built in 1972 and had updates by previous owners such as the windows, HVAC system, some bathroom work, carpet, and the flat rubber roof just before the current seller (my client) bought it maybe in 2012ish.
This unique cluster of townhomes sticks out into the golf course which gives it an especially private feel. The view was amazing looking east at mature trees and the golf course. And these units have a clean, well-kept, modern look from the street.
This home is located in Reston, and there are sidewalks and public transportation to the Weihle Metro Station on the Silver Line. Reston also features walking trails, community pools, and shopping and restaurants.
There are two assigned parking spots right in front, and the front door is at street level. There is a curved privacy fence creating a little courtyard in front of each townhouse giving a clean look and area for residents to place their trash, recycling, bikes, and AC units.
The main-level renovation in 2017 was impressive as they discovered that the builder had lowered the ceiling leaving a void between the floors, about two feet, which was exposed and then drywalled. During the remodel, the builder added new footers to support a steel I-beam to carry the load of the bedroom level opening btween the new custom gourmet kitchen to the living room.
Significant Owner Updates
- Gourmet kitchen
- New Deck (done just before selling)
- Fenced Yard
- Replaced Sliding Glass Doors
- Replaced and upgraded the main Electrical Panel
- Expanded owner’s closet
- Main level gut renovation exposed higher ceiling and removed wall
After I toured the home, I reviewed my observations with the owner to make a recommendation that would impact the saleability of the townhouse.
I explained that buyers would accept the carpet in the bedrooms since they would prefer to select it themselves. And the “dated” bathrooms would be okay to leave “as-is” because these can often be DYI projects for today’s buyers.
Replacing the deck was essential. It was the original deck, too small, and of chief concern built on a single steel column that was rusting. Older decks are highly scrutinized due to structural collapses, injuries and deaths.
In my opinion, the current would be a “deal-killer” with buyers either backing out after a home inspection or asking for a $20,000 credit. And, since the home was in Reston, the Reston Association likely would have required replacement as a condition of the sale citing safety reasons.
The decision was made to focus on replacing the deck with a licensed contractor, the Reston Association, and getting it completed prior to putting the home on the market.
Areas to Address
- Condition of Bathrooms
- HVAC was over 15 years old
- Carpet on Bedroom Level
- Non-functioning ceiling LED light strips in the dining area
- Old repairs to textured ceilings in the bedroom level and basement
- Condition of roof
- Remove outdoor structure in back yard
Plan of Action
Two contractors were contacted to submit proposals for the deck right away. Since this would require approval from the Reston Association prior to getting the builder rolling, I recommended going with the bid which could get them done quickly once the approval had been given. My estimate is that this would take three months due to the extra layer of bureaucracy and scheduling with a builder.
The Reston Association’s final approval of the finished work was also completed before the launch.
My design team came by to plan for the main level and lower level staging design concept, and also made recommendations to remove wall-mounted items. Since the owner already had to touch up the paint, the owner removed artwork and hangers, and the wall-mounted cabinets were removed.
The bedroom-level carpets would be professionally cleaned.
All CFL light bulbs were replaced with soft white LED bulbs to be uniform.
The staging crew moved in the furniture the day before the professional photographers took images.
In the professional photographs viewed online, the bedrooms were virtually staged by my digital designer in Texas. These high-quality, realistic photos gave buyers an idea of placing furniture rather than viewing an empty space. This also reduces the wear and tear on the house moving furniture in and out.
The listing went live on Thursday as reviewed in my original marketing plan. This launch date is critical but carefully reevaluated until the last week based on factors such as long holiday weekends, forecast weather events, or the unexpected like a leak, HVAC, fire, or product supplier issue like photography or internet outage.
This project lasted almost five months from the first meeting to the final closing. Although most of that time was spent on the deck project, it actually put the listing on the market at a better time of year.
The feedback from agents and buyers was very positive regarding the view from the new deck. It was marketed as a brand-new, Trex (composite) deck.
The weekend open houses were busy with more than 25 groups touring the home. The eventual buyers toured the home at the open house and then returned with their “buyer agent’ three times prior to submitting an offer.
The offer did include a home inspection contingency and a required 3 day review period for the Reston Association Disclosure Documents. There was a mortgage and appraisal contingency.
The professional photos and 3-D Matterport virtual tour were viewed over 100,000 times based on data from digital platforms like Zillow, Redfin, and Sothebys.com. All of these sites receive content from Bright MLS, therefore the property description I write is always interesting providing highlights or specific area/lifestyle information assuming the online shopper could be anywhere in the world.
The home sold over the asking price (104.6%).