• Shanna Vataj

My Childhood Home is Getting Market-Ready




This picture doesn't look like much but wow does it have a story.


It's an old house with the original basement & first floor coming in circa the late 1800s and at least 2 additions completed by 1940. It's a typical center hall colonial with alterations made to fit the family who lives there - my family. I grew up in this home. It's not big - 2300 Sq Ft, technically 4 bedrooms but we made it 5.so my dad could be on the 1st floor. One bathroom - with the everlasting promise of turning the tiny bedroom into a second full bathroom. It sits on a hilly piece of property that was perfect for throwing fetch and gaining a bit more speed on the ball for ground ball drills. And up until about 15 years ago, it had a driveway that resembled a dried-up stream.


My father - the handyman know-it-all with decades in the steamfitters union - has been remodeling this home and property for almost 25 years. They say a mechanic will always have a car that has a check engine light on and a plumber always has a leaky faucet. What they missed was that a “Hicks” (my maiden name) will always have a project going.

The latest project - This hallway - is the hub of the second floor. This pic was like a punch to the gut. I can't tell you how many memories I have of playing store, switching bedrooms after losing a bet (furniture & all - in the middle of the night?!?), arguing with my sisters and the dog's footsteps stumbling down the last few slippery wooden stairs (or was that me falling down them Christmas Morning 2015?).

It started slow - they bought the house at an amazing price but it needed so much work! They renovated it enough to live in and then - lived. We grew up and started moving out. The youngest sibling is now 28 and no one lives at home. The last 5 years have been a whirlwind. Painting the entire 1st floor (and now second!), flooring, kitchen remodel, bathroom remodel, laundry room remodel, new roof, siding repair, painting the exterior, painting the barn, clean out our (the kids) junk (not once, not twice but 3 times!) and so many more projects. Why? They’re selling it. They don't prepare you for this when training to be a realtor - selling your parents' home.


Going back, why was it THIS PICTURE that made a difference? About 18m ago I gave my parents a list of things they needed to do to get their home market-ready. I do this for all of my clients! I wasn’t expecting a high-end market reno, it would never work in this old home in Wine Country Upstate Ny. It was just enough lipstick to get buyers in the door. My dad crossed almost everything off the list (mostly because I was telling him instead of him thinking of them himself). They painted the 1st-floor entrance & hallway right away - understanding the importance of first impressions. Then he said no - he wasn't going to do anything else to the interior of the house until he was ready to sell. He just finished a bathroom ad laundry room remodel and now this!! - I guess that means they're ready (insert tears!)

I try to be Spock-like and look at the numbers - to look at it as a parcel of property with a numeric value and nothing more. What's the ROI on a small paint job? About 2k. What's the value? Every buyer who walks in and doesn't walk out due to the darkness and distress - after all, first impressions are everything in Real Estate.

Ps: I know it's a great deal but I secretly want everyone to walk in and walk out so that my parents have no choice but to stay here in NY instead of moving full time to SC - So don't make an offer!!

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