Palos Verdes Lifestyle - Norma Toering 310-493-8333


How to Build Equity in a Down Market--Rolling Hills Fixer to Fabulous

The news was all bad.  The media filled time and space with tales of woe.  They proclaimed the good times were over and told homeowners to prepare for the fall.  Naturally, that's when I received a call from a client who recently purchased a home--he needed to move.

I took a deep breath, but not too deep, this is California and the air was filled with smoke from the recent wildfires.  I immediately saw my job as one of preserving his equity, covering the cost of the sale, and retaining him as a client. This is a golden client and if his life goes according to plan, he, and his family, will return to Rolling Hills in three years, and purchase another home with yours truly acting as agent.

I patted myself on the back for insisting, prior to the close of escrow, the previous owner (and agents) share the cost of removing several pine trees that blocked a gorgeous coastline view.  Putting a price on a view is subjective, but it took three months to get all parties, including the neighbor, to agree to the removal, and another month for the tree trimmer to complete the job. I'm thankful it is already done. Cost to my buyer, now my seller:  Less than $5000.  Value added:  $75,000 to $100,000 (estimated).

I walked the property with my client and noted he completed several repairs called out in the home inspection report. Whee, this looked better than I expected. He purchased the property in its "as is" condition--so there was work to be done. We made a quick hit list of improvements still needed.  We're only doing the basics here, but I plan to sell house for $200K more than he paid for it eight months ago.  We need to work some magic here!

The house needs paint, the fence is falling down and the garage door is still broken.  Those are quick and easy fixes and on the to do list. I provided contact information for painters, fence and garage door companies.  Fortunately, the seller is an avid gardener and the grounds have gone from shabby and neglected to trimmed and manicured.  The pool no longer leaks and the fruit trees are now included on the sprinkler system instead of the watering hose snaked down the hillside.  Little things can add big value.  General cleanup of the grounds:  Cost to the owner: Back-breaking labor nearly every weekend since he purchased it, and the cost of renting several dumpsters.  Value added:  $40,000 to $50,000 (estimated).

The fifty year old brick patio is uneven and dangerous.  The seller will level it and replace it with the same bricks.  It offers a dazzling view and it's where I want potential buyers to linger--not trip and fall.  Cost to the owner:  More labor!  Value added: $8,000 to $10,000 (estimated).

The interior of the house is original, but in good condition.  It's blessed with beautiful lead glass windows in several rooms, exquisite antique light fixtures, oversize fireplace and beamed ceilings. The hardwood floor in the kitchen is damaged and will be replaced. We're going to freshen it up with new paint in the kitchen, living and dining rooms as the most recent application of paint took place decades ago.  Again, I had the home professionally cleaned before my clients moved in.  The windows still glisten in the sunlight and show off the new view at night. Every closet shelf and kitchen drawer was cleaned, so we can skip the deep cleaning and go for the show! New kitchen floor and fresh paint in common living areas:  $5500 cost to owner.  Value added: $25,000 (estimated).

Just before it goes on the market flowers and potted plants will be added to the backyard and front entrance.  The pool house will be staged as a teen hangout, the workroom in the garage will be staged as a hobby room.  Cost to seller: more work and a few hundred dollars.  Value Added:  Can you put a price on curb appeal and a welcoming interior? 

  We're selling a lifestyle here--A 3 bedroom plus office with view, pool, and horse property in a gated community.  Any bets on how we'll do in our effort to go from fixer to fabulous?

Norma Toering & Team
(310) 493-8333 

South Bay Los Angeles cities I sell real estate and homes in: Palos Verdes Estates, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, San Pedro, Long Beach, Torrance, Lomita, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach.

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Norma Toering - Real Estate BrokerNorma Toering & Team
Broker-Owner - Charlemagne International Properties
310.493.8333 - Email Norma





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Based on information from the Association of REALTORS®/Multiple Listing as of the initial date of this article/blog publication and /or other sources. Display of MLS data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by the MLS. The Broker/Agent providing the information contained herein may or may not have been the Listing and/or Selling Agent.


Hello Norma,

    I wanted to take a minute and just say hi and welcome you to active rain, it's a great online community,Enjoy!


Leo Namiot

Benchmark Mortgage

Connecticut & Florida Mortgage Specialist

Posted by Leo Namiot, Outstanding Service & Great Rates (Canopy Mortgage) almost 12 years ago

Thanks, Leo.

I'm sure I will enjoy it as soon as I learn to navigate my way around the site!

Posted by Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities, Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A. (Charlemagne International Properties) almost 12 years ago

Hi Norma -- I thought I check out your first post on Active Rain and I find you offered the same useful advice to your readers and clients then as you continue to do so nearly five years later with breezy, free flowing prose.    Nicely done then as it is today.   

Posted by Michael Jacobs, Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393 over 7 years ago

Michael - Oh my gosh, that's an oldie for sure, but thanks for being curious enough to read my very first post.  Obviously, I had no idea how to add a made me smile this morning--thank you!

Posted by Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities, Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A. (Charlemagne International Properties) over 7 years ago

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