Tale #1: Luck in the Time of COVID
You may find yourself handling the end-of-life care and estate of elderly parents, aunts and uncles, or other older family members. As Santa Barbara’s Senior Home Sales Specialist, this is the circumstances of many of my clients, including Ken and Kate* from Wisconsin.
Ken’s aunt and uncle had lived in Santa Barbara since 1972, where they settled into a beautiful large home, filling it with more than five decades of travel keepsakes, Americana collectibles, several electronic organs, and a lot of 1970s-style furniture. With no children of their own, they named their nephew Ken as Estate Trustee. After a full and accomplished life together, Aunt Millie* peacefully passed away in 2014, Uncle Dan* following several years later.
Ken and Kate came out from the Midwest to Santa Barbara for a limited time to assess their uncle’s estate and accomplish what was needed to get the house sold. This is when I came into the picture.
On our first walk-through of the 4-bedroom home, we could see soaring vaulted ceilings, spacious rooms, and multiple fireplaces. We could also see dated furniture, a myriad of knick-knacks, overstuffed closets, heavy drapery and well-worn carpet. Our work was cut out for us!
* names changed for privacy purposes
Estate Liquidation Can Be Fun
As Ken and Kate started going through their dearly departed’s possessions, “separating the wheat from the chaff” to find and save family heirlooms, I organized my team of estate dealers, house cleaners and home stagers. Using my experience as a former estate sale organizer and antiques dealer, I was able to help Ken and Kate determine what had value.
I then took it to the next step: selling the unwanted valuables and desirables and disposing of the rest through my large network of dealers, vintage & thrift store retailers, and community non-profits. During this clearance process, I always include Larry of Old Town Antiques – he is a master at both repurposing and selling furnishings.
As much as possible, we want to avoid bringing in the trash dumpsters. There is enough stuff in the landfills as it is. I promote the idea of reuse and repurpose through re-selling which can also bring additional dollars to the estate. Plus I have reliable local resources for tax-deductible donations.
First Impressions Matter
After emptying the 2,600 sq. ft. house, we brought in my trusted local contractors to make a few key repairs and upgrades such as replacing the old aluminum windows and installing new carpet. The Spanish-style home now looked refreshed. Yet still…
I convinced the reluctant Ken and Kate of the value of staging the house – especially important for homes with large rooms that can look cold and unappealing when vacant. Entrusting me to have the home staged and then sold, my clients left to go back to their life in the Midwest.
Grateful for their faith in me, I was confident I could quickly accomplish our goal. But at that moment I wasn’t aware of what was coming our way; something I never could have imagined. You might have heard about it. COVID-19.
Penny of Delicious Decors did an expert job of staging the home, concentrating on the biggest rooms – living room, dining room and master bedroom – and bringing in contemporary furnishings with a soft color palate to add warmth and beauty.
Luck be a Lady Named Nancy
The house looked stunning! I listed it immediately for a solid price that both reflected its value, and would attract plenty of attention. Also immediately, a buyer’s agent came through early on day one of the listing and loved the house. That will turn out to be one lucky first appointment.
The very next day, COVID-19 shut down the real estate market – at least the in-person showing of properties. For those first six months, little to nothing moved in Santa Barbara due to the lock-down, with both buyers and sellers feeling insecure – not only about the economy but about their own health and safety.
Luckily, my listing had that one showing to prospective buyers, and because the house looked so desirable, they made an offer at asking price – which the sellers from Wisconsin quickly accepted. One showing, one offer, SOLD! And during a worldwide pandemic, no less.
Happily Ever After
The moral to this story is: to sell a loved one’s home or your own, hire a hardworking local agent with knowledge, resources and expertise in both preparing and selling the homes of seniors. And if, besides having adept estate liquidation skills, the agent also happens to be quite lucky, then you truly have a winning combination.
Give me a call if you need the help of Santa Barbara’s Senior Homes Sales Specialist.