Local Agent Goes Above and Beyond the Listing
Did you know that the average number of homes sold per real estate agent each year is 6-10? Jeanne Gamage, a Re/Max agent from Oswego, sells over thirty. Based out of Naperville, Jeanne has been in business since 2001 and seems to have the right philosophy when it comes to selling, and it’s no wonder. She started her career fixing and flipping properties. With that experience, and the majority of the work she puts into a property done before it’s even listed, she has built her business around going the extra mile.
I met Jeanne through the Yorkville Chamber of Commerce where she cohosted a workshop on how to get the most out of networking and leads. Her business model has proven extremely successful, providing almost all of her business directly from referrals. It goes to show, if you focus on helping others first, it will come back to you tenfold.
I was most interested to learn about her process. I was intrigued by her experience flipping houses and wanted to see how she applies it to improving the marketability of her client's homes. We sat down to talk about one of her most recent “transformations.” Jeanne was contacted by a couple having trouble selling their two-story, two-car garage home. After 195 days on the market, all of the comments coming back from potential buyers said the house was “two small, too plain, and the kitchen wasn’t upgraded.” Jeanne took the challenge and quickly met with the homeowners to take a walk through their home and figure out what went wrong.
“I let them vent on the frustrations and problems they were having,” she says.
Green walls were too personal to the current owner’s tastes and many aspects, like the cabinets, trim and window coverings, made the house feel outdated. The owners had some good ideas, but she continues, “I’m in houses all the time. I know what sells. I know what’s current. Home owners usually can’t do that.”
Here’s where Jeanne spends a great deal of her time and energy. What I didn't realize was how much work goes into preparing a home to be put on the market. The kitchen and bathrooms are the most important thing to focus on, she says, followed closely by paint and flooring. Though they couldn’t change the size of the kitchen, they made up for its small size in upgrades like stainless steel appliances and updated lighting fixtures. Jeanne went shopping with the owners, helping them choose a granite for the counter tops, light fixtures to replace what was outdated, and selecting paint colors for the cabinets and trim. She brought in a dinette set and supplemented the usable furniture the couple already owned with furniture and décor from a professional stager. De-cluttering and removing personalized touches like family photos can really help a potential buyer imagine themselves living in space. The whole process took about 1 ½ to 2 months.
But, why are home improvements such a necessary part of selling a home? Jeanne explains it simply: “People are really busy. In this day in age, people rarely have the time (or budget) after purchasing and moving into a new home, to change the things they want to change.” We at Fox River Rendering see this sort of thing happen all the time. Most of the home-owners looking to make a change in their homes have been thinking about it for years, sometimes even for as long as they’ve lived there. The thought of investing time and energy, not to mention cost, into a home improvement is a daunting one. As a seller, you have to think about this. Investing in updates, even as small as a fresh coat of paint, goes a long way towards attracting buyers.
When asked what her advice would be to homeowners looking to sell: “Setting a budget is important. Work with someone who is willing to go the extra mile.” She also emphasizes the importance of online listings. “If you don’t have a good online presence, you will not sell.” On each of her properties, Jeanne always brings in a stager and a professional photographer to make sure each house is seen in the best possible light. Like a typo in a book, poor pictures or a messy look can distract a buyer from your home’s true potential.
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