Beginner’s Luck

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Jill and Steve happened to be shopping for a house during the real estate down-turn in 2012. They didn't intentionally time it that way; it was just the right time for them to buy. Call it beginner's luck, or sheer chance -- they ended up buying at a low point in the market. 

Of course, being in Berkeley, there were still 9 offers on the house they bought, which was a foreclosed bungalow with great bones but years of neglect. It was habitable, but homely. They competed with flippers and hopeful homeowners alike, and prevailed by holding their noses and focussing on the long game. 

This type of purchase can be very rewarding down the line... These intrepid and resourceful buyers saw past aluminum windows and stained linoleum, and over the next few years they executed important renovations and upgrades. They replaced all the windows with custom wood versions, and replaced the roof and front porch. They remodeled the kitchen and bath, refinished wood floors, painted inside and out, replaced light fixtures and doors, and installed a gas-burning fireplace with custom walnut cabinetry around it, designed and built by the master cabinet-maker owner himself. 

How did these first-time buyers do it, with limited resources and no experience? 

They adjusted their tolerance and lived with a banged-up kitchen, sub-standard bath, and cheap wall-to-wall carpet for a while, and figured out what they needed and wanted over time. They executed repairs as they could afford to. They did work themselves, overseen and inspected by the city of Berkeley, and got to know folks down at the permit center to learn what would and would not pass the city inspections. 

After their home was polished up and perfected, two children entered the picture; things started feeling tight. Happily, 2030 6th Street was by now a darling house, in wonderful condition, with magnetic curb appeal. Now that it was time to move on, Jill and Steve had a true pearl to present to the market -- a market which in the past six years had gained significant momentum and equity. They had not only made a great investment; they also had the imagination and fortitude to dig into a project and create a home for themselves that was fine-tuned to their own needs, uses and tastes. 

Yes, they got lucky, but they could have just as easily missed the boat, which is what many buyers do when they try to align their purchase to the market conditions. How many times have I heard, “We’re going to wait until the market cools down”, or “I don’t think the market has hit the bottom yet”? Exactly the same number of times I’ve seen buyers watch houses recede in their rear view mirror that they could have bought. They get stripped of the ability to buy just like that. As they wait for the ‘bottom of the market,’ it stealthily passes them by.

Jill and Steve bought when it was right for their lives. And it’s about to pay off.

2030 6th Street will have open houses Sunday July 15 and July 22, 2:00-4:30. Hope to see you there!

Listed for $799,000 | Sold for $1,310,000 

Below are a few 'before' and 'after' shots from the transformation.

Anne Culbertson