What Does It Take To Sell a House for $250K Over Asking Price Today? You’ll Know When You See This Makeover

by Garcia Chris
12 minutes read
What Does It Take To Sell a House for $250K Over Asking Price Today? You’ll Know When You See This Makeover

While many home sellers might assume that offers of $100,000 or even $200,000 over the asking price are long gone, a recent listing in Nutley, NJ, has proven otherwise.

Located at 247 Vreeland Avenue, this Victorian house was listed in December for $609,000 but sold a week later for $852,000—a whopping $243,000 over the list price.

Curious about what it took to pull off this highly profitable sale, we spoke with the husband-and-wife real estate agents behind the listing, Lorraine and Geoff Hurlbut of Keller Williams.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(“div-gpt-ad-INLINE1”); });

In this latest installment of our series “Real Estate Confessions,” the Hurlbuts explain how they transformed this house, passing along plenty of lessons you might want to try around your own abode, too.

‘A Cinderella story’

When Lorraine and Geoff agreed to represent this four-bedroom, one-bath Victorian, they knew it would take a lot of work.

For starters, the interior wasn’t hoarder level, but it was “extremely cluttered,” according to Lorraine.

The sellers, a retired couple who moved to Fort Pierce, FL, liked antiques and regularly stuffed the house with estate sale finds. The rest of the Victorian was equally mired in the era: dark, fussy, wallpapered, and ornate.

“That’s not what buyers want in this day and age,” says Lorraine.

The dining room originally had deep red wallpapered walls and lots of antique furniture.

(Lorraine and Geoff Hurlbut)

Additionally, because the husband was a contractor, the backyard was littered with rusty old materials and tools.

Told by Lorraine and Geoff to clear both the inside and outside of the house, the owners tried doing it all themselves, but the task proved daunting. Ten months after they started decluttering, they gave up.

“They called and said, ‘We’re exhausted, we can’t do anymore,’” says Lorraine. “We told them to hand over the keys.”

Why it pays to fix up a place before it’s listed

In September 2023, the sellers handed Lorraine and Geoff an $11,000 check and then left for their new place in the Sunshine State.

With the owners gone and the house empty, the agents had high hopes they could transform the space.

“I knew we could get so much more money for the house if we fixed it up,” says Lorraine. “I told the sellers, ‘Don’t leave money on the table.’”

But it wouldn’t be easy. Even after the sellers had spent 10 months hauling possessions away, there was still “a mountain” of things left to tunnel through, says Geoff.

The sellers weren’t only flea-market fanatics, they’d also lived in the house for 30 years.

Once Geoff saw that the mechanicals like the furnace, water heater, and electrical boxes of the 1906 Victorian were in good condition, he knew that he and his wife could handle the rest.

The agents were given carte blanche to trash, donate, or sell whatever was left in the house. This included an old telephone booth in the den. It was snapped up by an antiques dealer for $200.

A phone booth found in the den was sold to an antiques dealer for $200.

(Lorraine and Geoff Hurlbut)

However, an antique vanity in the children’s room ended up in a landfill.

“We tried to give it away,” laments Lorraine. “No one wanted it.”

An oak table and chair set in the kitchen and the primary bedroom set were taken by neighbors. Some of the leftovers ended up in Lorraine’s staging. Her favorite item was a gold-framed wedding photo of the sellers she found in a “pile of junk.” She displayed it for the open house.

There were safety issues that needed attention as well.

A loose, not-up-to-code railing on the basement stairs was replaced, and a missing railing on the second-floor landing was added. The attic was turned into a fourth bedroom. After that came floor sanders, painters, electricians, and carpenters.

“This house was an example of all-in,” says Geoff. “From attic to basement, we touched everything.”

Attic before decluttering

(Lorraine and Geoff Hurlbut)

The attic in transition

(Lorraine and Geoff Hurlbut)

The attic as a fourth bedroom

(Lorraine and Geoff Hurlbut)

Geoff Hurlbut took care of most of the painting and fixing up.

(Lorraine and Geoff Hurlbut)

Lorraine Hurlbut did the staging.

(Lorraine and Geoff Hurlbut)

Outside, a scrap metal vendor hauled away the ladders, buckets, tools, and random materials left in the yard.

Lorraine pruned laurel bushes for planters to put on the porch and rearranged pavers for a patio area. She painted the front door a robin’s-egg blue for a cheery pop of color on the otherwise dark exterior.

The front door was originally brown.

(Lorraine and Geoff Hurlbut)

Lorraine painted the door light blue.

(Lorraine and Geoff Hurlbut)

And then came their secret ingredient: window washers.

“People don’t understand the magic of clean windows when the sunlight is sparkling through them,” says Lorraine.

The pair also took care of small details other real estate agents might overlook, like replacing old doorknobs.

“It annoys the hell out of me when doors don’t close properly,” says Geoff, who fixed or replaced several doorknobs.

Last step in the transformation? A deep, thorough cleaning. Then Geoff, who’s also a professional photographer, took the photos for the listing.

“Those photos have to be beautiful,” he says.

The Hurlbuts note that not every house can be transformed.

“We know when to spend money and when to not,” says Geoff. “Sometimes you just have to price a house right, and there’s nothing else you can do for it.”

In this case, Lorraine thought the makeover was so impressive that she increased the planned list price from $599,000 to $609,000. Because the four-bedroom house had only one bathroom and no garage, she didn’t think she couldn’t go any higher.

She hoped that the final sale would be in the $750,000 range, but didn’t tell the owners this, not wanting to “jinx it.”

Then they waited, hopeful but cautious.

Use the season to your advantage

The first open house was scheduled for Dec. 9–10, so Lorraine made use of the sellers’ old Christmas decor. She even had an apple pie baking in the oven and cloves boiling on the stove.

“Instead of burning candles, I do that,” she explains. “Candles color the walls.”

The dining room was staged with Christmas decor.

She also put Michael Bublé on the playlist.

“It’s all about a sensory experience—getting people to fall in love and form an emotional attachment to the house,” she says.

A crowd of at least 110 visited that first weekend, an unqualified success in a month that can be slow. Within a week, they had their winning bid of $852,000.

Falling in love perfectly describes what happened with the new owner: The buyer said the Victorian reminded him of his childhood home in upstate New York.

“Because the market is so tight and buyers are losing out, if someone comes to a home and they really fall in love, then they go all in with it,” says Lorraine. “To get this amount was very exceptional. We knew the sellers would be excited.”

When she broke the news during a phone call, Lorraine says there was “stunned silence” on the other end.

“They were like, ‘Are you kidding me?’” Lorraine says, chuckling. “You could tell there were tears in their eyes.”

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(“div-gpt-ad-INLINE2”); });
The handwritten thank you note the agents received from the sellers

(Lorraine and Geoff Hurlbut)

Related Posts

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy