Market Wise Q&A: Sell "As-Is" or Make Improvements, Which Agent to Hire?


Silicon Valley Realtor Pat Kapowich  

Pat Kapowich for the San Jose Mercury News

Q: Our mother finally gave the proverbial thumbs-up to sell the family home now that she has successfully moved to an adult community.  Recently, a new agent with a notable reputation was introduced to the sibling in charge of emptying the house.  This new agent is recommending all sorts of improvements to “enhance the selling process.”  All the agents who have already been recommended by family members promote selling “as-is.”  This has created a flurry of phone calls and emails as to which agent should be hired and how to move forward.  How do adult children usually deal with choosing an agent and whether to make improvements or not?




A:  Not easily.  You did not indicate if Mom is still in “command” of her home sale or if one of your siblings is the successor trustee who is charged with selling the property.  The sibling who is acting as a trustee will have to make the “final call.” If it is a good “hire” and sell, he or she will never hear about it again. If they hire the wrong agent resulting in a bad transaction, they will be reminded of it until they outlive every sibling.  If Mom is still very much the matriarch in every way, the agents’ promotional material, as well as their plans, need to be presented side-by-side and she’ll decide who to hire, and what if any, improvements will be completed.

488 Artist Rendering

Many older adults who stopped working decades earlier have understandably become house rich and cash poor.  Remodeling a bath, kitchen or home prior to selling can be an expensive, money-losing gamble.  Conversely, a less expensive safe bet to sell an old house fast, strong, and with multiple owner-occupant buyers (in any market) is investing in new paint, carpet, vinyl, light fixtures, faucets, hardware, outlets, light switches, matching mailbox/house numbers/doorbell, bark mulch and flowers.  Without a mini-makeover, you are reminding the buyers and buyers’ agents that the home is older than they are, sparking dollar signs to appear everywhere buyers look.


Most importantly, the solid Return-On-Investment (ROI) for sellers is the presale hiring of individual inspectors for roof, chimney, and termites/dry rot, as well as the whole-house general “property” report.




Homes for sale that are accompanied by a bevy of inspections instill an air of credibility over competing properties.  Buyers need to have faith in their purchases, especially such a large one. The seller’s agent who seeks to unlock that pivotal buyer confidence in your Mother’s home clearly holds that key.  Such an agent should stand out, and rightly so.




Pat Kapowich

Award Winning REALTOR®

(408) 245-7700

A Trusted Name in Silicon Valley since 1960.

A Respected Name in Real Estate since 1988.

In 2014, Pat was named the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors “President’s Choice” Award Winner. For demonstrating the principles of good real estate practice among brokers; for promoting and protecting home ownership and property rights for all; and for distinguished service to the members of the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® and the community at large.”

Your referrals are safe with the 2013 SCCAOR “President’s Choice” award winner.