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Cleveland Heights Renovation Home Sale Success

Seller’s Goal:

This Cleveland Heights home seller was living out of the country, tried unsuccessfully to sell their home in Cleveland Heights for two years, decided to rent it and then ultimately, had the tenant evicted. Seller desired to sell without taking a huge financial hit due to the deteriorated condition and state of the market.


The Cleveland Heights homeowner tried to sell, unsuccessfully, for two years in 2005-06. They then rented it until the tenant was evicted in May 2008. At the time they found Olsen Ziegler Realty, these sellers from Cleveland Heights were living in New Zealand. They found our website on the Internet and called to ask us to please take a look at their home and to let them know what we thought. We first visited the home on May 29, 2008. While this all-brick, colonial home had lovely qualities such as large rooms, a 3-car attached garage, four finished levels, three fireplaces, and a lovely, large roof deck, it had fallen into serious disrepair due to the tenants disregard for the property. This home had an old, tired kitchen, outdated bathrooms, a wet basement with a distinct, overpowering animal odor, and numerous deferred maintenance issues.

In general, dated, tired, homes in Cleveland Heights in general were not selling unless the pricing was so low it attracted investor interest — which is not an option most sellers can afford to do, let alone desire this outcome should they have the financial flexibility to do so. There are better options…

Olsen Ziegler Solution:

With inventory levels approximately 300% higher than several years ago, most homes on the market were in this type of condition were not (and are still not) selling as the type of homes that were (and still are) selling are either bargain-priced, totally renovated (think Pottery Barn), architectural, or in close proximity to the local retail-shopping areas in Cleveland Heights. Since this home was in absolutely very bad shape and in need of serious updating, we presented the owner with four options to sell:

  1. No investment. Initial asking price: $175,000. Projected sales price: $150,000.
    The pros are the home can be put on the market immediately and no investment.
    The cons are an uncertain amount of time on the market and a hard to forecast sales price.
  2. 5-8K investment. Initial asking price: $200,000. Project sales price: $180,000.
    The pros are 2-3 weeks to prepare for market (fairly quick) and a relatively small investment.
    The cons are an uncertain amount of time on the market, a hard to forecast sales price and still an upfront investment.
  3. 15-20K investment. Initial asking price: $225,000. Projected sales price: $200,000.
    The pros are a larger potential buyer pool and perhaps an easier sale.
    The cons are 4-6 weeks to prepare for market, a larger upfront investment and while an easier sale might occur, the kitchen still could not be renovated, and this is the #1 feature buyers desire.
  4. 30-40K investment. Initial asking price: $250,000-$260,000. Projected sales price: $240,000-$250,000. The renovation work would be managed by us using our resources and would cost much less than for the seller attempting to mange the contractors, work-flow, issues, on their own — especially with the sellers being in New Zealand.
    The pros are an extremely competitive home on the market as the condition would be stellar and there won’t be many, if any comparable homes, condition wise, to compete against. This usually shortens the time on the market as well as increases the sales price and ultimately, the seller’s financial bottom line.
    The cons are eight weeks to prepare for market and a significant upfront investment.
    We evaluated the work required, utilizing our extensive contracting resources to obtain estimates, and estimated a projected total cost of $30-$40K to renovate, restore the home from top to bottom and then home stage key rooms in this wonderful Cleveland Heights home.
    After looking at the dismal prospect of selling at a $75-100K loss or not selling at all, the owners decided to trust us (after calling previous sellers whom we have done similar work for and achieved 100% success) and invest the $30-$40K to renovate this fine home. After owner approval, we immediately got to work with a time line of eight weeks from start to finish, a fixed budget and a fixed time line — we wanted the home on the market before summer ended. In the end, we delivered both on-time and on-budget, as all of our projects are.

Cleveland Heights Home Staging:

Please read our Cleveland Heights Home Staging Companion page to view this part of preparing this home for sale.

Total Seller Investment




Positive Net Return on Investment (ROI) by choosing to renovate and home staging.

Seller Kudo

“It’s a story in its own right how we came to find Olsen Ziegler Realty. Three previous Realtors, affiliated with three separate, well-known Realty Companies, all claimed they possessed expert market insight and that they would aggressively market our home.  However, in the end, we got bad advice on pricing, no strategy adjustment due to the market slowing with the sub-prime mortgage crisis,  and the “aggressive marketing strategies” all boiled down to a listing in the MLS and waiting for prospective buyers to come along.

After our house sat on the market for an entire year with virtually no showings and suffered the wear and tear of being empty over a Cleveland winter, we finally decided to try renting.  Renting didn’t prove much more successful since our tenants decided to stop paying rent when my wife’s job took us overseas.  By the time we completed the eviction, the tenants were months behind in rent and left the house in disgusting shape; there really is no other better word for the condition in which they left the house.

Being overseas, we had no option but to find an agent who could oversee repairing the property and getting it rented or sold.  After an exhaustive search of both Realtors and Rental Property Managers we finally selected Olsen Ziegler Realty because no one else who competed for the business had as detailed a plan for how to repair and market the house; had previous experience doing similar projects; had as many wildly happy references; or provided as detailed market analysis in such an easy package to understand.

Olsen Ziegler proposed a variety of marketing options, from investing nothing in the property and listing the house at a rock bottom price to a complete renovation that would increase the initial asking price by at least $75,000.  We elected to invest $40,000 to repair and renovate the property over an 8 week time period.  Olsen Ziegler Realty would manage all aspects of the project from material selection to coordinating contractors and laborers and providing me final authority to approve everything.

By the end of the project, our home had a complete renovation of the kitchen with new cabinets, appliances and granite counter tops; two renovated bathrooms; a waterproofed and renovated finished basement; sanded and coated hardwood floors throughout 3 levels; and a full interior painting. To top it off, they also staged it with furniture and accessories and made sure all the routine tasks like yard maintenance and cleaning were done.  Julie Ziegler was especially valuable during the renovation process; she selected materials, appliances and décor that both fit within the budget and greatly enhanced the property’s overall appeal.

All the renovation and repair was done while I was out of the country and the project was completed both on time and on budget.  Unlike all of our previous experience, Olsen Ziegler not only met their commitments, they exceeded them on every count.

Seventy-eight days after the house was listed, their efforts and my trust in them were rewarded– not with a single offer, but two on the same day!  The offers came at a time when no other house in the neighborhood was under contract; in late October, typically a poor time of year to sell in our neighborhood; and just weeks after the Banking collapse of 2008; and at 95% of our listing price.  And, like every other aspect of this project, Olsen Ziegler Realty protected my interests during closing and made a logistically difficult process as easy as could be wished for.

Beyond all this, Olsen Ziegler saved me money in all phases of the project. Their listing commission was less than the typical rate of the large Real Estate companies; they brought with them a complete portfolio of contractors and service professionals who did excellent work at rates less than had been quoted to me previously; they identified savings opportunities with the “re-issue rate” on title insurance; they selected a Title and Escrow company that was both less expensive and which managed the out of state transaction like I had been sitting in the office with them; and provided expertise in negotiating the sales contract so that the buyer ended up assuming thousands of dollars of City Point of Sale (POS) repairs.

The expertise and services of Olsen Ziegler Realty truly put them in a league of their own!”  – Matthew F.

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