Renovating to sell – The Washington Post

Realtors know how important presale updates are, but getting clients on board can sometimes be challenging. Curbio — home improvement solution for real estate agents and their clients — ensuring homes sell fast and for the best possible price. 

If there’s one thing that just about every real estate agent agrees on — no matter how different their local market may be — it’s that updating a home before it hits the market is critical for getting top dollar. Smart, targeted improvements can make an enormous difference in how quickly a home sells and what it sells for.

But home improvements can be stressful and require significant time and money, forcing sellers to scramble for cash they might not readily have. And real estate agents often must do a delicate dance, nudging clients to embrace strategic improvements in a home they may have lived in and loved for years.

“The emotional attachment people have to their homes can be a challenge when a professional comes in to consult with them and tell them what they need to do in order to get the highest price for their home,” said Brian Jenkins, a real estate agent serving clients in the Washington D.C. and Baltimore Metropolitan area.

Curbio — the leading home improvement company that works exclusively with real estate agents and their clients nationwide — is tackling those long-standing challenges head on. The company leverages its unique insights into the specific home improvements that offer the best return on investment, as well its interest-free pay-at-closing model, to help agents and their clients sell their homes quickly — and for a higher profit.

“We work alongside the agent and homeowner to determine which changes need to be made to a home in order to make it appealing to a broad audience,” said Rick Rudman, Curbio’s Co-Founder and CEO. “And not only do we offer this amazing advantage of industry expertise and a streamlined solution, but if you’re selling your home, you don’t pay a dime until closing.”

What homebuyers want in 2021

Of course, not all home improvements are created equal, so Curbio partners with real estate agents to focus specifically on those that add value, like basic repairs and touchups and kitchen and bathroom refreshes. Industry reports show targeted upgrades in those spaces have high ROI, and real estate agents like Jenkins — who has partnered with Curbio on several renovations — call them the “go-tos” that offer “the most bang for your buck.” Curbio makes it its mission to remain on top of which trends are in, which are out, and which updates do the most to attract a broad range of buyers.

In kitchens, sellers can’t go wrong with white shaker cabinets and white subway tile backsplashes, Curbio experts say. But the company is also attuned to newer marketplace trends with staying power, like duo-tone kitchens with statement islands in colors like deep navy. One thing Curbio often does to achieve higher returns for sellers is paint kitchen cabinets rather than replace them to keep costs low while still achieving the modern look buyers want.

In bathrooms, relatively simple changes like adding a freestanding tub or a furniture-style vanity can add tremendous value. Updating finishes can, too, and Curbio has a pre-curated library of materials and finishes that its team knows sell well. For example, Curbio recently added muted gold and black hardware options, Rudman said.

Elsewhere in the house, updating the flooring or simply repainting the walls with clean, neutral colors — like just the right shade of gray — can make the difference, Rudman said. Indeed, recent research suggests that simply repainting a bathroom in the right colors can increase offer prices by nearly 2%.

“People want to walk into a home and feel a sense of newness, even if it’s not a new home,” said Rudman. “Even something as simple as a fresh coat of paint can help sell a home and make it appealing to a broad set of buyers. Virtually every home needs some level of updating before going on the market.”

Curbio’s no-interest, pay-at-closing model makes necessary pre-listing improvements accessible to every seller, whether the property is in need of a more hands-on renovation or a simple refresh.

The importance of speed

As every real estate agent knows, time is of the essence when a real estate transaction is on the line. Curbio streamlines the home improvement process so that updates get completed quickly and efficiently. “The first thing is that we’re able to turn around a quote within 24 hours,” Rudman explained. When it’s time to begin the work, Curbio’s curated selection of high-quality, ready-to-ship materials ensures the project is completed with materials that sell well and that there are no delays.

“There’s speed to proposal. There’s speed to contract. There’s speed to design, and then there is speed to execution,” Rudman explained. Indeed, according to Curbio’s internal estimates, its pre-listing updates are completed 60% faster, result in 58% fewer days on the market, and achieve an additional $50,000 average profit increase for sellers.

One of Curbio’s full-time project managers will see to every detail of the project from beginning to end, ensuring materials are delivered on time, subcontractor schedules are coordinated, and that the project is kept on track.

To ensure that the real estate agent and seller are kept in the loop, Curbio’s project managers provide regular text, photo, and video updates for Realtors and their clients via the Curbio app, which clients and agents can access anywhere, anytime.

“We provide this certainty and transparency into the construction process that most people don’t have,” Rudman said of Curbio’s innovative technology.

Teamwork makes the dream work 

While Curbio certainly makes it easier to renovate to sell, it does not work alone. The company’s model depends on a vast network of pre-vetted subcontractors and strong partnerships with real estate agents who provide invaluable local insights. Those agents see their partnership with Curbio as a game-changing tool that allows them to level up their client services without requiring an additional time commitment.

“It gives me another value-add with my clients,” said Jenkins. “Before I knew about Curbio, I’d often hear people say: ‘I don’t have the money’ or ‘Can we just sell it as-is?’” Jenkins recalled working with several clients who inherited a home with a mortgage on it — that needed a lot of work.

“It was in pretty bad shape. We came in with Curbio, made renovations, and added about $100,000 of value to the home. It put the siblings in a position to walk away with some money after they sold the property,” he said. “If they had sold it as-is, they probably wouldn’t have been able to cover the mortgage.”

Anne Rossley, who has sold real estate in downtown Chicago for 30-plus years and has partnered with Curbio for the past two, is in a similar situation right now. She’s working with a client who inherited a condo that hadn’t been updated in 35 years, and who can make significantly more money if she renovates before selling.

“Curbio is acting as the general contractor, overseeing the subcontractors, acting as the liaison between the subs and the condo’s management firm, and fronting the cost of the renovation,” she said, noting that the company also helps with staging. “It’s a win-win-win! My seller will be able to sell her condo more quickly and for more money, the buyers will have a new condo in move-in condition, and we’re helping the neighbors maintain the values of their homes.”

By working together to focus on renovations that bring in the highest return on investment, Curbio helps agents work with homeowners who have delayed renovating because they’re unsure it’s worth it or think they can’t afford to.

“It does sound too good to be true, I get it!” Rossley said. “But it works.”


Learn more about Curbio’s home improvement services.