Nonstop improvements snag Johns Creek buyer

Name: Steve Martin and Dianne DeFrancesco and their three dogs, Nikki, Hana and Rufus

The home: A four-bedroom, three-bath contemporary home with a full basement built in 1983.

Where: Johns Creek’s Rivermont subdivision

Why they sold: The couple, who lived in the home for five years, wanted to move closer to DeFrancesco’s new job with Piedmont Healthcare at I-75 and Howell Mill Road in Atlanta. The couple also desired to have a larger yard for their dogs and to receive tax breaks available to Cobb County homeowners.

Time on market: 7 days

Original price: $299,900

Sale price: $299,900

What it took: The Johns Creek location and the updates to the kitchen and baths were key. After looking at other listings, nearby homes for sale didn’t appear to have the array of improvements found in their home, DeFrancesco said. Renovations and updates were continual while they lived in the home, as they purchased tile, cabinets, sinks and other items on sale and stored them in the basement until they were ready to renovate each room.

All three bathrooms were remodeled, with new floor tile and cabinetry. In the master bathroom, a soaking tub and tile surround replaced the marble tub. The master bedroom closet was remodeled. They replaced almost all the major mechanical systems, including the main air conditioner, water heater and both furnaces. The basement was finished with a man cave, workout room and storage closet. All the lighting in the home was updated. A pantry/laundry room was built from scratch with vinyl flooring and cabinets that matched those in the kitchen. The entire house was repainted, inside and out. Upper and lower back decks were replaced, and the front yard landscaping was updated. Pine straw was replaced with grass at the curb, and removing small trees created a clean look, DeFrancesco said.

In the listing, Richard and Pat DiFiore with Harry Norman, Realtors emphasized updates such as custom cabinets and stainless steel appliances in the kitchen. The agents hired a professional photographer and created a virtual tour with “crystal clear” photography, Pat DiFiore said.

The couple purchased a home in west Cobb County (reducing DeFrancesco’s round trip commute by 12 miles) prior to putting their home on the market. They rented the Johns Creek home for six months, then listed it for sale. New carpet in the main living area freshened up the home, and the existing carpet was professionally steam cleaned. Other ways the sellers paid attention to detail included pressure washing their driveway and planting flowers at the front door, Pat DiFiore said.

Potential stumbling block: Within six days, they had two offers and accepted an offer the next day. The subdivision had some foreclosures, which caused concern about the appraisal, DeFrancesco said. The home ended up appraising above the sale price, and they closed on the home in July.

Seller’s hint: Resist setting too high a price, even if you invest in improvements. “We could have put it on the market for more and I think we could have gotten more. But we priced it to sell,” DeFrancesco said. “The $300,000 mark seemed to be the magic number, as suggested by our agents. We wanted to stay in searches that went up to $300,000.”

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