But here's the rub. I have NEVER been right. Seriously, you would think I could get it right once in awhile, but that clearly isn't the case! So I took a step back and tried to figure out what I've learned with the houses we've done thus far:
- 100% didn't have children (either empty nesters or hadn't started a family yet)
- 67% were downsizing from a larger home
- 50% were single women
So my new strategy is to forget about targeting a specific buyer and think about how to create a house that meets some key interests. The people I've worked with seem to want 5 key things:
- Antique charm - don't lose what makes the houses quaint and unique. They aren't looking for new construction. They want something that has a real history!
- Modern amenities - but there is a limit to antique charm, particularly when it comes to baths and kitchens (nasty old plumbing will not do!)
- Closet space - this can be a tough one with an old house
- Low maintenance - small yard, low maintenance exterior features
For this house, I was able to get some additional buyer insights. When we held our 'Before' Open House the other weekend, I asked everyone to look at the 3 options for a new second floor design and to let us know which appealed to them the most. One quick note - because this is a bungalow, the designs are a bit quirky thanks to the roofline slope and the knee walls. So there are lots of limitations on what we can do, to make sure there is enough headroom. What looks reasonable on paper, doesn't always make sense when you're faced with the angle of the roofline.
Option 1 - Leave the current roofline intact and finish the second floor as a large master suite, with 1 full bath. The spaces you see around the perimeter are all behind the kneewalls - so not useful living space.
And the winner from the Open House marketing poll??? Interestingly, most people liked Option 2b. A big factor was putting a large soaking tub in the dormer - which seems pretty fabulous! And with two bedrooms on the first floor, they didn't really see the need to add 3 more bedrooms on the 2nd floor. But a few people said they'd be happy with one large bedroom and liked Option 1.
There are some structural challenges with the dormer options (a structural engineer is helping to work through different approaches) and some city setback rules that may require a building variance - which can be a long, complicated process. We're actively working through these issues now and hope to have a final approach soon.
But I'm curious - which Option do you prefer??