Real estate agents Gladys and Carla Spizzirri were ready for an exciting year: all financial analysts predicted that 2014 would be a successful year for the Toronto real estate market. After signing a pretty little three-bedroom house in west Toronto, the sisters had no way of predicting what awaited them once the front door was open. The owner, a 96-year-old woman, was ready to sell her house, and even the surrounding neighbors did not know what the interior of the house looked like. Would the sisters be forced to sell a dilapidated wreck? Actually, it was something much more wonderful.
1. Finding the right real estate agent
Gladys and Carla Spizzirri complemented each other well. Gladys had nearly three decades of experience in the real estate industry. Gladys had seen just about everything in the real estate business. Carla, her younger sister, joined the team in 2009, and since then the sisters have never stopped getting closer. The Spizzirri’s approach was based on their specific talents, one sister supported a sale and the other committed to closing the deal. So when the office phone rang one day in 2014, the Spizzirri sisters did not hesitate to answer, but this time it would not be as usual.
Carla picked up the phone and, at the other end, it was the hesitant voice of Joyce, the owner of 148 Jane Street. Joyce explained that she was 96 years old and wanted to sell her West Toronto home.
Carla could not help but think of her own elderly parents and the lucidity of Joyce who was about to turn 100 and was still living alone.
2. A first optimistic estimate
Gladys and Carla began to calculate a conservative projected value for the Jane Street house. As experienced sellers, the sisters knew that before buying or selling a home, it is important to consider the fair market value of a property.
The Spizzirri sisters examined market data to determine the asking price they considered appropriate. Gladys was particularly familiar with the average price in the region, having sold other houses in this part of the city. But before they could get excited about the property, Joyce told them something that worried them.
3. A story of owner horror?
Working in real estate involves some risks, which Spizzirri knew well for their years in the company. Gladys and Carla had already dealt with horrors before.
After learning that Joyce had been living in the house since 1942 and that during that time, no work had been done on the house, the accumulation of property on the property seemed likely. And to make things more worrying, there was a hint of hesitation in Joyce’s voice. For Gladys and Carla, everything seemed to indicate a potential disaster.
4. The house has not been renovated for more than 70 years
The fact that the house had not been renovated for more than 70 years could easily have meant that it was in a dilapidated state. Even if they used a professional cleaning service to deal with the congestion, how many repairs would the home need? The average kitchen renovation can cost just over $20,000, and it’s only for one room!
5. Moving forward with an estimate
Putting all their concerns aside for the moment, the location of the house was too attractive not to try to sell it. After taking into consideration the surrounding neighborhood and the average closure of similar listings, Gladys and Carla agreed on a price they considered fair: $968,000.
Excited to help a 96-year-old woman sell her house for much more than she would have ever expected, they presented Joyce with their plan. But after talking with Joyce about the possibility of making her a lot of money, there was a new problem.
Although the Spizzirri sisters were enthusiastic about their targeted evaluation, they were still nervous about the condition of the house. To make the sisters even more nervous about the state of the property, Joyce, 96, was reluctant to sell her house.
Living in the same place for more than seven decades, it is quite understandable to be attached to the house and all the memories that have surely been made there. But was that why Joyce was reluctant to put her house on the market? What was going on behind the doors of 148 Jane Street?
6. Calming real estate concerns
Gladys and Carla Spizzirri knew that the value of the house based on location alone would make the inscription desirable, but they had not yet seen the inside of the house. All Joyce had shown them from the Jane Street residence was a photograph of the exterior of the facade.
Although the photo did not alarm the sisters immediately, Joyce’s hesitations about selling her house for so many years are still disconcerting. Joyce kept expressing how difficult it was for her to cope with the possibility of leaving her home. Despite reservations on both sides, Gladys and Carla knew what they had to do.
7. Convince the seller to go ahead and leave
Saying goodbye to a house after a while can be difficult, and Joyce, 96, had spent 72 years at 148 Jane Street. It was obviously more than just a simple brick building. The Spizzirri sisters were understanding, but after all this time in the real estate business, they knew how to manage clients who were struggling with the nervousness of selling houses.
With the possibility of a sale of nearly $1 million, they were not ready to let Joyce give in to her hesitation. It took a few phone calls and a lot of comfort for Joyce to finally be ready to open her home to Gladys and Carla. What they would find would have nothing to do with what they had imagined.
8. It’s not as if nothing happened.
Gladys and Carla walked nervously on the steps of 148 Jane Street, expecting their hopes to be dashed. But as they walked through the front door, the sisters were not only pleasantly surprised, they were amazed.
The house was like a big-time capsule. Each room was perfectly preserved in the 1950s and 1960s. The house, which was perfectly maintained, was an Easter egg in pastel colors and with period furniture. The Spizzirri could not believe how impeccable the house’s furnishings were, and each room was more hallucinating than the next.
9. Is it a house or a time machine?
Each room had been decorated with care and love in the most beautiful shades of pale pink, lavender, mint green and blue. The fabrics were barely discolored and the furnishings of the parts came from the 1950s and 1960s. Gladys and Carla couldn’t believe their eyes.
Each piece was upholstered as it was at the time, and above all, each piece was perfectly coordinated in color. But while all the furniture seemed in perfect condition, a house that has not been renovated since the 1960s would surely need new appliances?
10. The cost of living in a single house
Without proper care and attention, an old house can be a silver mine, with the constant cost of repairs accumulating year after year. A good rule of thumb that is often used when setting a budget for basic home maintenance is 1% of the cost of the home. But this does not take into account the date on which the house was purchased.
Joyce and her husband had moved into the house in 1942, age alone would have meant much more than just maintenance to keep the house habitable. The sisters had to look closely to find out what faults can be hidden in the house.
11. Everything is in perfect condition
Gladys and Carla couldn’t believe how meticulously Joyce had kept everything in the house. It was obvious that the decoration of the house had been an exciting project, but in the decades that followed, keeping everything in perfect condition was a work of love.
12. A thorough inspection of household appliances
No plumbing fixtures were out of order. The only room to have been redone since the 1950s was the kitchen. The kitchen had certainly been remodeled, but only once in the 1960s, and since then, no room had been touched or changed in any way.
While basic household appliances such as ovens and refrigerators often last 10 to 15 years, Joyce, who lived through World War II and a recession, understood what a little elbow grease was worth. Building on her initial investment in housekeeping, Joyce had saved hundreds or even thousands of dollars over the years. Speaking of investments….
13. Investing in the future
All the furniture in each of the rooms in the house, with its picturesque and coordinated colors, was from the 1950s and 1960s. Even if she hadn’t known it at the time, these dining room sets and small pieces of decor would turn out to be very profitable purchases in the end.
Just as in shopping for a home, the furniture that fills that home can add value. While some people intentionally began collecting furniture for auction at a later date, Joyce’s furniture from the 1950s and 1960s was clearly chosen by a woman who loved interior design. Today, Joyce’s modern furniture from the middle of the last century could mean great things to the 96-year-old.
14. A modern masterpiece from the middle of the century
As the Spizzirri sisters noted in their list, all of Joyce’s furniture is authentic 1950s and 1960s furniture. Modern furniture and decorative items from the middle of the last century have come back into fashion in recent years and, as such, their value has increased from year to year.
Although a house full of modern mid-century furniture is a gold mine for auction and would certainly add to the appeal of 148 Jane Street, Joyce had not realized that she was sitting on seriously coveted rooms. Many furniture sets that were selected all these years ago are in fact unique. How did Joyce come to decorate her house so specifically?
15. An exciting project, not a profession
Given the way the house was decorated, it is easy to assume that Joyce was an interior designer. Unfortunately, in her working years, Joyce had spent her days as a seamstress, but in fact, she had always been actively involved in interior design.
Although she didn’t pursue her career, Joyce said, “I’ve always tried to be original and follow my own style.” Suffice it to say that his style is found in every room, the house is almost entirely pastel pink. Even if the house were such a wonder, how would the public react to such a house?
16. Too original?
Gladys and Carla were able to appreciate how Joyce had taken great care to clearly decorate each room, with all the metal wallpaper, matching carpets and curtains and matching upholstered seat sets. But as they moved from one room to another, they began to suspect that there might be a problem.
As Joyce took Gladys and Carla home, the initial shock of going back in time dissipated and they realized something – the setting was extremely feminine. Even if they suspected any potential buyer of renovating the house, perception and presentation are a key element of any sale. Would enough people like that?
17. A little change of scenery
When Joyce and her husband moved to 148 Jane Street in 1942, Joyce’s husband gave her the green light to decorate each room exactly as she wanted, with one exception, no roses in the master bedroom. Joyce gave her husband more than a room without a rose.
She realized that her husband needed a less feminine place. As was the fashion at the time, a room was arranged as the ideal place for her husband to have a drink. The wooden panel bar is the dream of all enthusiasts of the middle of the last century. What did everyone on the market say about Joyce’s dream house from the 1950s and 1960s?
18. The house goes viral
After Gladys and Carla put the house on the market, it became viral. It was not only the hopeful owners who were fascinated by the home at 148 Jane Street. People were completely surprised that such a piece of history had been hidden from view.
19. Setting a final price
Despite their initial estimated price of $968,000, with all the metal wallpaper and light pink and purple carpeting, potential buyers would potentially (probably) have to pay a nice price to refresh the place and take it to a more modern era. Something that had to be taken into consideration.
Gladys and Carla had to take into account the unique nature of Joyce’s house in their calculations while they were preparing their final list. And like any real estate agent would do for a regular residence, it meant a little more market research. Gladys and Carla Spizzirri finally set the price of the property at $699,000.