It was at this point that the couple’s realtor, Leslie MacKinnon of Compass Boston, suggested a service the broker launched in 2019. The Compass Concierge offers sellers upfront cash to pay for cosmetic upgrades, staging, and other prep, and then reimburses the cost after the home is sold. This helped the Harutunians, who had already found a home to buy, make last minute improvements without using up the money they had saved on a down payment.

The couple used Compass Concierge Funds to paint the exterior and plaster the ceiling in the newly completed basement. This cost about $ 9,600 – which Harutunian more than made up for in the selling price point of view. “I was pleasantly surprised at what we were able to sell the house for,” she said – and proud to have handed it over in better condition. “This was a family home, and so part of me didn’t feel right to sell the house without getting it the condition I wanted it in.”

The Haratunier Compass only had to pay back after it was closed. “I was a little skeptical at first because I thought there was probably a hidden fee on the other side, or an interest rate or something, or I would have to go through the approved list of providers,” said Haratunian. “But it was so simple, and none of it turned out to be true.”

MacKinnon, her Compass agent, keeps a list of the contractors she trusts – but sellers are free to hire their own preferred professionals. MacKinnon has used Compass Concierge about a dozen times with similar success – often to pay for the debugging and staging. “Sometimes that’s really all a property needs to properly see to eliminate 50 to 60 percent of the things in the home,” MacKinnon said. “If there is beautiful cladding and chair rails, fireplaces and mantels, maybe they just need to be cleared,” she added for a historic home to speak for itself.

However, MacKinnon also uses the program for more extensive updates. A couple who sold their long-standing Dorchester home had already taken care of the big things: rebuilding the foundations, installing new heating and electrical systems, and replacing the roof. “And they really just kind of burned out,” MacKinnon said before stepping into the dated interior. “I knew that when we re-imagined the ‘impact rooms’, we would call them – exactly when we enter, whether it is a large foyer or a living room or a beautiful living room with a fireplace – if we could at least bring them in good shape, then we could help a buyer imagine what they could do with the rest of the house. “

The couple went on vacation to the Cape and let MacKinnon do the work. “They basically gave me the keys and said,” We want to get $ 800,000 for this house – if you can get us more, that’s great, “she said. MacKinnon hired a crew to take off wallpaper, add the first and second floors paint and repaint the cabinets in the 1960s kitchen. By debugging and staging the total amount was about $ 25,000. “And it sold for $ 1,060,000,” MacKinnon said. “It was a win-win situation for everyone. “

Even minor staging can help a property sell faster and for more money by making it easier for buyers to imagine their lives there, according to surveys by the National Association of Realtors. However, bringing an obsolete home closer to turnkey can help appeal to two different and widespread buyer groups, said Brian Dougherty, general manager of Compass Boston.

The first are those who simply lack the imagination to see the potential of an outdated home. “We’ve all seen these shows on TV, like House Hunters, and people say, ‘Well, I like it a lot; I just don’t like the pink walls and you want to pull your hair out, ”Dougherty said. “But these people exist, and many of them exist. For this tranche of buyers we try to dispel any kind of objections and give them what is relevant and what is perceived as fresh and current because they literally do not have the vision to see a room differently. “Other buyers know what it takes to upgrade a property, but – perhaps because they understand the process and the work involved -” they don’t want to worry about it, “he added.

According to Dougherty, the concierge program helps agents tactfully talk about a difficult but necessary conversation with clients about their beloved home and the furniture in it. “In the case of someone who has owned a property for 25 or 30 years, they often have blinders on; They think it’s perfect the way it is with Laura Ashley and all that chintz, ”Dougherty said.

But younger buyers are looking for the clean sophistication of a restoration hardware catalog, Dougherty said. “We’re not doing this for you; We do this for the Boston buyer who is 20 years younger than you, ”he tells the sellers. “Because a buyer keeps objecting because they fall into one of these two categories: ‘I can’t imagine living in this room; It’s too much like my grandmother’s house. “Or” I just don’t have the time to worry about it. “

William Raveis debuted this spring with a similar program called Raveis Refresh. Lexington agent Stephen Stratford recently tried Raveis Refresh and suggested its clients take advantage of the program to paint the house inside and out, replace rotten siding boards and railings on the deck, and do landscaping and staging – an investment of around 25,000 $ 50,000 he expects will add $ 50,000 or more to the final sale price.

“All of these things that needed to be done are the kinds of things that, one way or another, can dramatically affect people even before they even get into the house,” said Stratford. “If it looks like there’s been a lot of delayed maintenance and some kind of run down because the house hasn’t been painted in a few years, the tone is already set to make you feel like, ‘Hmm, what else hasn’t done that I can’t see? ‘”

While some sellers have used the Compass Concierge to finance renovations with large tickets, most projects are under $ 15,000, according to Dougherty. “It’s finding the sweet spots,” he said. “Some of the most powerful short-term improvements you can make are floors and paint.”

Refreshing kitchen cabinets with a professional paint job and new hardware is another powerful project, Dougherty added, especially for custom kitchens that were remodeled in oak or cherry tones over a decade ago. “I mean, those were very expensive kitchens back then,” he said. “It may not be the current look, but the quality is there.”

Dougherty recently drew up a plan for a prospective customer in Cohasset that involves refinishing the wooden floors, painting the walls on the first and second floors, putting in new countertops and appliances, painting the kitchen cabinets, re-tiling the bathrooms and re-glazing the tubs included. “That’s another big impact for short dollars,” he said. “It costs about $ 600 for a reglazing company to come in to rework a cast iron tub that might be a little grody or worn and make it look brand new.”

Of course, any home improvement project can suffer setbacks and frustrations. But MacKinnon said she’s been very lucky so far, and Compass agents can do the job for free, which takes some pressure off the seller. There are also instances when opening a wall could reveal a complication and the scope and price of the work may need to be adjusted, Dougherty said. “Ultimately, it really is the seller’s decision because it is his money. This is just an advancement from Compass, ”he said.

This advance payment is free of charge and interest, but is repaid after the sale is complete. And if their house doesn’t sell, customers typically have a year or more to return the money. But unless a customer pulls the listing for personal reasons – one of Dougherty’s clients decided to stay at his South End home after making thousands of dollar improvements – the updated properties tend to be easier to sell.

At a time when so many buyers are closing down homes through online tours – and some even making unseen deals – MacKinnon said making sure a home looks and pops off the screen at its best is more important than ever. “If the property looks spectacular and is ready to use, then they can place this listing more conveniently,” she said.

Stratford also praised the power of staging to bring more potential buyers across the threshold. “In my own experience, it will definitely give you faster sales time,” he said. “And more than likely, the faster it sells, the better the price – because the longer you are in the market, the less money you usually get for selling it.”

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Jon Gorey blogs about houses on HouseandHammer.com. Send comments to jongorey@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jongorey. Subscribe to our free real estate newsletter at pages.email.bostonglobe.com/AddressSignUp.