72-Year-Old Home Surprises Experienced Real Estate Agents
No one ever really knows what goes on behind closed doors. Sometimes, neighbors come up with tall tales to explain why no one seems to ever enter or leave a particular house. Some families live in their homes their entire lives without changing a thing, while others are constantly renovating and making improvements.
That uncertainty explains why Carla and Gladys Spizzirri, sisters who work together as real estate agents, were a little apprehensive when they got a call from a 96-year-old homeowner who was ready to sell. Would the house be a dilapidated dump, a diamond in the rough or something spectacular?
The Perfect Duo for the Job
For the Spizzirri sisters, real estate is a family business. Gladys has more than 30 years of experience, and her sister, Carla, joined her in the field in 2009. The Spizzirris work for a Toronto branch of Keller Williams, a very successful real estate firm.
The Mysterious Caller’s Name
The potential client was a woman named Joyce. Her address was 148 Jane Street, which the agents knew to be an older but promising neighborhood in West Toronto. There was also something else extraordinary about Joyce. She was 96 years old!
What's Wrong with the House?
With all the necessary information collected, it was time for Carla and Gladys to work their real estate magic. They started to run comps on Joyce's home. In non-business terms, that means they started trying to figure out how much her house was worth, based on what similar houses sold for in her area.
A Potential Problem
Over time, Joyce's neighborhood had been through many changes. It transformed from a neighborhood full of families in starter homes to a wealthy, trendy neighborhood with both businesses and homes. Other houses in the same area had easily sold for top value.
A Unique Detail About Joyce's Home
As Joyce continued to talk, she quickly dispelled any ideas that the house would lead to a big sale. She had been in her home for more than half of her lifetime — 72 years, to be exact. Why was she moving after all those years?
Could Joyce Be a Hoarder?
Gladys and Carla found out that Joyce had been living in the same West Toronto home since 1942. In all those years, she hadn’t made any repairs to the home. It was highly unlikely it hadn’t needed any repairs in all that time.
Reason to Panic
Although the sisters had already agreed to sell Joyce's home, they were beginning to panic. If the house truly hadn't had any major repairs in more than 70 years, it would almost certainly be in bad shape and impossible to sell as-is.
A Very Promising Estimate
As much as the cards seemed stacked against the Spizzirri sisters, there was light at the end of the tunnel. Suppressing their concerns, they ran another set of numbers on Joyce's home. Before seeing it, they felt it was worth around $968,000.
Hitting Another Roadblock
Almost anyone on the planet would have jumped for joy to find out that their home could be worth $968,000, but Joyce wasn’t very excited. In fact, she responded to the news by declaring that she wasn't so sure she wanted to sell her home after all.
The Need to See More
At that point, Gladys and Carla had only seen a picture of the outside of Joyce's home. It looked good enough from the exterior, but they absolutely needed to see the inside to get a better idea of the situation.
Overcoming Mixed Emotions
It only made sense that Joyce was nervous about selling her house. It was more than just a house — it was her home. It was the place where she had made memories with her late husband. Where would she live after all those years?
Expect the Unexpected
Gladys and Carla were understandably nervous when they arrived at 148 Jane Street, Joyce's address. Experience told them that Joyce was probably a hoarder living in a dilapidated home, but they were still excited about the potential for a million-dollar listing.
Details of the Stunning Home
All the walls in Joyce's home were painted in beautiful pastel colors. Some rooms were lavender, others were pink and some of the most captivating rooms were painted a bright robin's egg blue.
Getting Back to Reality
The sisters had to look past the beauty to find potential issues that could hinder a sale. Regardless of how good everything looked, getting an older home up to sellable standards could be extremely expensive.
Are There Any Problems?
Gladys and Carla could only imagine the love and care Joyce had put into making her home a place that she and her husband enjoyed. She obviously worked hard to make each room cozy, and she put even more effort into keeping it that way for so many years.
The Most Important Room
Buyers are usually very concerned about the kitchen. Joyce revealed that she had remodeled her kitchen back in the 1960s, but that didn't make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. That was decades in the past.
The Most Valuable Part of the Home
Joyce's furniture was quite possibly more valuable than the home itself. It had all been purchased in the ‘50s and ‘60s, and she had kept it in pristine condition. Every plate and chair she purchased over the years were truly an investment in her future.
A One-of-a-Kind Gem
Although the decor in Joyce's home was very outdated, she picked the perfect time to sell. Rather than being called old fashioned, decor from the ‘50s and ‘60s is now referred to as mid-century modern. The era is very en vogue, and having this type of "old fashioned" furniture has become quite the fashion statement.
A Passion for Decorating
Why did Joyce go through all the effort to design and maintain such a unique home? Although the home looked almost professional, she never had a career as an interior designer. Back when she was still working, she was a seamstress.
The Right Buyer Out There?
Despite all their initial reservations, Gladys and Carla were quickly falling in love with Joyce's home. Each room had a personality of its own, and the curtains, wallpaper, carpets and even seat cushions were all meticulously matched.
One Room Was Different from the Rest
Joyce wasn’t the only person who had lived in the museum-like house. When her husband was still alive, he asked her to design one room that was just for him. Unlike the rest of the house, that room was the only one without pastel-colored walls.
Intense Public Response
It was only a matter of time before Joyce's house began attracting more attention than any of the Spizzirri sisters' other listings. In fact, Joyce's gorgeously designed home attracted attention from all over the world. It went viral on social media, and news outlets wanted to know more about Joyce and her home.
How Much Was It Worth?
What was the final asking price for the house? After walking through it, Carla and Gladys knew that their original $968,000 estimate was no longer appropriate. Unless the buyer had the same style preferences as Joyce, the home was going to need a lot of cosmetic updates.
Other Homes Like Joyce's
Joyce's house wasn’t the first novelty home on the market, and it wouldn’t be the last. The internet is full of viral listicles that show homes that are quite eccentric in design. Although these kinds of homes attract plenty of attention, they are difficult to sell.
Finding the Perfect Price
Although there were no comparable houses in Toronto, other vintage homes like Joyce's had sold before. In San Antonio, Texas, a home that had all the original furniture from the ‘70s sold for $355,000. In St. Louis, Missouri, a house that was furnished in the 1950s and never lived in sold for $129,000.
A Price That’s a Steal
Gladys and Carla finally decided to list Joyce's home for $699,000. The home was very special all on its own, and it was also in a very desirable part of town called Old Mill. People really wanted to live in that area.
Location, Location, Location
When someone is buying their first house, it can be easy to get lost in all the exciting features inside the home. Other people are very concerned about the exterior, but something else is even more important.
A Simpler Time
Whether she realized it at the time or not, Joyce's home was perhaps the most lucrative investment she ever made. The asking price of the home was several times the amount she and her husband had paid for it back in the 1940s.
What About the Wiring?
The house was almost certain to be as lucrative for the next owner as it had been for Joyce. Although inferior wiring and plumbing materials are often expensive problems in older homes, the electrical and plumbing systems in Joyce's house met modern construction standards.
Joyce Moves On
Although it was a tough decision to make, Joyce had decided it was time to move to an assisted-living facility. She was still mentally sound, but she realized that her body would only continue to decline as she grew older.