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A 96-year-old woman decided to sell her home in Toronto after living there for 72 years. However, realtors found the house was such a pain to sell, even when the market was at its largest in recent years. What's making it so hard was not the house itself, but what its owner did inside...
The realtors who signed the house were the Spizzirri sisters who have worked together like a well-oiled machine since 2009. One of them would shore up a sale while the other would swoop in and close the deal. One day, Gladys answered the office phone as usual, but little did she know that call would bring them a special deal they'd never forget.
After picking up the phone, the sisters heard a hesitant voice introducing herself as Joyce, the owner of 148 Jane Street. As her speech continued, the 96-year-old lady gradually explained her interest in selling the house. While the sisters were still impressed by how lucid Joyce sounded for people her age, they soon heard something even more incredible.
Having heard Joyce's request for selling the Jane Street house, Gladys and Carla started making an estimate of the house value during the phone call. Gladys was quite confident about the price since she'd sold several houses around the area, and they all turned out to be very profitable. However, what Joyce later told them made their estimate seem way too optimistic...
As experienced realtors, the sisters always check on house owners just in case there is anything unordinary about the property. So they decided to look around the neighborhood and talk to the neighbors, hoping to get more information the owners may "forget" to mention. To their surprise, no one actually knew Joyce well or what was happening inside her home, and that made the two even more curious.
Having unfamiliar neighbors might indicate that Joyce hadn't asked for any help from anyone, which means the old lady has taken care of the 3-bedroom house by herself for 72 years. That information struck the Spizzirris and abruptly disturbed them rejoicing over the chance of getting a lucrative deal. They started wondering how the house may look inside after only being maintained by an old woman over the years. Could it be a total disaster?
Working as realtors, the Spizzirri sisters were more than familiar with hoarders. They've seen all sorts of things piling up on the property, which really cost big efforts to properly reform for better deals. So far as they've known about Joyce's story, they're almost certain that the house would be another piece of work. With a sense of despair, the sisters knew only an actual visit to the untouched house could clear their doubt.
When driving around the area, Gladys and Carla started to think about how much they'd spend on cleaning service and repairs. The fact that the house hadn't been renovated in more than 70 years really left them not much hope of finding it sellable. Take the kitchen, for example, an average renovation would cost over $20K, and that's just one room! The more they did the maths, the more they doubted: did they sign an unsellable listing?
Despite all this, it's still quite early to give up on the deal because the house was at a perfect location. After considering the surrounding neighborhood and the average closings of similar listings, the Spizzirris settled on an initial estimate they both felt was fair: $968,000. As they happily presented the profitable plan to Joyce, telling her the house probably would sell this much, the real problem showed up.
The problem was the hesitant attitude Joyce had for selling her lifetime home. The whole process was going quickly, and the old lady wasn't ready to say goodbye just yet, so she tried to slow the deal by avoiding a decent room tour. Her uncertain opinion made the Spizzirri sisters a bit worried. They couldn't help to wonder if Joyce was simply clinging to the past or she really was a hoarder living in a problematic condition.
After negotiating for weeks, Joyce finally agreed to a proper pre-deal room tour. The Spizzirris were fully prepared to see a hoarding disaster, but what they saw was everything but what they'd imagined. The house was like a large time capsule where each room was preserved perfectly from the 50s. The sisters couldn't believe how immaculately maintained the furnishings were, and every room was jaw-droppingly incredible.
Being carefully decorated in all sorts of pastel colors, each room kept a unique tone while complementing one another. The fabrics had hardly faded, and the furnishings were all authentic pieces from the 50s and 60s. As the tour continued, they surprisingly discovered that almost all appliances were in perfect condition, but they still needed an overhaul of everything for a fair valuation.
The longer they stayed in the house, the more impressed the sisters got by how it was beautifully taken care of, wondering how much it cost the old lady to maintain such a big house over the years. Based on experience, realtors would make a basic home maintenance budget to be 1% the home price without considering the time it was purchased. In Joyce's case, she moved here in 1942, which meant keeping this place habitable must have been a money pit.
No matter how hard Gladys and Carla tried to find the hiding fault of the place, everything seemed in mint condition. That made sense for houses built within 5-10 years, but would be very rare for older ones, so there should be a few signs of age. As the Spizzirris couldn't believe all the rooms stayed exactly the same since the 40s, Joyce revealed that there was actually one that went through some changes.
The kitchen was the only room that had been remodeled over the years. It was not surprising, since most kitchen appliances like ovens and fridges have a working life of only a decade. As a war child, Joyce understood the importance of making every penny worth. Thus, she made the most effort with the least cost to maintain her home, which had saved herself hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Yet she didn't know it was a more promising investment…
When shopping for a house, great furnishings could add big value. Therefore, all the furniture Joyce dedicated to taking care of since the 50s could mean a lot now. These original mid-century pieces sitting in the quaintly color-coordinated rooms have proved to be seriously profitable purchases down the line. Without knowing at the time, the 96-year-old invested in her house.
As the Spizzirri sisters discovered that all Joyce's furnishings are authentic items from the mid-century, they couldn't be more thrilled. The vintage style has been back in vogue, which allowed the house full of such masterpieces to be appreciated in more value with every passing year. Joyce had never realized that the bed she'd been sleeping in for a lifetime could be worth much more now. But how did she decorate the house so uniquely?
Everyone who saw the decoration would easily assume that Joyce was a professional interior designer. It's hard to believe that the former seamstress had done all of this only out of interest. Although Joyce didn't get to develop her passion into a career, she was happy with how things turned out. "I've always tried to be individual and follow my own style," she said. Joyce's style was surely one of a kind, but the sisters started to suspect a big problem that might affect the sale.
Everything was overwhelmingly feminine. As they were getting a bit concerned, they saw two rooms with a completely different style. Joyce explained that her husband was so understanding that he let her decorate the house however she wanted but with only one request - no pink in the master bedroom. Happy with the respect and support, Joyce decided to give her loving husband more than just a place to sleep, but a fully-equipped pink-free relaxing area.
As expected, Joyce's impeccably maintained mid-century home went viral the moment it was put on the market. Despite the house itself being attractive enough, people were completely amazed at Joyce's story and the piece of history she preserved. Moreover, the price of her lifetime home was no longer just $968,000, but a lot more. The house was a precious thing for the real buyers, but also a hot topic for some people who thought differently.
There have been quite some vintage-looking houses on the market, but the unique Joyce-made retro decor really stood out. With a lot higher than their initial predicted pricing, Gladys and Carla have found not only buyers who would like to continue Joyce's work and keep the aesthetic vibe, but also those who were willing to pay a pretty penny to spruce up the place and bring it into more modern times.