Dawn and Albert Schick knew they owned a special house. The 7,500-square-foot, Victorian-style house, located in Richmond’s Fan District at 1853 West Grace Street, had been built in 1910, and it still had all of its original moldings, chandeliers and hardwood floors. It was a grand property with particularly striking woodwork, and the Schicks had successfully converted the property into a popular bed-and-breakfast called the Grace Manor Inn. So when they put it on the market, they expected it to sell fairly quickly, even with a high price tag.
It didn’t. And at least a partial explanation lies in the history of the street itself.
For much of the late 1800s and early 1900s, West Grace Street had been one of the city’s premier residential streets. As city residents moved to the suburbs in the 1960s and 1970s, though, the street’s reputation declined, and many of its grand houses were converted to apartments. In recent years, as interest in city living resurged, the trend reversed, with new homeowners converting several apartment buildings on West Grace Street back to single-family residences.
Recognizing the street’s renaissance wasn’t universal, though. Several real estate agents the Schicks interviewed seemed unable to recognize the street’s resurgent value, Albert Schick said.
After an extensive search, the Schicks found an agent they liked, and they asked him to list the house.
“We enjoyed working with that agent very much,” Schick said. “He was extremely professional and thorough. Unfortunately, after 12 months, the house had not sold, and we needed to make a change.”
So they hired a new listing agent. The Schicks weren’t satisfied with the new agent’s marketing efforts, though. Even worse, the house still lingered on the market. That’s when they approached Chris Small, a real estate broker with Small & Associates Real Estate. Small toured the property and offered a clear-eyed assessment of why it had lingered on the market.
“He was very frank with us that we needed to make it look like a home and that it needed to be staged, repainted and modernized,” Schick said. “We were not selling it as a bed-and-breakfast, and that is what it was reflecting.”
Small presented a plan that included coordinating with a local stager, as well as a timeline that accounted for each step of his plan.
“He followed through on everything he said he would do and met his deadlines,” Schick said. “He kept us on task, and he got the job done. Those changes are what let a family see it as a home that they could live in.”
The Schicks relisted the house with Small as their agent, and it sold for $1.1 million in 59 days. It was the highest price ever paid for a single-family residence on West Grace Street.
“The price would have been even higher, if the house had been one block away on Monument Avenue,” Small said.
So why did the house sell so quickly? It came down to finding the right agent.
“Chris was absolutely the reason the house for sold for more than $1 million,” Schick said. “If the person selling the house does not believe it is worth more than $1 million, then it will never sell for that amount. He absolutely believed, 100 percent, that our house was worth more than that. He was able to frame the house in such a way that other people could see that, too. We give him huge kudos for that.”