A lost opportunity for many remodelers: homeowners aren’t remodeling because they’re concerned that they’ll lose their jobs. A found opportunity for some remodelers: helping those homeowners understand that if they do lose their job, they’ll add value to their home (and be able to sell it faster, at a higher price) if they fix it up first.

Construction manager Bob Boothroyd of The Boothroyd Group recently completed a $220,000 remodel for the sole purpose of helping the homeowner sell it quickly (the home is already under contract, he says). He’s having this conversation with growing numbers of prospects in his affluent community of Fairfield County, Conn., where financial-industry losses have been acute. It helps that many materials prices are down, and labor in particular is often much less expensive than it was even two years ago, he adds.

“A lot of guys are doing jobs for 50% less than what they were charging,” Boothroyd says, noting that he. too, lowers his construction management fees, under certain circumstances. This article in The New York Times last Thursday suggests that this scenario is playing out in other parts of the country as well.

Boothroyd’s Realtor friends corroborate that a little remodeling can go a long way toward moving real estate. “They tell me there’s a lot of property on the market, and most of it isn’t moving unless it’s in pristine, move-in condition,” he says. Buyers have so much to choose from that “if the home needs attention, it’s at a big disadvantage. The price will be lower, and you’re going to wait to sell it.”

Echoing a regular finding from REMODELING’s Cost vs. Value Report, Boothroyd adds that the home is at a further disadvantage if it’s competing with other listings that have features that it doesn’t have, such as a first-floor bathroom or a finished basement.

Imagine the seller’s mindset. Many homeowners are “in crisis mode," he says. "You’ve lost your job, and your spouse might lose hers, and you see the clock ticking, and that monthly mortgage is like a hemorrhage. You’re thinking, ‘How fast can we unload this without really getting hurt?’”

The remodeler’s opportunity, Boothroyd says, is “to add value to their house. And adding some real value, combined with shortened market time, plays well with people. If they see you as knowledgeable and looking out for their best interests, you will probably get the job and get referral business.”