A decade ago, when Howard Kandel was buying and renovating properties to sell, he relied on a network of real estate agents to help him find the properties as well as to send him referrals for homeowners looking to remodel. When leads slowed during the recession, Kandel recalled what a steady source of referrals that had been and he began marketing pre-purchase consultation to real estate agents to “help them sell houses and to help us get projects,” he says.
Kandel, who is president of Kandel Construction Group, in Potomac, Md., sent emails promoting the service to agents who work in the company’s target neighborhoods and he is highlighting the service on the homepage of his company’s website.
Median expenditures on remodeling:
• Doors/windows: $1,200
• Patio/terrace/detached decks: $2,000
• Bath remodels :$2,432
• Bedrooms: $2,500
• Rec rooms: $3,000
• Flooring/paneling/ceiling: $1,200
• HVAC: $3,600
• Roofing: $4,559
• Kitchen remodels: $5,000
• Garages: $15,000
Source: 2011 American Housing Survey by The Census Bureau and Dept. of Housing and Urban Development
If buyers like a property or neighborhood but think the house won’t suit their lifestyle, agents contact Kandel to visit the home to evaluate how “remodel-friendly” it is. He reviews a wish list with the potential buyers and then creates concept drawings and presents a cost range so they can evaluate if purchasing the house and remodeling it is within their budget.
It’s essentially the same as the feasibility study that’s part of the company’s remodeling process. Just as with the study, Kandel charges for the time he spends on the drawings and budget prep. “It’s not a profit center for me,” he says. “It’s more of a marketing thing.” The difference between a feasibility study for a homeowner and one for a home buyer is the urgency and timing. “We have to do it pretty quickly,” Kandel says.
The remodeler visited three properties with one client prior to the client purchasing the house that was the best fit, and Kandel recently completed a renovation for that homeowner. He now hopes to establish real estate agent referrals as a consistent source of leads.