Hello! Happy Holidays!

It's that time of year again. The obligatory Happy Holidays email is on my mind. I am not much for obligatory but I am always up to send out some love!

We need it, don't we? And I am not afraid to express it - anywhere I can add value to the conversation with a little warmth, I am going to do it.

Which leads me to the real purpose of this email: The end of year reflection - and that reflection reveals that love is all there is.

Over and over again, in my work and in my personal life, I find that the lessons are the same. It is through the reflection of kindness, patience, and tolerance that we are most successful. Even in the realm of negotiations, when the conversation is tense because money is at stake, the fundamentals stay steady.

If I am kind, I am met with kindness. If I am honest, I am met with honesty. It might not happen immediately, but ultimately, this has been my overarching experience.

This has been a big year, with big changes (new company) and many homes sold. I am looking forward to another great year in 2019 with listings on the books and buyers ready for new inventory to arrive. But what I am really looking forward to is connecting with people in a way that makes us all feel seen, appreciated and yes, even loved.

This is it, our one and only opportunity to be here now. Every interaction I have is important, and the older I get the more I know how finite it all is.

I adore this line of work, I relish helping people and being of service. It is why I don't mind the long and bizarre hours. And I am grateful. Grateful for the trust I have been granted and the relationships I build with every transaction.

I hope you are also feeling the love and more importantly, giving some!

As always, I am here with an ear if you need one!

Love,
Sarah

Where to Find Me Now

Dear Friends,

I am delighted to announce that I have a new office with a new name - District Homes, founded by my friend & colleague, Anna Bellomo with whom, over the last 3 years I have co-listed many homes & co-represented quite a few buyers.

You may have taken note of the changes in the real estate world. With tech companies, multinational investors & major buyouts occurring all around us I am relieved to be staying true to my roots. At the same time, we cannot ignore the direction new brokerages are taking. At District, we have married the ethos of an intimate boutique brokerage with the technological savvy & resources of a much larger company. Check out our website to learn more about how we are doing that: DISTRICT-HOMES.COM

It is always bittersweet to make life changes of this proportion but change is good - we stretch & grow & shift. I am reminded of the way stress strengthens a sapling. When you plant a young tree you stake it so that it is protected from strong winds. But as soon as the roots have begun to grip the soil it is important to remove that staking. It is the stress of the swaying incurred by the thin trunk that produces the chemicals needed to generate a thick and woody foundation. Without the stress & with too much support, the tree will be prevented from gaining the strength it needs to grow to be solid & self-sustaining.

In just 3 months we have had 14 listings so we are feeling proud! I am buoyed by the agents who I sit beside every day, who share my deep commitment to an elevated sense of honesty, collaboration, and sophistication.

So it is with a deep sense of grounded fortitude that I take this next step. I invite you to stop by. Our office is beautiful & I would love to serve you a cup of coffee & sit and talk. It is a gorgeous, inviting space & you are welcome there.


With warmth,

Sarah


A Fantastically Busy First Half of The Year.

I sometimes hear from you letting me know that you are reading these newsletters and that you are curious about the market and what I have been up to! I cannot tell you how much it moves me when I hear this. I send these notes out into the universe and just hope I am not lost in a spam folder somewhere.

That said, I have had 7 listings since the New Year and represented tons of amazing buyers who have all found homes or condos they are delighted to now own. To the left you will see just a sampling of the homes I recently represented, Curtis St in Westbrae, Stanton in South Berkeley, Byron in South Berkeley, Humboldt Ave in El Cerrito and many more! I have sold a fixer in Oakland with 65 offers, a condo around the corner from my childhood home in the Piedmont Ave area of Oakland, a darling petite home to a mother and daughter in Albany, a rambling 3-story home with in-law in the hills of Millsmont in Oakland, plenty of awesome single family homes in Berkeley, a gorgeous fully remodeled two-story Albany home (so close that my clients are now my neighbors), I have listed an unusual home off-market in Albany and found 2 other off-market opportunities for amazing buyers and the list just goes on.

As I write this I am waiting for offers to come in on a listing, preparing two new listings for the market (Richmond and North Oakland) and am a week away from closing on a 3 bed, 2.5 bath home with gorgeous cottage in Westbrae for a very special family I have come to simply adore.

I am busy but it feels really good.

I don't want to sound cliche, and if you know me at all you know that I loath those, but I am pretty stunned at my good fortune.

Every day I get to have a stimulated mind, work around ethical and curious collegues and best of all, I get to help people.

My biggest take away for 2018 so far is that this - to be useful is what makes life so good and juicy! Being of service is where it is at and in my line of work, I get to spend time with interesting and interested people, teach the fine art of "The House" and best of all, I get to help people to make the largest financial decision in their lives and I can do so with patience and kindness.

Everyone’s Doing It

We have small homes here in the East Bay - small homes, small lots, small closets and small garages. My husband always says that our homes, many built in the 20’s, were designed for people with two coats, one for winter and one for summer. At first we make due but as we begin to burst from the seems we begin to improvise. Those who’ve worked with me have doubtlessly heard me recommend a Tuff Shed or some sort of prefabricated outbuilding. We insulated our 8’X8’ “cottage” with 3.5” thick rigid insulation, then sheetrocked. Our little addition has had many incarnations from office to extra bedroom.

Eventually though, enough is enough and an addition becomes necessary. Seems like a day doesn’t pass where I don’t see another project breaking ground. There are essentially four options, go out, go out and up or double the square footage by adding a second story either atop the existing home or by raising the first floor and adding on underneath.

The latter two are what I want to discuss. It may seem that adding a second story atop the existing home is the simplest and less expensive way to go but in reality, it likely isn’t.

In almost every situation the foundation will need to be replaced if you are doubling the load on a home so that is a given. And in both instances you will have to accomodate a stairwell and therefore likely lose some square footage of floor space.

When raising a home and adding square footage underneath, the roof stays, no tear off of roof rafters and roofing material nor replacement needed. Next, the entire structure of the first floor (soon to be second floor) remains essentially intact. When adding an addition on top of an existing home a substantial amount of the sheetrock must be removed in order to install point load posts to support the structure above and shear wall to stabilize it. When raising the home, the now second floor simply stays as is - unless the architect redesigns the original floor plan, it can be left untouched.

Another issue people often don’t think about is that the addition of a second story means that there will now be plumbing and mechanical chases, from the top floor into the existing bottom floor, where before you had none. This precipitates remodeling the existing first floor plan to accommodate them in some way. Essentially you are going to completely open up and remodel most of the downstairs to accomodate for the addition of the upstairs. Everything existing will need to be considered as a possible item that could be lost, for example, tile in the kitchen and bathroom, coffered ceilings in the living and dining room, hardwood floors throughout and in some cases, even windows - because of the requirements of the structural engineering, you simply cannot predict if you will be able to leave these items in place.

Not to put too fine of a point on it but there is much to be gained by raising the home and adding on underneath - the only element that some will find problematic is how to hide the fact that there was once a front porch and door. I challenge you to start paying attention to what are clearly raised first floors and you will see where a good architect has cleverly hidden a former front door on a second story.

I love to talk to my clients about their hopes and dreams for their homes. I am far from a designer but I am always happy to share professional referrals with you and ideas and stories of projects gone well or awry. There is always more to learn.

Recently, I Received A Call

...from an Engineer I know asking me if I could help some clients of his. The clients, a couple for whom he had designed a significant project, were thinking of either scrapping the project and selling their house as-is or doing the project and then selling. They needed my advice as to which path to chose.

When I arrived at the home, I was prepared and ready to dig in. I had already spent about an hour on the phone with the engineer so that I fully understood the breadth of the design. I also wanted to understand whether there was an intermediate option, my thought being that the owners could, with my input, spend less but still get a significant return.

I spent about 45 minutes with this couple and we discussed the proposed project and several potential iterations. Ultimately, we made some big decisions and now these sellers are getting their home ready - based on our second meeting, to turn it over to me to prepare for sale. They have a large project ahead of them but my input got them going in what I believe is the best direction for the greatest return.

Part of my job, when meeting with potential sellers is to determine the best course of action. It isn’t always as simple as putting the home on the market as soon as possible and watching the money roll in.

“But Sarah, isn’t it a hot seller’s market?” Yes, it certainly is and some may believe that any house in our area will sell itself. I have certainly seen homes that have done well with very little oversight by their realtor but 9 times out of 10, the reason homes do well is because of the agent and how she presents the property.

The word “presents” sounds so simple but it is the essence of the work we do. Essentially, presentation is everything the potential buyers and their agents see, read and hear about the property and it holds the key to the success of the transaction.

My job is to take in as much information as I can about the seller, their financial, emotional and practical needs and then translate that into the most profit possible. I take the pulse of the market, project into the future and then transform the home into the most appealing manifestation the seller can afford while also making sure it is not over improved for the expected price point of the neighborhood.

Once on the market I make sure that the disclosure packet is not only ready and easily read and digested but it must have the best possible reports from truly trusted inspectors and I must know it inside and out so that I can properly educated potential buyers.

The process from the first meeting until the home is sold is sometimes a long one, but never, ever a dull one.

I am looking forward to some really cool listings in the new year and will definitely keep you posted! I am always here to discuss and analyze your home with you - don’t ever hesitate to ask!

Warmly,

Sarah

Happy Fall

It has been a very busy month for me here at Thornwall Properties.

I closed on four wonderful homes in the last several weeks from Richmond Heights, to El Cerrito and Berkeley.

My clients, all with their own powerful stories, are happy and settling in.

I am so proud of the work we all did together! For many, buying a home is not as clear cut as one might think. The intention may be there but the end goal is foggy. Part of what I pride myself in is my ability to simply be present for clients as they filter through the properties with their own personal lens in ever sharper focus.

Two of the last four properties sold were homes that had gotten into contract and then immediately fell out (original buyers having second thoughts or change of circumstances). This is an opportunity I pride myself in recognizing. We had to work very quickly to secure these homes, I am not the only agent who smells a potential deal!

I believe that because I had prepared my buyers well, with thorough reading of disclosures and some pre-inspections, they were ready to pounce when it was necessary. Most buyers are not well versed in home construction but I make sure that by the time they are ready to offer they are comfortable with reading home inspections, pest reports and the like.

My buyers don't get their every offer accepted of course and between these last four deals there was a wide range of offers made - from only one to a whopping 6, but with all of them, without fail, they knew what it would take to get an offer accepted. I keep my finger on the pulse, always informing my buyers of what it will take to win. It is this building of trust that enables my clients to close knowing they offered no more than they needed to but just enough to close the deal.

I am looking forward to a really fun new year in Real Estate - with some very cool listings (more on that as things develop) and more wonderful buyers looking for their forever home. I am never too busy for your referrals, and I really appreciate your trust in doing so.

Have a great Thanksgiving and more in the Winter months to come!

Thanks for reading,

Sarah Ridge

What The Heck is an ADU?

Accessory Dwelling Unit - cottage, addition, outbuilding. Call it what you like but Berkeley has finally loosened it’s grip on the process of creating more space for living. They caught up with what the state already recognized as a right of every home owner, to add on a small addition or outbuilding without harsh fees and intense neighborhood input slowing down the process almost indefinitely.

The idea being that there is simply not enough housing; the elderly may need to age in place and create space to live in or rent to a caregiver - more and more families are joining forces, living under one roof to save money and share resources and sometimes, in order to pay the mortgage for a new home, a rental income is required.

There is so much conflicting information out there so I wanted to share with you some great information so that if you are thinking about an ADU you have a simple place to start. And remember, there are so many prefabricated units available now - gone are the days of the generic box store unit, now there are architect designed mini-homes, straight out of the most sophisticated design magazine.

More and more of my clients are looking to add an ADU or would like to purchase a property with one already constructed. I am alway happy to be a resource if I can!

Following is an excellent link for the down and dirty facts regarding building an ADU in Berkeley. Of all the sites I have scoured, this one is the best!

ADU INFO

A Personal Perspective

Crafting the Intuition:

In my spare time, I like to read about neurobiology and primatology. I find that these two subjects are not only endlessly fascinating but truly helpful in many aspects of my job. Most of what I do in my work is to ease people through what is often a very emotional process. In a way it doesn’t matter how savvy you are as a Realtor, if you aren’t sensitive, patient, intuitive and kind then no amount of business acumen will suffice.

I just finished a book, How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior, about the unconscious mind and how most of what we see, hear and think is information furnished by the unconscious. This is knowledge, that on some level, I already knew, but I like learning the neurological explanations of how it all works. 

Awareness of the role the unconscious mind plays in our day to day lives doesn’t improve the efficacy of the biological function. Our brain just chugs along, doing it’s thing, with or without our knowledge. But that same awareness does improve our ability to benefit from the data supplied to us. It is free information, there for the taking, might as well figure out how to benefit from it, right? 

My work is exceptionally multifaceted. On any given day the tasks I take on are as disparate as one can imagine; reading contracts, creative writing, math, economic interpretations, construction, organization of files and timelines, computer skills, design, strategy, social dynamics, emotional support - all these words come to mind when I describe my job. I suspect many of you reading this have jobs that are similarly diverse in the skills required. 

If you know me at all, you know that a powerful work ethic is the quality I am most proud of. Letting things slide isn’t an option, so I have had to figure out how to make sure that doesn’t happen. 

This is where my aforementioned recent reading comes in. I've been thinking about how the unconscious information the brain collects can help me in my job. I had a realization about it last night while meeting new clients for the first time. I noticed that while they were speaking, I became entirely silent. I listened with absolute focus and then, when it was time to respond I ever so briefly recognized what my unconscious mind had told me.

And boy did it tell me a lot! By simply taking an extra second or two to listen to what was actually right in front of me I found that by the end of the meeting we had not only crafted a very clever strategy for their offer, had excellent communication about contingencies, had manifested a detailed list of items to do prior to the offer date but we had a really enjoyable connection on a more personal and human level. 

I left that meeting feeling so satisfied. In only an hour we had such a productive and meaningful meeting and I’ve no doubt why. Tapping into the unconscious mind, by slowing down enough to listen well and thoroughly serves us on so many levels. 

I am always striving to improve as a Realtor. Finding new ways to do that is a challenge I am happy to take on. If there is a New Year’s message in this letter then perhaps it is as simple as this: The people around us are already telling us what they need, we just have to take the time to listen. 

If you are in thinking of selling or buying, please let me know. I am more than delighted to sit with you and help you to determine the financial ramifications of the decisions at hand. 

Sincerely,

Sarah Ridge

Reflections On A Year

Well, my year was intense with 12 properties bought and sold! If you know me you know I thrive off of being fully engaged in my work, marriage, and kids. Overall it was an A+.  But on a macro level, it was a hard year politically, socially and economically for many in the nation as a whole.

We are unbelievably fortunate to live here in California, our own little nation - a true megalopolis. We are even more insulated by being here in the Bay Area where the waves of political angst feel like mere ripples. I keep my finger on the pulse of the economy, both on a national level and a local one as well. I don't have a crystal ball but I am confident that our area will continue to be coveted and sought after.

My primary focus continues to be my clients and how the market affects each one of them - the importance of observing the subtleties and nuances of each transaction is, in my opinion, the key to guiding my buyers and sellers through the process with the most ease.

Customizing the care I give is something I am most proud of. Here is an example: The other day I got a text from one of my buyers who closed on his property a few months back. He said his contractor had gone to the city to submit an application for a permit and was told he was not the owner of record (yet). He was distressed. Within 15 minutes I had the title company email my client proof of ownership so that he had what he needed to apply for the permit. His gratitude for my continued service, the service I promised I would always provide him, was worth the world to me. But more than that, it was the knowing him that made me proud - I know how busy he is, I know that he moves in a fast paced world and needs results quickly - I knew that running over to the title company in person and getting him the deed immediately was what would make him feel most cared for.  

As always, I would be honored to provide excellent service to you or your referral!

I hope everyone who reads this newsletter finds themselves grateful for all they have and has an excellent holiday and New Year celebration.

To you and yours!

Warmly,

Sarah

It Is So Emotional

I made an offer for a buyer recently that was quite intense.  There was a lot to the property and much to consider, discuss and determine. We did our due diligence over the course of about 10 days of active work and real thoughtfulness.  We put together a beautiful offer complete with an earnest letter from my client. After some back and forth with the seller's agent we thought we had won the property and then, at the last minute, we didn't. That happens sometimes. Every case is different. Every agent operates in a unique way. No one to blame - just the nature of the beast.


But my buyer was angry. And then he was sad. He felt wronged and mistreated. He felt as though he had been jerked around and taken for a ride. I understood how he felt - I empathized. I too was a bit miffed. And precisely because of my empathic response, my role as the Realtor needed to shift significantly. My job was now to remove the emotional element and embody pure logic. My buyer and I are a team and together we came to the same conclusion; pragmatism would get him where he wanted to go much faster than emotionality.

All this had me thinking about the importance of staying balanced in this business. There are few experiences that can bring up as much fear as buying or selling a home. It is up there with birth, marriage, divorce and death in terms of the risks inherent and the potential for loss. And because of that, real estate is an industry rife with suspicion and presuppositions. I am an emotional person, and I have been known to overreact once or twice in my life (wink, wink) but there is simply no room for allowing my emotions to rule in my job.  Knowing that I have my client's interest as the driving force in my every move makes that abundantly clear.  So when emotions run high, when I see the potential for angst and frustration, I know it is time to pull back, make a mental spreadsheet and move in the most methodical of ways. It is times like this that I am reminded of something my broker once said, "Real estate causes you to grow in ways you did not imagine."

So it is with this experience that I am yet again overwhelmed with gratitude for my job. I wake up every morning curious about what adventures I will go on, what problems I will get to solve, what people I will get to collaborate with. And that makes me a very lucky person.  Let us all remain grateful for what we have. Happy Thanksgiving from me to you. 

The Things We Observe

The other day I was at an open house and I had an interesting experience. It was a busy open house and the energy had a specific tenor as if almost every serious buyer who walked in the door was feeling a nervousness and anxiety. I was acutely tuned into it that day and felt as if I could read the folks who walked in the door.  In particular, I was speaking to one woman who had left her sleeping baby and husband in the car. She told me that she and her husband had been half-heartedly looking for 10 years.  That sounds pretty unusual, but really it isn't.  If you think about it, we do many things for years and years without fully committing, and sort-of house hunting is one of them. I could tell though that for this women, the time had come to go from half hearted to fully on-board. That is when I said something that appeared like mind reading but was in fact simply intuition.  

I was explaining to this woman, that once she was pretty sure they wanted to buy that they really needed to start working with a Realtor and not try to make these huge life decisions on their own. 
I then said, "I bet you and your husband are fighting a lot about this move." That was the mind reading part...a look of awe washed over her face and she said, "We fought all the way from the last house to this house."

I wish I could claim psychic abilities but really I just know this simple fact: Realtors break up what could be a very tense experience. We are like the midwives of house hunting.  We ameliorate fears by shedding light on seemingly scary situations and we ask the questions that once answered clarify what seemed a muddled amorphous unknown.
So if you are thinking of buying or selling, and you just need to get some professional advice, you know how to find me!
 

A Sweet Summer Story

June was very busy - and for that I am grateful!  My relationships with my clients have brought me tremendous satisfaction.  There is something so utterly satisfying about getting an offer accepted and hearing the sounds of delight in my client's voices.  
But I would like to tell a specific story of Gus and Nicole.  This young couple are simply a force to be reckoned with . The first day I met them they told me exactly what they were looking for and why.  And they seemed to have little to no doubt it would materialize.  Ever the realist, I feared it wouldn't be all that easy.  After all, they are young, it is a tough market and they had pretty high expectations.  

What I enjoyed so much about them was the way they looked at properties.  They really saw themselves in the space - imagined exactly how they would remodel or not, and they wanted to share the space with many friends, to rent out all the extra rooms.  Normally, when folks put a tremendous amount of mental energy into a place it can be very hard to lose it when the offer isn't accepted.  But these two straddled the line of emotional investment and practicality.  And they did it with a lot of grace.

And then they fell in love. When they saw the home they ended up buying I could feel the difference in their energy.  It was no longer a math equation with a dash of emotional connection thrown in.  This was the real deal.  Yet even then, these two used real smarts to get what they wanted.  We did a pre-inspection so that we could come in non-contingent.  We offered their max - because that is what you have to do sometimes to win the home you love.  And when we had a few hiccups along the way, we used common sense and decency to negotiate with the seller.  But what I admire the most about these two was that they understood that real estate is a complex and nuanced transaction - it is a marriage between pragmatism and human relationships. By ensuring that they respected and honored the seller, while still maintaining their own standards and decisions, they closed with everyone feeling really good about the transaction.
One of the most important feelings, when you pull up to your new home in the moving van, is of respect and well wishes for the seller.  I am proud of these two, they managed to do that with absolute aplomb.

Please let me know if I can help in any way!
 

Realtors Do More Than Buy and Sell Houses...

We manage things.  And like any good manager we have excellent contacts.  So, if you need the name of a reputable tradesperson who can:

Refinish Floors
Install Tile
Clean Up A Garden
Paint, Roof, Install New Rain Gutters
Retrofit A Foundation
Install New Light Fixtures
Thoroughly Clean your House
And Anything To Do With Home Repair & Maintenance

Feel free to get in touch!  Email, text or call and I will send some names your way.

Is Now The Time To Buy?

Yes.  That is my one word answer.  But why if prices are high and the market is so competitive? 
Two reasons: SCARCITY and INTEREST RATES

California isn't really a state, it is a medium sized country with a burgeoning economy.  The demand for housing is not going to drop in the near future.  What that means for the buyer is that the sooner they buy the better the deal and the more opportunity to build equity. 

And the interest rates? Well, they just keep dropping.  As of this writing they're at the lowest level in almost three years, aiding homebuyers during the housing market's busiest season for transactions. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.58 percent, down from from 3.59 percent last week and the lowest since May 2013, Freddie Mac said in a statement Thursday. The average 15-year rate slipped to 2.86 percent from 2.88 percent.

If you are looking to sell or buy a home, condominium, or rental property please get in touch.  I am more than happy to talk with you about what is involved, in our current market, with your desired transaction. 
 

Go Richmond Go! The City of Richmond, With A Look At South Richmond

The demand for housing is not going to abate any time soon.  The pace of new construction around city centers remains molasses-like.  The prices of homes near BART are now so steep that all paradigms of Real Estate have been turned upside down.  It is a whole new world.  I am observing phenomenal prices for homes near public transportation to San Francisco. It used to be that a home in the Hills was a coveted thing, and of course there are those who work locally and want peace and quiet and expansive views, but the overwhelming trend is buying homes that are conveniently located near BART.  

And while the market has been reeling with ever increasing prices, quietly and patiently, the city of Richmond has been taking care of business.  The Richmond Transit Village is well under way with over 100 condos either completed or coming soon, as well as a completed 2.7 million dollar modernization of the station; new parking, and a sleek new Amtrak station and many retail spaces waiting to be rented. This work covers the North and East area of Richmond, adding tremendous value to the properties in the neighborhood.

What of South Richmond?  With it's sweeping waterfront views and mixed use properties, South Richmond has been ripe for development.  Luckily, Richmond has continued with its long-sighted vision!  Ferry service will be available in 2018 at the Ford Peninsula with two new boats added to the Ferry's fleet.  Diversifying the options for commuters is nothing but brilliant.  Richmond saw the writing on the wall and seized this tremendous opportunity.  
I have long been Richmond's loudest "Town Crier", extolling an investment opportunity that I hope my friends and clients can take advantage of.  With the Ferry coming to dock in just a couple of years, it would be foolhardy not to consider South Richmond as a place to buy.  
Those of us who live on the West Coast are certainly imbued with an explorer's drive, we are the trendsetters and the modern day claim-stakers and I for one, am betting on Richmond!
 

Time To Sell?

Many of you have heard the term, "Seller's Market" lately.  Well, we certainly are in one right now in the Bay Area.  Inventory is low and the buyers are plenty.  That reality leads some homeowners to consider selling.  Is that a good idea?  There are three things most folks will consider:

Where would you move if you did sell?
Should you wait and hope that you can fetch an even higher price for your home?
Should you sell your house as it is or do work on it first?

Some folks know they want to move out of state or to a less populated area and plan to take their windfall and buy a property with all cash, where their money goes further.  Others would really like to stay put but need a cash injection and hope selling could solve that problem.  Regarding whether or not to wait for the market to grow even more, well, if only we all had that crystal ball!  And, to remodel or not to remodel before you sell - that's a cost/benefit analysis for which you need some real knowledge!
Here is my recommendation - talk to a Realtor.  Every Realtor I know is more than happy to sit down and pour over the details with potential sellers.  These questions, that can seem unanswerable, can likely be tamed in a conversation or two.  Knowledge is power and there is no power without data.  Before you consider selling you absolutely must have a realistic sense of what the market will likely bring for your specific home.  Not your neighbor's home, but your home. A Realtor can give you a sense of what type of construction on your home will be a financial benefit, she can refer you to contractors of all sorts, she can even run the work for you if you do decide to sell.  

After speaking with a Realtor you may decide to wait - perhaps you don't want to move at all after you have looked at the numbers.  And that is ok too.  A Realtor doesn't only work in the world of buying and selling, we also work in the world of sitting still for a while!