Once upon a time we bought our very first house when I was minutes away, not really, from delivering our very first child.
It was everything we had hoped it would be and was enough of a blank slate to allow us to put on our own personal touches. We brought not one, but two babies into that house and when the time came to put it on the market, it was NOT an easy decision. We sat down with an agent and we discussed various things, but we were so emotionally invested in the house that the information fell on deaf ears. For the next 11 months and 90 showings later, yes 90, we FINALLY sold.
Here’s what we learned from that experience:
1) Staging is everything. Potential buyers need to be able to picture themselves in your space. This is also a great time to disconnect yourself and start looking toward your new place.
- Take down as many personal pictures as you can.
- Declutter either by packing up your stuff, purging/ selling the items you don’t want any longer.
- Neutralize paint colors if possible, buyers often have a hard time with seeing past paint.
- Rearrange or use smaller furniture to give the appearance of more space.
2) Do any necessary repairs. If it’s something that you know needs to be done, do it. Most buyers would prefer a house that is more turn key than not. Even if you’re in a starter home, most first time home buyers are intimidated by taking on even what may seem like “easy” projects. We found out the hard way that old caulk around the top of our cabinets scared off first time buyers. They didn’t know if there was an issue with the cabinets coming away from the ceiling, when really it just needed to be redone. A simple 15 minute project pretty much cost us a sale.
3) Before you go to bed, tidy up. We would do this just in case we were at work the next day and had a showing while we were gone. It gave us peace of mind knowing we didn’t have to worry about last nights dinner dishes still being in the sink or laundry piled up. Each night we would put stuff away, wipe off counters, and finish up the laundry. Mornings were hectic enough trying to get 2 adults and two babies out the door, let alone getting your house show ready.
4) Less truly is more. I can’t say this enough. If your cabinets are stuffed to capacity or your closest can’t handle one more article of clothing, you could scare off a potential buyer. They WILL open up drawers and doors because they want to know there’s enough storage. Even if the reason you’re moving is because you want more space, you don’t want them to figure that out as well. Purge, pack, and even sell your items to reduce the amount of stuff in the space. Also, this will help you when it’s time to move; it’s a win-win.
5) Listen to your Realtor. Understand that while they want to make money off of your sale, in order for them to do so, they have to actually SELL your house. Your Realtor will come armed with prices from the recent sales in your area, comps, look at them and be honest with yourself. Don’t be like us and have such big emotional blinders on, that you sit on the market forever with unrealistic expectations. We survived and sadly sold it for way lower than had intended. Had we listened to our realtor and not been so stubborn, we could have saved ourselves heartache and frustration.
6) Listen to the feedback. This can be one of the hardest pills to swallow, but it could be key information for ways to help your place along. If you hear something over and over and it’s something you can easily fix, do it. This could range from painting a room, to maybe even changing out carpet. For us, it was replacing our kitchen table with a smaller one because the buyers kept saying the eat in kitchen was too small. Unfortunately, there are things you cannot help, like the size of your back yard, or even the state of your neighborhood.
Selling your house can be a potentially stressful time, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be as stressful. Believe it or not, through the long process of trying to sell our first house, we still utilize some of the things we did to maintain a “show ready” house. I like to think of it as the birth of my love for organizing. (Don’t get me wrong, our house is not reminiscent of a hospital, but items having their own home as well as tidying daily allows our space to not feel overwhelming.) Selling our second house to move to South Carolina was a much easier process, sold in three days, because we paid attention to the struggles we had the first go around. Keep it realistic, have a plan, and keep the end result in mind.