Selling a home is stressful. Fortunately, we didn’t have to stress for too long; our house sold in six days. I think this was due to luck, perfect timing, and a little bit of effort. Since the former two can’t be planned in advance, here are a few tips to get you started with the latter.
Do your research. Before listing your house, get familiar with the market in your area and price range. What other homes will yours be competing against? Determine what you can do to help yours stand out. For example, there was a home listed for sale two streets from ours, in the same development, and within $3,000 of list price. Same builder, same neutral decor, same size. Our home had a fence. The photo of the large fenced in backyard helped attract our buyers who had a dog.
Price to sell. Buyers will be more likely to visit your home and make an offer if they are confident it will be considered. Plus, it lets buyers know you’re serious.
Purge. Before we listed our house, we began the process of purging. We’re by no means hoarders, but there were areas within our house that needed some clean out and reorganization. The listing and showing process happens so quickly. Save yourself the rush of doing it before your first showing.
Take the right outdoor pictures. We listed our house for sale in the middle of a Cleveland, Ohio January. Our lawn was covered in snow and our trees and shrubbery were dead. Fortunately, I had an attractive picture of our house taken during the summer and sent it to our realtor to use for the listing. It certainly helped the curb appeal factor.
Compile a binder of user manuals and warranty information. Our house was a new build five years ago, and being the original owners, we had all of the user manuals and some warranties for everything from the siding to the microwave. It took one hour to organize them in a logical order and put them in a binder for visitors.
De-personalize. All HGTV shows recommend you de-personalize your space. I agree and disagree with this suggestion. Our home was a cookie cutter build. We loved it while we were there, but it’s true. There was little character and no history prior to us. When we were house hunting, we looked for both of those qualities. The height markers on a wall, handprints cemented into a driveway, or a family photo on the mantel was not a turn off. It showed that the house had stories to tell and memories made within it, and we really liked that. This is probably only acceptable to an extent so if there seems to be too much “you” in the house, there probably is. Scale it back a bit.
Remove all evidence of Fido (or Josie in our case). It’s hard to believe that someone could be turned off by Josie. She’s so sweet and gentle. But, there are people who just aren’t pet lovers. Clean up the toys, dish, crate, and pet him/herself for showings.
Plug in your candle warmers and/or air fresheners. Make the house smell fresh and welcoming. Open the windows before a showing (even if it’s cold) for a few minutes to air out the stuffiness.
Get ready to hang out at places other than your home. This was the biggest challenge for us, so thankfully it only lasted a week. The sellers are expected to vacate the house during showings. This got tricky with an 8-month old and dog in the middle of winter. We enjoyed time at a local restaurant and over-stayed our welcome at my Grandparents’ house. Figure out where you’re going to loiter and go prepared.
Turn on the lights and open up the blinds. People like light. Give them light and worry about the electricity bill later.
Clean, clean, clean. Make your house look cleaner, more organized, and larger than it ever has before. It sucks to live like a guest in your own home but it’s a necessary evil of selling. This includes making your bed…every morning.
Be flexible. When you get a showing request, accept it, even if it means inconveniencing your schedule. You never know if it could be your buyer.
Consider a pre-selling home inspection. When buying and selling, there are many unexpected costs. Having a pre-selling home inspection is not required and may be $400 you don’t want to spend, but it may help you know what you’re up against for the likely home inspection by the buyer.
Don’t lose your sense of humor. The process of selling is life consuming. Find time and reasons to laugh and give yourself a break.
Leave the house in style. Take time to clean up after yourself. We left our house cleaner than when we moved in and a personal note to our buyers with some tips for settling in to the house and neighborhood: our favorite restaurants, garbage day to-dos, quirky street laws, etc., plus a bottle of floor cleaner that worked best for the floors. We received a sweet thank you note from the buyers’ realtor which made the extra time and effort well worth it. It makes you feel good about “passing the torch.”
If you’re planning to sell your home, I hope some of these tips will be helpful. Good luck!
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