I’ll be upfront. We sold our home in five days for asking price. However, it wasn’t without a hefty amount of work and planning. Our date for moving was finally set and the last thing we wanted to happen was to pay both a mortgage and rent. From there, we worked backwards based on how long we thought it’d take the house to sell to the average amount of time it took to close. We also had a really great Realtor, which can make a huge difference. He was upfront about the pricing of our home and even went over our “house projects” list to ensure we were staging the home correctly while not going overboard.
This process literally seemed like it would never end. Once I finally crossed the last thing I wanted to sell off my list, we knew it was time to finish up any remaining “house projects” before putting the for sale sign in the front yard.
We started repainting the kitchen on Thanksgiving night.
The time from when we decided to move to our actual move date was about six months. My husband and I sat down and made a master list of everything that needed to be done around Thanksgiving from the biggest of projects to the smallest — like tightening a screw. We had the list separated by floors: upstairs, main floor and the basement.
While I continued to work on selling our unwanted stuff online and going through my “touch everything” decluttering journey, my husband would try to knock out a project a night. It helped that we were doing all of this during the worst winter in the history of Cincinnati. The temptation of doing something aside from house work never was an issue.
Some of the projects were legitimate repairs while others were more for staging purposes. A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for walls. Brighter light bulbs replaced the dim lights we had in some of our rooms.
I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but can tell you what I’ve learned through chatting with experienced home buyers & sellers, researching online and meeting with our Realtor:
I’ve been told over and over the brighter your home, the better. Evaluate your situation and find ways you can let more light in. Take down any dark curtains or make sure they’re pulled back. Clean your windows both inside and out. If you have dark lampshades, switch them out for lighter ones. Cut any bushes that may keep natural light from entering your home.
Rid the dust bunnies. More light = more visibility. Make sure that all the floors are clean, there aren’t dust balls under the furniture and that all surfaces are wiped clean. I even cleaned the blinds; you’d be surprised how much dust they can collect.
Pick the right Realtor. I can’t say enough good things about the Realtor we used. He was eager to help us. I liked that he was social media savvy. He was honest from the beginning and gave us realistic numbers. We luckily worked with him as he represented the sellers for this very same house when we purchased it back in 2009. We knew he had an excellent reputation; but looking at his track record only verified he was the right Realtor for us.
“Don’t go too crazy with home repairs”, says the one who had a 3-page “house project” to do list. Really though, most of the things on our list were minor. Massive makeovers might not be the best decision because you’re not going to get your money or time back to make it worthwhile. The largest projects on our list included building a new desk, only because the other one was no safe to use. We also had to rebuild and replace the pergola in our backyard. Not my choice, but over the years it rotted and was falling down. Again, safety was our biggest concern.
The difference of taking down things that make a place feel like home: Before and After
Take down the personal stuff. This was the absolute hardest thing for me to do. I hated taking down all of our family photos, the collage walls of frames that were strategically placed and all of the fun colors I used to accent the home. I had to say goodbye to my hot pink and black chalkboard wall in my office, the pops of bright aqua paint that separated the area from our living room to the kitchen and anything else that really made our house…well, feel like ours. The less personalized the house – the better. It helps potential buyers imagine how they’d decorate or live in the house.
Be show ready. You literally never know when you may get a call asking if someone can see your house in the next hour. It happens and isn’t one of those things you’d want to turn down. It could be the new potential home owner! While this wasn’t convenient, remember there really isn’t a convenient thing about selling a house. It’s just part of it.
Keep a catch-all bin by the door. It was challenging to keep the house in tip-top shape, especially with a 3-year old. So for those times when we had to show the house with a short notice, we threw all of our extra “stuff” in a big plastic storage bin and put it in the trunk of the car. Mail, shoes, packing tape, dog toys, kid toys…it all went in.
Show your curb some love. It’s one of the golden rules of selling your home. Make sure your the curb appeal is the best it can be. Sweep of the porch, pull weeds, add a decorative wreath to the door. Plant flowers. All of the things I listed are inexpensive, but can make a huge difference to a potential buyers first impression.
If you’re selling your home in the winter or while plants are still dormant, show pictures of the place in the summer. The landscaping always looks better in the summer. Plus, it gives potential buyers an idea of what’s planted.
Here’s a good example:
These pictures were taken in the same area six months apart.
Whew, was that a long post or what? There is so much that goes into successfully selling a home. We knew we wanted to do it right the first time and prayed everything would go smoothly so we didn’t have to pay rent plus a mortgage.
Photos are courtesy of our wonderful Realtor, Rakesh Ram. I also wanted to share his information in case you live in the Cincinnati area. I always like to recommend people and companies that I think are truly worth mentioning and Rakesh is no doubt someone I’d want to refer. He also has a website, here.