We knew we were taking a big risk buying the other house before listing this one, but we didn't want to chance losing the new house, nor completely hijack the holidays by trying to sell and move. Our market is really hot right now, and the schools in our neighborhood are exemplary, so we hoped we would have only a few months of overlap. But never did we dream it would happen this fast!
I think it was a combination of a really great realtor, hard work, a hot market, and luck! We've been updating this house for the past 10 years, but worked especially hard in the week leading up to listing it. And while having a fully-updated Kitchen and Bathroom were huge in it's appeal, the little things made a big difference too. They aren't rocket science, but I thought I'd share them in case you're thinking of selling soon.
The attraction to a house starts the moment a buyer pulls up to the curb. Before they even walk through the front door, they've already judged it, or even made up their mind. The saying, 'You never get a second chance to make a first impression' is especially true when selling your house.
So we paid special attention to the outside, first by adding shutters to accent the large windows. These are just stained cedar boards, nailed together, and attached to the brick. It took only a few hours and cost about $100 for three windows, but makes our house really stand out from others around us.
We had all the trees and shrubs trimmed, so they looked tidy and didn't rub against the house. The plant selection is slim this time of year, but we still added fresh color to pots by the front door, and put new cedar mulch (don't use the stinky kind) in all the front and backyard beds. We also raked up all the leaves in the yard, and swept the porch and sidewalk clean. Windows were washed, paint touched-up, and gutters and eaves cleaned, too.
We paid the same attention to the inside, without making any major updates. Our Master Bath never received a full makeover, but it was transformed with new faucets and mats. And fresh caulking around the tub, vanities and shower made the space feel brand new.
We also swapped out the remaining dated light fixtures and ceiling fans in the house for newer, yet basic and inexpensive ones. I can't tell you how many times Mr. SP and I looked at each other, and wondered aloud what took us so long to do this stuff!?
Some of the other things we did that our realtor insists made a difference:
* Deep clean the entire house so it shines, including windows, carpets and blinds. Organize closets and drawers because potential buyers are snoopers! Make your house look so good, you'll wonder why you want to sell it.
* Touch-up all baseboards and moldings, and putty and paint any wall dings. We also repainted areas that were showing wear, like the inside front doors, and hallway outside the kids' rooms.
* Our Laundry Room was the only place where the original honey oak cabinets and brass pulls remained, so they got a quick coat of white paint and new chrome knobs. We also swapped out the nails holding up the brooms and mops for an actual rack, so you could see all the uses for the space.
* Stage the house like a model home, so it's obvious people live there, but there are no indicators of the human side of real life...like toothbrushes by the sink, soap bar in the bathtub, or dirty dishes in the sink. People want to envision themselves living there, not picture strangers spitting toothpaste in their future sink, and shaving in their tub.
* Remove evidence of pets...we packed away Maggie's toys, and took her food, bowls and bed with us during the showings. You don't want to put-off someone who might not happen to be a dog person. But then again, do you really want to sell your house to non-dog people?! ;)
* Make sure all lamps and overhead lights have working lightbulbs. Agents like to turn on every light in the house, so you want them working. Little things like burned-out lights make a buyer wonder what else you don't take care of or might have overlooked.
* Pack up the clutter...no piles of papers, or overflowing baskets of toys and stuffed animals. Stash the TV remotes in a basket, fold throw blankets over the back of chairs, and limit the family photos. Basically pose your house to look like the perfect, unrealistic family lives there.
* Make your house available for showings, so as many people as possible can see it. One of the fortunate things about listing during the holiday weekend...after prepping the house, we then packed up the kids and dog, and left for three days. Our agent was able to approve showings at any time, and host an Open House, without having to clear it with us, or wait for us to clean up each time. Obviously this isn't always possible, but opening weekend is typically the busiest for a new listing, so we wanted to take advantage.
Perhaps the smartest thing we did, was choose a great agent! Ours happens to live next door and be a good friend, but I also knew her to be very well-respected and savvy in the field. She had professional photos made for the listing, promoted our house through all the sales sites and social media, and created excitement with 'Coming Soon' signs and online posts.
She was also well-studied on the comps in our area, and priced our house so fairly, that she created a stampede of offers, and it sold in a bidding war 15% over asking price! (Yes, I'm happy to share her info for you Dallas-area peeps...just shoot me an email!) We were anxious about the process, but she guided us through with so much knowledge and patience.
So now we are tenants in the home where we shared 10 years of love and memories...and that's a little weird, and a lot sad...but we're also excited for the next chapter. And just so grateful that the process went so smoothly. Hearing about the offers pouring in that first weekend in January, was the final confirmation that we had made the right choice. And speaking of choices...I posted our new Kitchen tile selection on InstaGram and Facebook this weekend, did you see?!
Do you have any great tips or success stories about selling a home?