Getting Your Home Ready for Sale- Easy Fixes That Are Worth The Time

 

Getting ready to put your home on the market?  De-cluttered and clean is a must.  But what else can you do to make your home really shine?  There are easy fixes that aren’t big WOW’s, but will make your home show better.

 

Woodwork with scratches, nicks and general wear and tear scream “I am neglected”! (really what it is saying is I am not new- but a buyer sees neglect)  A few hours with a bottle of Old English Scratch Cover will do wonders.  It comes in two different colors, light and dark. Check out their website for tips and instructions.  (http://www.oldenglishpolish.com/sf2_scratch.shtml )

 

Cleaning light switch plate covers may sound a little OCD but dirty cover plates make buyers start to think about the overall cleanliness of the house.  Buyers often will assist agents turning lights on and off during the showings so they are looking at the plate covers.  Your 13 year old armed with a bottle of spray cleaner and a paper towel can make a significant improvement.

 

Crooked paint lines at the ceiling, smears of wall color on the ceiling and paint on the trim says “I did all the painting myself”.  The potential buyer now is questioning the quality of the remodel of the basement.  Take the time to fix these items.  If you did do the painting yourself and it looks like it, hire a professional.  

 

Clean your gutters and the front entrance to your home.  Gutters filled with leaves and small trees cause the buyer to start to look for other items of deferred maintenance.  Change furnace filters, replace burnt out light bulbs, clean the cobwebs in the basement and kill the weeds in the sidewalk and driveway.  

 

If you have an unfinished project, finish it.  Trim not finished because you put down new flooring, nail holes not filled on trim or woodwork, caulking not completed in bathrooms and kitchens all say to the new buyer “You will have projects as soon as you get the keys”.  This does make most buyers excited.  

 

Getting a home ready to sell takes some work.  I strongly believe it is worth the effort, time and expense.  I have seen homes receive significantly less than they could have if they had only been clean, de-cluttered and spruced up.   

 

Spring in January

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.

Realtors get a little bored in January.

They don’t have a ton of listings.

Buyers in the Midwest aren’t in a huge hurry to freeze their faces off to look at listings.

It’s kinda slow.

Molasses in January slow.



Now, about the middle of March, everyone who wants to sell their house this year is gonna get busy.

They are going to call a few realtors.

They are going to ask questions, need a market analysis, and make decisions.

March is when they will begin to think about the list of projects that need to get done.



Would you like to know my tip for selling your home quickly in a spring market?

Call your agent today.

In the middle of a cold spell.

Call while she has the time to give you her undivided attention.

Call while he isn’t buried in buyers and sellers.



Ask him to give you some tips on how to prepare your home for that May market now.

You might as well…there’s no fun to be had outside when its -20.

You can work on that to do list now.

Paint, de-clutter, and prepare your home to glisten for showings.



Your realtor may even provide you with a free consultation with a home staging consultant like me.

I can help you decide what to keep, store, or donate.

I can recommend which rooms to paint.

I can guide you through how to highlight your home’s potential.

Before
After


Then, when March rolls around….you will be ahead of the curve, the competition, the 8 ball.

You name it…you’ll be the first house listed and ready to go with an agent you trust.

See, that’s how you create spring in January.


Heather Anderson is a staging consultant whose specialty in de-cluttering  will guide you through the creative process of simplifying, strategizing, and staging your home for a quick sale.

Check out her blog here http://www.elbowroomnudge.com/

Download the Nudge Brochure

Helping Others Move

Assisting others in a move? Moving someone else, helping him or her to downsize or preparing another’s home for sale can be difficult. Most typically this occurs when you are assisting elderly family/friends. And often it is during sad times.

I feel it necessary to give my own definitions so that we are on the same page for who I am talking about:

  • MOVEE: the person who needs to be moved from their current situation and/or who is unable to move themselves due to age, illness or death.
  • MOVERS: the person/people responsible or feel responsible (I can not help you with unresolved guilt at this point) to assist MOVEE change living arrangements.
  • FOM: Family of Origin- Original children/step children of the MOVEE

The need for a move often times happen when nothing is going well. People are in the hospital; decisions have to be made quickly and emotions are almost always over stimulated. I am fortunate to have been able to assist my mom move, from a home she built with my dad, to a lovely apartment when she was healthy and agreeable.

No matter what the circumstances, I believe there are ways to make the process less eventful:

  1. As much as possible try to play and share nicely with the other MOVERS involved. Remember ultimately you are on the same team- you are trying to get the MOVEE to a different living situation or get the MOVEE’s home sold.
  2. Who has the final say? This can be tricky and very sticky depending on who the players/MOVERS are and what the needs/capabilities of the MOVEE is. As much as possible try to decide up front who will make what decisions regarding the home sale, price, etc.
  3. What will fit in new place? Most likely if they are going from a home to a smaller living space therefore everything is not going to fit. Find out what the MOVEE really would like to bring to the new place. A good way to determine what can come is to make a footprint of items. When we moved my mom we used newspaper print and labeled them couch, curio cabinet, etc. Took her to her new apartment and showed how they could be arranged. Consider a storage unit for some of the items that won’t fit but MOVEE cannot part with yet. You can always revisit what is living in the storage unit in 6 months. By then the MOVEE may be okay with getting rid of them.
  4. Take photos of the home and possessions and put them in an album. Remind the MOVEE and yourself that you get to take the memories with you.
  5. If MOVEE is ready to get rid of things or you are removing the contents from a home after someone has passed away it can be difficult to determine who gets what. I suggest if possible discuss with your elderly loved ones to label items they feel strongly should go to a certain individual. I recommend they do this before they become a MOVEE. We literally taped names to the bottom of items so we knew whom mom would like those items to go. Some of these she brought with her to her new place, others were given at the time of the first move.
  6. After determining what was coming with her and getting rid of the junk we put the remainder of the things she was getting rid of on tables in the garage. Then we allowed each FOM to go through and pick X amount of items. After the first round the FOM went through again but this time they chose X amount of items for their children. After that we opened it up to the grandchildren, etc.
  7. There are also moving companies that specialize in moving seniors. Please call me if you would like recommendations.
  8. This is a very emotional time…if the MOVEE is physically and cognitively involved – the change can be very hard. Remember to treat them with respect and care, but stay firm if the move is in the best interest of their safety and health.
  9. Take a look at getting your home market ready so the home can yield top dollar. In the case of a home that may need a few updates or if it is difficult for occupant to leave for showings consider making the move first and then list the home.

Change is hard, moving can be difficult. Remember to keep the end goal in mind, play and share nicely with others and get professional assistance where needed.

Riding the Real Estate Roller Coaster

Strapped in, stomach churning due to anticipation. Your emotions range from excitement to fear. At times feeling that you cannot breath, then realizing you are holding your breath. You want to scream. You can hear the sound of grinding as the gears begin, slowly being jerked forward. For a moment you want to run away and hide. But yet, your curiosity is so great and the anticipation of what lies ahead too compelling. Slowly, going uphill you smell the gears as they are heating up and grinding to pull the cart upward. Your mind is a jumble. Up, up, up. Finally, you can see the top of the hill approaching. Excitement begins to fill you, then, all becomes black. You have closed your eyes tight. Your hands are clenched onto the bar, holding on for dear life. You can feel the wild breeze blow through your hair and hear a wiz in your ears. You feel yourself descending at a rapid rate. Again, all around is chaos. Screaming. Laughter. You want to get off, but you cannot. You must complete this ride.

 

If you like rollercoasters the above paragraph may sound like fun.  Both of my sons and my husband love rollercoasters.  One time they rode 17 times in one day!  I get motion sick.  Selling your home can feel like a rollercoaster ride.  

 

“We are going to sell our house and find a newer, better, bigger, smaller house” (whatever you are hoping your next home looks like); you excitedly tell everyone you know.  You get it all cleaned and ready for photo day.  You post the listing link on Facebook. Your stomach starts to churn with anticipation, “When will the phone calls start? When will the first showing be?”

 

You receive the feedback from the first showing.  They don’t like the color of your kitchen; they feel your bathroom is outdated.  WHAT??? Now you start to fear that no one will ever want your house.  Then you become a little mad. You start to even feel that you cannot breathe, and then you realize you are holding your breath.

 

Your agent calls – you have an offer! You hear the price of the offer- for a moment you want to run away and hide, your mind is a jumble.  Up, up, up, finally the buyer comes to the price you can accept.

 

The next hill brings you to the The Home Inspection report.  The buyer wants what fixed?? You feel yourself heating up and you start to grind your teeth.  You have closed your eyes tight. Your hands are clenched, holding on for dear life. Thankfully your agent holds your hand through this part of the ride. You and the buyer come to an agreement on repairs.  The buyer’s financing is secure.

 

Finally, you can see the top of the last hill approaching- closing day.  Closing day frequently also means moving day.  You feel yourself descending at a rapid rate. Again, all around is chaos. Screaming. Laughter. You want to get off, but you cannot. You must complete this ride.

 

The roller coaster pulls back into the station, a mix of relief and empowerment wash over you.  You survived!  It had its ups and downs but was worth it.  Selling a home can feel very much the same.  At times you are not sure why you ever got on the ride.  However when it is over and you have opened a new door you realize it was worth it.    

The Dreaded Multi-Move

The first home we sold we received an offer from the first buyer that looked at it, 24 hours after it went on the market. We were so excited!! Until we realized we needed to find a place to live! Panic set in!

This was in the early 2000’s, so closing was scheduled for 30 days after acceptance of offer. Our Realtor happily showed us every home on the market that met our criteria. Fourteen days before closing we had no home to move towards. The dreaded multi-move became a reality.

We did not have family in the area, nor friends who could accommodate our family and theirs. We thankfully were able to find a short-term rental. It was a 2 bedroom, 1 bath very small two-story townhome. Our boys were on summer break; it was going to be cozy!

When we packed up we did not know how long we would be in the rental. I knew I had to be ultra organized to make moving twice doable. Some of our possessions were going to storage. The ones coming with us were going to be stacked in every nook and corner of the town home with furniture in front of them. This was the beginning of June so I was going to put all our winter gear in storage. But what if we were in the rental until Christmas? This is when I came up with my Packing Plan.

My packing plan allowed me to sleep at night because I knew where my gravy boat was in case we were in the rental until Thanksgiving! I knew that in box 405 was the Trouble game (a metaphor of my life at the time). It let me know what boxes needed to be unpacked at the rental and which ones could live in the corners.

What I Learned from this Experience

The multi-move is survivable. I will never say it is fun, but with organization, a good attitude and my packing plan we all came out alive.
The multi move is better than satisficing. We could have written an offer on a couple of homes that were close to what we wanted, they would have sufficed, but not really satisfied.
You can make difficulties into an adventure and build strong family bonds. Our sons were 10 and 7 years old at the time. We got them involved in the Packing plan, figuring out where everything was going to fit and finding creative activities to do that summer that kept us out of tight quarters as much as possible.