Please feel free to add your advice / tips on selling a house, on moving in general, in the comment section. I’m sure you all have some fabulous ideas that I haven’t thought of or heard of.
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First and foremost, work with someone whom you feel completely comfortable with and who actually believe in your home’s potential and value. If they don’t believe in your house, how are they going to make any buyers / buyers agent believe it?!
Interview agents. Interview the finalists for a 2nd time if you have a hard time deciding on one. Ask the same questions to each agent. Negotiate on commission if you can, the worst they can say is no. Trust your gut feeling because most of the time it is accurate. Once you have found the agent to your liking, then you need to trust his/her advice.
I personally don’t recommend selling a house by owner, because you have to do all the showings yourself and most people feel uncomfortable viewing the house if the owner is present. But if the market is in the upswing and in your favor, then by all means, give it a try if you are not on a time constraint. We didn’t want to pay a huge hefty percent to a realtor but we didn’t really have time on our side.
So, to the point, here are the bullet points:
* Price it right. The agent should provide you with a full comparative analysis and suggest a listing price. Go to open houses that are in the same price range as yours, who are in the same proximity, seek out the competition and see what they / their house have to offer.
* DE-CLUTTER, DE-CLUTTER, DE-CLUTTER! No one wants to picture living in a house filled with STUFF everywhere, especially not YOUR stuff. You want people to be able to “see themselves” in the house; how you live is NOT how you should show the house.
* Pack away all pictures that have adults in them (and children’s pictures too if they are older). For some reason, most people are OK with kids’ / babies pictures but not grown up pictures. I think pictures of grown ups hinders potential buyers from seeing themselves living there; it’s someone else’s house and not mine kind of thinking.
* CLEAN. Clean the whole house like you never have before.
* STAGE, STAGE, STAGE. Again, this is the “how you live is NOT how you should show the house” idea. Stage up your house, spruce it up with decorative items, make it as much “magazine-like” as you can. Rugs, pillows, candles, wall hangings / paintings, nice towels in the bathrooms, matching pillow cases and shams and bedspreads, etc do make a huge difference in presentation.
* Kitchen counter spaces should hold only a few essential / decorative items.
* Bathrooms should be close to spotless.
* Beds needs to be made and again, magazine-like. THEY don’t get to keep your bed or bedspreads, but it will make it so much more cozier and pleasing to the eye if you make the bed like a magazine’s would.
* Pack away off season clothes and hide them under the beds or put in the basement or attic. Make your closet half full to give the illusion that it’s bigger than actual.
* If you have kid(s), pack away bulky or loose pieces of toys. On the same note, pack away stuff that you don’t use often. When showing requests comes, you want to be able to whirl through the house and tidy in a speedy manner.
* Paint the interior. Most likely daily wear and tear has left some smudges on the walls, painting it a neutral color will make them go away and give the space a new and fresh look. This is one of the cheapest investment/improvement that will give the highest return when selling a house. Be sure the colors flow easily from room to room.
* Go through and fix the “little” stuff. The cosmetic things that will matter a lot. Such as blown out light bulbs, broken hinges, nail holes in the wall, leaky faucets, etc.
* Make sure the entrance, inside and outside, is clean and welcoming with rugs, and a place to put their shoes.
* Make your garden / yard as attractive but easy to care as possible. Repair any siding issues if necessary.
* If you’re going to do any remodeling, go with the kitchen first. Then bathrooms. For major remodeling, those 2 will get you the most return for your investment.
* Don’t refuse any requests for showings. Try to accommodate all requests because you don’t want to second guess if you might have lost a potential buyer. The people who bought our house requested their first showing time to be 8-9p.m. That’s right, P.M. Our kids’ bedtime is 8p.m. We ate dinner, cleaned the house, packed up the kids and drove around the city until they fell asleep. And those people bought the house after 3 more unreasonable showing time requests. As much as I think we could have done better in the transaction, the fact remains that we sold it after only 6 weeks in a not-so-hot market. For that, I’m very glad we didn’t refuse any of their unreasonable request times.
Selling a house is a huge daunting experience, especially when you have little children and or pets. I really hated the whole experience. The next time we move, if possible, I want to move out first because I just really did not like tidying up every single day and never knew what would happen that day. There are so many factors on why a house goes and why another won’t. But if you decorate it magazine-like then potential buyers are more likely to be drawn to the house.