Wednesday, March 5, 2008

WFMW - Backwards edition, selling a house

It's another WFMW, a Backwards edition. I get to ask you for help/advice.

We know that we'll be preparing our house to sell it (planning to list it in the next two months). We have no idea what we're doing and any advice would be extremely helpful.

Specific areas

1) best time period to list our house

2) increasing curb appeal (what do you look for?)

3) maintaining cleanliness and order

4) how to do #3 with 4 children around!!

5) how to deal with "drop-ins" (would an "appointment-only" schedule be better?)

6) realtor-speak related to selling

7) Hmm? What's that? We have no linen closet so this is our make-shift shelf thing in the hallway. It holds many things. Diapers and wipes, I think I can move these to a "diaper-changing" basket. Towels, washcloths, and sheets - I have no idea what to do with these. I've moved the 2 oldest's sheets to a drawer in their dresser. Any thoughts as to how to rearrange this or get rid of it (does it look as bad as I think it does?)???

As always, thank you for help/advice/suggestions/commiserations! :) See Shannon for more WFMW!


Lori - The Simple Life at Home said...

Ok, first thing is, yes, that does look bad. It makes it look like you have no storage, which, even if it's true, you don't want potential buyers to notice.

We've sold several houses on our own, prior to the recent decline in housing. I don't know where you are, but if your market is still strong, or even average, I have a tip that could save you thousands of dollars. If you are brave enough to do this without a realtor, you can list your home on the local MLS for a couple of hundred dollars usually. Many realtors will put the listing on for you for a flat fee. Then you offer a commission to a broker who brings you a buyer, usually around 3%, which is what they make anyways when the selling agent splits a 6% commission with the buyer's agent. To find an agent who will do this, search the internet for something like flat-fee mls plus your area's name.

You save thousands if you are willing to do your own showings, and you can use a title company and/or real estate attorney for a contract - still saving plenty. We've sold 3 houses this way in the last three years.

Either way, good luck. I hope your home sells quickly!

A, B & C said...

We've never had much trouble selling, but it was usually during a good market time. My Mom just sold her old house after being on the market for a year, so I saw all she went through to sell it in this buyer-friendly market.
First, list it now! Spring is the best time to sell. People want to move in June/July during school breaks and many will have closed the deals by April or May.
She had a lot more success once she really cleaned her house out. If people can see themselves and their stuff in your house, it will really help. If you can clean out a lot of stuff, that would be good. If that will be difficult, borrow some space in a friends garage or rent a storage space. Rooms should only have necessary furniture, a few decorative items, and nothing else. This sounds harsh, but it sells!
Once you clean everything out, take a weekend to clean your house really well. Then you just have to maintain. With four kids it can be hard, but if they all chip in, it can be done.
Good luck- I hope it sells fast!

Gettysburg Mom said...

When we sold our house in NY, I asked my aunt for advice, as she'd been successful for years in real estate. The point she stressed the most is to get all of your stuff out of the house. Rent a storage unit and start packing. Take your collections of family photos off of the wall. This works in two ways for you: It looks neater and it's easier to keep clean. I thought my kids would freak about the lack of toys, but they got over it quickly. Potential buyers also have a tough time imagining what the house would be like as theirs with all of your stuff around. As for curb appeal, clean it all up. If you have a painted house, a fresh coat of exterior paint does wonders. Invite a fried over to look at your house. An outside perspective can see faults you've become blind to. Fix anything that would come up on the home inspection so buyers don't have a leaky bathroom faucet as leverage in negotiations. Don't list until you're ready. You don't want the first potential buyers (and their realtors!!) to see a house that needs a lot of work. Spring is the best time to list in most parts. And while you can save money doing your own listing, I rec. a realtor- they can show your house while you take the kids elsewhere or are at work. They can also deal with lawyers and whatnot. We are going to be listing a house this spring, so I certainly understand how daunting the workload can be- but it's worth it! Good luck!

jen said...

Remember that people are going to be looking in your closets and under your sinks - clean all of those places up and get rid of or pack up as much clutter as you can!

Also, clean all of the bathrooms in the house. Then make them all off limits except one. Then you only have one to clean, and each morning quickly wipe it down with a clean rag. It will make things reasonably shiny, so that if you have to dash out the door as someone is walking in to see the house you don't have to be thinking of all the things you should have cleaned.

ttelroc said...

Oh goodness, I've sold many a house. I've also owned many a junk! LOL I've sold a house when it was just full of clutter and wasn't tidy, I sold a house that was totally empty and I sold one that was furnished and free from clutter. The furnished "staged" house sold the fastest. The empty house took 2 years. The messy house took 8 months.

However, in the messy house (which will always be such a low point in my life LOL) I kept those bathrooms and that horribly outdated kitchen so clean you could eat off the floors. I wiped the faucets and sinks each time we used it, I swear. I followed Flylady's routines and I swished and swiped each morning. ( the messy part about the house was the dust and the boxes and boxes of stuff and the garage that was stuffed to the gills.

That closet you showed will be a problem - people will not want to live like that, so they will decide not to is just that easy. Take as much stuff out of your house as possible and store it. Put an extra set of sheets under the mattress of the bed they go on, if you need to store them. Have one set of towels per family member and wash daily if need be - it only takes a few seconds after they are dry to put them back on the rods in the bathroom.

Watch a few episodes of HGTV's Designed to Sell, Get it Sold, Secrets that Sell or any other house selling, staging show. These are great for getting ideas on how to stage your house and also just the tough talk you probably need to light a fire under you and your family's behind to clear out the clutter. :) Of course I don't know you, but I know I can always use a lit fire LOL

Also, don't pack stuff you don't love - donate donate donate. You don't need stuff you don't love in your new home.

Have a Great Day!

Aunt LoLo said...

We just sold our house this weekend,'s what we did. EVERYTHING that looked cluttered or we didn't need went into the garage, packed. Nobody cares if the garage is stacked to the ceiling with boxes, as long as the kitchen is tidy! Spring and Summer seem like a great time to list - the weather is getting nicer and people are out walking. They will see your house. As far as curb appeal, rebark your front yard, throw some fertilizer on your lawn, and go to Fred Meyers and pick up $15 worth of primroses. They are bright, they look cute, and they come back every year. As far as cleanliness and order, I think this has A LOT to do with your #4! I packed up about half of the toys, then put the remaining toys in a corner. They just couldn't get that far. Before I left a room, I'd make sure it was showable, and then we'd just inhabit the one room where the toys were. We did an "appointment only" listing, which was GREAT. If I didn't have warning, I could NOT guarantee 1) that the house would be clean and 2) that it would be devoid of people! My sister is listing her house tomorrow and her realtor actually made her empty 2/3 of the stuff our of her cupboards, to make them look more spacious. Get ready to be living in a showroom for the next month or two! And get friendly with your local parks, because once you get it clean, you won't want to be there!

HopewellMomSchool said...

Rent a POD. Fill it was crap. Empty the closets so they look HUGE. PAINT everything fresh. Take out the trash. Absolutely no diapers or litter box when house is being shown. Take the dog and kids for a long ride when it's showing. CLEAN is the best thing of all. If you put down new carpet to sell it, have them leave the plastic. I did this and posted a sign saying "I'm protecting your new berber carpet from my big dog!!" It was noticed! Nothing in the garage, either. It needs to look Big! Empty the attic or basement, too! Same reason. Looks Big! Have lots of empty space in the kitchen cubboards. If you're not into cleaning hire a service to deep clean the kitchen and baths so they look GREAT! It will help!

Erin K. said...

We are trying to sell our house right now, so I can completely relate. One of my problems is that we have a lot of storage space, in the form of three very huge closets, but these have been a dumping ground for anything and everything. I dreaded cleaning them out, but I have been tackling it a little bit at a time and I've tried to 1) purge everything I can; 2) pack up what I don't want to purge but can live without for a while; and 3) reorganize what's left.

Regarding your linen problem, I have the same issue. I love the idea of storing the sheets under the matress of the bed. I also purchased something like this (
at Family Dollar (or Dollar General, or some place like that) to hang in our closet and I'm using that for our bath towels.

Also, I completely re-thought some of my kitchen cupboards and reoragnized them, and somehow I ended up with a lot more space! Of course I did take a bunch of stuff to Goodwill, but I really was amazed at how much more efficient (and spacious) my kitchen is now. Sometimes if you allow yourself to think outside the box, the results can be amazing!!!

Erin K. said...

Hmmm... the whole link didn't show up. I'll try putting it as my URL. :-)

MamaToo said...

1. Best time = when you're ready to sell.

2. A) Fresh mulch looks good & smells good. It's also very easy to maintain! For $100 and an afternoon outside, you can make garden space look ready-to-go.
B) Rent/borrow a power-washer & do the house, sidewalk, walls, etc. Buyers don't pay for your dirt. :)

3. Rent a storage unit (POD or otherwise). Be ruthless when storing stuff: if you can live without it for the next 4 weeks, put it in storage or get rid of it. This includes clothes & toys - pack like you're going on a long vacation, and put everything else in storage.

4. Invest in a few nice-looking organization bins/baskets. If you keep something in the house, have it in its place. This helps you keep it up & looks good to buyers (We made a confident offer once because it looked like the sellers were neat-freaks. Who knows if they really were.) :)

5. A) "STAGE" your home. Create a lot of open space, which is easier to clean, too. Arrange furniture to highlight the space, and store any furniture that crowds or blocks movement.
B) Hire somebody to thoroughly deep-clean your house. Get out for the day - go to the zoo or something fun with the kids! Then, just maintain it day-by-day. You'll get exhausted & depressed if you're trying to clean the whole place yourself. Professionals can come in an afternoon and have it ready to show. DO IT. Seriously.
C) Be ready to sell whenever the buyer is ready to buy. This means don't do "appointments only" - you have kids & a family (and a life!). Get that place sold.
D) If you can schedule a vacation for a week or more, list it and then go visit relatives and ask your realtor to do open houses & market it like crazy for that week. Hopefully you'll return to an offer! At the very least, you'll have kept yourself out of clean-up mode for a while, and the house will get some traffic.

6. Only hire a realtor you understand. They should speak your language, not the other way around. Interview at least 3 realtors before listing your property (and ask them all lots of questions).

7. I agree with Lori. Clean it up & make it look super-organized.

good luck!

Jen said...

We sold our home in 2 weeks. By owner. First box things up that you dont really need to make your house look like its bigger than it really is. Store them elsewhere. Trust me. Keep things clean...send the kids some where for 10 hours one day..clean your home from top to bottom like you are a cleaning service...baseboards clutter....and store away. Trust me. Watch HGTV,and get decor tips...dont do pop ins...schedule...light candles...vacuum....turn on lamps...bake cookies if given the chance...if someone wants to drop in..ask them for 30 minutes....they will let you...they will understand. That 30 minutes is crucial...have a plan...with kids....keep certain toys in certain rooms...with places to put them up. Quick.
Curb appeal...tulips. Fresh flowers on the kitchen table or by your bed..was always a good one for us. We showed our home 3 times...and 2 people bid...we got what we wanted...We sold our home the first week of April and they gave us 30 days to get out....Spring is good...people are looking around school change overs...good luck.

Angela said...

We require an hours notice for our house, just went under contract, and I get that most of the time. I've had people push it and I've said yes or no depending on the day and situation. For us we boxed/donated just about everything up. 1/2 of our 2000 sq ft house is empty because of this and its made things so much easier. The place can still get trashed but it totally helps. With the shelf I'd box up things, keep only enough towels to function out and get rid of the shelf. We put child proof door knob covers on all the doors we didn't want the kids opening. Sure they can break them off if they try but its a good visual reminder for them. Good luck!

*carrie* said...

Hope you got some helpful ideas--I didn't read through them so sorry if I repeat. We're on the looking end. I like when homes look lived in, because it helps me imagine us there. We were told many homes will be listed now to correspond with the school year. As for the linens, could you put them in bins or tubs so they're less haphazard? Ah, organizing is such a work in progress!

Lalena said...

The shower cleaner just helps with the everyday rinse. I wish it worked like a group of maids It smells nice though. Good luck selling!