Rewind to Fall of 2013, my husband and I were packing the last few boxes and were anxiously counting down the days until moving day, when we would pack up the enormous moving truck and drive our growing family across the country from Frankfort, IL to St. Augustine, FL. About 6 weeks earlier, we had spent a week in St. Augustine, vacationing with family, and upon our return to Illinois, decided that we were ready to make the move and live in St. Augustine for the longterm. After prayerful consideration, we made the decision to list our house “just to see what would happen.” We knew other houses in our neighborhood had been sitting on the market for many months, but felt hopeful that with preparation, we could position our house well. Little did we know that we would have multiple showings in the first two days on the market and that we would receive and accept an offer on the 4th day! While I can’t take all (or even most) of the credit for the lightening-speed sale, I can share about my personal experience preparing to list our house and the things that contributed to getting it sold quickly.
Commit to the vision and be optimistic - True for any life or business goal, you should approach it with a sense of commitment and confidence. Create an action plan or to-do list consisting of achievable objectives or steps that will keep you organized and productive. A good starting place is to…
Depersonalize your home - You want potential buyers to walk into your house and to envision themselves living there. So, put away all those eccentric items that you’ve collected over the years and make your space as generic (yet inviting and attractive) as possible. Replace all your family photos with landscapes, mainstream artwork or other impersonal imagery or decor. You can find relatively inexpensive mass-produced art at places like Michael’s or Target. Or, grab a magazine and clip nature or lifestyle imagery that can temporarily cover your personal photos.
Declutter - Now is the time to become a minimalist! Walk through your house and try to remove from sight as much “stuff” as you can. Everything from decorative items (leave one or two statement pieces, get rid of the rest), to countertop appliances, to toiletries, to jewelry, to the kids’ toys, etc. Find a place for it that isn’t visible, so that potential buyers aren’t distracted by your things, and instead focus on the space itself.
Get packin’ - Don’t wait until you have a contract on your house to start packing… Start packing as you work to depersonalize and to declutter. Your house will be more presentable and you’ll have a head start on the dreaded step of packing up your entire household.
Clean, clean, clean (then clean some more) - I’m a true believer of the old adage “A messy house is a sign of a happy home.” However, when you are trying to get hyper-critical potential buyers to fall in love with your house, you want it to be the cleanest it has ever been. Suck it up and get in the routine of keeping all your surfaces cleared off and wiped down, vacuum and dust more frequently, etc. You never know when you might get a showing request, so strive to keep the house clean enough that a few minutes of tidying up here and there will do the trick if you need to leave on short notice.
Curb appeal - Do what you can to spruce up your curb appeal. Keep the lawn freshly cut, trim hedges and shrubs, plant flowers, pull weeds, consider a fresh coat of paint on your house or front door. The walk from the car to the front door sets the tone for potential buyers, so if they immediately notice peeling paint, a wobbly railing or broken doorbell, they may get a negative first impression and think that you don’t maintain your home to their standards.
Make small fixes - Walk through your home and examine each room through the lens of a potential buyer. An outsider, or potential buyer, might notice the tub that needs to be re-caulked or the banister that never got that second coat of stain. If there are little projects that have fallen off your radar, but could easily and inexpensively improve the appeal of your home, make those fixes.
Interview multiple real estate agents - Selling your home is a huge deal. It’s critical that you work with a real estate professional that knows their stuff. The intricacies of real estate law have huge implications on you as a seller, so it’s critical that you work with someone that you can trust to do the job well, while keeping you well-informed and prepared for each step of the process. Be sure to ask a lot of questions, communicate your priorities and expectations, and trust your gut. I recommend interviewing at least 2-3 agents to see which one is the best fit, considering things such as experience, skill set, marketing tools and resources, communication and personality. (Note: The agent that sold my house in 3 days wasn’t the agent with the most awards, but was the one that made me and my husband feel at ease and confident in her presentation and communication style.)
Know your rights - Be mindful that you have rights and responsibilities as a seller. By law, there are certain disclosures that real estate agents are required to share with you, and certain information that you are required to share with them. For example, in the state of Florida, agents must explain what type of brokerage relationship they represent or else a Transaction Brokerage relationship is assumed. And as a seller, for example, you are required to disclose any known material defects with the home, such as a leak in the roof.
Set realistic expectations - To help set your expectations, before you meet with an agent, take the time to do a little homework on property values and the state of the market in your area. Yes, it’s the agent’s job to provide you with all the information you could ever want, but doing some research of your own will give you a frame of reference and confidence in your discussions during the listing interviews or appointments. Consider other homes that are for sale, or that have recently sold, in your area and pay attention to things like average sales prices, days on the market and marketing strategies used.
If you want more tips on listing your home, or have any questions about the selling process or real estate market in your neighborhood, or I would love to hear from you!
Contact me directly at 904-874-4480 or Jennifer.Cook@REMAX.net