Please forgive me dumping my anxieties here. But, hey, what is OT day for?
I need to sell my house this spring or summer. I've been thinking about hiring a realtor to tell me what to do to prepare it, but then I worry about which one to choose and how I know that he/she is telling me the right things. I probably will anyway, but if I am pre-armed with COTHer wisdom I will feel better.
It is a 2- or 3- bedroom Victorian cottage, 90-ish years old, all on one floor, in an up-and-coming neighborhood in a small city. When we moved in we put in new hardwood floors and painted almost everywhere. We didn't paint one of the bathrooms and the kitchen, and both rooms are rather shabby. The second bathroom was painted our favorite shade of purple, which might be offputting to prospective buyers.
Here are my questions:
First of all, is it worth it to do some sprucing up? And where does one draw the line on this? Do we fix absolutely everything, or will buyers expect some things to need work?
So... we know we have to spruce up both bathrooms and the kitchen, right? Floors and painting? What about cabinets and counters?
And then should we tear down the ancient garage that is in the backyard that is falling down? But then what do we do for a fence, since one side of the garage is our fence in the rear of the lot?
And then what about our driveway? We had a new water line put in, which is sure to thrill buyers, but the plumbers tore up our gravel driveway and it has never recovered. Much of the gravel disappeared and the edging blocks are out of alignment.
And what about our furnishings? Some of them are rather, um, shabby due to run-ins with various dogs and cats with teeth and claws. Do we just store everything that is ugly?
When do we put the thing on the market? Right when we are ready to leave? A couple of months beforehand?
Finally, perhaps the most important question of all... what about the critters themselves? What do we do with them when the house has to be shown?
Thoughts on any or all of these issues appreciated!
DON'T put it on the market until you are ready to go and have somewhere in mind! When we put the farm on the market, it sold in 3days and we had to be out in 30. When we sold the house after the farm, it sold within a week. Finding housing that you can buy AND move into in under 30 days is NOT fun,
Anyway...when Mr Flightcheck and I look at houses, paint color, carpet color, etc are not important (and I LIKE purple, btw) We usually change all that anyway (ok, he changes it and I say "whatever you like, dear" as I get on another plane).
What is important: structure, repairs, neighborhood, taxes, structure, major repairs needed, structure....
We love dogs, but if a house smells like a dog or cat has peed a lot inside, that is hard to overcome.
Neutral paint shades do present better, and also prevent the first-time buyers from getting stuck on something minor. Kitchen and bathroom updates are always a plus, but determine what you can spend and whether it is worth it. The house should present well - nothing that looks off. The house should be spotless (a bit of a challenge with critters!). The furniture should be arranged to highlight each room - don't block a fireplace, doorwall, windows, etc., and don't overfill a room.
I think March is a good time to put a house on the market in your area--things are starting to look green and you can put flowers out. Also, for anyone with children it seems like right time to start looking. By the time a buyer finds a house, does the inspections, and closes, school is out.
I would not leave critters at the house when it is being shown.
LEAVE the falling down garage. If you have it you can fix it. If it gets knocked down then you may not be able to replace due to new setbacks.
We repainted everything white and really cleaned up. New gravel in the driveway, planted "color", DH stored most of our furniture and bought a real bedroom set with everything matchy matchy, full sized bed to make the bedroom feel bigger, new curtains, clean clean clean. The house was pretty much able to be shown on a moments notice. Boy was it a pain.
Pets need to be confined or taken away with you.
What will fail an inspection? Anything? Roof, plumbing, termites, whatever? I've read that you should schedule an inspection ahead of time so you don't have surprises during the contract period. If it's priced right it should sell pretty quick, 90 days max, you might want to think about renting it back - we did for a month to keep DD in that school district before we made the trek across country. That can be specified in a contract.
Take E's advice for local realtors. You can use out of area but as long as local will use the internet resources, MLS etc, you'll get the maximum exposure and best price.
Anything that isn't beige needs to be painted beige no matter how good the color now looks. I learned this the hard way trying to sell a house myself last year. Fresh paint does an amazing job of freshening up a house and all the same color, while boring to live with, will give the house and decorating an initial feeling of continuity and flow.
Everything needs to look clean, un-cluttered and depersonalized. Go ahead and box up those framed pictures of Taco now. If it's something you don't need for 6 months box it up and put it in storage. Pull half of everything out of your closets and store it so those closest look more spacious. If sticking the shabby furniture in storage opens up the space then yes consider storing it. People need to be able to imagine their own stuff in the house and if it is filled with your stuff they have a harder time with visualizing it--do not underestimate at how completly unable most people are at visualization!
I don't think I would tear down the garage--sounds expensive and you won't get it back in a sale. If you can make the driveway look better with some personal labor and not a lot of money then absolutely. Nor would I not spend a bunch of money on new cabinets--that gets expensive fast and if Lauren is right about a fixer-upper then it will be a little bit expected. But a good cleaning job and some touch up might not be a bad idea depending on what they look like.
Timing is a crap shoot. But a expect it to take at least a few months before you get a contract (unless you have a low ball price on it) then another month to 6 weeks before closing.
And while you might love your realtor when you find one just remember they have more financial incentive to encourage you to spend money on fix up that you might not (probably won't) get back in the sale than to encourage you to save your money. Don't forget you are selling a 90 year old USED house, you do not need to make it new!
I'd do some paint and cosmetic stuff, but no major renovations unless you absolutely have to. Unless the purple in the bathroom is pretty light, then I'd think about re-doing it. If your counters and cabinets are really that bad, I'd leave it as it and price it accordingly.
DECLUTTER bigtime ... basically pack up as much as you can reasonably do and put it in storage. You'll need to pack up to move anyway, right ? Less stuff in the rooms mean that people look at the space, and not your stuff. It also makes it that much easier to keep the house clean and tidy for those last-minute showings. Believe me, they always happen. This includes furniture, too.
Make sure you keep the house squeaky-clean, animal smells (or any other off smells) are no good and a big turn off.
Ask around about recommended realtors. Some are def better than others. You want one that is going to market your house, put together brochures, put ads up in local papers and such. Get a copy of that free local magazine that has all the real estate listings - that will give you some names of realtors. This will also give you and idea of what else is on the market - essentially your competitors. Depending on market conditions, you can also negotiate the realtor's commission.
My house is boring beige-Lulled Beige to be exact. It is neutral, and a little warm, and flat latex. Look the color up at the store, and your walls should be about the same color, and you use flat latex on every wall including kitchens and baths. Fix the driveway, leave the garage, or you'll have to fix the fence, and just do a nice spruce up on the yard. Everything in the yard should be clean and trimmed, and when mowing season starts keep it nice. For the furniture get rid of stuff you don't want, and put slipcovers on the rest. Walmart has cheap slipcovers, and other places have good deals on sale sometimes. Take down all personal pictures, and only leave a few that you don't care about to highlight focal points like fireplace mantels. Go through everything and be ruthless. If you don't want it, use it or need it then get rid of it now. CLosets should look neat, and not stuffed full. If there is anything don't want to move then get rid of it. Have a very critical friend with a good sense of smell to come over and tell you if the place has a bad odor. We all get used to that kind of thing, and we don't notice. All counters should be empty, and get rid of junk in cabinets in the kitchen and bath, and declutter the stuff in the kitchen that you never use. If you have items on display pack and remove them. Hide elsewhere anything that is valuable (knick knacks, nice picture frames, financial papers, vital papers, prescription drugs, anything that would bother you to lose), or portable. Put it on the market before the season starts, anytime after 1 March. Price it well, and decide how low you can go on price. Don't let the buyer or their agents think you're 'motivated' or they might try to play hardball. Dust the house totally, clean everything, and make sure all the lightbulbs work. Change the furnace filter, and have a few extras in the furnace room, that way people know you do regular maintenance. Leave a list of the utility providers, and handyman companies you use. You want the buyer to think all maintenance is regularly done, because people figure that if you do the small things, that you do the big stuff too. CLean the windows, make sure the inside and outside of the house is spotless, and the house should look clean and ready to move into. A nice finishing touch is to get new switch and outlet plates-matte finish in contractor packs will take no time to replace, not cost much, and look good. If you are taking anything like the fridge, then make sure that is noted in all flyers and the contract. Decide what you are leaving like the washer/dryer, etc and note that. The realtor needs to do a lot of good pictures, and post them on realtor.com as well as their own website if they have one. A house without a bunch of good pictures isn't competitive these days. I use pictures to screen out houses I don't want to see, and I figure that houses without pictures are not worth looking at. If you are storing stuff for other people, then give them a firm deadline on pickup, or it goes bye-bye. Figure out what you'll do with the animals during showings, and don't be there for showings either, or you might get to hear some ugly things about your house and your taste.
Interview 3 top selling local realtors and ask each one to prepare a market analysis for the house. Pick the realtor who you like the best and who has the best marketing plan for your house. In our neighborhood, homes are taking a year to sell. One house, that has a very experienced realtor, sold in 3 months. A good realtor can tell you what needs painting and whether or not the dogs need to go to doggie daycare or get locked in a back room if people are coming to look at the house. Make the house look nice, but don't spend a lot of money doing expensive repairs.
DOn't be shocked if one or more buyers come by, come back, act interested and disappear. Tire kickers for houses exist, so don't be discouraged. You want to list soon to beat others onto the market. Put away everything, and your house should look neat and ready for you to move. If you need cardboard boxes, then Lowes is the cheapest, and all three sizes have the little handles. Get some cinnamon or apple scented candles, burn them in several rooms, and then snuff out and put away. Then the house will smell good for showings. If your bath mats are ratty, then get cheap but nice ones now, and have matching towels. Everything should look clean, including the storage areas, and garage spaces. If you need to do maintenance like gutter cleaning, then arrange for it now.
Print some copies of the flyers and give them to neighbors, you never know who is looking and who knows someone who is looking.
I'll disagree with the "paint everything beige" group. :-). My agent loved the colors in my house and didn't recommend we repaint color wise. We did repaint (same color) in the main room to brighten it up and get rid of pet dirt and dirt near doors and light switches. She recommended new bark out front, and to declutter a LOT. I packed seven boxes of stuff out of closets and the mantel.
Eta: when I bought this same house in 2009, there were some odd colors. One guest room was purple, the bathroom was Finding Nemo blue, main room was pink, etc.
Aisha, my heart from 03/06/1986 to 08/22/2008.
COTH's official mini-donk enabler.
Odie, aka the Evil Burrito, is on Facebook.
And then there are the buyers who LIKE personal. With character. We put our house on the market and were preparing to clear everything out for our Sunday afternoon open house when, bright and early on Saturday morning we got a knock on the door. I was making lasagna and blueberry pie and there was flour all over the kitchen and I was in my PJ's, beds unmade
"We say your for sale sign, can we come in and look?" They were with a realtor so what do you have to lose?
They signed a full price contract that afternoon saying it was the first place that seemed like a HOME.
I hate boring.
Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
"I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.
My parents are fixing their house up for market now. We happen to have a family friend who's a stager, which means her entire job is pretty-fying houses for sale. Some notes:
-Kitchen, bathroom, hardwood are generally good upgrade spots that have a big impact on buyers.
-Get half of your stuff out of the house. Then try to remove even more.
-Ditto closets. Basically it should give the impression "Omg we have so much closet space we don't even use this one!"
-Try to eliminate all indications that you have animals. Non-pet owners see a dog bowl and think "I bet that dog has peed all over the living room and scratched up all the wood floors!"
-Walls and carpets don't all have to be beige, but avoid wacky colors and try to color coordinate a little within the room. A "pulled together" room is more appealing than haphazard patterns and colors.
-Pull as many family pictures off the walls as you can stand. According to the stager, it looks a little cluttered and reminds people this is someone ELSE's home, not THEIRS.
"Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden
Wow, thanks everyone! I'm definitely going to have to print this thread out for reference. Since it is COTH after all, some of you are contradicting others on a few things, but now we have somewhere to start.
Subk, I don't wanna put all my Taco pictures away!!!
Be sure you leave when your house is shown. Even if you just walk down the street and sit on a neighbor's lawn, get out of the house. I'm living in my 12th house, have sold 11 in my married and single life, and nothing makes me bolt a showing as fast as the homeowners on the premises. Especially the ones who want to add their 2 cents about how great their house is!
Mom and I decided to go on and try to sell the house. I spoke to a realtor this week. He has a house two doors down from mom's, so I called. I got an instant lesson. Mostly everything you guys have said. Lenexa Beige. I HATE BEIGE. But sigh, if we want to sell.. At least it is mostly empty. I have to get rid of everything.
The bathroom is crummy, but the realtor said it was fine. The kitchen is great, and the house is close to sales ready. But it isn't there yet. It needs the paint and carpet. The price he named was what I had hoped. He seems very professional The house down the street is 15k$ more, but will never sell for that. Owner won't come down.
Good luck op!
Is there any way that you can house the pets in the garage during showings? Cages for the kitties and possibly a play pen area for the dogs. That way it can still be shown and the animals are safe and out of the way.
1) Paint all walls a light neutral taupe/beige. Baseboards, interior doors, trim should be white.
2) clean out all closets so they are half empty, so it looks like you have more storage.
3) Remove all personal photos, and "collections" of stuff.
4) clean EVERYTHING...windows, ceiling fans, etc.
5)Replace the old vanity if possible.
6) add gravel as needed to driveway.
7) Offer 2-3000 to buyer as a credit at closing to be used for whatever they want...closing costs, removing garage etc. It'll save you in the long run. If someone doesn't like a bath???They can use that. Don't like the garage?/ They can use it for that.
Take pets with you for showings or have them in a padlocked kennel.