Yup! It’s official –
our house is on the market! our house is sold and no longer our house! Brian and I have been frantically cleaning, finishing up projects and staging every room over the past couple of months in order to get our house ready to sell.
It’s been exhausting to say the least. But we’re extremely happy with how the house is showing to potential buyers.
We decided several months ago that this summer would be the perfect time to sell. It’s very much still a seller’s market here in Boston, so making as much profit as possible was the end game. The current seller’s market also means that the majority of home owners are NOT accepting contingencies where the buyer has to sell their home first. So, we’ve decided to sell our house, then rent an apartment and save for our dream home. We don’t want to rush into anything, we want to take our time and find a home that we can love for a really long time.
Today, I thought it would be fun to share our MLS listing pictures with you, along with my best home staging tips. We had our first offer within 24 hours of the listing going live and multiple offers within 48 hours. We ended up accepting the very first offer, for ABOVE the askin price! I hope these tips will help you to sell your house, too!
Several months before you would ideally like to list your house, research prospective Listing Agents. Set up a meeting with a few. They will come with a proposal to try and sell themselves to you – pay attention to this.
You want to hire an agent that has good track record, realistic expectations and that uses a GOOD photographer! My major stickling point was the photographer. I know from checking listings every day that the houses with poor photography don’t get a second glance. Sometimes, they don’t even get a first glance!
A good photographer will highlight the best features of your home and well taken photos are what will get potential buyers in the door.
Secondly, ask the listing agent(s) what they think you need to do to your home in order to secure top dollar. They should be able to help you rank these items in order of most importance. For instance, our agent told us we needed to paint the house because our curb appeal was pretty awful (more on that in a minute). We also refinished our old, stained floors and painted all the ceilings. Decide what items you will tackle and make an action plan to get this accomplished within your time-frame
A good agent understands the market and will help set realistic expectations for pricing your house. If you’ve put $400k worth of renovations into a house that you previously purchased for $200k in a town of $300k houses, you’re probably not going to get your money back. The market decides your listing price.
With that being said, strategically pricing your house is important. Let’s say that your dream “selling price” is $405,000. Do you list for $410,000 to give some wiggle room for negotiating? You could but you’re missing out on a huge chunk of the market that are looking for houses $400 and under…i.e. your house would need to be listed for $399,000 in order to even SHOW UP on their search results.
This is the strategy WE used to sell our house and we sold for over listing price within 24 hours . In fact, we sold so quickly that we cancelled our open house!
First impressions are everything. Your home needs to have great curb appeal or it will immediately turn away prospective buyers. Our exterior was looking a bit sad before we gave it some TLC. We didn’t have the money to redo the siding (and we probably wouldn’t get our money back on that investment) so we opted for a fresh coat of paint instead. We chose Steely Gray by Sherwin Williams for the siding, added shiny new hardware to the front door and made sure the shrubs and grass were cut. We added mulch to the beds and edged. We also tore up the old walkway and replaced it with new pavers and painted the railing on the stairs.
Did this cost us a ton of money? No. It wasn’t CHEAP but we did everything for less than $2500. We hired painters for the house, hired landscapers but redid the path ourselves. To us, trying to DIY everything wasn’t worth the stress.
We are so glad we spent the money though – the updated curb appeal really transformed the house and made it look its best.
This entire walkway cost less than $150 and while it was difficult work – those babies are heavy- my husband was able to knock it out in a couple of hours.
We wanted to wait until June or July before listing our house so that all the trees were grown in. I will miss all these lush trees!
The decluttering part is straight forward. Remove something from EVERY room. Most people have too much furniture that makes rooms look smaller. Get rid of knick-knacks and shelves full of items. Put toys away. Clean everything off your kitchen counters. Buy storage bins and fill them! You’ll be amazed at how much STUFF you own when you see it all boxed away!
We had an entire corner of our garage full of storage bins but if you have it in your budget it might be a good idea to rent a storage unit – especially if you have a lot of furniture that needs to be removed for staging.
For home staging, it is said you should depersonalize your home as much as possible. This means that generally you don’t want to have too many pictures of yourself on the walls. Why? You want buyers to be able to picture THEMSELVES in your home instead of picturing YOU.
In the living room, I replaced the photographs over the couch with some scrap book paper that tied in with the colors in the room. However, there were still a couple of pictures on our gallery wall. But that’s OK – just do what you can without driving yourself crazy in the process ;-)
You want your home to feel like a home and to still be inviting. Don’t remove so much that it feels cold and sterile.
For the master bedroom I tried to create a retreat-like space. Light, bright and relaxing was the look I was going for. I switched out our dark gray drapes and added a pair of white sheers that I picked up at Home Goods for the clearance price of $10. I also purchased some new throw pillows from Target for the bed to add a pop of color. If you keep the tags on, you can always return the pillows once the house is sold ;-)
When it comes to decluttering, do it RIGHT. Rent a dumpster and clean out the house. Anything that you must keep should be packed away in storage bins or organized in a closet, out of the way. You know what they say, “a place for everything and everything in its place”. Moreover, DO NOT overfill your closets. This shows buyers that you do not have enough closet space! I had my husband move some of his clothes down to our guest room for this exact reason!
When we were moving, we were SO thankful that we had already thrown out anything we didn’t want and that everything else was already packed up. One less thing to do, right?!
Quick fixes won’t necessarily add a lot of value to your home, but they will make it more appealing to buyers – which may add perceived value. For instance, painting ceilings and scuffed walls, fixing broken hardware on doors, freshening up the bathroom grout or even just replacing a cracked bathroom medicine cabinet. These are cheap and easy fixes to make but they help your home look its best. In the eyes of a buyer, it’s also one less thing for them to fix.
Our wall colors are all neutrals: grays, whites, beiges and light blues. If you have any crazy paint colors I highly recommend painting over them. Staged homes are neutral. Everyone can appreciate neutral, not everyone loves brightly colored or in-your-face walls. Paint is cheap. You can pick up a gallon for $30 bucks and some change. Grab a roller and a tray and you’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll.
The guest room got a fresh coat of paint on the walls, ceiling and the window trim was replaced so that it matched the other rooms. I always have this room staged with the tray on the bed. It really makes it look like a very welcoming guest space. Oh, and you cannot go wrong with white bedding. It looks clean and fresh.
The deck is old and bit splintery, so an outdoor rug was used to stage a more inviting space. Planters in the corner add a pop of color.
Some of quick fixes in the dining room included organizing the pantry, spray painting the handles on the back door ORB so that they matched the new hardware in the hallway. We touched up the paint anywhere that was necessary – that meant on the stairs, doors, trim or baseboards. Put your best foot forward!
If you have a good realtor, they should be able to help you prioritize what items to fix. You don’t need to fix everything but do what you can realistically achieve within your time-frame and budget.
Nothing turns a buyer off more than a laundry list of big ticket items to fix. If you know you’re going to be selling your house in 6 months/1 year/2 years from now then consider putting some money into fixing or replacing a couple of these items.
Items that are usually considered “big ticket” are a new roof, new hot water tank and new floors.
No one wants to remodel a kitchen or bathroom when they’re selling their home. It’s depressing to think you won’t even get to enjoy it! If your cabinets are in good shape but look outdated, paint them or add new hardware. Upgrade your appliances to stainless steel if you can afford it.
My parents recently listed their home for sale. One of the bathrooms had old-fashioned pink and blue tile. Instead of replacing it all (who has the time or money to do that!) they painted over it with a white epoxy. Now it looks fresh and clean…and NEW! It cost them about $200 and a few hours of work but completely transformed their bathroom.
Shop around and be crafty – we were able to get our hardwood floors refinished for $800. They look amazing and added some nice value once the house was appraised. Our hot water tank is old but we get it serviced every year. We made sure that it was serviced and had a visible service tag before potential buyers came through. This offers some peace of mind at least.
If you take one bit of advice from this post – clean your house. I mean a DEEP CLEAN not just a surface clean. Make sure the insides of cabinets and drawers are spotless, all your appliances and faucets are shiney and baseboards and floors are dust-free.
Remove scuffs on walls with a magic eraser. They really are magic!
The bathroom needs to be absolutely spotless. You saw how I deep-cleaned in my last post. The final step was to remove all the products from the shower and sink and add an orchid to brighten up the space. Again, don’t forget to shine the faucets and shower heads and of course make sure the mirror is spotless!
Every staged bathroom should have fresh white towels!
Make sure that every room has a clear purpose. Not all buyers have great imaginations. Sometimes they need help seeing how a space can be used. For example, we have a bonus room upstairs that you have to walk through to get to our master bedroom. It’s not a bedroom because you have to walk through it and we’ve only ever used it as a “getting dressed” space for my husband as he uses the closets in there. In order for this room to have a clear purpose, we staged it as a sitting room with an office nook. This way our upstairs could then be marketed as a “Master Suite”.
We already had the couch and ottoman, and had moved the desk up here when we converted our office to the guest-room. I just added an old laptop to the desk, a TV to the chest of drawers and a lamp next to the couch. Voila – a sitting room!
If you have any other tips to share I’d love to hear them! Drop me a line in the comments :-)
Wish us luck and we go through this exhausting and exciting selling process! I can’t wait to see where my little family ends up! Exciting times are ahead of us :-)