As you know, we are in the process of prepping our own house for sale.
As an agent, I know what we need to do and I have made a list of repairs and touch-ups, compiled a list of staging items, given Corey a list of furniture to remove, booked the floor plans, photos, inspection and house cleaning, made a list of upgrades and other important info, started work on the feature sheets and determined a strategy and pricing plan. It's a lot of work and expensive and time-consuming but I do this part all the time so I find comfort in the fact that my system works and I know exactly what to do!
As a seller, I am a nervous wreck. There's so much to do and it's hard to get anything done between work, Rudy and the pets. Corey's been pulling some late nights and we've started packing and painting. One lucky convenience of being a real estate agent, is that I already had a storage locker (which I use for staging supplies) ready to move our boxes and extra furniture into. Aside, from that, we're pretty much in the same boat as every other seller. We're working our buns off and secretly flip-flopping between worries than nobody will like our house and fantasies that someone will fall in love any pay hundreds of thousands over market value and we'll be rich. Our reality will fall somewhere in the middle.
I've already had so many people teasingly ask me if I'm taking all the advice that I would typically give my clients. I am proud to say that I am! What I believe to be beneficial for my clients, I believe for myself as well. I thought you might enjoy a little summary of some of the prep we're doing before we sell:
While I often advise against major renovations for the purpose of selling (there's no point unless I expect a seller to recover more than the money they spend) sometimes I make exceptions. In our case, there were some things that we meant to do to our house but never found the time. Completing these things will "finish" our house, so in this case, they're worthwhile.
Most notable of the "projects" outstanding in our home are the stucco ceilings in the main floor hallway and two of the bedrooms. Stucco has a long memory and is hard to repair nicely and ours shows wear and damage in several places. We're having a company in to smooth our ceilings. We expect it to cost around $2,000.
Our other big project is to cover the exposed ducts in the second bedroom. When we had our duct work installed, we decided to bring a trunk up through the second bedroom (from the dining room on the main floor) to the attic, so that vents could be run down to each room from the ceiling, as opposed to having bulkheads all over the main floor.
This left us with an ugly exposed duct in the second bedroom/my office, which we just left for years. Our plan had been to make a window seat to enclose the duct but we thought we'd wait to do much to the room until we needed it as a nursery. As you know, we never actually needed a second nursery in this house so it remained my office. Now, Corey has enclosed the ducts so that the next person won't have to try to imagine what the room could look like. I plan to stage it with some throw pillows on the window seat.
Ah yes, painting is one of the things I tell most sellers to do before we list. Light neutrals are so important. Of course, I do make exceptions and occasionally, I'll advise a seller to keep a room a certain distinctive colour. In our home, we've used a lot of warm light grey and are repainting most rooms in light neutrals. I'm making a couple of exceptions: Our dining room is a lovely medium grey-blue. We deliberately did not paint it a light colour because sometimes light walls in a darker room actually make the room seem more closed off. Instead, some drama on the walls makes the room seem elegant and cozy. Our other big exception is Rudy's room, which is a very dark green-blue. It's a distinctive colour and a part of me wants to lighten the walls to sell but I think Rudy's dealing with enough change throughout this process so I'm going to keep her room as consistent as possible. As I tell my sellers, we do as much as possible while keeping in mind that people actually live here!
Staging is a big one! It's hard to accept that not everyone will love our furniture and art as much as we do... but it's true. We've been moving a lot of our functional furniture to storage and we bought new bedding, night tables and neutral art. I already had a lot of things in storage that I use for my listings so we'll be using some of that too. We're removing the cat shelves (sob) but we'll put them back in the new house. I think we're leaving the family room as a play room, because there's a good chance our buyer will have young kids or will be planning a family in the future. Aside from the family room, we're keeping the house pretty minimal.
In addition to the furniture, we're focused on removing our scent from the house. Did you know that every house smells a little like the family who lives there? It's true and nothing to be embarrassed about... but it is something to be aware of when listing. I'm not suggesting plugging room deodorizers into every outlet, which is almost as bad as smelling pets or dirty laundry. No, the ideal house on the market smells like nothing aside from maybe the faint scent of fresh linen or baking. This will be easier for us to accomplish once the pets are out. We'll be washing the linens and airing out the house for days before we actually invite buyers in. Which brings me to my next point...
I know, it's a shocker but many buyers don't like to look at a house while giant slobbery dogs lick their faces and a naughty cat hides toys in their shoes. Crazy, right??? It's something that I tell my clients and we're taking the advice ourselves: If at all possible, the pets should be out of the house for showings. Not only are many people allergic to or afraid of animals, it can be upsetting for animals to have strangers trespassing on their territory and getting their human scent everywhere! Not only that, but people can accidentally let a pet outside or close a door to the room with a litter box... it's best just to send the pets to their vacation homes.
For us, that means that the dogs go to live with their amazing Auntie Miriam (We actually question whether they like her better than us) while Cricket is staying with Corey's mom. We'll miss them but we hope to sell quickly so we can bring our boys back home!
Once the pets are gone, it will be time for a professional cleaning. I can't imagine doing it myself, so we're bringing in professionals. Hopefully, our buyers will think "Wow, these people are so clean!" and they'll never know that I'm the worst at stacking the dishwasher and I never make my bed. Mwahahaha!
Pricing my own home is a tough gig. It is human nature to overestimate the value of your own home... HUMAN NATURE! I know the danger to overpricing a home and the impact it can have on the final sale price, so I didn't want to fall into this trap. On the other hand, it's so easy to see your own home through rose coloured glasses and to overlook the deficiencies (which you've probably lived with for years) and overvalue the work and upgrades you've put into your home. How do I know that I'm realistically comparing my home to the comps? I ask colleagues! In fact, one colleague and friend has already brought clients through our house and I valued her opinion a lot. Asking other experts is the only way to make sure my own bias isn't clouding my judgement and that I'm priced aggressively!
So here we are... almost ready to be on the market. We are exhausted but excited and I have a renewed appreciation and respect for the work it takes from the seller's side to get ready to list their home. We still have some work to do (I'll be sharing photos next week) and we'd like to cut some corners in the staging department since we're so exhausted... but we're rolling up our sleeves and listening to our agent...ha ha! She knows what she's doing!