Thursday, November 11, 2010

it's not the market, it's your house

...house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking, best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.
J.R.R. Tolkien, English writer and author of the epic tale Lord of the RingsSorry for my absence! Many of you know that I just recently listed and sold my own house...and it went very quickly. Despite the advice that I was crazy for putting my house on the market just before the holidays, we did it anyway...and you know what? It sold the first day of showings! We were so grateful and were asked by many...how did you do it? After months of looking at other homes on the market, I have a little secret...it isn't the market, people are moving and looking for homes all the time despite what the newspapers report.
There are two main factors that affect a house in "this market"...price and condition. When a home is not priced properly, it becomes out of reach for the appropriate buyer, and today people are willing to "wait it out" if the price is not where it should be. An important step that a Realtor can do is to analyze other homes that are available...how does your house compare to similar houses? You have to sell a house three times: once to the buyer, once to the mortgage lender, and once to the inspector. Pricing is huge!
The next thing to consider is the condition of your home. Most buyers are not interested in the "needs a little TLC," "handyman special" or "shaggy carpet great for losing small children" look of homes. Question: how much spare time do you feel you have? None? Really? Cool, then you are like the rest of us...no one feels that they have extra time. So why would anyone want to come into a home that is going to be a project for them? There are some of us out there, but believe me, we are a small segment of the population. Your house has to be ready for the market...clean, fresh and uncluttered.Here are some of the things we did to get our house ready:
  • Empty rooms of extra furniture and decorative elements to streamline and make the rooms feel more spacious. Since your goal is to move, start packing away some of those personal items you don't need every day such as photos, tchotchkes, papers & magazines...you get the picture.
  • Take an honest look at your home. What needs to be cleaned or freshened? You would be amazed of the impact of fresh caulk, freshly painted rooms/trim, clean windows, manicured yard...generally making your home shine. I kept in my mind that I had some competition out there, and we wanted to not only be the best home on the market, but to give the "wow" factor. Having a home on the market a long time is exhausting...spend time upfront to get your house in its best form and you will save time on the sale side.
  • Stay away from the smelly stuff...everyone has different likes and dislikes when it comes to smell. Nothing is better than clean and fresh.
  • Consider doing a pre-listing inspection. Not only will it give you notice of what needs to be repaired, but it also gives your buyers peace of mind...you care about this house and did what you could to maintain it.
  • Offer a home warranty to your buyers...this also gives you and your buyers peace of mind for a few hundred dollars. When you consider the things that seem to break on a house via Murphy's Law...this is great coverage to know that things will be taken care of once you are gone.
  • Prepare yourself and your family for this adjustment. It was interesting to experience the feeling of having other people in my space critiquing our style and stuff. Something to keep in mind: "You don't have to be liked by every buyer, just one."
  • If you have children and pets, make plans for how having your house on the market will affect their schedules. Children need to be included in the process because they can be extremely helpful with cleaning up their rooms and keeping the house tidy. I reminded my kids that if we did a good job keeping everything in good shape, we would sell it quickly and move on...they were awesome! Benji needed to be crated or removed each time we showed the house...a bit of a challenge, but it all worked out.
  • Above all, have a positive attitude...I am a big believer that we send out energy all the time, and imagine the impact of walking into a home with good "vibes!" Clear the air with music, chimes, and bells.Now that we have completed all the inspections and negotiations, it is time to pack up this life we have created here and move on to the next stop along the journey. I can't help but bump into memories of bringing home new babies and the great times we had in this space with family and friends. We are truly grateful and have much to celebrate this Thanksgiving!

2 comments:

Trina Ernst said...

Are the pictures above of the home you sold? Perfection, you have a great eye for detail. And a perfect color of blue for the walls. What is that color? I have tried one million times to pick a good blue wall color and either end up with it looking seafoam, too baby blue, or too light.

Elizabeth Roche Studio said...

Trina, thank you so much! Yes, it is my house that I sold--it sold on the first day for full price which was incredibly awesome! We worked very hard to get the house ready for the market and priced it fairly. The wall color going up the stairs is Sherwin Williams "Balmy." It looks very pale in the can, but when you get it on the walls, it is the perfect color. I also had fun painting a ceiling a very, very pale shade of blue in the next room.