Tips for Selling Your House…Fast!
As promised, today I am here to talk all about our experience with selling our old house! Previously, I shared our house hunting experience (post here), so I really wanted to follow that up with details on how we went about selling our old house in just 6 days! We learned SO much from the process that I just had to share with you.
Of course let’s just start this off with some disclaimers, I am not a realtor nor do I have any intentions of saying I am an expert in this field (at all!). However, we just went through this process with a 2 1/2 and 4 year old and learned quite a bit along the way. I hope our experience can help make the process a little less stressful for you, and maybe even as an added bonus help you to sell your house a bit faster! And if nothing else, our experience can help mentally prepare you for the journey that is selling a house!
My husband and I spent a full week getting our house prepared to go on the market. May it have been a little OCD, and more than necessary? Most likely, but we had 36 showings in 5 days including the day we put it on the market and by the 6th day we had received 5 offers and were under contract with an almost flawless offer. We were extremely motivated to get the house sold for top dollar and fast for a few reasons. One – we were closing on our new house in just 40 days and two mortgages sounded more than daunting. Two – I was 6 months pregnant with a 2 1/2 and 4 year old and a husband that was about to travel for the next month (fun times!). And lastly, it was mid October and the outside of our house was loosing its curb appeal more and more everyday . Leaves were falling, the grass was getting duller, and we knew snow was in the near future. Our old house had an amazing backyard with mature trees creating privacy from the very close neighbors, but once all the leaves were down, and the snow piled in the backyard that wasn’t going to be obvious to buyers.
We worked with an awesome realtor who also lived in our neighborhood, so she knew exactly what people buying in our neighborhood are looking for and have come to expect. When I picked her brain about what I should do to prepare for the house going on the market, she was SO appreciative that I was even asking. She said you would be shocked on how many people just think, oh let’s just put the house on the market! When in fact, if you want your house to sell for top dollar and shortly there is so much preparation that goes into it. But so worth it in the long end. We also had the benefit of seeing soooo many houses prior to making an offer on our current house, that we knew what really turned us off on some houses. This really helped us know what NOT to do when showing our house so we wouldn’t make the same mistakes. Okay, so let’s get to our most helpful tips!
- Declutter – The most obvious, but still worth mentioning. Not only is this step so important for selling your house, but it also helps when it is time to actually move! We were so happy we did this step properly because when it was time to move we were only left with things that were going to the new house! Go into every single room with two bags. Sort into donate, trash, and keep. It makes such a difference in each room! Don’t get carried away and leave the place stark, but be selective on whats on your counters, bedside tables, and floors. Imagine being the buyer and how you would want your dream house to appear! Do not forget the garage either! Here is our playroom as it appeared for showings. We wanted buyers to see that we had a designated playroom (because our neighborhood was very family oriented) without them tripping over legos and trucks.
- Clean out closets and cabinets – Don’t forget about these spots that we tend to hoard junk! Again go into every closet and do the same thing: donate, trash, and pack. Especially because I was pregnant I packed up almost my whole side of our shared closet in the master bedroom because mama wasn’t going to be wearing much of my wardrobe till after baby. My husband than took those boxes to the basement and set in a pile we designated ready to move! The closets showed so well without all the extras that were going to be trashed or donated anyways. Same goes for bathroom closets and vanities. It was crazy how much stuff we trashed from these areas! Grab some baskets and neatly organize the items you deem keepers. No space will be off-limits for prospective buyers to be looking!
- Depersonalize – It’s hard to imagine yourself in a home covered in pictures of another persons pets, children, and memories. If it’s art that’s adding to a space that is one thing. If your kids artwork is taped all over your fridge or you have a gallery of Christmas cards on your wall pack it up. It’s just adding clutter! Below is a picture of our master bedroom as it appeared during showings. We kept the gallery wall of family images and even bedside photos on night stands. Buyers do not want to see a bare home, show them your pretty, well cared for home minus the excess personal items.
- Neutral Colors on Walls – Many people get distracted by loud colors and bold decor. They have a hard time looking past it. Use neutral pillows, throws, and warm decor to still make your come cozy and inviting while displaying a neutral color pallet. It is much easier to envision your things in a house with a neutral base!
- Shampoo the carpets – May seem time-consuming but so important, especially if your carpet is a few years old. We walked out of quite a few houses without seeing them completely through because they just plain smelt. I recommend renting the carpet cleaner from your local hardware store and for less than $100 your carpets will look almost new!
- Fix small repairs – Especially those that are bound to show up on inspection. Clogged sinks, latches not working, or squeaky doors could be the difference between a sale and your house sitting on the market for months. You don’t want to lose a potential buyer over something that you are going to end up taking care of on inspection anyways. Do it now!
- Add Curb Appeal – This one is all about first impressions! You want potential buyers to be interested before they even get out of the car. Mow the grass, edge, pull weeds, and have a clean entrance. Power wash the area by your door, add some plants, and a welcoming door mat. Potential buyers will linger in this area while the realtor gets the lock box open!
- Clear Entryway – Remove coats, shoes, and boots from your entryway so prospective buyers aren’t immediately greeted by your things. Especially if it is winter! It is also points out that you don’t have a designated place for these things. We staged our mudroom closet so that buyers could see this is where they would hang their purses and keep their coats and shoes.
- Deep clean – This should be one of the last things you do prior to showings. Especially since some of these other tips can get quite messy. But is probably the most important! If you can afford a professional cleaner, this will be some of the best money spent. I was hesitant to do this, but oh my it was the best decision. My realtor highly recommended it, and she was so right. Our cleaning lady in three hours made the house look like no on ever lived there and made it so much easier to keep the house looking good showing after showing. If you do nothing else I would save up money to have a professional cleaning done!
One extra thing our realtor suggested was getting our windows professionally cleaned. Because our blinds were not in good shape, we had them up for showings and she didn’t want prospective buyers to be staring at really dirty glass. Our really dirty windows of course were the really high ones, so it was out of the question for us to do it ourselves. It is quite expensive to do this, so we chose 5 or 6 windows to have cleaned and it really did make a difference.
- Get exterior pictures taken as soon as you know you are going to sell! – This depends on the season that you are selling your house. If you are working with a realtor and winter is coming, I would highly recommend getting pictures taken while your exterior is looking its best! This way if you don’t end up putting your house on the market till the snow comes, prospective buyers at least have pictures to be able to see how your yard looks at its prime.
- Have a spotless home – Trust me when I say I know how difficult this is, but it is so worth it. Treat every showing like this is going to be the buyer. I truly believe that is why our house sold so fast. I was literally vacuuming and mopping at least three times a day with an overtired two year old on my hip and the other thinking he was “helping” by trying to electrocute himself with the vacuum. Almost every person that saw our house commented on how clean it was and asked if anyone was living in it!?! I was so proud of that because oh yes, two dogs and two boys under 4 called it home!
- Have a nice smelling home – Be sure to empty all the garbage cans before showings. A dirty diaper may be the smell we are used to, but for many that could be a potential deal breaker! Throw a few lemon slices in the garbage disposal and use an essential oil diffuser with lemon and lavender for a comforting smell. You don’t want it to be so potent, that buyers start to wonder what smell you are trying to hide!
- Set the table – Doesn’t need to be over the top here. Just some chargers, placemats, and small tablescape can give the dining room a welcoming feel.
- Blinds Up – Natural light is so so important. Rarely are buyers looking for a dark house with minimal natural light. Open up the drapes and blinds and let the light in.
- Lights On – Same idea, we were instructed to turn every single light on including the bathrooms, closets, and table lamps.
- Do a clean sweep – Every single time. Make sure all the beds are made, cleaning products are put away, counters are clear of clutter, toys are put back, and toilets are flushed.
- Take your pets – We are big animal lovers over here, but I will still even a bit turned off when we saw houses with pets home! I was looking for scratches on floors more, really smelling around for any odors, and honestly was a bit distracted (loving on the dogs rather than looking around!). It’s always a good idea to hide water and food bowls, and grab your pets when you head out for showings!
We had days when we were out of the house for 10 hours, so I arranged doggy daycare for our dogs. We knew they were somewhere they loved, and would grab them at the end of the day.
Just a few other thoughts as well! While your house is on the market, treat everyday like this is the day! Never let the house be anything but pristine, it will make it much easier to say yes to that last-minute showing. Our house was only on the market for 6 days, but in those 6 days I didn’t cook one dinner at home. It wasn’t worth risking the smell of burnt bacon, or a dirty sink. Also, if you are selling your house with kiddos arrange a place to go for naps and downtime. We were literally out of our house from 8 am-6pm the week our house was on the market. I planned fun events for the kiddos like a day at the zoo, museum, etc. But not even my boys wanted to spend 10 hours at these places! So having friends that were expecting us to come over for just a little bit of chill time was so helpful.
I could go on and on, but I really do think that covers the most important tips! It’s such a stressful time selling your house, so I hope this can help you just a little bit! Any other tips to add? As always, thanks so much for stopping by!