5 Things to do Before Selling Your House

Well. I don’t have any fabulous news to report from our house selling saga. Our agent put together an agent’s open house last Friday that was very well attended thanks to her aggressive promotional efforts, and we got great feedback that the house is gorgeous, well updated, priced right, etc. but still no offers or much foot traffic. We removed more accessories, and honestly, we’ll just outright start packing stuff soon.

And here’s a cute photo of Pee Wee and I because I miss him and love this photo. Moving on.

We had some buyers over the weekend look at our house twice in the span of 48 hours, but one family decided they needed a larger house with a mother-in-law’s suite and the other got pre-approved for an amount considerably less than our price. It is what it is. Our agent is marketing it as much as she can, so we wait.

Now, I think part of the problem is that we’re selling a house in a small town (<12,000 people) during a recession. The oil boom hit big in our area a few years ago, and we likely could have sold our home for more than we could imagine doing so right now. Unfortunately, that oil money has left town. I truly am realizing this is going to take longer than I thought or want.

But, with all that being said, I wanted to highlight five things we did before we even got the house on the market. And I’m not talking common sense stuff like cleaning, decluttering, depersonalizing, or touching up paint — we did do those things, and yes it is time consuming and annoying to caulk moldings that have separated a bit or to paint door scuffs. Basically if YOU notice it, a buyer will, too, so get to work.

Name Your Own Price: Before we met with realtors, Daniel and I sat down one evening in between Gilmore Girls episodes, because that’s how we roll, to discuss our ideal price. We factored in how much we owed on our mortgage, how much we invested in upgrades, and how much other comparable houses were selling for. Once we had our number, we looked at the CMA reports from the agents we interviewed to see if we were right.

Turns out we were spot on with our agent, and that’s how we set the price. Truthfully we went a bit under the market value per square foot to make the price more attractive to buyers.

Scope Out Your Competition: Daniel and I used our Apple TV on our flat screen TV to scope out all the houses in our price range. This helped us see what we had to offer over other houses (in most cases we had more land, a large storage shed, and a house that is 90% updated) and it also helped us see what we lacked (smaller than some houses, a laundry room faraway from bedrooms, not a split floor plan). These houses will be the other houses buyers in your price range see and consider, so make sure you know your shortcomings and selling points. You can also see how bad or good their photos are so you can up your game. 

The Proof is in the Pudding Paperwork: Buyers want to hear that you put in a new septic, had your water well serviced, or that all the new electrical is to code, but more so, they want to KNOW and have PROOF. Before you get on the market is a great time to get all of that important paperwork together in case a buyer wants to see it. In some cases, there may be warranties that are transferable, so that can be a definite plus to a buyer. We put in new windows and according to the warranty we can transfer it ONCE to a new buyer. That’s huge! If you’ve lost paperwork, nicely call the company and see if you can get your records/receipts.

Interview Multiple Agents: I find it crazy that some people call one agent and are done with it. This agent is selling a large investment where you could stand to gain (or lose!) a lot of money, and you should conduct job interviews to find which agent is the best fit, especially since they’ll get a cut of the proceeds.

I know I was a little harsh on my agent initially, but I since calmed the hell down and realized that she’s doing all she can and me being difficult isn’t going to make matters any better. Ultimately we chose our agent because she was knowledgeable, straightforward and is part of a real estate firm that is savvy at internet/social media marketing. She came well prepared to our initial meeting, responds to my texts promptly and we trust her. You’ll know you’ve found the right agent when you don’t have to force it and when you can be honest with them. The other agents we met with were lovely, but they wanted to price our property a lot higher in terms of price, so we knew it would end up taking a lot longer to sell since it wasn’t a realistic number.

Detach Your Emotions: I had a lot of sob fests before putting the house on the market. I was emotionally attached to the house, which I wrote about a bit here, and many of you reached out with your kind words to tell me it’s just a house. My family is what matters. I’ll always have the memories. 

I still get nostalgic when I go back to the house on weekends to see my boys. I think that this will be our last Thanksgiving at the house, and that Christmas 2015 may be the last Christmas we had there if we sell anytime soon. But I have to get past that and realize that for six years, the house was great and we made memories…but there will be another house one day and I hope to love it even more. Starting to emotionally distance yourself will make listing it and getting it sold that much easier. 

Ultimately, home is where your family is, right? I really want to watch Gilmore Girls now, but Daniel and I agreed watching it without one another is essentially an extra marital affair so I’ll have to wait until the weekend to hang with my fave ladies.

To those of you who have sold a home, what else should a first-time home seller think about or do before listing? Share your advice in the comments section!