17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sell this House!

The time has come. The stars are aligning. I have waited for this moment for 2 1/2 years. We are FINALLY putting our house on the market to move to greener pastures (literally - the town is called Green Valley).

But...the time has come. I actually have to sell this house. Hmmmmm.....

I've never done this before. We rented for nearly 7 years in NYC - this has been our first crack at homeownership. I've been watching the HGTV shows on how to clean up, curb appeal and stage your house...but I'm still feeling overwhelmed and afraid I'm going to miss something.

Living in the Bay Area has lots of perks...but unforunately for us (as sellers) it's a buyers market here right now - lots of houses to choose from (fun when we actually BUY the new house) and very picky buyers. I know that many of our faithful readers and contributors are homeowners and have been down this path before. Teach me, oh wise ones. What suggestions do you all have for not only selling this house quickly for our asking price????



  • We have sold two houses in the last 4 years and here are my tips:

    1) Find the best realtor who has connections in the community

    2) Stage your house well. Get rid of clutter. (Our realtor actually had a stager come in).

    3) Pick a good asking price and advertise before the house goes on the market. People get excited about the hoopla.

    4) Make the first open house a big deal and I included goodies from the local bakery :)

    Good Luck! Selling a house is a lot of work!
    posted by Blogger cj at 4/19/2007 09:30:00 AM  

  • We just sold a few months ago. I can tell you after looking at 30+ houses before buying one that clutter and bad smells are huge turn-offs. (Since you have to pack and move everything soon anyway, pack up as much as you can now!) You might consider taking down some curtains to make the place seem lighter and more open.

    Julie M. Smith
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 4/19/2007 10:16:00 AM  

  • I second Julie's comment--get rid of the clutter, and make sure the house smells good.

    The second is really an issue if you have pets. Those of us who do have pets are accustomed to the smell, and don't notice it. For people who don't have pets, it is the first thing you notice. When we sold our house two years ago, we lost on at least three potential buyers because of the lingering smell of our dogs. No matter how many batches of cookies we made, the dog smell was always there. We couldn't sell until we replaced the carpets--cleaning alone did not work.

    For an extreme example, when we went out on our second day of househunting with our agents a couple of weeks ago, we had an appointment to see one house. As soon as the door opened, cigarette smoke came billowing out. None of us went past the door jamb, and only one of us went that far. My wife and one of the agents were coughing most of the rest of the day.

    On the bright side, skipping that appointment gave us time to drive around the neighborhood where we were looking, and we found the house we are buying. We were the first to look at it, and the first to make an offer, so when the other offers came in, we had priority (yay!).
    posted by Anonymous CS Eric at 4/19/2007 10:35:00 AM  

  • Have an impartial third party come in an evaluate your house to look for trouble spots. Ask your friends and get a consensus. Fresh paint, clean carpets, and a clean house go a long way (yes, hire a cleaning crew!). if certain things are dated, replace them (ie faucets , light fixtures, etc. Fix or replace anything broken or stained. This house should be move in ready to the buyer (unless it is too far gone, then sell it as a fixer).

    Price the house appropriately. Don't say - hey I can always bring the price down. Houses that are on the market for a while get a stigma, cause if somebody hasn't bought it, why would they want to. In a buyer's market, price slightly below or at comps.

    Consider selling the house yourself! Especially in the bay area, where people are up on electronic sources. use Craigslist! (That is how my brother sold his home) Use Zillow! Other sources. that 6% commission can go a long way towards reducing the price with a net benefit to you and the buyer.

    If you have to use a realtor, consider negotiating a price. Certain unique homes will absolutely need a good realtor who isthe best available. but for the rest of us, all you really need is someone to list on the MLS, negotiate some pitfalls. Realtors don't have the same incentives as you to get the best price. (See Freakonomics discussion in this article http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=1194101&page=1)
    posted by Blogger Jay S at 4/19/2007 10:47:00 AM  

  • Chloe,
    I second the remark about trying to sell it yourself. You can always go with an agent later. 6% is a lot of money,

    Also, watch the shows "Flip This House" and "Flip That House" because those are people that make money from the science of creating value in a home. Kitchens, bathrooms and light sell homes.
    posted by Blogger Rusty at 4/19/2007 11:14:00 AM  

  • Thank you thank you thank you! This is exactly what I wanted/needed. Keep the commnets coming - they are all important!

    We don't have pets so luckily that's not an issue. Great ideas about goodies for the open house - hadn't thought of that.

    I'm pretty nervous to sell it ourselves. We both work and have two kids - our time is valuable and I'd rather pay someone else to just get rid of it.

    Any success stories of selling QUICKLY on your own? Because that's the key word here - quickly...
    posted by Blogger chloe at 4/19/2007 11:39:00 AM  

  • We sold our place in CA 9 months ago. Pack up most of your stuff now (including furniture!) and get a storage unit. You'll be surprised with how little you can live with, and how much bigger your place will look. "depersonalize" your home - I got the advice to take down family photos because you want people want to picture *their* family in the house, not yours. LIGHT AND BRIGHT. Seriously a huge one. When we were looking for houses the dim, stinky, cluttered ones I just ran out of.

    About selling your home yourself: we were living in the CA Bay Area, as well, and tried selling ourselves. It was a bomb. We listed on Craigslist and all that came out of it were tons and tons of phone calls from realtors wanting to represent us. In a market where there are so many houses for sale, you really need to be on the MLS, and an agent is the only way to get there. PICK A GOOD ONE. 6% is a lot of money, it's true, but it was worth it to us after we'd done the "we'll try it ourselves" route for several weeks. With a realtor it was sold in 2 weeks (and that was in a neighborhood that was VERY much a buyers market).

    Have a basket or bag of "fun kid stuff" in the car constantly. You'll have house showings you'll find out about with 30 minutes notice and will need something to keep the kiddos occupied while you have to get out of the place.

    posted by Anonymous Julie P at 4/19/2007 12:40:00 PM  

  • One last thing I would add is with two small kids I planned a road trip (three weeks), so that I would not have to keep cleaning up after them and stressing out whenever someone walked thru the door.

    Oh, and have a spot where they can take off shoes or get those little booties because that much foot traffic in a home can ruin carpet
    posted by Blogger cj at 4/19/2007 12:41:00 PM  

  • I haven't sold a house yet but I read a chapter in the book "Freakonomics" about selling a house yourself vs with a realtor. VERY interesting. You should read it before making your decision. I don't know that I would use a realtor in the future, however, the object was not to sell the house quick but to get the best price for it. It seems that realtors are the quick way to go and the do it your self-ers are the maximize value AND save the 6% route.
    Do you know anyone who can get it on the MLS for you?
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 4/19/2007 01:32:00 PM  

  • There are several companies that will list it on the MLS for you for a fixed price - say 2-4 hundred. Things like help-u-sell, etc. Or use a realtor you know to list it, and agree on a fixed price. You can even use the services ala carte (ie -300 per open house, etc).

    The key to selling it yourself is to put a competitive price on it.

    Also, you can provide an incentive for realtors to come with buyers, by providing a 2-3% co-op (ie commission) to the buyer's agent. This is what they get normally, so they won't have a problem. You get 2%, the agent gets 2% and the buyer gets 2% off. Everybody wins.

    I agree that you don't want to get lost in the shuffle. But try a FSBO for a couple of weeks. Of course this all depends on your timeline for leaving and buying a new house. But the beauty of an agent is you can leave before the house is sold.
    posted by Blogger Jay S at 4/19/2007 02:42:00 PM  

  • We have only sold one house so far, but here's our experience. We had 3 realtors come over and give us thier good faith estimate basically estimating what they would mark the sales price at, as well as give us thier opinion on what we could do to make the house more "sellable". We then decided to sell it ourselves. We printed all the home sales forms off for FREE on the state real estate commission website.

    I definately decluttered. Our closets were nearly empty, so as to make the potential buyer "feel" like there was lots of closet space(which there really wasn't tons), and the same with counter space.

    I kept the home decorated, which I felt was a huge factor in how fast we sold it (Our buyers were the 3rd couple we showed it to). A well staged/decrated home definately can inspire people as they are thinking about living somewhere. An empty home leaves many people unable to imagine past what they see. If you do it yourself, just try to make sure everything you have in the house is CURRENT and very up to date. Dated decor is definately WORSE than none at all, IMO.

    We also had the buyers wanting to buy many of our furnishings, some of which I did sell to them, because I was planning on redecorating certain things in our new house anyway, and was a nice little bonus for us.

    We ended up selling for the SAME price as the realtors wanted to ask, and saved a pretty decent chunk of money.

    If you sell it your self, (which it sounds like you don't plan on),but just in case, get to know your local title company. The people at the local title company made it so easy for us to do the final paperwork- it REALLY made me wonder why in the heck we ever payed a realtor to do that.

    I totally understand that there are times when a realtor can be really helpful, especially when you are buying in an unfamiliar area. But selling it yourself might be suprisingly easy. It was for us.
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 4/19/2007 08:45:00 PM  

  • Hmmmmm...this is really starting to make me think. Maybe selling on our own isn't such a wacky idea after all? At least giving it a shot for a month and see what happens? We aren't tied to a deadline with the new house so we have some time on our side.

    I took these comments to heart today and did some MORE decluttering - it actually felt good! Carrie was here a few weeks ago and gave me some good tips as "someone walking through the door".

    Keep the ideas coming...
    posted by Blogger chloe at 4/20/2007 12:01:00 AM  

  • I can't believe that no one has mentioned burying a St. Joseph statue in the yard. People in this area claim it leads to a sure sell.
    posted by Anonymous Floyd the Wonderdog at 4/20/2007 04:22:00 AM  

  • Another tip, from our recent house search. If somebody wants to see the house in 30 minutes or an hour, try to accomodate them.

    As we started our search, a member of the ward told us of a house near his that we were VERY interested in. When our realtors tried to set up an appointment to see it, they were told the owners needed at least 24 hours', and in this case, two days' notice to see it.

    Between the time we first tried to see this house and the owners would let us in, we saw three that would meet our needs, including the one we are buying.
    posted by Anonymous CS Eric at 4/20/2007 07:50:00 AM  

  • The sellers staged the townhouse we just bought with minimal but classy furniture and art. I knew what they were doing, but I still fell for it. Might be worth the money to do that if you want to get a quick sale.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 4/21/2007 05:53:00 PM  

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