Sell your Home Fast (Even in a Slow Market)

 My husband and I have sold a few homes during our years together and have been fortunate to sell them quickly. So when I told our realtor in January we wanted to put our house on the market and sell it fast, she warned me about these sobering facts:

  •   It was a slow economy and a buyer’s market.
  •   There was a  six month supply of homes on the market in our metropolitan area.
  •   January has historically been a slow home-selling month. 

 Point taken, but I had a plan.

 1. Pare Down:

We had been thinking about selling our home for the past few months so we had already started preparing. Since we were scaling down to a smaller home, we needed to scale down our furniture as well.  We didn’t need some of those big clunky family heirlooms, so I handed them down to a niece who was happy to get these pieces for her new home.  Problem solved.  The furniture stayed in the family, but I was no longer a storage unit for them.  And the rooms looked twice as big without them.

How many spatulas do you really need?  Now that the kids are in college do we really still need to hang on to our Candy Land game?  These seem like simple answers, but it’s amazing how we let things just hang around and take up valuable space.  Purge and give away or sell things you no longer use, but others would be happy to have. If you’re not sure that you might need it for the new house, pack it up and store it until you move.  

 2. Paint it:

Paint or touch-up dingy rooms.  We painted most rooms such as the living area, kitchen, and master bedroom in a neutral tan. But this might not be the best strategy for all the rooms.  We kept the purple and red walls of the game room since we wanted it to look like a fun hangout for kids.   We also kept my daughter’s bright pink bedroom with black accents, because a young girl might just walk in and fall in love with that room.  We decided if anyone was unhappy with a paint color, we would agree to paint it for them. Painting the baseboards a bright white made the house appear fresh and clean. 

 3. Clean up:

Everything must be spotless. Bathrooms, windows, floors, and kitchen cabinets should be squeaky clean.   Leave just a few pretty items on the kitchen counter tops.  Hide the toaster and other small appliances. Papers, mail, and all the other miscellaneous that accumulates needs to be collected and hidden away. Organize the pantry and clean out at least fifty percent of your closets by giving things away or storing items in the attic or a storage unit.  The whole home should be sparse, but homey. 

4. Stage it:

Buying a new welcome mat for the front porch was a cheap and easy way to add to the clean, well-maintained look of the house.  We displayed a family game and some movies in the game room and put some fresh flowers in a vase on the kitchen table.  A cup and saucer with a book laid out on a living room table helps the potential buyers see themselves enjoying the space.  Remove family photos and other personal items that make it feel like your home instead of the potential buyer imagining it as their own future home.  

 5. Get the pets out (and any traces of them):  We have two dogs and a cat so I know this can be the hardest part of showing a house.  We both work, but my daughter was home from college so she was available to put the pets in the car and take them to a friend’s yard each time the house was being shown.  Perhaps you can pay a neighbor or friend to do this for you.  The litter box, food bowls, and leashes were removed from the house as well.

 6. Get a great realtor:  I found a high-quality realtor who held an open house the first weekend we had it listed.  She also hired a photographer to take the photos of our house instead of trying to take them herself.  Let’s face it, not all realtors have an eye for photography.  First impressions are everything and most people see your house for the first time on the MLS listing so the photos should make a statement.  Our photographer took a great photo of the sunset reflecting off our pool that made it look like a tropical paradise.

 Getting the house ready to sell took a lot of time and effort, but it paid off when we received two offers within the first three days of listing our house.  One couple from out of state made an offer sight unseen.  By the fifth day we accepted an offer for the full asking price.  Now I can’t guarantee these results, but it does seem with some careful preparation you can make your house stand out in this market, and hopefully make a quick sale.