While shopping for a new place can be exciting, selling your home while still living in it is quite the opposite. I am a month into trying to sell my place in a soft market and it is not fun! This is especially true if you have kids like me. Trying to keep my home “realtor ready” takes some effort, but I found a few key tips to keep it as simple as possible.
- Involve the whole family.
- Be realistic with expectations.
- Listen to your realtor.
- Stick to the plan.
1) Involve the whole family
Okay, yes, the decision to move is not up to the children, but bringing kids into the conversation may give them some sense of control over what may seem like an overwhelming situation. My daughter is old enough to understand that we won’t sell the house if it’s cluttered and dirty. I asked what she would be comfortable taking care of every day to keep the house presentable. She agreed on a made bed, tidy room, tidy bathroom and to put away her dishes in the dishwasher. Allowing her to choose her must-do chores helped change the conversation from a fight to get things done, to a point of pride on her part that she is contributing to the move in a positive way.
2) Be realistic with expectations
I would lose my mind if I had to wipe down faucets to remove water marks every time I left the house. I try and do this when I think of it, but honestly, I’m not perfect. I vacuum and wash floors when I can, but there are only so many hours in a day and we still have to live here. I’ve subscribed to the clean-as-you-go philosophy. This takes a lot of discipline, but after a couple weeks, it becomes habitual. So yeah, I stay up later and actually fold and put away my laundry the same day I wash and dry it.
And what if an accidental oil-based pigment stain threatens to stain the sink surround a violent orange? (This totally happened 2 hours before a showing!!) Do I freak out? Well, a little on the inside. But I have to realize that stuff happens, even when you want the house to look pristine. Just take a deep breath and deal with it as it comes. (I got the stain out, whew!)
Anything I didn’t need or wouldn’t use in the next couple months was packed up and moved to a friend’s house. I concentrated on decluttering my closets mostly, as well as removing knick knacks and personal items on bureaus, the fridge, walls and countertops. Once my high school grad dress (I know, time to give that away…), Christmas lights and winter gear were stowed in my friend’s basement, I could move things around to give the illusion of more space. Clearing countertops also removes any distractions from seeing the features of the kitchen, so I’m very disciplined about putting everything away (read = hiding stuff).
4) Listen to your realtor
I chose to use a realtor because I work full time and do not have time to learn all the ins and outs of selling. It’s not cheap, but I appreciate having someone else on my team with the experience to know if things are going well, or if we need a new strategy. I was open to my realtor’s opinions from the start, which made for a great working relationship. She made suggestions on moving furniture that I hadn’t considered and helped me choose a realistic listing price. Something as simple as reorganizing the books on my bookshelf by colour helped make the shelf look less busy and distracted less from the overall look of the room. Unfortunately, the market I am in is soft right now, so she gave me some options on how to best sell my house without compromising my investment. I feel more confident having her with me!
5) Stick to the plan
I developed a selling plan with my realtor from the start. Mapping out what we were going to do helped ease my mind. We planned out the sale price, buying my new place, and making changes based on buyer feedback. We also established timelines when we would revisit selling strategies based on the interest out there. I’m a worrier at heart, so with the plan in place, I could just think about water spots on faucets instead of whether the list price was too high that week.
So that’s pretty much what carried me through the stress of selling. It’s not fun to live in a show home, but you just have to keep your eye on the prize!