What your Realtor is afraid to tell you.
This guide is for you, to help you get ready to sell your house so at the end of it all you still have a head of hair, and your husband isn’t convinced that you are bat shit crazy. Look at the big picture, the work is well worth it when you sell your house to get the right price.
This guide is for any potential seller, but I have 4 kids. Three of them were under the age of three, and me, who could barley catch a breath when hubby came home from a long day of work announcing “LAURA, WE ARE SELLING AND BUYING BIGGER!!”
I’m a stay at home mom (and no I don’t look like that all the time, I was on vacation) as exciting as this may sound… let’s just say I am trying to save you some embarrassment, going over the edge, and a bloating waist line. I will explain the waistline later. Let’s get to the priorities!
YOU HAVE DECIDED TO SELL! FIRST THINGS FIRST: DECLUTTER!!!! First rule: DON’T BRING CRAP YOU DON’T WANT! Why do all the houses online look so big, airy, and vacant? Because they are. Sort stuff into donation bags and selling bags. Where did it all come from? I’m not even sure that it’s mine! I even had a pile that went back to my mother-in-law, bless her heart. There are a ton of online garage sale sites, post it, sell it.
Rule 2: Do today what you will thank yourself for tomorrow. Unless you have night fairies that make it disappear, it will be worse in the morning than the night before. If you have to keep it, PACK IT UP AND STORE IN THE GARAGE! That’s what garages are for. If you had a full garage like I did due to husband having to have every tool on the planet (neatly organized I will add. I have to give him credit where it’s due). Have him arrange a spot for more boxes.
KIDS!!!! If you have a kick butt mom, beg her to take them! If you’re not so lucky, then you make them help! They made the mess, they can clean the mess! I promise.. they can live with ONE ATTRACTIVE BIN of toys while your house is on the market. If you can wrestle it away from them, BOX IT! This is key when you have a 4 hour window to show your house. It’s a quick pick up, not pulling out your hair because all three little ones dumped out every freckin LEGO and PLAY FOOD ITEM on the carpet! This goes for all kid stuff, even their closets. Only what you NEED! Make a game of it with a reward at the end. If they help you box it, they won’t miss it. If your child has a death grip on Puffy the dinosaur, it’s okay but Puffy’s friends and family go on a boxed vacation! If you do this right you won’t worry about it when you have multiple offers on your once kool aid stained table. You will be smiling.
CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN!!! I clean for a living… but I didn’t notice the green beans Julia didn’t eat a year ago on the wall, or smeared chocolate that looks like blood on the side of the refrigerator. Speaking of refrigerators and speaking of kitchen’s in general that area should look uncluttered i.e.: nothing on top of refrigerator. That means no bread, cereal boxes, bags of chips, magnets and family photos. No clutter on counter tops. Get rid of storage Target bags that stick out between the stove and sink. Start packing your kitchen now. Pull out the magic eraser and scrub the outside of dish washer, cabinets, counter tops. That kitchen should look like what your expectation of clean is when you move into your new place. You need to DEEP clean. For those of you who have a 9-5 job, and whose husband has no clue what a toilet brush does- pay the piper and get a service for this deep clean to save your sanity. They come prepared for battle, see things that you are blind to. If you can’t pay someone, we all have friends that are clean freaks and have been itching to clean your house. We know this because when they come over they don’t make eye contact, they just can’t stop staring at a spot on the floor. Tell them how much you value them as a friend, and that their help is invaluable. If you’re like me and hate asking for help.. just do it. No one will think less of you. I promise.
WINDOWS AND DOORS. I wanted MY NEW HOUSE NOW!!! My husband wanted it yesterday. To get there I had to sell my current home. Starting with the front door, it’s the first impression. No fingerprints, dog slime, but yes to a wreath, or pot of flowers. You want buyers to be able to see out of your windows. Think sparkle. While you might think that they’ll understand, it’s just dog slime, they don’t. It reflects on the whole house. A potential buyer will think slime and dust monsters haunted the house, just do it before you leave for a showing. Be prepared for when daughter steals your Snickers bar and leaves forensic evidence on the glass you just polished. Wet wipes to the rescue! Keep them on hand.
YOUR LIVING ROOM: My 4 kids made it their tribal meeting ground, and your Realtor will shoot you a clenched smile that looks like she might have a painful fart coming on. She/ he is deciding what to say as your husband exaggerates his version of your 5,000 square foot home that’s really 1300 square feet. We had two over sized sofas, a 60” TV, toy bins in all four corners, a diaper bin still in a plastic bag because I was too exhausted to drag it out to the garage. Fido slobbers all over the furniture and sheds everywhere. Give your Realtor a break, brace yourself, and ask what you need to do. They sell houses, we live in them. We need to know what sells, and we know it isn’t Fido and the kids toys. Tell them to give it too you straight. The way you live is not the way to sell. My realtor told me that last line. Chances are you need some staging advice and you will need to dump more stuff, starting with anything that stinks.
PETS! My darling Bella the Boxer- I love her! She is family. But she stinks like….never mind. She also slept, ate, and did whatever else on my couch. Okay, my kids get stinky and sticky too. They spill milk and lords knows what, and have “accidents” right after I just changed their SMELLY DIAPER! There might even be a glass or five of wine spilled because I fell asleep trying to savor the wine. The couch stinks, I was planning to buy another one anyway. Just DUMP IT! I started on a rant there, but we don’t smell our dogs, cats, and turtles like people who don’t have pets. Everyone else smells it. Then, you will have the very uncomfortable Realtor conversation they are dreading to tell you. Your house stinks like a barn and which is why it won’t sell.
If your pets are temperamental, kennel them. Even if they aren’t, get a kennel. Angry felines are scary! Barking dogs stop a showing cold. Air out your house now. Lots of people are allergic to critters. If you think that is cruelty to animals then bring them along on a car ride! My Bella loves her ears flapping in the wind. Have a nice scent, but don’t overdo. Please no dollar store poopery that shrinks your nasal cavities and swells your tear ducts shut. Lavender. ORRR, buy a pre-made tub of cookies. Bake some cookies before a showing and use it as a bribe for your kids coming home.
SUPPLIES: Tell your spouse that you can’t do this all on your own, and shouldn’t have to. You dont’ have to be the 24-7 super woman and wind up sitting in a corner rocking back and forth singing Over the Rainbow. Ask him/her NICELY to step up their game. Promise the husband he can hang his hideous samurai sword on a black velvet background in the next house. You both work hard, this is a team effort. You need all hands on deck, there will be less snarling and gnashing of teeth if you work together.
Magic Erasers- they are MAGIC! A kick ass vacuum that is both hard wood and carpet friendly. Lots of Swifter. You can attach a rag to the swifter to do some last minute spots your little darlings slobbered. Window cleaner. A tall hamper for all the dirty clothes. If you can swing it do a load or two a day to keep that laundry at bay! Tall garbage bags to throw. Rent a carpet cleaner, the house will smell so much fresher. Boxes to pack and store in the garage, not in the downstairs shower. Don’t forget the pre-made COOKIES!!!
SAVE YOUR WAISTLINE AND POCKET BOOK: I told you I’d get to this. I gained 20 pounds from eating out during showings. It’s really expensive, and usually fried. Bag up easy healthy snacks or meals to go. Everyone seems to want to see your house at lunch or dinner time. With that said, keep some disposable dishes and cups so you don’t have to load the dish washer with a almost done salmon dish you were going to treat yourself.
LISTEN TO YOUR REALTOR: I know I keep saying this. Take a breath and take it in because if you have a kick butt realtor like I had and to this day I consider a friend… she knows her stuff she/he is going to sell your house and the night mare will end. If you are prepared for what to expect.. it won’t be as grueling! You will be in your clean new house, a clean slate. It will be Christmas for the kids in the month of July because they get to un pack all their TOYS in their new house and it didn’t cost you a dime.
SELL THAT HOUSE. Happy Selling.
Laura Welch, who is a past client and friend, wrote this up when I asked her help with a young couple that was struggling with getting their house ready. Even though we went through a dozen homes, they really didn’t understand what they needed to do. I thought that a little advice coming from another mom would be more helpful than that awkward ‘your house is a mess’ conversation.