We’ve Got the Routine

Luckily, we sold our house quickly, but I thought it might be interesting to share our routine to get and keep our house show worthy at a moments notice.

Right after waking up, I made our bed.  This is no different than my usual routine, but I made V’s bed and E’s crib when they woke up, too.  Then I got the boys and myself dressed and fed.  After breakfast, I vacuumed the whole house.  I haven’t vacuumed every day since V was a baby.

Shortly before each showing, the boys and I clean up toys, quickly vacuum if they’ve made any messes, run through the house to look for any problems.  I put the toilets lids down, wipe down counters and sinks, and fold towels.

About 1/2 hour before a showing, I took boys out of the house.  We had different activities depending on the weather and time of day.  If the weather was nice, we’d go for walks in the mornings.

 

Over E’s nap time, we drove around looking at houses for exterior inspiration or explore the new neighborhood.  For showings after 4:00, the boys and I ran to the grocery store, for a walk, or play at the park.

Many of our showings were around the lunch hour, but we did have a few around 10:00 and a few more after work hours.

If you’re getting ready or already trying to sell your house, here’s a list of things  have done to get our house ready:

One time:

  • Touch up paint or other problem areas.  Go through your house as if seeing for the first time.  What stands out?
  • Scrub floors, fridge, stove, and wash windows.
  • Clear the visible clutter.  It’s okay if your closets have stuff inside, but not okay to have stacks of paper sitting on the kitchen counter.
  • Clean up your yard.  The front of the house is a buyer’s first impression, so make it a good one.

Weekly or as needed:

  • Clean bathrooms and kitchen.
  • Spot clean floors, walls, and windows as necessary.
  • Put laundry away.  No one wants to see your dirty clothes on the floor.

Daily:

  • Make beds.
  • Vacuum.
  • Clean counters.
  • Clear toys, laundry, and clutter.
  • Wash dishes, either put dishes in the dishwasher or wash by hand.  You don’t have to run the dishwasher, but get the dishes out of the sink.

Before a showing or open house:

  • Do daily stuff (make beds, vacuum, etc.).
  • Turn on lights, especially accent lighting.
  • Remove rugs from bathrooms to show off nice floors.
  • Open all curtains.
  • Park cars on street to leave drive way open.
  • Empty garbage cans.

We try to keep our house as clean as possible regularly, so most of the process was the same or similar to our daily life.  The biggest difference was cleaning up toys and vacuuming more frequently.  And staying out of the house for undetermined lengths of time.  We quickly ran out of errands and often roamed the neighborhood.

Honestly, this was the most difficult part.  Even that wasn’t terrible, just a little more planning and daily work than usual.  However, the boys thoroughly enjoyed the showing stage.  What was most difficult part of the selling for you?  Easiest?

P.S.  Learn how we marketed our house to sell.

High Flyer

Now that we’ve sold our house, we’re ready to share our FSBO tips and experiences.  Let’s start with marketing a home.  When you hire a listing agent, you have an advantage.  Your agent handles marketing for you.  In the interest of saving ourselves several thousand dollars, we decided to try our hand at selling our house ourselves.  Really, who is better suited to sell our house than us?  We’ve been working and lived in the house for the past 8 years and know every last detail.

That’s great, but if we don’t get people in the door, who are we going to share this information with?  So, I researched MLS listings and found a few flat fee service providers, MLS My Home and FSBO.com.  These sites are legit and do get your home on the MLS and Realtor.com.

We used MLS My Home because their rates were cheaper.  To save a little more money, we opted for the 2 month listing for $99.  Then we realized our listing included only four photos.  Sure we could upgrade our service, but why not start at rock bottom and adjust as we figure out what works?  And we couldn’t rely on the internet alone to sell our house.  The internet is simply a tool to get buyer to walk through the door.  A few teaser photos were enough to whet their appetite.

We included this exterior summer shot:

Because this current shot didn’t show the house to its full potential:

Then we chose a few interior shots.  To maximize your photos, take vertically oriented shots and put similar spaces side by side, like these:

You instantly got 7 photos for the price of four.  Take photos in the middle of the day, open all curtains, and adjust camera settings to make photos are bright as possible.  Only vampires like a dark, dreary houses.

Don’t skimp on pictures on your fliers, either.  That is my biggest pet peeve when I see house fliers.  Here’s a modified version of our design:

As you can see, I changed the address, price, and contact number, but the pictures and layout are the same.  I planned to have fliers printed at FedEx Office (to save my time and ink).  At 59 cents each side, I decided to fill the front with pictures and save the easy to print at home text for the back:

I printed 100 fliers, which was about 50 too many.  I’d suggest starting small because you can always print more.

Now you need a place to put these fliers.  Home Depot (and I’m sure other home improvement stores) sell ‘For Sale’ signs and flyer holders.

The MLS and Realtor.com will help dramatically, but you have a few more free or cheap advertising options available.  Craigslist (which we used but got little interest from), newspapers (we didn’t take that step), and open houses can all drive traffic to your home.  We planned to host an open house.  The first weekend on the market, we finished up a few small projects.  If we hadn’t received and accepted an offer, we would have held an open house this past Sunday.  I’d say we lucked out.

Here’s our marketing breakdown:

MLS/Realtor.com listing:  $99.00

100 Color fliers:  $59.00

Yard sign and flier holder:  $24.00

Craigslist ad:  Free

Total advertising cost:  $182.00

Compare that price to a 3% agent commission and we just saved ourselves thousands of dollars.

Any marketing tools or sites I left out?  I’ve got a few more home selling posts, including a selling schedule, general tips, and profit, so this is just the beginning.

Going Once, Going Twice…

What’s missing from this photo?

Here’s a hint:

Yep, that big red ‘For Sale by Owner’ sign is gone, because we sold our house!  Technically, our house is under contract, contingent on the purchase of our new home (totally backward from typical sales).  After 12 days on the market and 19 showings, including six on Friday, we got an offer.  A few counter offers later, we agreed on a price and signed on the dotted line.  Of course it’s not a done deal until closing, but we’re excited to get back to a normal life.  It didn’t take as long as I expected, and we totally love the buyer, which eases our minds.

We’ve got a few for sale by owner posts to come, but we were excited to share the news!