Diary of a Home Sale
The Beginning: It all started one evening. My husband and I had just finished meeting with a builder and our dreams of popping the top of our Edgewater home were shattered with the knowledge that our version of what we would like to do to our home was about $200,000 out of our budget.
So, to us, the most logical step was to sell our home and buy a bigger one. At the time we were in a 1200 square foot home with a 4 year old, a home based business and a music studio. Yes, the guest room, music studio and home office were one in the same. Our dining room was also our t.v. room and play room. Needless to say...we needed more space. Much more space.
Our first step was to contact our favorite REALTOR®, Virginia Clair. We knew her from networking in the past and her follow up on a regular basis. Yes, she was Clair-ly the one for us. I picked up her bright yellow card and gave her a call.
Two Days later: Virginia arrived at the house for our initial meeting. First, we gave her a tour of the house, yard, and garage. Next, we sat down to discuss the nitty gritty details of getting our home up to speed for listing. We knew the market was "hot" in our area, homes were flying off the marketing in less than 48 hours and for higher than average asking prices. Dare we dream we too could be so lucky?
After her initial walk through, Virginia gave us her diagnosis for getting our home in tip top shape. We came up with a timeline to prepare the home to hit the market. Our goal - three weeks! Could we really empty the home? Paint? Re-carpet? Find and beautify the original hardwood? Only time would tell.
The Real Work - Week 1: The days following that meeting seemed daunting but the challenge of pricing our home to what we wanted was exciting. So the real work began. Calls were made to movers, painters, carpet installers, tub re-finishers and flooring companies. I think I went to home depot more times than I had in the past 10 years. Boxes, boxes and more boxes! By the end of that first week, we had movers scheduled and a storage unit booked. The plan - to move all but the bare bones out of the home so all the required work could commence.
Losing My Mind - Weeks 2 and 3: During the next two weeks we lived on little furniture. One bed for my husband and I, a bed for my daughter, one television, one chair, one beanbag and a suitcase of clothing for each of us. We quickly had to find alternative living space during the crazy days of house preparation.
This is how our schedule went: Bring in the people to refinish the tub - wow that is stinky stuff! Move out for 3 days for flooring to be pulled up, sanded and polished, return home for 2 days, move out again for 3 days so painters can come in and paint the home, return home for 3 days and move all furniture out of the master bedroom to install carpet. Finish packing all rooms such as the kitchen where the flooring and paint work were minimal. Oh, and toss into that mix 1 family member from out of state coming in for a visit. Blow up bed = solution to lack of furniture. Needless to say. I don't think they will visit again until they are sure we are set in our new living space.
Also during this time our REALTOR® put her sale sign in our yard with a "Coming Soon" topper. We felt this was a great way to pre-market and we did get lots of people driving by, looking or asking us directly about it. It's all about attention!
During these 14 days I learned many lessons, some important, some not so important. Here are just a few:
It is amazing the little furniture you can live on especially having a 4 year old
Spiders come out in full force when there is no furniture - they look bigger too!
Preparing for a home sale is great in summer when you can eat outside since you have no dining room table
Painters prefer to be the last workers in the home
Suddenly the bedroom with a t.v. becomes the hot spot of the house...because there is somewhere to sit
A quiet home becomes an echoing cave when it is comprised of all hardwood floors with no furniture. Warning: tiptoeing to the kitchen at 1am might wake up your toddler! Note to teen parents: this could be a great solution to keep your teen from sneaking out of the house at night
The Day Before Listing Went Live: Amazingly enough we made our goal of listing our home three weeks after making the decision to sell. But the work didn't stop there. In talking with our REALTOR®, we decided to live in the home during the week and move out on the weekends. The day before our home was going on the market we were up late sanding the bottom of our front door because suddenly, after 6 years of working perfectly, our door decided to stick to the jamb. That was certainly not something we wanted any of our prospective buyers to experience as a first impression of our home. We also called in professional cleaners to give the home a once over and hit those spots such as the light fixtures, interior of the fridge and window sills, it's amazing what those small actions can do. Our REALTOR® also hired a profesisonal photographer to photograph the home. Let me tell you, it made me want to buy our home again! It's amazing what clear crisp photography can do for your home listing. Last, our REALTOR® set up directionals around the surrounding neighborhood and along main roads (Directionals are those small "home for sale" signs that lead people directly to your home from a main street or area.)
On the Market: The night before the listing went live, we moved out of the house so that our home would be open and welcoming to all potential buyers during the weekend.
Here is our listing activity timeline for Day 1:
Hour 1: Our property goes live on the MLS
Hour 2: The first text message comes to me about a showing. I approve it. (this was set up via my REALTOR® as I asked to be alerted and give permission to potential buyers)
Hour 3: Two more text messages come to me for showings later in the day. I approve, of course
Hour 4: My REALTOR® send out an email to prospects interested in the neighborhood I'm selling in
Hour 5: Three more text messages come to me for showings in the day
Hour 6: A potential buyer is interested in seeing the property ASAP, the REALTOR® can't make it! Can my REALTOR® show the buyer around?
Hour 7: Receive a call from my REALTOR® that there are potentially two interested parties
Hour 8: Receive a call that offer #1 has arrived
Hour 9: Receive a call that offer #2 has arrived
Hour 10: I have a nice chat with our REALTOR®, reviewing the 2 contracts that have arrived. We make a game plan for the following day and offer acceptance
24 Hours Later: We chose the best offer that came in, signed the documents and proceeded with the home sale process!
Inspection: We thought it would be so simple from here. All the hard work to prepare the home for sale paid off. It felt great to have a buyer and one that had submitted an offer over asking price! Now came another milestone in the home sale process, the sometimes daunting and ever mysterious...Inspection. We sat for a week, fingers crossed, hoping that nothing major had passed through our notice during the home sale preparations. Luckily, nothing too major ensued and we moved on to the next step.
The Rest: After the inspection, inspection objection and and the inspection resolution the home sale process went along fairly smooth. Appraisal went well, lending for our buyer was taken care of and finally the closing date was at hand. Yes, our closing date changed 7 times in a 4 days span, a 500 year flood hit the state and schedules were rearranged and lenders and REALTORS® were doing final walk-throughs of the home to make sure all was still in order and not carried away with the waters. All was well. Now we are moving onto our next venture, purchase a new home.
Lessons Learned from My Home Sale:
- Get a storage unit twice the size you think you need. After closing we had to get a second until for the rest of our items. Who knew we had so much stuff!
Be flexible - you never know what can and will change. Be prepared for all possibilities.
Relax - Not that I was able to during this time with my head spinning on a daily basis, but looking back, I would recommend taking time each day to take in the fresh air and consider this an adventure.
Prepare for you next adventure and step in life. Our next step. To find a new home, one that is slightly bigger, where we can actually eat at a table and not have it double as a child's playroom. My fingers are crossed and I've taken a deep breath, telling myself this is an adventure and the end of the process will be a wonderful thing.
Take the advice of your REALTOR®. Follow hers/his recommendations. She/he really knows best about how to prepare your home for the market.
Written by: Jennifer Seeley - Former Home Seller
If you or your friends or family are ready to jump into the market and either put a house up for sale or begin a home search, we would love to help.
The Urban Mountain Team
Virginia, Rachel & Tracy
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