Our first home was a cute, quirky mid century house in Minnesota. We loved our home…it was small, one of a kind, and in walking distance to the local lake and zoo. Then my husband got a job offer in North Carolina, and the location was a lot closer to our family. We were sad to leave but moving closer to family was a high priority for us.
We had a few weeks to prepare our house for market, interview realtors, and then my husband moved for the new job while I kept our house ready for viewings (while caring for our 4 and 6 year old...trust me, it was the hardest thing I've EVER done in my life!)
The GREAT news is that our house got an offer in a week and it went through to the final sale. A few practical things helped us get an offer quickly. Sharing those ideas with you below!
1. Update the Home with Buyers In Mind
This is a mindset you can have years before you put your home on the market. It is still your home--but when you select new light fixtures or paint colors, keep in mind that your home is a large financial asset and worth investing in. Doing the work years and months ahead of resale will prevent last minute stress.
With that said, know the local market and don't overspend on your improvements. We spent $5,000 on the kitchen in this home. Adding marble countertops wouldn't have fit the local neighborhood--instead we used butcherblock with a classic white subway tile backsplash. A sheet flooring in a vintage pattern and new stainless steel appliances.
And I have to mention paint colors. You may love the colors purple and lime green. And if you are planning to stay in the same home for 10 years--go for it! But if you plan to list it in the next year or two, instead of painting the walls a bold color: use throw pillows, blankets, and curtains in your favorite colors. Keep the walls neutral!
2. Stage the Space
Be mindful of the layout and square footage in your home. Less furniture will make the room more spacious. But you still want to show functionality with couches, beds, & dining tables. If an oversized dining table makes it a challenge to walk into the kitchen, remove it and replace it with a smaller table.
Our three bedrooms were small, but by showing storage solutions in the closets and under beds it showed potential buyers that our home was functional and family friendly. In the kids’ bedroom I also used white and teal bedding with accent pillows so the room felt neutral.
When guests are viewing your home with a realtor, they are trying to envision themselves living in your home. Their couch. Their bed. Their artwork. Trust me--you will sell your home more quickly if you declutter and limit personal photos in your home (we did leave up a few family photos on the side of our refrigerator).
3. Treat Selling Your Home Like a Job
When we lived in Minnesota I stayed home with our two kids and ran a vintage Etsy shop part-time. But when it came time to sell the house, I closed the Etsy shop and all my energy went into preparing the house. From bringing in specialists to fix mechanical issues, checking the fireplace, getting appraisals, cleaning, staging, filling out paperwork.... it was easily a full time job for a few weeks.
Your home is an investment. The energy you put into your home before resale will pay off!
4. Clean, Clean, Clean
The weeks leading up to listing our home, and the short time it was on the market: I never cleaned so hard in my life. After each viewing I checked on the house, and each time we had a viewing people tracked in dirt. To keep your kitchen looking clean, plan to eat out a decent bit while your house is on the market. People often want to look at houses after they get off work in the evenings, so especially plan to eat out at dinnertime. I also threw any last minute toys and laundry in my car before viewings. That helped a lot!
Quick tip: while your house is on the market, use time-saving cleaning products! Windex wipes and Clorox wipes were my BFFs.
5. Share Your Listing in Local Facebook Groups
When it came time to put our house on the market, I shared it in several local Facebook groups related to mid century (1950s style) homes. Our realtor was surprised at how many viewings we had those first few weeks and owed it to the Facebook groups I shared it in. Don't underestimate the power of social media, but be strategic to share in groups that make sense to potential buyers.
6. Use a Good Photographer
It pains me sometimes to see a beautiful home with low quality photography in its listing. Make sure you or your realtor uses a good quality photographer who documents your home well with natural light (during the day, curtains open, blinds open). People will be more likely to visit your home in person if they've had a good first impression in the listing.
We were sad to sell our first home, but moving closer to family was a high priority for us. We updated the home in practical ways, showed storage solutions and neutral bedding, and kept the house clean and uncluttered during viewings. And it sold quickly! Have you sold a home in the past? What worked and what didn't?