Ever wonder what happens when a Real Estate Agent decides to sell their personal home? The art of buying and selling residential real estate is a very personal business by nature, but when my husband and I decided to list our darling Riverland Terrace cottage, the emotions ran high. Luckily my husband is a 'go-with-the-flow' kind of guy and allowed me complete control over all of the details that I, as a Realtor, understood to be crucial to getting top dollar for our little piece of paradise in the Lowcountry. Below are a few tips to keep in mind to get top dollar when listing your home.
Allow a healthy budget for prepping your home for the market:
I blame HGTV for the attitude of today's consumer; everyone expects to walk into an immaculately staged house. For us (read: family with a toddler), this meant out with the old and in with the new. I spent $1,000 on new (smaller, or as described by my husband, "museum quality") furniture, rugs, lighting, house plants, and even rented artwork (courtesy of the lovely Julia Deckman), in order to set our stage. We rented a storage unit and packed away most of our personal photos, books, tv/gaming consoles, and most of the baby toys. We rented boxes from EcoPax, making storing super easy! I also took the opportunity to clean out and organize all of our closets (remember, people look in every corner when you are showing your home).
PRO TIP: House plants make a space seem alive and welcoming. Unfortunately, house plants rarely survive living with me, so I shopped exclusively from the Lowe's house plant clearance shelves. I was able to pick up around $200 in house plants for $40 the day before we listed and by some miracle, they are all still alive.
Cutting corners on items such as landscaping, photography, pressure washing, etc., can really cut into potential profit. Curb appeal is king in this business! We hired a professional landscaper (Coastal Green) to ensure that our yard was in tip top shape. We had the house professionally pressure washed (by Under Pressure). Most importantly, we chose a very talented photographer. I would say one of the things that I never 'cheap out' on is photography. Pictures are ultimately what will capture the attention of potential buyers and get them through the door. Donnie Whitaker Photography did an amazing job!
PRO TIP: Adding an American Flag to the front of your home can really make it pop with curb appeal in photographs.
Keep your house and yard neat and tidy:
This seems like common sense, but you wouldn't believe how many homes we have shown where the buyers were completely turned off by clutter, dirty dishes, unmade beds, and the list goes on. You are ultimately trying to allow the buyer to imagine themselves living there, which is hard to do if the house is dirty. This particular tip was especially challenging for our family with a one-year old running around. Sticky hands and crushed goldfish crackers seem to be the norm. Since I knew that keeping the house super clean and tidy would be challenging, it was important to me that showings were limited and that our house wasn't sitting on the market for months on end. This is where listening to your Real Estate Agent, especially in regards to pricing, becomes key.
PRO TIP: I hired a professional house cleaner to do a deep cleaning prior to picture day and also to come weekly for maintenance cleanings while the house was being shown. Also, a bowl of fresh lemons sitting out can mask daily kitchen odors (I learned that tip from my Granny!).
MOST IMPORTANTLY Listen to your Real Estate Agent!
We decided to enlist the help of Emily for the sale of our home. Legally, I could have listed my personal home on my own, but emotionally, I knew that I needed a buffer. This was one of the best decisions that we could have made. By having Emily list the house, I was able to focus on the emotions that I was struggling with about leaving our cute home and neighborhood. She manned an open house and fielded questions that I would have probably taken too personally. She buffered me from criticism that was not constructive and headed up a mass marketing campaign so that I could focus on getting the dirty dishes out of the sink and watering those doomed house plants.
PRO TIP: Don't be afraid to speak openly with your Real Estate Agent about anything that may be burdening you. Their job to is represent your best interests! Trust me, they will want to know if you are feeling uncomfortable or unsure throughout any part of the process. A "Big Thank You" to Emily for taking my crazy calls at all hours of the day/night!
Stay Calm and Trust the Process:
Three days after officially listing our house, we had multiple offers, and five weeks later, we closed. Those five weeks were a roller coaster of emotions, but by preparing properly, hiring professionals, and trusting in the guidance of a great Real Estate Agent, we have successfully moved onto our next chapter...life in Park Circle!