What Your Realtor is Afraid to Tell You
This guide is for you, to help you get your house ready for sale so at the end of the ordeal you still have a head of hair, and your hubby won't be convince that you're bat shit crazy. Look at the big picture, all the work is worth it to sell your home at the right price.
Any seller can use the guide, but I have 4 kids. Three of them were under the age of 3, and I could barley catch a breath when hubby came home from a long day announcing, "Laura, WE'RE SELLING AND BUYING BIGGER!:
I'm a stay at home mom (and no, I don't look like the photo all the time, I was on vacation) as exciting as this may sound...let's just say that I'm trying to save you some embarrassment, going over the edge, and a bloating waist line. I'll 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! There's even 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 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 stuffed garage like I did due to hubby having every tool on the planet, (neatly organized, have to give hm credit where it is due), have him clear a space for more boxes.
KIDS!!! If you have a kick butt mom, beg her to take them! If you're not so lucky, then make them help. They made the mess, they CAN clean the mess. I promise that they can live with ONE ATTRACTIVE BIN of toys while your home is on the market. If you can wrestle it away from them, BOX IT!. This is key when you a 4 hour window to show your house. It's a quick pick up, not pulling out your hair because all three little ones chimed in to dump out every frecking LEGO and play food item on the carpet. This goes for all kid stuff, even their closets Only what you NEED. If they help you box it, they won't miss it. If your kiddo 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 didn't notice the green beans my tot Julia didn't eat a year ago on the wall, or smeared chocolate that look like blood on the side of the refrigerator. Speaking of refrigerators, and kitchens in general, that area has to be uncluttered. Nothing on top of the fridge, no cereal boxes, bags of chips, bread, magnets or family photos. No clutter on counter tops either. Get rid of the Target bags sticking out between the stove and sink. Start packing you kitchen now. Pull out the Magic Eraser, scrub the outside of the dish washer,cabinets, counters. 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 work 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, and 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 that it's just dog slime, they don't. It reflects on the whole house. A potential buyer will think slime and dust monsters haunted your house, just do it before you leave for a showing. Be prepared for when your toddler 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. Your Realtor shoots 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 5000 square foot home that's really 1,300 square feet. We had two over sized sofas, a 60" Tv, toy bins in every corner, 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, 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 kids toys. Tell them to give it to you straight. The way you live is not the way to sell. My Realtor told me that last line. Chances are that you need some staging advice, and 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 whate ever else on my couch. Okay, my kids get stinky and sticky too. They spill milk and lord knows what, and have 'accidents' right I changed a 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 a new one anyway. Just DUMP it. I started on a rant there, but we don't smell our dogs,cats, turtles like people who don't have pets. Everyone else smells it. Then, you'll have the uncomfortable Realtor conversation that they are dreading. Your house stinks like a barn, 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 peoole are allergic to critters. If you think that is cruel, 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. Or, by a pre made tub of cookie dough. Bake some cookies before a showing and use it as a bribe for your kids coming home.
SUPPLIES. Tell yur spouse that can't do this all on your own, and you shouldn't have to. You don't have to be the 24-7 Super Woman and wind up rocking back and forth singing Over the Rainbow. Ask him/her NICELY to step up their game. Promise the husband that 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 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 for last minute spots your little darlings slobbered. Window cleaner. A tall hamper for the dirty clothes. If you can swing it, do a load or two a day to keep laundry at bay. Tall garbage bags to throw. Rent a carpet cleaner, the house will smell som 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 healthy snacks or meals to go. Everyone seems to want to see your home 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 an 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 a kick butt Realtor like I had, and to this day I consider a friend...she knows her stuff, is going to sell your house and the nightmare 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 in July because kiddos can unpack all their toys in their new house, and that part didn't cost you a dime.
SELL THAT HOUSE. Happy Selling.
(Laura Welch, mom to 4, and cleaning expert wrote this up when I asked her help with a young couple that was struggling with getting their home ready. Even though we went through a dozen homes, they didn't really clear what they needed to do. I thought that a little advice coming from another mom would help. Written by Laura Welch/edited by MJ Quay).