Yes - we have to move sometimes too!
And I won't be telling tell my clients things like this that I used to say:
"C'mon you can do it"
"You're moving anyway, put the stuff in boxes"
"Scrub every inch of the house" without also telling them "you have to keep it that way the whole time it's on the market."
"Can y'all clear out in 10 minutes?"
I've moved several times before but the pressure this time is uniquely different than the last time in 2004. For starters, preparing the home for sale, including painting, decluttering, repairing, and staging, are exhausting. Buyers are much more exacting and particular. Today's Winnetka home buyers are looking for updated homes in pristine condition - move-in ready! There is no room for over-pricing in our buyer's market because there are plenty of other homes to choose from.
When I sold my Kenilworth home in 2004 I cleaned it, made the beds, put the dishes away, turned the lights on, and was done. Of course, it was pre-recession and I'm not sure the word Millennial was coined yet. It didn't take long to sell and we were happy with the profit we'd made.
The current house will not provide a profit - in fact there will be a loss. That's okay - we bought something else that also cost less than it would have in 2004 and there is nothing to be done about it. Except spit and polish the place like a shiny object reflecting in the sun that catches the attention of that "it only takes one" buyer. Where are you, by the way?
So without further ado, here are some random truths and tips about selling your home in Winnetka and the North Shore villages:
- Cleaning is not sufficient - you must scour, scrub, and disinfect the entire time your house is listed. Don't forget the front of your kitchen cabinets and the area around the hardware!
- It really makes a difference to keep your kitchen counters clear of everything (don't know what I did with the toaster, probably gave it away by accident)
- If you have granite counters, buy a stone cleaner spray and wipe them down before every showing - they will sparkle
- After cleaning your sink, take several paper towels and wipe down the spots of water - get it completely dry. It will look great.
- If you see dust, so will the buyers
- The laundry room should be spotless with no unfolded clothes or baskets of dirty clothes in the way
- If you have pets - vacuum often
- Knick knacks are a know-know. Pack or stow them away. Decorative items are okay (there is a difference)
- For a fresher, younger look, head to Home Goods and pick up some lamps - decent quality and great prices.
- Too much brown furniture? Store it, donate it, sell it. If you can bear it, paint some of it. I painted an antique wood lamp glossy black - magnificent!
- If you've always felt a room had too much furniture - now is the time to remove it and open up the space
- Make your shower doors sparkle - then choose the smallest and easiest bathroom to clean and only use that one on a daily basis
- If you know something needs repair - do it now. It will be discovered. However, if there is a project you don't want to tackle you can always disclose it and say "AS IS"
- If you have any plated brass that is tarnished (mail slot, door handles, hardware) it's wise to get it polished.
- Check the perimeter of your exterior - I found crumbling bricks on the side of the garage - oops.
- Not every showing is legitimate. Some buyers are just starting the search and getting a feel for the market. Others are perennial lookers.
- Finally, the landscaping. Fill your pots if it's summer and keep them alive. In winter, just keep the driveway and walkways clear
Listing your house for sale costs money nowadays. After any repairs, there can be decorative work like painting, floor staining, and new faucets. Rugs need to be cleaned, plumbing needs to work efficiently, as well as all other home systems like heating and air conditioning.
Now there is the finale - the crowning glory - the Staging. This does not have to cost a lot of money - it can but doesn't have to. For as little as several hundred dollars a stager can visit your house and suggest changes that you can do yourself using your own items. Or, you can have them consult with you over several weeks, even ordering rental furniture to stand in for pieces you've deemed inappropriate or too old. It's up to you.
I am humbled making my way through this process - it takes stamina and hard work. I thank all my clients that have listened to me and taken this journey without complaint. There will come a point when you feel you've done enough and it's ready for its debut. With the right agent and the right price your house will sell sooner rather than later because of everything you've done.
While you're here, please see ALL NORTH SHORE HOMES FOR SALE
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Margaret Goss is a full-time real estate broker since 1998 working in the North Shore communities of Winnetka, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Glencoe, Northfield, Glenview, and Evanston.
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