"I will do it BEFORE I go back to school", my son promised as we looked at the once glittering tree lying forlornly in the yard. That conversation took place last December when (almost) everyone else in Austin was in the process of taking their tree to the Zilker Park recycling point under the Mopac Bridge and other places set up by the Parks Department to grind the trees into mulch. The conversation was repeated a couple of days before our son was scheduled to leave on January 9th and again I was told, "Don't worry about it, I have plenty of time and will take the tree to Zilker before I leave"! You already know where this is going and yes...our son made it back to school but the tree never made it to Zilker Park...
I mention this only because I am constantly asked by all of my sellers about the best way to get their home ready to sell. Besides pricing the home correctly from the start, de-cluttering and staging the home is of paramount importance. No matter what neighborhood or price range, clearing out and packing up items that will be moved or sold is the first step to making a home presentable. I give each seller a list of websites to access to get them started; this one is by no means comprehensive but a good place to start:
- Your moving so remove all personal items. Okay, besides that %#!*&% Christmas Tree, remove anything that you don't need or use on a regular basis. Potential buyers need to be able to imagine their own pictures and family mementos throughout the house. Allow them to see themselves living in your home...not you!
- Clean UP!! Do it yourself or hire a cleaning company to go over your house with a fine comb. Do everything that you've overlooked or put off. A cleaning service can do a complete make ready for you at a reasonable cost. I tell people that if they have not used something in the last year they probably don't need it anyway. Donate, sell or throw away anything you don't really need. Rent a storage unit for any items that will be moved to the next home
- Hire a handyman to make minor repairs, paint and do all of those things you've put off for years. Make minor repairs to each and every area that needs attention. Often this means repairing items that we let go and just "live with" over time. Noisy or stuck doors, holes in sheetrock, cracked windows, broken outlets and switches and a host of other "minor repairs that add up!
- Hire a professional home stager to come in and do a proper job of arranging the home for optimum presentation. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this aspect of getting a home ready to sell. A good Stager can do a very proficient job at a reasonable price depending on the size of the home and the level of work required. At the same time a seller is often more amenable to taking suggestions about removing "Aunt Ethel's horrible wall hanging" or handling other potentially delicate feelings about personal items in the home from a professional (other than you!).
I do not try and re-invent the wheel and point my sellers toward a number of online resources. Here are a few that I think are good:
In an effort to practice what I preach and as you can see from the pictures, we did finally get the tree to the recycling area and yes it was not until March 10th!!! I lashed the tree to the roof of his truck before I went to the airport to retrieve him for Spring Break. All the way to the airport, I kept getting shocked and amused stares from from drivers on the freeway. It was worth it when I saw the look of astonishment on my sons face as I picked him up from the terminal and it was too funny. I laughed out loud when I saw his incredulous look and unbelieving laughter as I drove up! I only wish I could have taken that picture! He was laughing the whole time to and from Zilker Park and we had quite a few folks gawking as we drove through traffic in HIS truck.
Now here is the really strange thing, when we dropped off the tree, we saw a half dozen other Christmas trees and a park employee informed us that there were at least a dozen more left over the weekend (one with the lights still attached)! My son looked at me and said, "See, we are not so different, lots of people wait to do this". "Yeah, right," I replied," I guess we are just doing our part to keep our beloved city "weird", and we both started laughing. It's good to have him home and I am now off to give some "De-Cluttering" advice to my new clients!