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Barbara Bay's Blog

By Barbara Bay | Agent in New Berlin, WI

Preparing My House to Sell

I spent a year telling people how now is the best time to sell their house.  The market is not going to return to 2006 any time quickly, if ever.  The government is doing everything in their power to boost the housing market and if you want to sell, you need to take advantage.  Then I decided to put my money where my mouth is, and made the big decision to sell my own house.

I knew our best chance to sell at a decent price was to make our house look as good as possible.  I walked around looking at the house the way I thought a buyer would, and here is a list of most of the changes we made over six months of preparation.

1)       Landscaping.  We dug out every overgrown thing in the yard and chopped down trees that didn’t look their best.  We planted smaller, showy perennials in hopes of pretty, Spring curb-appeal.  And mulch, mulch, mulch.  Everywhere.  Now that the snow is gone, that mulch still looks good and my pretty Spring should come true.

2)      Door knobs.  My house was built in the late 60’s and the door knobs were original.  Most were broken or dented and those that weren’t just looked their age.  Even when the afternoon project of swapping them out turned into three weeks because all new holes had to be drilled, 17 new doorknobs make the place look better.  They aren’t a positive selling point, but we eliminated a definite negative.

3)      De-cluttering.  I live like everyone else, I keep way too much stuff.  I made the commitment to take one load of that stuff to Goodwill every week.  I whittled 10 boxes of old kid clothing down to one of just the special items.  Attic and basement storage rooms are now clean and organized.  Who wants to move that stuff anyhow?

4)      Replaced a screen door.  We had a door with broken springs that slammed shut, scaring us silly.  No way did I want that door slamming on a potential buyer.

5)      Replaced stained carpeting.  People often say to me, I’ll just lower the price and the buyer can pick out his own new carpet.  It doesn’t work that way.  Buyers just see shabby and dirty and wonder what else in the house is shabby.

6)      Window repair.  I can’t afford all new windows.  We sanded and re-stained all of them to at least make them look as good as possible.

7)      Painting.  A can of paint is a cheap, but very effective, remodeling project.  We left the dining room dramatic and painted everything else neutral tones from the white family of paint chips.

8)      Cleaning.  With a hairy dog and little kids, my house was not something to show off.   We gutted rooms, scrubbed floors and walls, organized closets and drawers.  We turned the house into what we always wished our house was really like.  We also had the carpeting and furniture all professionally cleaned (and the dog groomed to keep it that way).

9)      More decluttering.  That permanent clutter we needed to keep went in the nine bins that previously housed children’s clothing and are neatly arranged in the clean attic area.  We’re pretending that’s what that area always looked like.

10)   Hired a stager.  You’d think I know it all, but my house is still my house.  We can’t see things the way a stranger does.

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