Market Madness [part 1]: Take the First Step Toward Selling Your Home
Elbow room. That’s what led my wife and me to finally take the plunge and put our house on the market: we need more physical space. We are currently in year 11 of what we thought would be our “five-year house.”
While technically a small, four-bedroom Cape Cod-style home, two of the bedrooms serve as an office and would-be dining room. I say “would-be” because once we had kids the dining room became their playroom. And those little kids, now 9 and 6, are growing like weeds.
While we’ve considered making the move in the past, the timing was never right. After complaining about how our house’s size and layout no longer fit our needs, and with our growing boys sharing a very small bedroom and constantly being on top of each other, we finally decided that now was the right time to sell.
Preparing the house to show
One of the major hurdles that we knew we had to clear was the actual inconvenience of putting a house on the market. Decluttering and moving boxes of ‘unnecessary’ stuff into a storage unit is one thing, but maintaining a near-immaculate home, ready for a possible showing at the drop of the hat, all while living the busy life of two working parents with two active boys and an excitable dog did not exactly sound like fun. However, it was time to bite the bullet – so we did.
First, we did all the right things we’ve seen on the various real estate TV shows: we removed or replaced family photos; we boxed up all the non-essential ‘clutter’ and put it into storage; we bought a travel crate for our dog for when we can’t take him out of the house during showings; we even converted my home office back into a true bedroom for the sake of the mentality of potential buyers.
Decluttering and moving boxes of ‘unnecessary’ stuff into a storage unit is one thing, but maintaining a near-immaculate home, ready for a possible showing at the drop of the hat, all while living the busy life of two working parents with two active boys and an excitable dog did not exactly sound like fun.
Next, we had my boys participate in their own de-cluttering. We went through their toys with them and helped them choose which toys to keep available (but put away neatly) and which ones to put into storage. Some decisions were tough, but we made sure they realized that this was only temporary, and that they’d get those toys back after the house is sold.
Finally, we addressed scheduling. My wife travels a lot for her job, so it will often be up to me to get everything ready for a given showing. We established a rule of 12-hour prior-notification for showings with our agent, that way I have enough time to get everything, including my dog, ready. Of course, that 12-hour rule is certainly flexible, as needed – we’re not going to turn away a potential buyer!
Finding our agent
Finding the right agent can be difficult, so we began working with an agent I found through browsing online listings in the area where we are hoping to move. We interviewed a few agents but eventually decided to work with the agent who sold us our house 11 years ago. Since she already had a history both with us and with our house, it was easy to work together once again.
After a long interview detailing her impression of the area, the market, our house and our expectations, we met with her to sign the paperwork and make it official. Between our initial discussion to our final meeting, our agent had done additional market research and suggested we list our home at a higher price than we expected! It turns out we benefitted from both our lengthy decision process (which spanned nearly a month) and a real estate market that had bottomed out and had nowhere to go but up.
Once we signed the papers the process seemed to move at light speed. Our agent went to work scheduling a photographer; pictures and measurements were taken; the website and digital listing were created; and the big ‘for sale’ sign was stuck into the front yard.
Now it’s time for the hard part: waiting for interest, scheduling showings and planning open houses. It seems our quest for elbow room has just begun.
Check in with the Allstate Blog during the coming weeks for parts two, three and four of Market Madness.