What We Did To Sell Our House Faster By Owner

Ok, so today our house looks like this:

We did get Clara’s room pretty settled though (we want her to feel right at home – and light blocking curtains are a must to get her to bed). We left nearly all of the curtains in our old house, but we wrote these guys into the listing as coming with us since she picked them out. And as for our new place, she LOVES it – probably thanks to doing lots of fun things with her here leading up to the move (like painting castles and a big piece of fabric for her birthday photo). When she came running into her all-set-up bedroom for the first time, she laughed, squealed, and skipped right to the window and played with her dolls. That’s my girl.


But as for the rest of the house… woof.

So – spontaneous decision! – while we get settled and find our underwear, this week is going to be moving week! Turns out you guys still wanted to hear a whole lot about the sale of our current house. So let’s do the dang thing. Here’s what we plan to cover in honor of Spontaneous Moving Week:

  • How we staged/sold our house (including a glance at our real estate flyer, a list of what we changed before showings, etc)
  • What we made when we sold our house vs. what we put in- budget breakdown included!
  • Empty house pics (dude, it’s trippy to see your house all echoey and vacant, but it’s pretty awesome closure too)
  • Moving day photos of our new house (we love having this Day One post from our last house to look back on)
  • A house hunting post about a few other homes we casually checked out (sort of like these that we did last time)
  • Other stuff that I’m forgetting right now because our house looks like this:

So onto the first bullet! We got a lot of questions like this:

“Did you stage your current home to sell it? I’d be interested to hear if you’ve made any small changes/put things in storage in order to make it seem less personal to potential buyers.”

“Would you be willing to share your For Sale flyer (obviously without any too-personal details like price and address)?

So here’s the little double sided flier we made in Photoshop (minus the address, price, and our contact info). Just click the image below to see it larger.

And here’s the back (again, just click it to see it bigger).

Turns out we’re not really staging rule followers in the traditional “neutralize and de-personalize” sense. The whole repaint-rooms-so-they’re-all-neutral-and-remove-all-personal-photos-from-the-wall approach isn’t really something we subscribe to since we sold our first house by owner without doing that, and it seemed to work out for us again this time around.

So when we were showing our house to potential buyers our frame hallway was still very much intact. We think it’s helpful to show off how cozy and personal a home can be. Chances are that it could “speak” to a prospective buyer more than a stark and stripped down house might anyway.

But that doesn’t mean we didn’t do anything at all before a showing. Instead of taking things away, we mostly focused on making things look their best. Here’s our list:

  • We over-seeded the lawn a few weeks prior and let the rain do its thing to help the grass look fresh and green.
  • We mulched the garden beds and planted a few annuals (it definitely ups curb appeal and sends a “this house is cared for” vibe)

  • We organized closets, the attic, the basement (basically any nook people could peek into should look functional and not stuffed-to-the-gills)
  • We wiped down counters in the kitchen and bathrooms and quickly polished the faucets with some Mrs. Meyers so they looked and smelled clean
  • We rolled up the rug in the cooking part of the kitchen and stashed it at the new house, just to show off the cork flooring a bit more

  • We mowed the grass and used a leaf blower on the driveway, patio, and deck to clear off any errant pollen/twigs/leaves/acorns
  • We touched up any paint that was scuffed in doorways, baseboards, etc

  • We also tucked Burger’s food and water away since it’s stored in our walk-in closet and we realized that might be weird for non-dog-folks who were trying to feel at home.
  • We removed Clara’s bath toys along with her potty seat and sink stool from the hall bathroom so people without kids didn’t just see it as a “kids bathroom” (we left her other toys in baskets in the living room, nursery, and playroom since those seemed easy enough to see past)
  • We removed the bath mats in every bathroom to make them seem more spacious and show off the tile (matted stepped-on-with-shoes bath mats aren’t always that pretty, which tends to happen during showings).

  • We vacuumed, dusted, and generally cleaned things up (this included following Clara around for the last half-hour before the showing and singing the clean up song about a million times while we dumped stuff into bins and baskets)
  • I took a damp rag with a bit of mild soap (Mrs Meyers) and scrubbed the front door, which was still glossy and yellow, but had a haze of pollen. It really made a difference and only took five minutes!

  • We left the separate entry basement door unlocked during showings so people could easily check out that space without trekking down there and then finding themselves locked out
  • We put a little note on the microwave cabinet in the kitchen and said “there’s a vented microwave in here!” so people knew where to look
  • We tossed a runner on the table on the deck along with a few cups (even though the furniture came with us, adding some color and that sit-right-down vibe couldn’t hurt)

Most of those items just had to be done once before the first showing, and then keeping them up for the following ones wasn’t too bad. Sure, getting a toddler and a dog out of the house on time before each one was a little hectic, but we feel really lucky to have only had three showings this time around (we had 14 last time!). What do you guys do when your house is on the market? Any other tips for folks who are about to list?

Comments

  1. says

    Awesome tips!

    Most of our moves were Navy related, so it always took a different turn depending on where we were stationed or living.

    Despite all of our moves, we never somehow made it to Idaho, Montana, or Wyoming. My folks decided to make the most of our non-Navy move out here and visited us for a Yellowstone and Tetons trip before we eventually move again.. (move number 62?)

    This weekend we sifted through our hundreds of photos from the recent Yellowstone and Tetons trip to come up with a best of list-

    http://www.newmomstalk.com/2013/06/03/yellowstone-and-the-grand-tetons-a-drive-through-version/

    It boggles my mind that we live so close..for now!

  2. Crystal Breen says

    Hi guys! So glad to see you moved it if not unpacked! Your post couldn’t have come at a better time- my husband and I are meeting with our agents today to list our own home. We’ve only been here 6 months, but are making the leap from city life to big open land and a farmhouse!
    It’s great to hear you didn’t strip down and reprint your house, we’re on the fence with doing it also. Wish us luck- my husband is grumbling already about having to repaint but after reading your experience with the paint gun we might try it ourselves. Are you going to use it on the walls?

    • says

      We actually think we’ll roll the walls since it seems to work best on cabinet doors, furniture, doors, trim, and crown molding. Hope it helps!

      xo
      s

    • Debby says

      We just bought the same paint gun to do our cabinet doors. We thought about our garage walls. Would you just roll it?

  3. Meredith says

    Woot! Super excited for moving week, congrats guys!

    Typo alert: “in tact” should be one word. :)

  4. Manda Wolf says

    Very exciting. You guys moved into your second house right around the time my hubby and I moved into our first. Reading these posts is really giving me the itch to move and start over again!

  5. says

    I love that you sell your house with your life still a big part of it! I think the whole ‘strip down the personality, paint the walls’ approach is over rated, in fact we chose not to buy houses based on that just because it was harder to envision our things in! Glad you sold it in 3 viewings!

  6. Constance says

    I’m geting flashbacks of your 1st den with that awesome brick fireplace wall. SO excited to see more (and more and more). Happy unpacking!

    • says

      Us too! That was our favorite room ever (so cozy, we missed it the most!) so we’re so glad to be back in a smaller living space – and Karl is going to get a little reconfiguring to fit…

      xo
      s

  7. Kelly says

    We moved Mother’s Day weekend and are still working on getting settled in with everything. Seeing your pictures today made me feel better about the progress we have made. I actually, for some unknown reason, thought you would be completely settled in with everything put away. You have given me new motivation to finish settling in to our new home. :)

    • says

      Oh yeah, it takes us months to get settled! I think we still had some boxes to unpack at least a few months into our move last time, so we figure it’ll take a while to find a spot for everything and make sense of the new storage/two floors situation :)

      xo
      s

  8. Molly S. says

    After you made the (super awesome) flyer, what did you two do with it? Was it posted around town or mailed to real estate companies in the area?

    • says

      We put it out on the island in the kitchen so buyers had all the house details. We planned to list our house on MLS and Craigslist but a few local realtors contacted us to see it (one knew we were going to list it this spring because she was our buyers agent for our new house and one actually read the blog post about selling it and stuck a letter in our mailbox!).

      xo
      s

  9. says

    So smart that you put Clara’s things in place first. It really helps children to feel the excitement and settled all at the same time.
    Enjoy the process of unsettled to settled. It’s all a part of the experience.

  10. Stacey says

    I know nothing is permanant yet, but I am LOVING that rug in the living room of the new house this time! It looks great in there!