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?


  1. says

    That’s one fantastic looking For Sale flyer. And that’s coming from someone who collects those things. Well, sorta. I just can’t stop myself from grabbing them to see how realtors spin words to turn a people-might-have-been-murdered-in-there dump into a “Spacious, Natural, Warm Abode Needs a Dash of TLC.”

    Congrats on the sale/move!

  2. says

    Long-time lurker, first time posting. :)

    Congratulations on your new home!!! The layout is absolutely fabulous & I am positive that it will give us (readers) many months/years of enjoyment reading about your hard work, laughable moments and blossoming home!!

    thanks for this post in particular because my husband & I just signed a contract on a home & we need to sell our old one as fast as possible (of course!) Once the initial scampering is done, I’ll be using you two as my primary inspiration for fixing up our home & writing about it (for friends & family, not professionally, like you)

    So please take this as encouragement (not creepy-cyber-stalker) that what you are doing brings joy and inspiration to your readers.

    >>hugs to the whole family<<


    • says

      That’s a by-law requirement in our area so it’s on all of the fliers/listings, but it basically means that we won’t discriminate against anyone and all offers will be considered regardless of who they come from :)


    • says

      I wondered if it was something like that but then wasn’t sure. (Here in NSW, we have an Anti-Discrimination Act, which would [should!] prevent anyone from discriminating on any grounds, so I guess we don’t need to explicitly state that we won’t.)

      Hope the unpacking goes quickly and smoothly. We’ve been in our smaller-than-our-last-place rental for almost a year, and I’m too ashamed to tell you how many boxes we still have in the garage!

  3. Jennifer says

    Just curious about the “Fireplace As Is” point on the flyer. Is that a local code issue or something?

    • says

      That’s something many folks do in this area (it was on our flier when we bought the house so we put it on ours when we sold it). Essentially, it’s a non-functional fireplace so it basically means “don’t look up there in the inspection and say “it’ll cost $3,200 to get this running” and then ask for us to pay for that” – when you put as-is, everyone’s on the same page :)


    • Kara says

      Yeah, we had our fireplaces inspected recently and they’re deteriorated enough that it would take $5k of work to get them safe enough to burn wood again. Which is a bummer, but you definitely want to put that up front. If you advertise a house with a fireplace, people assume it’s usable unless you specify.

      Our chimney inspector recommended installing unvented gas logs (which put off more heat while using less fuel compared to vented gas logs, though vented have bigger, prettier flames) for a couple hundred bucks and advertising the fireplaces as functional for gas logs only. But we’re not planning to sell right now, and I’d definitely run that by a realtor first.

  4. says

    All of your tips are spot on. I only recommend to some people to repaint to a neutral color if the colors they have chosen are pretty out there and off the wall (all black 1/2 bath? Talk about limiting takers!) Staging is super important and making sure the home is clean and presentable BEFORE taking the pics is important as well. I can’t tell you how many times house pics on the MLS that have literally had underwear hanging over the top of the shower stall have popped up and the buyers all go “Ewwww! Skip that one…” and won’t even waste their time going to look at the house. It just makes me smh as to what some people are thinking sometimes.

    My best, Lynn
    *yay “Moving Week”!

    • Kitty says

      Oh man! The underwear thing happened to me.

      I’d left my boyfriend-of-the-time to clean the house before the Estate Agent came to take photos, not entirely sure what he spent the time doing, but the next thing I know I have my Mum on the phone chewing me out because my underwear was drying on the radiators in the prominently displayed listing at the Estate Agents. I wanted the ground to swallow me up.

    • Hanna says

      Mine wasn’t quite as bad, but I left first in the morning and told my husband what to do beore the listing agent came to take pics. Unfortunately I didn’t tell him NOT to hang is wet towel from his shower over the iron bedframe… why??? Why did he even take the towel out of the bathroom? I was too frustrated to even scold him lol.

  5. says

    I love your blog. I am so glad you are able to make a living off of it. I do NOT expect you to have time to answer, but it appears you opted to keep Clara’s crib in the new home her new room, rather then move her on to a bed. Could you talk about that decision at some point? It appeared her “new” room was fully functional at your “old” house, so what played into setting up the crib again(if I viewed the photo correctly)rather than moving on.

    • says

      Thanks Andrea! Clara actually still sleeps in her crib (by choice) and the doc actually recommended to keep her in her crib (unless she put up a fight) during the move since it’s something she’s comfortable with and it’s a big adjustment for a child to move, so by keeping her sleeping spot the same, it seems to bring her comfort. As soon as she tells us she’s ready to move into her big girl bed, we’re 100% on board – but as of right now she still prefers her crib. So both her bed and her crib are in her new room and we’ll just have to see when she makes the switch :)


    • says

      We just moved 2 months ago and that’s exactly what we did for Isla June. She knew her crib and felt safer in there so we kept it as consistent as possible for her which seemed to make the new house transition go much smoother.
      She just started sleeping in her big bed in a different room and it’s gone seamlessly! She really got too big for the crib and was hitting the rails all night long; she sleeps so much better now!
      Just saying, waiting till she’s ready worked so well for us!

  6. Brandy says

    I know nothing is staying where it is, but your master bedroom rug looks awesome in your current living area. I love moving clutter and I can’t wait to see what you mix up/sell/keep/upcycle! So exciting!

  7. Julie says

    I’m just curious what “Legal Description” is about, on the back of the flyer. Obviously, I don’t need to what it said, since you’ve censored it, but I don’t even know what the refers to — it’s nothing I’ve seen on listings up here in NY. Can you fill me in?

    • Lesley says

      The lot number is a requirement in Torpnto listings too, I think that it’s related to the land title and tax roll, more important than the street address in identifying properties.

    • says

      Every piece of land has a legal description. It’s super easy to just look up any address if you only have the legal description because they are so unique. If it wasn’t censored for this post then goodbye privacy for the new owners of the old house because any of us readers could just plug it into the appraisers website and before you can say “Bob’s your uncle!” you’ve got the physical address to the house. I’m a Realtor in FL and every home down here has a legal description as well.

  8. Jenny says

    Love this post…takes me back to when we sold our townhouse in Rockville, MD 3 years ago. The realtor hired a staging professional to come through and (among other things) she told us to clear our kitchen countertops of everything except a coffeepot, a plant and a bowl of fruit. When we looked at sales flyers for other houses in the neighborhood their countertops looked exactly the same, right down to the bowl of fruit. Guess all the realtors for that neighborhood hired the same stager!

  9. Anu says

    busy week you must have had! but now you can unwind at your own pace. btw did you have to goback & clean the other house after you guys moved out like bathroom, kitchen usage ? I always wonder if I’d have to remove the stain from someplace, if any etc.

  10. bryanna says

    AAAH! SO EXCITED! I can’t wait to read everything this week and then see everything you do with your new house!! It is GORGEOUS and has so much potential!

    We are just renters living in a place with a COL high enough to keep us renters for a good long while so I’m totally living vicariously through you guys. Your style is SO similar to mine. I love how happy Clara is in her new home.

    I’ve said it before and I guess I’ll be the creeper saying it again… I would love to copy your house completely and move right in. the last two and I bet I’ll feel the same about the third. I liked your second home better and I bet I’ll like this one even more as you work on it. Although, my most favorite part is how you two have turned home DIY into a full time career. Coolest job ever. Clara will win career day when you guys show up ha!

  11. Lindsay Osborne says

    Congrats on the new place! Would you be able to include in these moving posts the things you left behind (like the curtains you mentioned), if anything vs. what you took with you?

    Can’t wait to see what this place has in store!

  12. says

    And now for a comment relevant to today’s post, we just sold our house too, and didn’t “depersonalize” either! I didn’t have a TON of personal photos out in the first place, but there were a couple of small galleries in various rooms. I think that rule of thumb is more a blanket, politically correct statement so that all the 80’s country farm style decor have-ers don’t feel bad when their realtors tell them to ditch all that ugly stuff! That style is notorious for having way too many cluttered tchotchkes!

    Love this post, it’s so fun to see what other people do to sell their houses when you’ve recently been in the tenches yourself!

  13. says

    My mom’s favorite trick to help sell a house was to keep a batch of chocolate-chip cookie dough in the fridge. Right before a house showing, she would bake just 6 or so, and the whole house smelled wonderful when the prospective buyers came in.

    • Jen E. says

      Um ok, I know I’m weird, but I think that would have the opposite of the intended effect for me. If I walked in and the whole house smelled like cookies–yet there were no delicious cookies for me to eat?!?!–I think I would be agitated through the whole showing. In fact, I would probably have to leave quickly so I could stop at a bakery on the way to the next showing.

      Hi, my name is Jenny and I am a cookie monster.

    • Sayward says

      Jen E – that is HILARIOUS!!! I thought the exact same thing. I’d be wandering the house like a Pavlov dog drooling and just HOPING the warm cookies were about to show up. Then when I finally accepted that there were none, I’d get angry and feel tricked and march out all indignant, and then then run into the nearest bakery all manic and distraught demanding cookies.

    • Courtney says

      When I first toured my house, there was a plate of cookies on the table for prospective buyers. I won’t say it’s the reason I bought the house, but those cookies were pretty delicious…

  14. Steph says

    I am so super excited about this it’s not even funny.

    I bought my house as a foreclosure and there was nothing in it. NOTHING. There wasn’t even a fridge. It certainly made it hard to envision anything in it.

    Also, don’t tell my mom, but I’ve been in my place for a year and there’s 2 boxes I haven’t unpacked. Shhh..

    • Manda Wolf says

      That’s how ours was. A complete fixer upper foreclosure no furniture, no fridge and we found out once we bought it hardly any working plumbing. That was almost three years ago and I there are still boxes in our spare bedroom we have yet to unpack.

    • Steph says

      This makes me feel better. LOL thanks.

      It wasn’t even really a fixer upper. I had to get some plumbing corrected and the place cleaned but it was pretty much move in. My mom constantly tells me to unpack those 2 boxes but I just…can’t. They’re things like mirrors and pictures. I haven’t gotten there yet.

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