5 Things to Do and 5 Things Not To Do when Selling your House and Moving

26 Jul 5 Things to Do and 5 Things Not To Do when Selling your House and Moving

 

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Life Update: I accepted a job offer and we moved from Kansas where I had been my whole life and my wife had been since she was 9. It is still really crazy to not be in Wichita. I am not going to bash Wichita or overly praise the Denver area (where we are at now). They are very different. There are good and bad things about both places. I had my reasons that I felt this was the right thing to do, and although it sucks to be away from friends and family, I did not want to spend all of my life in one city. I think it is good to get out and experience new places. I don’t know how long we will be here, but I would have regretted never giving it a shot. So far it is a fun place to live and it is nice seeing the mountains everyday. We are hoping our friends and family will come visit more since there is so much to do here. I felt compelled to return to writing after yet another long hiatus. This was somewhat justified due to the large time commitment that was finishing my house. All of our hard work paid off with an above full price offer within a month. Assuming everything goes smooth and we close as expected this would be our fourth successful house sale as a couple. This doesn’t mean we are experts or do not make mistakes however. So here is a short list of things to help you when you go to sell your house.

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1. DO price it right
Ok, so there is always the chance if you price it high that some unsuspecting cash buyer may come along and pay it and you end up with an extra bag of cash. However, it is more likely that if you price it too high you will be excluding some buyers from ever seeing your property, and turning off other potential buyers. Consider how you conduct a search for a property, most people put a max asking price. So if you price it above a normal threshold (100k, 150k, 200k) etc, you are automatically pricing certain buyers out, as your house won’t even show up in their searches. This is OK if your home is truly worth what you are asking. But remember what that means. To buyers it means that other people have paid similar amounts for similar properties in your area. Your home may be nicer than those properties, but if there is no evidence to support paying a much higher price, they probably won’t. Even if they do, it still has to appraise for that if they are not a cash buyer. We made the mistake of pricing our house slightly above one of these thresholds, and it may have caused it to sit a few extra weeks. We received an offer not long after bringing it right below one of the thresholds.
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2. DON’T leave visible damage or projects unfinished, or junk visible
This may seem obvious, but wait until your home is truly list-ready to list it. People have a very hard time seeing past these things even if they think they can. Just watch HGTV for an afternoon and you will see what I am talking about. How many times do people make comments about the decor even though it’s not even staying with the house? Or complain about the paint colors on the walls, when that is easily changed. Or complain about how small a room is when really there is just a lot of stuff in it. Present your house and property in the best manner possible. If that means hauling half your stuff somewhere else to show your house then do it. Some specific tips include
-filling up your designated “storage areas” and/or garage if you have nowhere else to take your extra stuff. People are more likely to accept these areas being full.
-Have a container with a lid that fits in a closet, and when a last second showing is requested toss all the stuff sitting around in the container and put the lid on.
-Toss dirty dishes in the dishwasher or oven, even if they don’t fit. Just get them out of the sink and off the counter. Most people don’t look inside appliances. The same goes for loose clothing in the laundry room, stuff it in the washer and dryer.
-Have a “go bag” ready that will fit all of your expensive electronics and other items such as jewelry. It is uncommon for thefts to occur when showing your house, but better to remove your really expensive smaller items that would be easy to take.
-Stage your house if possible. Use your own stuff if you can but show off the space. Remove things that make rooms look smaller. Get as much off of counters as possible. Have all the lights on and make sure to replace any bulbs if they burn out.
When it comes to damage and unfinished projects, again people can’t see past it. They will start making assumptions, “look at this, if that’s how they take care of stuff I wonder what else we might find”. Don’t let people have those thoughts. Patch that hole, paint that water spot (after fixing the leak of course), etc. They are going to ask for that stuff to be fixed at closing anyway. Only this will be after they have offered you less money because your house didn’t look as nice.
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3. DO start packing early
As soon as you know you will be moving, start packing. Pack up all but a small box of toys for each kid. Pack everything you can live without. Donate and Sell as much as you can to minimize moving costs. If you don’t love it and it’s not essential, don’t keep it. We seem to acquire things at an alarming rate, yet if they are packed up in boxes for months while we move and get settled, it does not seem to effect our lives too much. Clearly mark your boxes, not only with the room but specific contents. Getting started early really helps with this. If you wait too long by the end you are lucky to mark the box at all because you are in such a rush. More tips on packing later.
4. DON’T take criticism personal
Whether it is from your realtor or potential buyers, listen to their criticism. Some of it will be nonsense but some you should take to heart. There are things that we might like that just are not good for resale. Take down as many personal pictures as you can. Paint over your kids mural with neutral paint. You are trying to make your house appeal to the greatest number of potential buyers, so break that emotional tie. Check out listings of similar homes in your area that have sold. Listen to the feedback and take care of things that need to be done in a timely manner.
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5. DO use the right tools for the job
When it comes to packing, there are a million ways to do it. Be smart, use towels and blankets to wrap things, and protect breakables. Buy actual packing supplies (paper, foam, plastic wrap, moving blankets, etc). If you don’t want your stuff to get messed up follow these tips:
-small boxes for heavier items, “heavy duty” small boxes for really heavy items or plastic containers
-Wardrobe boxes for nice clothes, trash bags for everything else work fine
-Plastic wrap is your best friend. We bought a huge roll and used all of it. Use it on anything open and anything with drawers. Use it to keep your furniture from getting messed up by first wrapping the furniture in blankets and then using the plastic wrap to keep the blankets in place. Trust me, this stuff will change your life.
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6. DON’T put yourself in a bad situation financially
This is sometimes a little unavoidable. However, in terms of buying another house before yours sells, you can avoid that. Even if it means you have to rent temporarily. You never know what can happen with a house deal, and the worst thing you can do is have 2 house payments to make and 2 houses that can potentially have problems. Run the numbers yourself. If you end up getting in a tight spot and have to sell quickly you could easily lose thousands of dollars. Try to avoid this at all cost. Having to make a rent payment and a mortgage payment isn’t fun either, but at least one house is your landlords responsibility. Stay with friends and family if you can to bridge the gap and avoid extra expenses.
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7. DO ask your friends and family for help but…
8. DON’T expect a huge turnout.
Nobody likes moving. Moving someone else is even less fun. We have been fortunate to have great family and friends who have been willing and able to help us. But be prepared to hire professionals. Even with all the help we have received we were still inevitably up until 2 or 3 in the morning one night packing the moving truck. Because we knew nobody in Colorado I broke down and hired unloaders. It was amaze-balls. I paid $300 for 3 movers for 3 hours. They had it fully unloaded in 2 and I didn’t complain. Most of what Jaimie and I did was tell them what room to take stuff. This wasn’t the cheapest crew, but they had great reviews. I have read it can be risky when you get into “craigslist rates”. I don’t think its worth it. We had a huge 26 ft truck, so if you have less it would cost less. It would be a similar rate for loading as well. So depending on how many volunteers you have you might consider paying for an hour of movers to get all of the big heavy stuff, and then leave whatever is left to your volunteer army. It is worth noting this will drastically cut down on the chances of you being sued for dropping a fridge on your (now former) best friend.
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9. DO gather all relevant documentation, receipts, paint/paint colors for your buyers.
The golden rule applies here, what would you want when you move into your new house? How about a notebook full of all the warranty/manuals for any appliances, a list of paint colors, garage door/keypad codes, extra keys, receipts for work done that they may need in the future, etc. That would be awesome right? Well you have all this information, and you won’t need it anymore. So leave it for the new buyers and be sure to leave any paint you have so they can do touch ups and label the room. Give them a list of paint colors you used if you don’t have any paint left.
10. DON’T skimp on the moving expenses
OK, seriously. Buy moving supplies and use them correctly. Hire professionals if you can’t safely get the job done yourself or in the time frame necessary. Make sure your moving truck is insured, don’t assume your auto insurance will cover it (they usually don’t). In my case my personal belongings were covered but the truck itself was not. Be sure to verify this and then just pay the fee. When it comes to getting a deal on a moving truck, it is pretty difficult. I read the best way is to get multiple quotes for the exact same truck and coverage’s, and then go to the company you would prefer to use and show them the lower quote and see if they will beat it.
Message to Claire:
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Try to learn this lesson as soon as you can, it takes most people their whole lives: Other people know more than you do, including (sometimes) your parents, so instead of arguing that point, use it to your advantage. Seek knowledge from others, ask about their experiences and learn from their mistakes. Maybe then you wont have to make as many yourself. This doesn’t mean that your parents or anyone else is ALWAYS right (they aren’t), but at least stop to consider the possibility that someone else could have more information than you. Also, never forget the science behind growing up, your brain is not fully developed until your mid twenties. This doesn’t mean you can’t make intelligent decisions, but it does mean emotions tend to get in the way more, if you understand this you can try and combat that by making well thought out decisions and asking for advice. Make pros and cons lists, and think about the consequences of your actions.

 

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