I put my home on the market at 11 am. I had an offer by 8 pm. It was signed in 24 hours and now it’s closed.
I followed my own advice: Make the home look better than every other home in its class and price it right. The buyer had no choice but to say “yes.” In fact, the buyer was happy to buy it near list price because he knew he was getting the best available home for sale.
I spent some money to get the home in shape. I worked hard to get it clean and keep it in shape. Here’s a short video of how I did it (hint, you can do it too!).
I’ve had some questions after shooting this video, for example, “What if I have wall paper?”
From a priority standpoint clean ceilings and clean walls are the most desirable things you can have and that is where you spend the money. If the ceiling had popcorn (like mine did) with patches falling then that is where your priorities lie. Get those ceilings fixed, and painted! And do the garage too!
If you have wallpaper: Get it down and paint! Paint should be neutral off-white color for the walls (and typically) a bright white for the ceiling. You should have the paint done throughout the house so every room matches.
There is no aphrodisiac like the smell of fresh paint.
If there is drywall work to be done or if you need to re-texture the ceiling like I did, I would strongly recommend hiring a professional. If you don’t have a budget to hire a drywaller then you can still hire a painter to repair missing patches and paint. However, this won’t make the home sell for as much as if it had the ceiling re-textured.
Leave Lots of Light
We listed a house last year on King Arthur Court that had new paint and it was just bathed in light … because it had no window treatments of any kind.
I remembered that house when I sold mine.
When I prepped the house for the painters I took down all the blinds and never replaced them. I even took down a sliding screen door (and stored it in the garage like you saw in the video) to let in more light.
The effect was fantastic. It made the house so welcoming and bright.
How Do You Know When to Say When?
You can improve a house beyond its value.
Some things I considered: a new driveway, new electrical outlets, and new doors for every room.
Doors: If I put in the new doors that would have meant matching the thresholds to the new doors. And then I’d have to match the thresholds to the base boards. And then all the base boards everywhere would have to match, even in rooms where there weren’t doors.
The better fix was simply to put new, matching doorknobs on every door. It added just the right touch of newness. You do have to replace every knob, however, because you’re trying to tie the house together by matching everything up.
Driveway: Any 25-year old driveway is going to be dirty and have cracks. I could have had the driveway replaced or used some self-leveling sealer to fill the cracks. My experience told me that replacing the driveway would lead to a higher value, but not enough to exceed the cost. Even if it were a push, it would still take time and money to hire the contractors and have it done, keeping it off the market longer and running my carrying costs of keeping the property higher.
The better solution was to simply power wash the driveway. You can rent a power washer for a few days or even buy one for a few hundred bucks. Warning: once you power wash a single strip of driveway to gleaming white newness … you’ll have to do the whole thing (as I discovered). I had no idea that my driveway was that clean underneath!
I hit all the exterior patios, porches, and even the wood deck with it. It tied the entire exterior together and it just made everything pop. It took two days to get everything done and hard work at that, but it saved a ton of money and made the house more attractive and sell for a higher price.
New electrical outlets: there was some thought to replacing the electrical outlets. Not because they didn’t work, but because I put new face plates on the outlets to go with the new paint. The old outlets were a bit “off” in color with the new so the replacement would have been strictly for aesthetic reasons. I was actually prepared to do this as the final “detail,” but the house had an offer before I had time to do it.
So I didn’t do it. First because it was only for aesthetics. Second because the buyer bought the house with the old.
The second reason was the most important reason.
If you are a buyer and you go into a house you purchased and things start changing all of a sudden it’s going to freak you out. Technically it would have been an upgrade, but for real, buyers don’t necessarily want upgrades, they want to buy what they bought. So I didn’t change a thing.
But I Was Still Over There Every Day
I left the newspaper (yes, I still get one of those) subscription at the old house and delayed changing the address so I would be forced to go over and check on things every day.
And when I was over at the house every day, I watered the plants, flushed the toilets, and swept the patios, decks and porches.
If a buyer comes by and sees everything is a mess and thinks he’s going to have 60 days worth of yard work and cleaning after moving in, he may ask himself, “What else aren’t they taking care of?” He may get buyers remorse because all of a sudden he thinks he got hoodwinked into buying a clunker. He may try and get out of the deal.
Remember, your responsibility doesn’t end until it’s closed. Take care of it better than you took care of it while you lived there until it closes. If you do that, it will close!