For sellers: the lessons we learned

-By Kyla Brustin

If you follow this blog, you know that Josh and I have had our house on the market. We are happy to report that it is sold! Being in the reverse role of seller (instead of REALTOR) was definitely eye opening. Like the doctor who admonishes his patients for their poor diets and then drinks Coca Cola with his every meal, upon reflection, we were suprised at how many real estate truisms we had to learn the hard way.  Here are just a few of the real estate lessons we learned in selling our home:

1)  Curb appeal is real! The weeds growing through the cracks in our driveway and the chipping paint on the rails of our porch had been with us so long we hardly noticed it, but buyers saw it immediately. And what it said to them was, “This home is not being maintained!” The truth was, we were so focused on the inside of the house, we weren’t thinking about the importance of a first impression. When we finally sanded and repainted the porch, hung baskets of impatiens, weeded the cracks in the driveway and refilled our crushed stone steps, the feedback on showings was much more positive than it had ever been before. Unfortunately we lost 3 months of good first impressions by not doing it sooner.

2) Staging matters. Don’t ask how it happened, but when we first put the house on the market, we were using a bookshelf to house spices, pots and pans. Not only was it a bookshelf in a kitchen, it was made of a dark wood that had nothing in common with our white cabinets. People who saw the house while it was there complained that the kitchen was too small and dated. The complaints ended as soon as we got the bookshelf out, replaced it with a very small, white, jelly cabinet, and installed a pretty wrought-iron pot rack in dead space on the wall beside the stove.  This and a number of other small changes instantly gave the house more style and improved people’s impression of it.

3) Finished basements must be dehumidified. Even if your finished basement is a walkout like ours, it’s still at least partially surrounded by earth, which gets cold and wet. If a buyer walks into your finished basement and gets any hint whatsoever of coldness and dampness, you may as well end the showing right there. Though our finished basement has never been wet, the couple of times when it was more humid than the rest of the house yielded definite No’s from buyers.

4) Spend wisely on updates. Should you upgrade your counter tops? (Re)tile your bathroom floor? Re-carpet? Finish more living space in the basement or attic? In our case, almost every buyer who came through and offered feedback had a different idea on what would have added value for them. As a result we spent a lot of time debating whether or not to do all kinds of different things. In our case there were 2 places where we feel certain that we got back what we spent: we added a half bath on the main level, and we cut trees to allow sunlight into our home which also improved the mountain views. Click here to see a table of average return on home improvements.

 5) If you’re ready to sell, price accordingly. Every home has something about it that makes it special. We felt that there were a number of things that made our house special and added value. However there were a number of quirks as well. If we had been willing to wait for a buyer to pay what we originally asked when we listed, it probably would have happened…but no time soon. Listen to your REALTOR. It’s their job to know the market and to tell you what a realistic price is. It may not be what you hoped, but if it’s time to move on, that may be the most important thing.

Give us a call (800-322-6921), stop by, or send us an emailto talk about listing your home. We are happy to use our expertise as REALTORs and also as sellers to get your home sold.

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