Good news to report on the countdown to our Big Trip: we sold our house! Not only that, but we got 98% of our asking price after only 3 weeks on the market with 10 other properties for sale on our block. Our planning paid off.
- We’ve spent the last few years downsizing and decluttering our possessions, which means our house feels more spacious than most, even though it is small. The closets, cabinets and garage are neat. We took it up a notch when we listed it by adding fresh flowers every week and making sure all the blinds were up every day for bright light and to showcase the spring views outside.
- Even though our house was decluttered, we made an extra effort to clean in unusual places – behind the dryer, tops of ceiling fans, doorway and window casings, etc. We also fixed any small nicks in doorways or walls. Make sure you look high and low – Warren and I are the same height, so we didn’t notice things our taller and shorter friends did. Have someone come in to help you find these things if possible, because your buyers will notice them.
- Depersonalize the space of pictures and mementos but leave artwork and flowers. Remember, you are helping your buyers imagine their belongings in the space, not show off your own. If the house is too much “you” they won’t make an offer.
- Spend the extra money to have professional pictures taken. Our agent arranged for our photographer, and it was the best $135 we ever spent. People do their searching online, and if they don’t like the way it looks there, they will never make it to your door. Don’t skimp on getting great pictures.
- For those of you in marketing, you’ll appreciate this next step. We created a letter for our perfect buyer about why we were selling the house and what we hoped for the new owners. We put this in an album full of information about the neighborhood, schools, restaurants, shopping, etc. You can get all of this online fairly easily, but take your time in writing your letter. I’m copying ours down below.
- We had a pretty specific budget in mind when selling our house, and we knew we couldn’t afford a full-service real estate agent and break even on the sale. We hired a flat-fee agent for $595 (including the cost of the pictures above) with a 0.5% commission after the sale. This was a great deal for us because we knew we could do a lot of the marketing ourselves but we had the benefit of being listed on MLS with a lockbox and a sign.
- Our agent created a great video and website for our house as well as a flyer. How’s that for a flat-fee agent? Loved his level of service. If your agent doesn’t do this, you can make one yourself using vFlyer.
- We contacted the bigger companies in our area and asked to hang our flyer in their break rooms or have the info sent out on their non-business email lists and all agreed in some way or another. If you don’t have contacts at nearby companies, use your network – friends, Linked In, Facebook, Twitter – to get your foot in the door. Most people will gladly help you. We all like a short commute to work.
- We did some fun things, like setting up a Twitter account for the house and letting her send out sassy tweets about the experience. (Sample tweet: “Potential buyers are coming over tonight tonight to look at me. Is it slutty of me to bake cookies so I smell delicious?”)
- We highlighted the best things about our house with small laminated signs we made. For instance, we let buyers know that the blinds were bottom-up or top-down because that might not be immediately noticeable. In addition, we put all the pictures of our house together in a slideshow we could turn on when the house was being shown.
We made it very easy for people to see the house anytime they wanted, and we had a checklist of things to do each day to make the house ready at a moment’s notice. Things like turning on all the lights, turning on the slideshow of pictures on the computer in the office, and lighting the fireplace when appropriate. You have to be prepared to be “on” all the time.
Last, I’ll share with you the feedback we got from our agent as he told use the good news. The thing that sold the buyers on our house was one of the easiest steps we did: the letter. They loved what we wrote, and having just come back from a long trip themselves, they were moved to live in a house with the travel vibe.
Speaking to your ideal buyer really works.
Do you ever wonder why a house you like is for sale? You don’t have to wonder about this one.
After four years of living the best time of our lives in this funky little neighborhood, we are taking off to travel the world for the next three years.
This house is where we decided to pursue our lifelong dream of exploring the world and where we made our budget, planned our itinerary, and held many dinner parties to discuss and celebrate with our friends.
In short, this house is full of love, adventure, dreams, and just plain good luck.
You can’t really put “karma” on a house description, so this letter is our way of letting you know that we love this place for more than the structural reasons, and we hope you love it, too.
Poke around, open up cabinets and closets, and see how your things will work in this space. Don’t forget to take in the view on the deck. It’s what sold us on the place!
Happy house hunting.
Warren and Betsy