Picking a Realtor
I may not have ground to stand on with this topic since I’m onto my second realtor, but maybe you can learn from my mistakes?
We originally reached out to my first realtor because she lived next door to us and our neighbors had great things to say about her work ethic, drive and ability to get the job done. When I first reached out to inquire about the process, she was really aggressive in answering questions and getting the process started (which we liked). We both really loved that “go-getter” quality and felt like it was a good fit.
We moved through the process quick, but after 22 days on the market – things didn’t feel right. In hindsight, I felt like the “process” was more like throwing spaghetti against the wall and hoping noodles stick. We also lost confidence when we were pressured to offer close to full ask on a house that reduced 14k a couple of days later.
If I could have gone back in time and done things differently, I would have asked for more referrals and interviewed agents until we found the right one. While I think it’s important that you have someone that can “get the job done,” you also want someone who’s going to protect your money and guide you through what will be one of the most stressful, emotional and exciting times of your life with professionalism and care.
Getting Your House “Photo Ready”
This isn’t easy under normal circumstances, but adding a toddler and two dogs that shed is a completely different animal. This is now the second time we’ve done this with this listing, so we’re basically pros by now. Hopefully these tips make it easier on you and your photographer! Even with doing all of these things, the session was 1.5 hours both times we did this.
- You’ll be guided by your realtor, but it’s really important to depersonalize the home as much as possible. You want people to picture themselves living there, which is hard to do if there’s remnants of you and your family everywhere. I got some big bins and put 99% of my photos and other items to make all of the spaces as open, crisp and de-cluttered as possible.
- Keep any surfaces/countertops free of household items. This is tough if you don’t have a ton of space/storage, but it’s necessary. All of your bathroom/kitchen items need to be hidden – literally everything.
- If you have pets, hide their stuff! Dog/cat bowls, beds, toys – find a place for it and make it disappear.
- Prepare to move your cars. Know that your driveway and area in front of your house should be free if possible.
- Other items we hid – garbage cans, toilet bowl brushes/plunger, and small area rugs that didn’t contribute to the space.
Preparing for Open Houses
- Create space in your bathroom and kitchen cabinets to easily hide items that you use on a daily basis.
- If you have children, investing in some baskets with lids has been a lifesaver for me because I simply throw all of the toys in there minutes before we leave!
- Spray Febreeze and light some candles an hour before you leave.
- Open shades/blinds to allow as much natural light in as possible.
Staying Sane During Open Houses/Showings
This will naturally be uneasy, but I think it’s important to set some boundaries/expectations with your agent. For example, if you want people to be escorted or wear shoe covers – express that. You have to communicate your concerns/needs to reduce stress.
Here are things I requested,
- People only allowed upstairs with an agent present.
- Using upstairs bathrooms were off limits to be “used”.
- Shoe covers had to be worn upstairs.
- Nap times/bed times were off limits.
We have a Ring Doorbell, Security Cameras and a WIFI enabled Baby Monitor, which made monitoring the open houses great for us. I know this might sound crazy to some, but I have no problem admitting that the thought of strangers in my house makes me CRAZY! I also wanted to hear any feedback good/bad on the home during first impressions, how the realtor was “showing” the home and to ensure that my requests were being upheld/respected. You may even catch a snoopy neighbor sneaking in like we did. Having cameras is also a lifesaver during private showings so you know when buyers arrive/leave so you can head back home.
If you have children, stay firm to your routine! Imagine sacrificing a nap for your toddler and the potential buyers are no-shows? This stuff happens, so while it’s important to be reasonable/flexible – your children’s sleep schedule should be off limits to mess with.
Also be aware of this when you are SHOPPING for homes. So many people have the ability to listen/watch what’s going on in their home, so put your poker face on and limit conversations/feelings when you are in/on the property. You certainly don’t want the homeowners hearing how badly you want/need their house when it comes time for negotiations, especially if they aren’t in a rush to leave. On the flip side, you don’t want them hearing you nickel/dime and pick apart their choices/style either.
Updates/Improvements We Did Prior To Listing
This is also something your agent can help you with, but here are a couple of things that we did to improve our home during this process.
- Professional power washing of vinyl fence, walkway & exterior of home (cost ~$300).
- Professional cleaning of carpet stair runner and area rugs (cost ~$250).
- Cleaning lady every other week to clean bathrooms, floors and surfaces (cost $120).
- Updated entryway banister railings to remove “honey oak” from the 90s. (cost $50).
- Updated entryway light fixture (cost $100).
- Painted Laundry Room which was originally lavender to a neutral off-white.
My biggest recommendation is getting your home as “neutral” as possible, so if you have any rooms that are red or purple, for example – it’s time to get your paint on! You don’t want buyers adding up projects or expenses before they even leave.
Tips for Fighting Stress During The Process
Unless your home sells fast in the first weekend, there’s a good chance this could be stressful! We still have a long way to go and have felt tons of emotions so far. It’s far from easy! Here are some things that I do regularly that help me with stress!
- Make yourself a priority! Get enough sleep, eat good food, drink plenty of water and exercise regularly. I know buying/selling may prevent you from cooking as much as you normally would, but you can find healthy options just about anywhere if you make the effort. Moving isn’t an excuse to let yourself go.
- Carve out family time do relax or do something fun! It’s super important to find fun or down time during this process!
- Ask for help! If you have parents or family – ask them to help. Whether it’s having you over for dinner or babysitting so you guys can prepare your house or enjoy a date night.
- Stay positive. Sure this whole thing might suck, but try to remind yourself what you are grateful for and keep the goal in mind. This will be over eventually and it will all be worth it! Dive into a personal development book, podcast, youtube channel or instagram account that can lift your spirits when you need it! I will be diving into Niyc Pidgeon’s new book next if anyone wants to join me!
I’ll be sure to update you guys with the next steps in the process, once we get there! (and hopefully that’s soon!)