So you are thinking you are going to put your house on market in “The Spring”. Well, me too. So let’s do this together, step by step.
1) Set Your List Price.
You will check that again when it is time to list the home, but you can’t start getting the home ready to sell, until you know the price. Zillow says my home is worth $1,061,000. I bought it in September of 2005 for $850,000. Because I’m at a major price tier of under or over a million dollars, I know that if I price it over a million I will have to do a whole lot more than if I price it up to a million. So I’m setting the list price at $999,950. It’s very important to know what price you are aiming for before making your “to do” list.
One of the biggest mistakes sellers make is setting the price AFTER they get it ready for market. To some extent, that is why many sellers overprice their homes. Don’t think all that work ADDS value. That work is needed to achieve fair market value. But if you price it after you have spent time, money and effort, you will likely want to ADD to the price of the home, while in that state of “look at everything I have done”. Price it first, then do the work.
2) What is the Number One Feature of Your Home?
The #1 Feature of your home is that which produces the most return on investment. For my home it is actually not the home itself, but the location and the view. Sitting high up in the “View Corridor” of Kirkland, between 1st and 2nd Street, gives the home that always light and bright feel. Dramatic views of Lake Washington and the Seattle Skyline across the Lake including the Space Needle. We love to sit up on our bed and watch 9-12 sets of fireworks on the Fourth of July. The Kirkland Fireworks are framed right in the window and the bedroom has two walls of windows with the views centered right in the center of the window. Sometimes I wonder if that is coincidence or if the builder who did the addition to this 1921 bungalow in 1994, made sure Mt. Rainier was dead center in the “picture window” in the master bedroom sitting room. Sunsets, sweeping lake views from all of the remaining windows not facing Mt. Rainer. Then when you step out front to go to your car, you are awed by the view of the snow capped Olympic Mountains.
So Step 2 for me is to hire a professional photographer to take view shots. For the cost of $400 to $500, Harley will come over on the day HE feels best, to take those view shots. Don’t leave photos of the view to chance. Get the photographer set from the beginning, and also snap photos on your own, at every opportunity. I already know that while I may be the Greatest Real Estate Agent in the World…or not :), that Harley is much better equipped to take those view shots. Mother Nature may not cooperate when you get to the day you need those photos. So get the photographer in gear now, even though he likely will have to come back again when you are ready to list the home, for the inside shots. Give him a key to the house and say “Come by whenever you think it’s a good day for those view shots.” I have a West facing view, and I also want night shots. So the cost might be double at $800 to $1,000, but money well spent to highlight your #1 Home Feature.
3) Hire a Licensed Contractor
Make a list of all the things you were going to do, but didn’t. Then get a bid for ALL of those things from a Licensed Contractor before you decide which you will do and which you won’t. Choose by cost vs. “let’s not bother”. YOU do the shopping for what is needed, where possible. I already have light fixtures waiting to be hung in the Master Bathroom. I never liked those and they weren’t even put in the right place. So I’ve bought the replacement fixtures and marked where they will go. I’ll do before and after photos in a later segment. I have a huge list from a major change to a travertine floor and hall, to minor things like changing one of the lights from a timer to a switch. I’ll choose which to do based on price and return on investment, but I can’t do that until I know the price. Have the Contractor price out each job separately, then bulk the ones you decide to do for extra savings. Doing one thing costs more per job, than doing ten. After you have “The Big List”, get a new price list of the jobs chosen. It should be even less.
4) Curb Appeal Items
Since exterior items are “weather dependent”, get that list done now! I know I will have to paint the white picket fence, for example. I also know it will look better in a creamy white vs. the bright white that it is. It will need to be clean and dry, so start the cleaning now. You can clean it on a gray and cold day. Make sure you clean it thoroughly now so on a warm dry day, you can get right to painting it without more wet and dry time.
I’m buying a power washer. There are many things that need to be power washed, and in my business I might as well buy a power washer to help my sellers get their homes ready for market. Having a power washer at the ready, instead of hiring someone or renting one, let’s you do each job one at a time on different days as you have an extra hour or two, or are just bored with Step 5. Step 5 is boring, so a little break to go power wash another segment of the big fence job during your “break”, accomplishes two things at once.
While I have only lived in my house for a little over two years, it seems this job is still overwhelming. We didn’t sort well when we moved from Bellevue to Kirkland back in 2005, so we still have a garage full of stuff that we never unpacked and apparently don’t need. Kim seems to have every T-shirt and pair of jeans he has bought since he got home from Vietnam, up in our bedroom. Lots of “stuff” to sort.
The sorting process involves
1. Give Away – White Kitchen Trash Bags
2. Throw Away – Big Green or Black Trash Bags
3. Need Before we Move – Stored Out of Sight
4. Need for staging – Leave Out in Plain View
5. Need After We Move (i.e. Christmas Sweaters) – Box and Store OFF SITE
Trust me on this one. Put the give away and throw away items in two different colored trash bags and boxes for stuff you are keeping. Otherwise some helpful person will throw away your give away bag, or give away the stuff you meant to keep.
A quick visual of white = give away, black = throw away and box = to storage will save you from lots of headaches down the line.
As soon as you have a car load of give away, get it OUT of the house and over to the Goodwill, even if it takes several trips. You will feel like you are getting somewhere and it will keep you going, if you get the stuff OUT every time you have ten bags or ten boxes. Trash may end up going to the dump vs. “trash day” deposits, so accumulate 10 bags and then get rid of them.
As soon as you think you are done…do it AGAIN! Looking at things a second time with no bags in the house will likely create a whole new set of bags and boxes. At second glance when the home is more cleared out, you realize that you really don’t need that before you move out.
6) Set your timeframes
I’ve decided I only need Spring and Summer stuff. Those hiking boots I’ve worn 3 times since I bought them can go into a box. All of my shorts and tank tops need to stay. Anything I won’t need before I go to Inman Connect in August is leaving the house! The house will go on market when “the pink trees are in bloom”. I don’t have any “pink trees”, but they are the first sign of Spring to me, along with the daffodils that I do have.
Pink Trees and Daffodils in Bloom is the day I list the house…so much to do before then.
I’ll keep you posted every step of the way, so you can Sell With Ardell, and we can keep each other motivated and on track. We’ve already brought one car load over to Goodwill…but we have a long way to go. Good Luck to all of us!