Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fixing To Sell

Since El Jefe and I committed to build a new home last fall --just before the great economic crash-- I've been watching a lot of HGTV to get tips about readying the house for sale.

I'd never seen HGTV before, but Portia, my SIL and nieces introduced me to it. It's a FantasyLand where there is always a happy ending after the homeowner heeds the advice of the "stager".

The last month or so, we have stepped up our efforts to spruce up the place by--
  • repairing and painting "dings" in sheetrock and trim
  • getting the roof repaired from IKE damage (just replacing a couple of tiles)
  • setting up portable gates to keep Beatrice and Olivia out of the formal dining and living rooms where they like to go and leave little surprises
  • removing clutter, one room at a time (with many thanks to Portia who spent one weekend cleaning out her sister's bedroom and the guest room)
  • making weekly trips to drop off donations at the East Fort Bend Human Needs Ministry
  • weeding the flower beds
  • donating the piano to a Galveston church that lost theirs in IKE
Yesterday our realtor called saying she would be coming over with a photographer next week and wanted us to have a heads up. So now we need to finish up by--
  • Taking the old stationary bike out of the bedroom and donating it
  • moving my desk
  • Donating El Jefe's easy chair in our bedroom because it takes up a lot of space and Beatrice chewed it up
  • Taking the leaf out of the kitchen table so it doesn't take up too much space
  • Replacing the tired potted plants on the patio with perky ones
Here's what I'm not doing, despite the advice of HGTV--
  • replacing all the '80's bright brass sink fixtures and cabinet hardware
  • refinishing the wood floors (which would be the entire downstairs)
  • replacing kitchen appliances with stainless steel ones
  • removing wallpaper in dining room and Portia's bedroom
My theory, supported by our realtor, is that if we price the house appropriately, the buyer will be able to do those things according to their taste.

The process of showing the house begins around March 1. The house next door to us have been for sale for the last 18 months, but is quite overpriced. There was a foreclosure down the street that just sold this month. There's another house that is comparable to ours a couple of blocks away that has been for sale for more than a year--also overpriced, IMHO. We're hoping we'll be very competitive. But in this market, who knows?

My SIL offered her home as a refuge when I have to leave and take Beatrice with me for a showing. El Jefe is pretty calm about the process, despite our atrocious market timing. I'm trying to take my cue from him and "be anxious for nothing."


Mac said...

I agree re: pricing reasonably. We sold in 1995 on a short fuse. There were folks in our neighborhood who were looking for the big killing with the result that their homes were on the market for years. We priced ours to make sure that we had a nice down payment left, but not a major "profit." It was sold in 6 weeks (admittedly in a better economy, but home sales in our area had been stagnant).

Good luck.

Michael Kruse said...

When it comes time to show the house, we learned something from a couple whose house we look at twice before deciding it was just too small. They baked bread prior to the realtor showing the house each time. We were looking in winter so they took snapshots of what the house and lawn had looked like during the summer and left them on the dinning room table.

We almost bought the house because of the bread! :-)

Michael Kruse said...

I meant to add they didn't leave any bread to eat but the house smelled wonderful!

Presbyterian Gal said...

The baking before a showing is a great tip! If you do not have time to bake, you can get a small potpourri crockpot and fill it with cinnamon, cloves and orange oil for the same effect. And the off season pictures are a cool idea too!

What I know about real estate in overpriced So. Calif: EVERYTHING will sell eventually. Pricing is key. And if you don't sell in time, you can always lease.

Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

You are also supposed to take down all photos. I do not know why. I kinda like seeing what the owners looked like and how happy they are/were.

Reformed Catholic said...

Trouble is, after you take down the photos, you usually have to paint the walls ;)

zorra said...

The Scientist is in the throes of getting his mom's house ready to sell. New roof, driveway repairs, paint, landscaping. We should commiserate. Hang in there.

Quotidian Grace said...


Our realtor agrees with you. My compromise was to put away all the photos in frames on tables and leave the ones on the wall.