First things first. If you want to move to an island, you must first sell your home on the mainland. I’m sure anyone who’s ever sold a house under any circumstance would agree that this can be an emotional process, a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. For us, we were selling the only house we’d ever bought as a couple, which happens to be in an amazing neighborhood full of many our very best friends. Like a lot of poor souls, we bought this home at the height of the market back in 2007, and we were encouraged to put no money down. We were clearly property virgins, ha! We’ve learned a lot over the years…
We had no idea how long closing the deal would take. We knew that it had to sell if we wanted to make this move that we were itching to make. We had no interest in being property managers of a dwelling in Charlotte while living across the ocean. The first thing we did was call in a professional, someone we knew we could trust to give us the right advice and guide us through the process. Luckily our friend and agent extraordinaire lived right down the street. We called Amy Peterson to set up an appointment, and it’s the best decision we’ve made regarding real estate to date.
Our meeting with Amy was productive. We decided to list our home in February and get ahead of the spring time competition. I’d like to think our home was well decorated and in list-ready condition, but there really was a lot of work to do. Most importantly, we had to work on curb appeal. For some reason, we’d lived for over six years wishing the exterior of our home wasn’t so yellow. We’d always wanted it to be more neutral, but sadly we waited until time to list it to actually take the plunge. All’s well that ends well, I suppose. In addition to her suggestion to paint the exterior, she suggested several small tweaks inside. Because, like us, Amy is a perfectionist, we went from room to room, corner to corner, taking inventory of every item. I quickly realized that we had a lot of stuff! Dust collectors, as I now consider them, were everywhere.
We began the purge right away. We listed everything from furniture to art to sconces to rugs on Craigslist, Facebook, Instagram… you name it. I learned a lot about social media during this time! We had a great deal of success selling, donating, and trashing our things. Come February 14, our house was list ready! Then this happened….
Amy says it is most important to have a home market ready so that it stands out to potential buyers. There are things a homeowner can do without spending a lot of money to make their home stand out and sell quicker.
The five C’s to consider when putting a house on the market:
1) Curb Appeal – First impressions are lasting ones. What impression do buyers get when they pull up to your home? Make sure the lawn is freshly cut, shrubbery pruned, weeds pulled, and flowers planted to set the stage. Replace the dented mailbox, tarnished house numbers, and outdated light fixtures. Give the front door a fresh coat of paint and purchase a new welcome mat for the front porch.
2) Clean – Make sure everything is spic and span. You might need to hire a cleaning crew to come in and give your home a thorough cleaning, including the carpets. In fact, having a cleaning service return weekly while your home is on the market is a good insurance policy for the clean rule. Make sure your home smells fresh and there are no pet or food odors.
3) Clutter – There can’t be any! It may be necessary to rent storage pods while the house is on the market. The “50 percent rule” says eliminate the clutter in your home by at least half. De-personalize the house by removing political and religious items. Remove all personal photos. The buyer needs to be able to visualize the house as their home. They do not need to be distracted by your personal property.
4) Color – Neutral colors sell! If you use colors and styles buyers would never select, then they cannot imagine themselves living there. Convey an image of neutrality and quality. You don’t want the buyer to walk away from your home simply because of taste-specific colors. Paint the walls with soft beige and accessorize with small splashes of color.
5) Correct problems – Don’t give any cause for concern. Fix leaky faucets, broken tile and any other small items not functioning properly. Buyers assume if these minor things have not been maintained, then major problems could exist with the home. Don’t scare away the buyer. Paint the picture of perfection.
Amy says it’s the small things that make the biggest difference. I agree. I also think the Agent makes a HUGE difference. While setting what has to be the world record for shortest maternity leave, Amy continued to keep us updated from the hospital. She never missed a beat, even while giving birth to her second daughter!
One tip I can offer is GET OUT OF TOWN if possible while the home is under contract. Especially if you have a realtor you trust who can handle all the details. Between negotiating the offer, the appraisal, the inspection- really, everything involved in the process of selling your home- can be overwhelming. Having some painkillers in the island can take the edge off!
Another tip I have is, if possible, befriend your buyers. I diligently updated my new address at work and with every vendor who regularly ships things to us. Even still, I somehow continued to receive mail at our old address for months. Thank goodness, the new owners and I have a great relationships where we text and arrange package pickups and personal deliveries. That has been so helpful!
In hindsight, I can honestly say the most important part of the process was choosing the right realtor. Since I don’t deal well with high levels of stress, I am especially grateful and have tried to convey my appreciation to Amy. With her perpetual kindness and professionalism she explained that selling a home can be a very different experience for people as the circumstances vary greatly as to why the owners are listing their home. She tries to make it a positive as possible for her clients by working closely with them every step of the way. We were lucky that the decision to work with Amy was an easy one.
In what may be the biggest transaction you are ever a part of, my advice is simply this- choose someone who shares your values and has a passion for great customer service. You’ll thank me later!