Sometime in March we had made a decision to move to South Carolina. You can read all about that here. First thing we had to do was find a buyer for our condo. We had a small (900 sq ft) two-bedroom unit on a second floor. It was really nothing special, but we loved it. Over the three years we have lived there, we put time, money, and energy into making it ours. I was at a point where I could actually see us staying there for another 5 years or so. And I still miss it sometimes.
There was a similar unit posted for sale in the next building, and it had been on the market for over two months by then. It was also priced lower than we planned to price ours. And a unit right next to us just recently sold for a lower price as well. So, we naturally felt like all the odds are against us and we were ready to wait a few months for our unit to sell.
We called the same realtor who sold us the condo – his wife is a sellers’ agent, so we thought we would work with her to sell our home. We’ve never met her before, but once we did we did not have any doubts that she was the one who will get this unit sold. She gave us some tips on what things we should do before listing and explained the process to us.
We did not really do much to get the condo ready. We gave our walls a fresh coat of grey color that was already there. Did some touch ups to the trim and cabinets. Shampooed the carpet and tried to pack away and sell as much stuff as we could before pictures were taken and listing went live. We have just replaced a dishwasher a month or so before this (and it was a dishwasher of my dreams, so I miss it terribly), and had all the windows and blinds replaced in 2014. I think we have done a lot to the unit in the short three years we’ve been there.
A staging lady came in the morning on the day pictures were supposed to be taken, and made our home look like something out of a BHG magazine. “There is no way I can keep it looking this way all the time!”, I thought in panic… But we managed. All the staging items stayed in the home until we sold it, and I made it look just like the pictures for every showing. Granted we only had 3 or 4 showings before we got an offer! Our house lasted on the market only 6 days! It was such a blessing and I could hardly believe it!
Now, before we listed the house I was panicking and reading every article and blog post I could find about selling the house while living in it. Living in it with two little children and a cat. There is a lot of information out there. A lot of wisdom from experience shared by moms just like you and I. After reading through all that I found, I kind of made up a plan for myself about how it will all work. And it all worked out great!
I just want to share a few things that had worked for us. I think that these are the things that helped us sell the house as quick as we did, and keep our sanity. And I am not going to elaborate much on this, but having a very good realtor is definitely a very important component to this whole process. If you don’t click with the realtor, have a funny feeling, etc. move on to the next one!
- Showing availability – keep showing window as open and large as possible. It will bring results faster.
- Show ready – Clean, clean, clean, stage! Remove ALL the clutter!
- Kids will be okay – they might have to skip a nap or two. Or have dinner in the car once or twice. They will enjoy the process as long as you have a good attitude about the whole thing.
We used this fancy showing scheduling app that popped up a notification any time a realtor was requesting a showing. You have a choice to decline, accept, or suggest a different time. When we were initially setting everything up, the question came up about when are we available to show the house. I immediately thought about our crazy nap schedule – there is no way we can fit in showings in between all the naps my kids take! While I wanted to preserve my kids’ schedule and bring the least amount of chaos into their life through this process, I also realized that we need to have as many showings as possible in order to get an offer. So we opted for being open to show any time between 9am and 7pm. We only ended up having to show our house to 3 different potential buyers, and twice to our actual buyer. So we had to show a total of 4 times. And two showings were in one day almost one after another.
So, while it might seem so overwhelming, I think such open schedule can actually be beneficial. We only skipped a few naps, and our life was not thrown out of whack because of the showings we had. Stacking two (or more) in one day can also be good, so you can possibly have a break the next day and have your normal day.
As I said before – a staging lady came in and set up our condo to look very neat and put togehter. She brought a shower curtain, some dishes, flowers, pictures, books, and some other little trinkets. She mainly set up the living room/kitchen/dining area, as well as our bathroom. By then we had already sold a lot of things and packed some things away. Our master bedroom had a crib, a shelf, and a rocking chair in it. Brandon’s room had all his furniture still there. We de-personalized our space as much as we could – we took down all the pictures from the walls, packed away books and knick-knacks. We made sure all of our closets were as empty as they could be at that point. A lot of kids toys were packed away, but whatever we had was in a box that was covered with blankets, so you couldn’t really tell what that was.
Cooking was tough – you don’t know when you can get a notification for a showing, and you don’t want to have a crock-pot stewing up some meat, or smell of fried fish lingering in the air. So we had to stick to recipes that were simple and non-smelly.
As showing time would come, I would pull out all the staging items and put them in their spots, wipe down the windows/mirrors/counters, load up the cat in her carrier, throw all the extra stuff in a laundry basket and stuff it in the car. We also had a little storage unit right outside, that we kept locked, and we kept some extra things in there too. I took the cat’s litter box out of the house too – I did not want to risk a potential buyer getting a whiff of that!
I turned ALL the lights on as we were leaving too. You want your place to look nice and bright, and not feel like a dungeon.
Kids Will Be Okay
I was really nervous about how the whole selling process would affect the kids. We are creatures of schedule and routine, so for me to even think about interrupting kids’ nap schedules, was a terror! I knew that it would not benefit us to block off their nap time as “not available for showings”, and some of those showing did happen right in that nap window. But (not surprisingly) my kids were fine. I made sure they got a good night sleep and kept them as close to nap schedule as possible.
If you have your house well prepared for showings, and if you have great availability to show your home, your house should sell pretty quick. And that means your schedules would only be interrupted a handful of times, which is not enough to affect the kids in a major way.
Good luck with selling your home, if that is where you are at right now. And thanks to all of you for reading!