For most of this year’s summer months, I’ve been in the midst of selling my condo. From hiccups with neighbors to uneducated demands during the home inspection, there have been a lot of bumps in the road but I’m happy to say that we’re in the final stretch. Next Thursday, July 25th, I should know for sure whether or not the buyers’ mortgage commitment has been set. Once that happens, it’s a smooth ride to closing for August 9th.
It’s been nearly a month since I posted that I received an offer for $30,000 over asking price. While the market in Boston has truly been gangbusters as I mentioned in that post, I think there are a few more reasons why I was able to fetch such an awesome price for my condo. For me, it came down to the following actions that ensured I had my condo as ready as possible when it came onto the market:
Mentally Prepare for the Selling Game
Above all, before you decide to sell (or even buy), make sure your head is in it for the correct reasons. No matter if it’s a buyers’ market, sellers’ market or something in between, there shouldn’t be an external factor dictating your decision.
For me, this was a decision I have been contemplating for months now (obviously, not something I had shared here!). The biggest factor had become my lack of joy with the neighbors. I no longer felt comfortable, even in a home that I love and worked so hard to have/renovate/make mine. What began with them vandalizing my brand new BMW morphed into a complete lack of common courtesy and the neighborhood-like vibe I thought existed when I moved there three years ago.
I’ve also decided that I want to move closer to the city (I’m subway accessible, but it’s more North of the downtown area than I’d now like). All of these factors combined with my lack of a desire to become a landlord led me to decide that I was ready to put my place on the market.
Once I knew I wanted to sell, I dove head-first into learning everything I could about selling a home. I vetted multiple realtors, brushed up on what was happening in the local market, and even visited some open houses to get a feel for what was out there. Another important learning piece was understanding all of the costs associated with selling.
As a home buyer, you don’t have to pay a commission to your realtor–that is covered by the seller, which is now me. I also have to pay some closing costs (tax to the city, lawyer fees, fire department inspection, etc.). While these closing fees aren’t nearly what the buyer will pay, it was still an additional ~$2,500 that needed to be factored into my planning.
Being an educated client has helped me with my realtor as well. He’s able to focus less on the “sales” aspect with me because he knows I’m an educated person, so there’s less gray and much more black and white conversation. This is invaluable to me as I hate when someone attempts to talk circles around me; especially when any selling is involved. We have a mutual respect and understanding that has helped navigate all the bumps in the road along the way and there’s not much I’d trade for that peace of mind during this process!
Don’t Get Greedy
Pricing your home can be an emotional time, but it’s important to be objective and realistic. It’s easy to understand that if you price too high you’ll run the risk of lowering it and that if you price too low you’ll risk losing money. The actual reality of the pricing strategy is far more complicated.
We spent three days fully reviewing the area comps, discussing possible options, and critically evaluating my condo before setting a price. Of course I had my own preconceived notions about how my property should be valued, but I’m thankful that I had the strength and maturity to trust my realtor’s expertise.
When we set the price, it was something everyone was comfortable with. The proof in the pudding (that I had done this correctly) was having 7 offers–including three over-asking–come rolling in within three days of listing. Take your time to fully investigate options, listen to the experts, and check your emotions at the door when you’re deciding on what price to sell your place for. Trust me, your bank account will thank you later.
Clean, Stage, Shine
The name of this blog, The Happy Homeowner, is right on the money when describing how much I love being a homeowner. I’m an HGTV junkie (even though I don’t have cable…haha!) who appreciates DIY projects, upgrades, renovations, and generally anything that comes with the process of making a house a home. Needless to say, my place was in great shape for listing because I’d spent the past three years improving and upgrading things and creating a cosmetic, homey feel that usually involved anyone who walked in the door uttering a few renditions of “Wow!” “This place is amazing!” “Can you be my decorator?”
I had to laugh when my realtor brought over a stager before the photo session (part of his services that are free to any seller!) and she just sat down in the living room sort of stunned as she explained she couldn’t find anything I needed to change–”Not even a book is out of place; How did you learn how to do this?!” We exchanged some warm fuzzies about our mutual love of decorating and design and she eventually headed on her way. My realtor even joked about printing up some business cards for me before the open house.
I’m a firm believer that my attention to detail is what set my home apart from the other comparable properties in the area. I had that “wow” factor that can only come from appreciating the extra steps that can mean all the difference in selling your house and it languishing on the market. Here’s a quick checklist for those who might not be fellow HGTV junkies:
- Clean ALL the things!!! Yep, shout out to Hyperbole and a Half
- Re-paint where necessary. I had already changed my bright blue living room walls to a softer, lighter gray in preparation for the photos/open house–you want to make sure you have neutral colors that can appeal to anyone.
- Update fixtures, switch plates, and knobs. I had already done this years ago, but I know that this can be a quick, cheap upgrade that can mean the difference for potential buyers.
- De-clutter and de-personalize. The goal here is that you want the buyer to be able to picture themselves in the home. It’s quite hard to do that with all those family photos of YOUR family around so pack them up. Consider it a head-start on your eventual moving process.
- Pay attention to details. When it’s time to sell your home, the devil is in the details. Walk around and look at your place as if you were going to buy it–what’s out of place? What doesn’t feel right? Is there mold/mildew in the bathrooms? You’d be surprised what small things to you could end up being a big thing to a buyer–especially a first-time buyer!