Life

How We Sold Our House in 5 Days

How We Sold Our House in 5 Days

He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.

~Clarence Budington Kelland

house for saleIf you’ve been following the story of our recent life changes, you know that we just bought a home about two and a half hours from where we live now in order to take advantage of a new opportunity even though it meant taking out a much larger home loan. When I last updated you, we still needed to sell our current home. We put the house on the market a couple of days after that post and sold it 5 days later.

Since this is a time of year when a lot of folks are looking to buy and/or sell a home, I thought some of you might be interested in how and why we sold our home so quickly. This is also the time of year when we think about the fathers in our lives, and there are a couple of fathers in my life who helped make selling our home a lot easier. Here’s the story:

First Impressions & Fascism

The real estate agent who helped us sell our home happens to be my Dad. He’s helped us out with all of our real estate transactions over the years and, like most Dads, he’s not short on catch phrases or clichés. And, like most clichés, the ones he shared with us are still around because they reflect tried and true wisdom. Two of them stand out to me:

1. “You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.”

2. “When people walk through your house, they’re not looking for a reason to buy it. They’re looking for a reason not to buy it.”

The implications, of course, are clear: Don’t give them any reason not to buy your house.

Well, fortunately (or unfortunately) Mr. Cents took these pearls of wisdom to heart. He was nothing short of dictatorial in his determination to polish and present our home as the jewel we all know it is. No crumb was left on the carpets, no faucet left unpolished, and absolutely no superfluous objects were permitted to appear on any surface. With three boys aged 16 and 12 in the house, you can imagine the “challenges” this presented.

Fortunately for my sons and me, my husband’s fascist regime was short-lived – unless you include the weeks we spent painting, washing walls and repairing the most minute faults imaginable before we put our home on the market. But guess what? It worked. Within 5 days, our house was sold.

Waiting for a Better Offer

During the course of the 5 days our home was on the market, we had about 7 formal showings as well as an open house that garnered quite a bit of traffic, especially considering that the weather was awful that day. But the couple who bought our home in the end was the first to go through it.

A lot of people have asked us “Why didn’t you wait for a better price?” I’ll give a few details below, but the real answer is just another one of my Dad’s stock sayings:

“Your first offer is often your best offer.”

Now don’t get me wrong. If the purchasers had offered only 75% of our asking price, we would not have accepted the offer. After a couple of counter-offers lobbed back and forth, we settled on a price that was a little more than 94% of our asking price. My Dad had told us that houses in our region had been selling for about 95% of the asking price on average, so we felt like we got a fair deal.

The offer we accepted had no conditions attached to it, so it carried some pretty sweet bonuses:

  • We wouldn’t be stuck waiting around to see if the buyers sold their current home.
  • The buyers didn’t need to get financing approval.
  • No more house showings.
  • We could immediately move ahead with plans for moving, preparing the new house and getting set up in the new city.
  • The end of Mr. Cents’ Reign of Terror.

How to Sell Your Home in 5 Days or Less

OK. I couldn’t resist the cheesy subtitle. But seriously, selling our home this quickly was probably only partly based on luck. Regular readers know that I don’t believe in luck. I think we make our own luck.

In this case, Mr. Cents the Terrible made our luck. He forced us all to clean up our rooms, our closets and perhaps serendipitously, our acts. And he worked harder than any of us.

We learned that there really is a place for everything – even if it’s in the garbage. Just when we thought we had everything looking ship-shape, we were sent back to make it even better. Kicking it up a notch is my husband’s specialty. Here’s how you do it:

  • Price your house right: Know your market. What are comparable homes selling for? What percentage of the asking price do they sell at?
  • Every surface must be dust-free and shiny clean
  • No cracks, dimples, or paint chips on the walls.
  • No clutter – anywhere.
  • Floors – clean, shiny, debris-free
  • If you have an asphalt, stamped, or specialty concrete driveway, seal it
  • Landscaping and lawn freshly manicured
  • Kitchen – toaster, sinks and faucets shined; no dishes in sink or drying tray; counters wiped
  • Freshly vacuumed floors/carpets/stairs
  • Aged, marked, or damaged furniture is either tossed, repaired or temporarily exiled to a friend’s garage/basement
  • Make sure your rooms look as spacious as possible. Temporarily relocating some items may be necessary.

If you still want to sell your home once you’ve got it looking this pristine, you’re ready to go.

Where’s the Champagne?

Leaving aside the fact that I don’t like champagne, we didn’t exactly celebrate the sale of our home. We thought we would. We had a bottle of “better” red wine tucked away for the occasion. Why no cork-popping?

For one thing, we were absolutely exhausted. In fact, I couldn’t even bring myself to write a single word about the experience until a few weeks after the fact. For another, Mr. Cents’ uncle lost his short battle with cancer around the same time. For another, we were also really grieving the loss of this house.

We chose every tile, fixture and paint colour in it. We designed our unique driveway and landscaping. Our sons went from ages 8 and 4 to 16 and 12 while we lived here. This is home.

On the financial side the house we bought, which is (at least to us) inferior, will end up costing us about 40% more because of the area it’s in. After coming within a hair of paying off our mortgage, that’s a tough pill to swallow. And yet, the new city offers the potential for much higher income. [Sigh.]

That leaves me wondering about home. What makes a home? While I love the look, layout, and feel of our current home, I know that when I was out of town looking at other homes, it wasn’t the brick colour I missed. It was one son’s latest hippie rant. It was another’s hilarious (if slightly nihilistic) life observations. It was the third’s smiling face and breathless stream of news. It was sharing a meal and some music. It was family. I guess that’s home.

To all of you: I hope you get a chance to ponder the unique gifts the fathers in your lives have given you.

To Dad and to Mr. Cents: Thanks for letting me watch you work. Happy Father’s Day.

Comments on real estate, home, and fathers are welcome.

Comments

  1. Sustainable PF

    Awesome news! We went through a similar experience last summer and detailed it all on our site this past spring. I wrote a 6 part series on Buying a Home, Selling a House Quickly, 34 House Staging Tips and then the 3 part monster on all the renos we did over 3.5 months to get the house in tip top shape. ROI from about $3500 invested was over 450%. The articles can all be found here: http://sustainablepersonalfinance.com/category/housing/

    But most importantly, within 2 weeks we had an offer for full asking – the caveat, they had to sell their house. But we took the offer – first offer being best. While the 2 week period for them to sell began to elapse and we began to worry another buyer came in and offered 99% of asking w/ only financing and home inspection conditions! Woot! We sold within the month.

    So not exactly 5 days – but your Dad is dead on with his advice. Our experience mirrors yours in many ways.

    • 2 Cents

      450% ROI. Wow. It’s amazing what a few well-planned tweaks can do for the value of a home. I remember reading some of the posts from your series. It was really well done, but at the time I never thought we would be selling our home, so I just skimmed. I would encourage anyone who is even remotely considering buying or selling a home to read those articles. They’re full of detailed tips!

      Thanks for sharing your experiences! 🙂

  2. My Own Advisor

    Great stuff Kim! Change is scary, that includes selling a home and all the memories that go with it, but things will work out. They always do, the way they should, we just never realize it until “we’re there” 🙂

    • 2 Cents

      Thanks for the encouragement Mark. My brain knows you’re right, but my heart isn’t quite there yet. Very soon we’ll start packing our stuff – and our memories – away for a fresh start. Maybe we’ll finally enjoy that great bottle of wine we set aside when we get there. 😉

  3. Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter

    Congrats on the news. This is great. I am really happy for you.

    Now I haven’t sold a house in while but I did buy one in the last couple years and I can admit that the process goes fast. We had to make an offer within 24 hours of viewing the house. We were lucky and got it despite a bidding war.

    When I sold my first house over 5 years ago, I implimented some of the same tricks you did. It is all of the little things that really make the difference; like cleanlienss, touchups, declutter. I had a big ROI when I sold it and it really didnt’ take too much to get it ready.

    Wishing you the best with the next part of your journey.

    • 2 Cents

      We faced a similar situation when we bought the new home: we had to make an offer right away and there were two offers on the table. I guess we were lucky to have won out, although we did have to pay a premium.

      Thanks for your comments and your good wishes! 🙂

      P.S. ~ Your comment was stuck in my spam filter for a while. Luckily, I found it before I cleaned it out!

  4. Calgary Real Estate

    It is all about pricing it right.

  5. Gordon Robertson

    Another thing I can suggest is to conduct a research on the type of properties that people want in your respective area. You can be more competitive, if you know your target market. I would suggest that you use the Internet particularly the social media sites to know exactly the wants of prospects in your area.

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