As a Windsor real estate agent for over 20 years, I have assisted hundreds of people when selling or buying a home. Currently, I have someone who works for me selling their home that they have owned for over eight years. While she doesn’t live in this area, she will be the first person to tell you that she has learnt quite a bit from her own personal experience, despite working with me for well over a year. I recently sat down with her to discuss her experience and she has lots of good, interesting advice:
Question: Why are you selling?
Like many others, we have decided to downsize. With two children away at college and another on his way, it was the perfect time to find a home that was quite a bit smaller, didn’t require the upkeep and allowed us to have more freedom. They say that if you don’t use 40% of your home, then it may be a time to consider downsizing. And that was us!
Q: How did you prepare yourself for a move?
After making the initial decision to move, we walked around and tried to envision our home through a buyer’s eyes. This was harder than you would think. What I thought wouldn’t matter to a buyer, my husband did and visa versa. Also, it’s necessary to put away all of your emotions and think with your head, not your heart. For example, I knew that I may have to paint over the growing chart of our children in the doorway of our kitchen. That was tough. And I knew that my daughter’s, bright baby blue bedroom would not appeal to many buyers, so her favourite colour would have to be replaced with a more neutral colour. Because she is away at college, it wasn’t a huge ordeal, but it was a bit depressing for a moment or two.
Q: What projects did you decide to tackle?
Needless to say, we didn’t have an endless budget, so we had to decide what projects we could handle ourselves, what we would hire out, and what we would ignore. I had to remember that we couldn’t please every single buyer, that most would be making their own changes and would redecorate. But I did know that it was important to emphasize the good points about our home: the crown molding, the wainscoting, the high ceilings and built-in features.
The first thing we did was have the roof and home powerwashed, gutters cleaned out and our landscaping completely updated and improved. We had many bushes that didn’t survive the winter, so we tore those out and hired a professional crew to come and plant trees, new flowering bushes and lots of annuals. We layed out some dark mulch and the curb appeal went from “ok” to “unbelievable.” This was the most costly of improvements we made, but it was the best thing we did. Our house really looked amazing.
The next expensive improvement we tackled was sanding and coating the hardwood floors. Thanks to a very large dog we had for several years, the floors had seen better days. For one weekend our downstairs was torn apart while a professional crew sanded and glazed our floors with a water based finish. We preferred the water based because we didn’t have to leave our home and the floors dried quickly. The difference was night and day.
Everything else, we tackled on our own: We painted a small half bathroom a neutral tan. Now, the room looks like it is straight from a Pottery Barn catalog in the sense that the new colour really highlights the pedestal sink and updated light fixture. Not only that, it makes the room look brighter and larger. And as I mentioned, we painted our daughter’s bedroom a tan colour as well. It now appeals to everyone that walks in.
Finally, we had the carpets professionally cleaned. Once that was done, we did a huge spring cleaning, donated lots of stuff we no longer used (breadmaker or ice cream maker anyone?) and had a huge garage sale. Finally, we were ready for business.
Q: How did you prepare for the first showing:
Before the house was even officially on the market, word of mouth was out. We had our first showing yesterday and they are coming back this weekend. My advice to anyone, is to clean as you go, not allow any food anywhere other than the kitchen, and prepare to be flexible.
But I am convinced that the improvements we made will find us the right buyer for our home. Keep your fingers crossed that our home sells quickly!