Necessary (evils maybe) to selling your house, and fast.
1. A Good Realtor - obviously people do OK in 'up' markets with for-sale-by-owner. But now is not the time. So, I'm glad for you that you already have someone lined up. If you don't end up using her, I love our realtor. She has sold houses for us under duress (dry rotted foundation, in just a few days when we had already bought another house) She works hard and know's EVERYONE.
2. Staging: Usually even though we like the result, this is hard to do. It's really difficult to reinvent a house you are living in and using, to appeal to buyers. We all think our kids are cute, so do buyers (think their kids are cute that is), which means all our family photos have to come down if we want them to imagine their kids (not ours) living in the house. This also means removing all possible signs of pets and children. I love pets and children, but no matter how cute we think peoples cats are, no one wants to make an offer on a house when they've just had to step over the litter box.
- Smells: Mrs. Meyers Diffusers are THE best air freshener 'plug ins' I've ever come across. My favorite sent is 'lemon verbena', but there are several others available. They give off a clean crisp scent without killing the nose or making someone with floral sensitivity(dudes) nauseous. Candles make realtors nervous as they hold liability while they are showing your house. If they see a candle, they will panic and put it out. Diffusers are the way to go.
- Organizing: It's gotta happen. Even the garage needs order if you want a buyer to see the space as an asset. If you clean out and purge a lot of your stuff now, it sure makes packing and moving into a new place a whole lot easier too. We did the best we could, even moving most of the kids toys and playthings out into the garage and tarping the lot of it. As I said, staging is not easy...especially on the kids. Sorry. It is what it is.
- Decluttering: Put it away. All of it.
- Showing: I think houses should be open to showing with no more than 30 minutes notice. I wanted any and every buyer who was interested be able to see the house almost immediately after they thought of it. This meant the whole "has kids, appointment necessary" listing on the MLS will not fly. We would get the house ready in the morning and then be gone most of the day, taking day trips to Seattle, meeting friends for lunch etc. Remember, if you do this right, you should only have to put up with these days trips for a week or two. You can do that!
- Clean: Deeply. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are truly magic. Enough said. Get some.
- Lights/Music: Put your IPOD on a quiet loop and leave it on (along with every single light in your house) all day.
- Think Outside your Box: Are you on Pinterest? If you have a particular area challenging you, I love searching here for ideas on clever organization or presentation.
3. Pricing: The days of asking $50,000 more than you think your house is worth to bring high offers are over. You've got to price your house at value if you want it to sell fast. This last time around, when our realtor did our market value assessment we did not look at houses on the market. We looked at comps. that had sold (within 10 days) in the last 6 months. We used those to set our price. We received 3 offers (one site unseen) in 2 days and ended up taking one offer which was $15,000 over our asking price.
4. Prayer: I'm Catholic and Old-School at that. I've burried a St. Joseph statue at the front step (upside-down and facing the house) of every house we've sold. He has never failed me, so I will continue to recommend him as the best spiritual realtor around and give him a place of honor in our new house (the nativity). The results here are controversial, obviously, but I never could see how it could hurt, so I've always done it.
5. Beat Street: Realtors are great, but we can always help them. I would ask your Realtor for 50 or so of the brochures she works up. (Making sure you have great 'real life' photos, not those ones taken with the expansion lens that cause nothing but disappointment in buyers when they walk into your house which looks 1/2 the size of the photos you falsely advertised your home with. I have a bone to pick here, can you tell?) Take the brochures to school, hand them out to friends to disperse to other friends who might be looking, and give a handful to the front office of your kids school. We actually had several St. Pat's families come to see our house because of this - they had recently moved to the area and were looking to get out of their rental.
Sell that house!