Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Selling Our Home: Lessons Learned

I have never been through the "home buying" process, since my husband owned our home when I met him.  But now I can say that I have been through the "home selling" process.  And I have learned some lessons to share with those of you that have not.

First, a quick update.  With our pending move, we decided to sell the house.  We put our house on the market this past Friday and received multiple offers by the end of open house day on Sunday;  we are now under contract.  I'm relieved because my biggest fear was having our house sit on the market for a long time.

So everything worked out perfectly, right?  Well.....the end result seems to be really good.  But, it was a bumpy ride.  Having just gone through the selling process, I thought I would share a few lessons learned for those of you that have not sold a home before.  For those of you that have, perhaps we can commiserate - or you can add your opinions.

Lesson #1: Don't wait to renovate!

If you're a regular reader, you know we just finished renovating our upstairs bathroom.  And, now we're selling.  I don't regret it because the updated bathroom made our house more attractive and helped us to sell quickly (so our agent told us).  But we will only get to enjoy the benefits of a newly renovated bathroom for a month or two. :(

Lesson #2: Fix the little things - they make a difference.

You would be surprised how easy it is to get used to things not working in your home.  For example, the entire time I've lived in this house, our doorbell has not worked.  It just was never a priority to get fixed.  Well, of course, we had to fix it before the house went on the market and it 30 minutes to fix it.  Thirty minutes!  When my husband was done, I asked him, "Why didn't we do this sooner?"

Lesson #3: Don't let your design ADD/indecisiveness stop you from moving forward.  

I am SO guilty of this.  One thing I've learned is that when you sell your home, your home needs to look completed.  So, in the interest of getting our house ready for selling, I had to sacrifice my design preference to just complete the room.  Get it done!  And, if you have time later, go back and play with the aesthetics.  You can't afford to have a room that looks unfinished.  People want to envision themselves living in the space.

Lesson #4: Farm out work, as necessary to stay on a timeline.

When we first had our upstairs bathroom appraised, the contractor quoted $27K.  Yes, that is right - $27K for a bathroom smaller than a jail cell.  That really scared us so we agreed we would do the work ourselves.  This was a great idea from a financial perspective but it really, really stretched out the project (longer than I even want to admit).  Obviously, we should have gotten a second or third opinion.

Well, two weeks before our 'go live' date (house on the market), our realtor said, 'you have to renovate your downstairs bathroom.'  With this compressed schedule and our experience, we knew we had to get outside help.  We aggressively contacted contractors and told them our guidelines - renovate in less than a week and under $2.5K.  It's amazing when you clearly and aggressively spell out your needs, how quickly things move.  One highly recommended contractor agreed to do it and he knocked out the work. It was stressful because we constantly monitored progress and he was here sometimes until 9 or 10 at night.  But, it got done properly and right before our 'go live' date.  It's definitely not my dream bathroom (see above), but it is a huge improvement for our small investment (will post before pictures in a later post).

So there you have it!!  Had we known these lessons earlier, I think we would have enjoyed this house more and the selling process would have been smoother.  Just sayin'.....:)  Stay tuned for pictures of our new place in Vienna!!!


  1. great post! just what i need to get me out of my 'moving forward' funk!!!
    lesson # 3 - i think i need to print this one out - large!!!
    enjoy your last days in your home.

  2. Oh, what a relief to get it sold so quickly! These are great tips.

  3. Fran! We are so guilty of those same selling blunders too. We once actually finished a kitchen the week before our house hit the market - after living with a hideous kitchen for the previous six years!
    I'm glad your selling experience was a relatively quick one. Your tips are right on the money.

  4. Having sold two homes in the past I can say that your tips are spot on. I would add to the list that as soon as you move into a new home get the name of a good handyman whose rates are reasonable. This way you can fix those little things that you don't get around to and won't have to deal with the headache if the need to move again arises.

    Congrats on selling your home so quickly! What a relief, huh?

  5. congratulations!!!! i'm not at all surprised!!

  6. Congratulations on selling your home quickly in this market, Fran! I think it speaks to the fabulous designer in you. I will keep your tips in mind should we ever decide to actually buy. When are you slated to leave?

  7. Most of the time, selling a house only happens once or twice in a person's life. It can be pretty tricky, and having a quick guide on it can help someone out. Thanks again and I hope you enjoy your new home!

  8. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!! I had the same experience when we sold my house last year after getting married and moving into my husband's house. It has made us much better homeowners in our current house too. Congratulations on your quick sale!! That's fantastic. I know the stress of a house on the market for months. You did a great job.

  9. That's good. Even if you no longer have plans to sell a home again, these lessons can help out those who do want to sell theirs. First impressions count, so one has to work hard to make sure that everything is set properly around the house. The place has to show potential in the eyes of the potential buyer, so they can imagine themselves living there.

  10. Who knows? You might be interested in moving and buying a house later on in life. The lessons you learned can be a great benefit for you if that time ever comes. For now, the knowledge you pass on can help many others out.