Ok, so this has to start with a huge disclaimer that the market was HOT when we sold, especially in our super affordable price range. That made all the difference. But that said I did watch other houses go on the market in our area and sit for much longer before selling.
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We decided in a VERY short amount of time to pack up our life in Indiana and move to Las Vegas! For a couple days we considered renting our home in Indiana but after thinking about it and just seeing how God was moving us to Vegas we decided to go ahead and sell. We met with our realtor and made a game plan of what needed to be done and when we would list and then we got to work! Here is room by room what we did (both what the realtor recommended and what we felt needed to be done).
Living Room/Dining Room
- Declutter/depersonalize: I swapped out the family photos I had above the couch for prints I purchased from Etsy and had inexpensively printed at Staples as color blueprints. I also updated the artwork on the picture ledge by the dining table and included one that said “Home is where you hang your heart”. I kept end tables, coffee table, coat hooks, etc… as clear as possible and I removed a piece of furniture we had next to the front door.
- Deep clean/touch up paint: I used a LOT of magic erasers getting the house ready and tried to make sure every wall and baseboard looked pristine. Around our dining table especially needed attention since we have two young kids!
- Wash windows: I actually didn’t have time to do a great job on this but wish I would have. I cleaned most of the windows on the inside but never got to the outside, and considering we never washed them the three years we lived there they NEEDED it.
WISH I WOULD HAVE: taken down our super funky (and amazing) West Elm light fixtureand put up something a little more basic, still stylish but not as much of a statement. I don’t think this would apply to a house that is truly mid century modern (or any distinct style) inside and out, but with ours being a more standard ranch a lot of the potential buyers weren’t particularly into mid century modern and I heard a lot that people didn’t love the light fixture. And it makes me kind of sad knowing that light fixture I love so much will probably get taken down and who knows where it will go – I could have kept it and used it in our new home or at least sold it for close to what I paid for it.
- UPDATE: this is the part of the house that was the most dated because we had planned to do a total gut and renovation including opening up the wall between the kitchen and living room. Our realtor said ideally we would do that renovation because it would vastly improve the homes resale value but realistically between time and finances we couldn’t. So we did what we could and updated the flooring with luxury peel and stick vinyl tile, put a fresh coat of paint on the cupboards (color matched the existing color so we could just quickly freshen them up), fresh paint on the walls and updated appliances. We already had updated the oven and dishwasher to stainless so we went ahead and did the fridge and microwave.
- Declutter/deep clean: I decluttered the kitchen a LOT. Everyone falls victim (out of convenience) to having a lot of stuff on the counters but I cut it down to the bare minimum to keep everything feeling more open. I deep cleaned every nook and cranny and put fresh shelf liner in all the cabinets and shelves. The truth is our cabinets were very old and we had wanted to put in new ones, but by doing the fresh paint and liner they looked really fresh and the new owners could keep them and be proud of them or rip them out and put new ones in, but we didn’t spend a bunch of money. In the back hallway I removed the bench we had back there so it felt more open.
- Sitting area: when we first moved in we had a bar height table in the space and it was our only dining area, when we moved our dining room to the living room we moved a hutch into the kitchen for extra storage. Our realtor recommended putting a small table and chairs back in there so we did! I went with this bar-height table and stools. I also finally decorated in here to make it really cute and this “gather, eat, laugh” signfrom Joyfully Said Signs was perfect, plus some framed vintage tea towels.
- UPDATE: the main bathroom had not been updated since we moved in and thankfully the tile on the tub was in good shape, the vanity was nice, and the fixtures were nice. It just needed a fresh coat of paint and the biggest impact made was by using a special grout paint to turn the grout from dingy tan to a crisp dark grey. It took me probably 8-10 hours to complete this project, but the supplies cost under $15!!!!! I learned about the paint from a blog post by Young House Love. I heard people say “wow!” (in a good way) when they checked out the bathroom and let me tell you, it was NOT wow before! We had already updated the half bath a ton so it was good to go.
- Declutter/deep clean: I cut down on stuff in drawers, on shelves and on the counters and I DEEP CLEANED. I used gel toilet bowl cleaner with bleach to clean the grout in the floor tiles and it made a HUGE difference. I squeezed it onto the grout lines, let it sit for about 10 minutes, went back with a scrub brush (did not take any elbow grease, just a quick scrub) and then mopped all the product up and it made those floors look SO fresh and clean. I can see in our new house (which was only built two years ago) that I need to do it in our bathrooms, grout just gets dirty in traffic areas and ends up looking dingy!
- Decorate: I feel like bathrooms often get overlooked as far as style and that putting a little effort in makes a big difference. I put a lot of thought into my half bath and it had plenty of pizzaz with the fun mirror and other accessories. The main bath was a lot more basic but once I painted the tub grout that crisp dark grey the decor came together with a shower curtain in the same crisp white and dark grey as the tile, some cute towels, and that super fun bathroom sign from Joyfully Said Signs (it got a lot of laughs from potential buyers, which is never a bad thing!).
- Declutter/depersonalize: I’m glad we never turned the guest room fully into Betsy’s room because I think having the room as a more generic “bedroom” vs. “kids room” was a good thing. And in Simon’s room I made it gender neutral, not that it really matters that much but I think the more you can help potential buyers picture themselves in your home, the better. As usual I pared down to the minimum as far as furniture and “stuff”.
- Deep clean/touch up paint: As I did in every room, I used a magic eraser, touched up paint as needed and did a good deep clean.
- Cut the contents of the closets in HALF: you want at least half of your closet empty, and keep what is in there looking neat and tidy. People will look in your closets, it’s not where you shove extra stuff during showings (extra stuff goes in the trunk of your car!!!).
- Declutter: The basement and garage were our main storage areas and in order to really make those spaces shine and showcase their potential we rented a small storage unit (5’x10’) and FILLED IT with stuff we wanted to take to Nevada. Not having that would have meant our garage and/or basement would be full of boxes and stuff (remember, we were moving ASAP so I needed to pack!). I think it totally made a difference for showings that people were able to see the whole space and not be distracted by our stuff. I majorly cut down on the volume of toys we had in the basement so that people without kids could imagine themselves in the space too!
- Clean: Ok, I honestly didn’t “deep clean” these spaces like I did the main floor but I did clean. Vacuumed the basement, swept the garage, etc…
- Fix stuff that needs fixing: this is the truth for anywhere in the home but in our case it was this space that needed the most “fixing”. My attitude is, fix stuff now and have the best showings possible and hopefully get a full or over asking offer. Otherwise you leave more room for people to make below-asking offers and after the inspection you might get asked to fix all that stuff anyway! Out here we had to have the roof professionally repaired (it leaked during heavy rains the entire time we lived there). I painted the ceiling to cover up the water spots from the past leaks. We replaced a jankity screen door and a piece of rotted wood on the exterior of the porch.
- Clean: swept, got rid of cobwebs, done!
We sold the house in March, not the most beautiful time of year outdoors in Indiana. And other than replacing all the mulch with rocks and doing a little bit of landscaping over the years we didn’t do anything to the outside of our house to update it. Here are the few things I did do in the weeks leading up to selling!
- Clean the yard: I enlisted some help and cleaned up the whole yard from all the leaves leftover from the previous fall.
- “Wash” the siding: me and a friend went to town on the siding with just a car wash brush and the hose and it actually made a big difference!
- Paint the railing and mailbox post: both of these were originally white and had turned rusty (the railing) or really dirty/chipped (the mailbox post). Freshening both of those up with a new coat of white paint made a HUGE difference.
- Hang a wreath! I still had a Christmas decoration hanging on the front door. In March. So I picked up a nice green wreath and updated it!
- Declutter/depersonalize: don’t take away style, but do take away most of the personal photos and do cut the amount of furniture, tchotchkes, etc… down to make every room feel more open. Cut the contents of your closets in HALF! Pack what you don’t need and think about renting a small storage unit so you don’t end up with a garage or basement full of boxes.
- Deep clean and touch up paint: I did my best to deep clean every room, I used a ton of magic erasers and I touched up paint.
- Update wisely: we were able to do some lower cost updates that made a big impact. New flooring and paint in the kitchen, a few new stainless appliances, freshening up the tub by painting the grout, painting the outside railing and mailbox post… We didn’t spend a ton but it made everything feel fresh and up to date without doing a full remodel anywhere.
- Fix stuff: if something obviously needs fixed, go ahead and fix it. That way it won’t be a turn off to potential buyers who can use it as leverage to offer less. You’re probably going to be asked to fix it anyway after the home inspection so just do it now and get the best possible offer on your home!
- Make the most of each room: for me that meant putting a small table and chairs in the kitchen since it was originally an eat-in kitchen and we hadn’t had time or $$ to do a big remodel and open up walls, add more counters/cabinets, etc… I also made the bedrooms more generic – Betsy’s room looked like a guest room vs. a kids room, Simon’s room was gender/age neutral instead of being a “little boys” room.
- Add some “show home” touches: I had fresh flowers on the table, not a big gaudy arrangement but a small, low-profile arrangement of white hydrangeas. A bowl of fruit in the kitchen. Green wreath on the front door. Inspirational artwork throughout the home like the “Choose Joy” sign, “Home is where you hang your heart” printable, funny bathroom sign, etc…
I hope this helps! I hope to never re-live this experience. It was super hard being the solo full-time parent (Kyle moved to Vegas in mid-February and I was in Indiana with the kids through the beginning of April) while getting our house ready to sell, the showing process, etc… BUT I am SO glad all our hard work paid off and we only had to do two days of showings and we had two over asking price offers to choose from!