Ah! Lazy Sunday mornings. Coffee on the couch watching HGTV (the bain of REALTORs existence). You watch Brian Bohmer tear up flooring and snap down new laminate with ease, new colour on the walls and gorgeous chunky baseboard and trim with perfectly matched miter cuts. He makes it looks so easy and before you know it you are looking at your 12 year old, contractor grade carpet that has seen one too many Kool-Aid spills and thinking: "Damn! I can do that! We can have the house looking great by the end of next weekend."
You and your partner race to Rona and start choosing laminate and paint colours. Next it's on to Youtube for all of the "how to videos" and up comes the carpet. Whoa! That was gross! Good job you watched HGTV, look how much cleaner the house is going to be, how easy it's all going to go. Wait - should we paint first? Yes, lets paint first. Darn, the living room walls need to be spackled and sanded first. We should wash them down with TSP? What's that? Back to Rona.
And it begins. It has taken you a solid month and 10 trips to Rona for a compound, sliding mitre saw and more trim because unlike Brian Bohmer, you aren't a Journeyman Finish Carpenter with a film crew editing out your miss cuts. You had to paint the living room twice because the first light grey paint you chose turned out lavender, but hey, the living room looks great. The only trouble is that now the trim in the living room doesn't match the trim in the rest of the house. Well if we are going to change out the trim in the bedrooms then we should paint first...and it begins again...Ugh! Our interior doors are really dated, we should change those too. Can we just buy the doors or do we need to need to do new pre-hungs?
Before you know it your one weekend project has turned into a year long epic battle. It has pitted you against the house and the house is winning. Every day as you get out of bed you are stepping over the mitre say in the hallway, there are paint rollers wrapped in plastic in your fridge, and flecks of drywall compound are everywhere.
I guess the moral of my drawn out story is this: professionals like Brian Bohmer and Mike Holmes make it look easy because they have been doing this kind of work for years. They have a crew of professionals working for them and they have the tools. That reno project that they just slammed out in 30 minutes actually took weeks if not months to complete. If you know that your flooring is finished and you want it replaced seriously consider leaving it to the professionals. Yes, it will cost more but sometimes the extra cost is worth not living in a reno zone for a year for substandard results. Know your limitations. Be careful what home renovation projects you decide to tackle on your own because Mike Holmes is not going to ride to your rescue.
Little known real estate fact #2: finished basements fall into 3 categories: Professionally finished, Talented amateur, and Shouldn't be allowed to have power tools!
You've done it! You have cleaned, buffed and decluttered. You have painted, stained and cleared away recycle. Now it's time to stage.
STAGE?!? What do you mean STAGE?!? Well...sometimes, over the course of the years, the rooms in our homes gradually morph out of their original intended use into rooms that better suit our needs. An extra bedroom becomes an office, a small living room becomes a dining room, the family room becomes a teen's bedroom and there is nothing wrong with that. Until it is time to sell your home. Because, and here it comes: Little known real estate fact #3: People don't buy houses. They buy the lifestyle they portray!
Let's face it, we all watch HGTV and yearn for bright, airy spaces, spa-like bathrooms in cool tones with white washed sea shells to hold the guest soaps. We long for bedrooms that go on for miles with matching linens and dozens of coordinating throw pillows on the acre of king sized bed. The walk in closet with clothes hanging neatly in colour gradient patterns. We dream of a family room with neatly stacked board games and a trolley style popcorn popper. You know: a home that screams "YES! I HAVE A FULL TIME CAREER AND THE PERFECT FAMILY HOME WITH NOTHING OUT OF PLACE! I AM AMAZING!" But if your teen aged son is camped out in the middle of the family room or there is laundry draped over the treadmill to dry in the exercise room your home is screaming "WE DON'T HAVE ANY ROOM LEFT IN THIS HOUSE AND IT WILL BE TOO SMALL FOR YOU MR BUYER!"
So before we list your home, take a week, take a look, and start moving your rooms back into their original configurations. If you haven't used it to make a meal in the last month, get it off of your counter. Take everything that is stuck to the fridge with a magnet down. Set the dining room table with your best dishes, take it back from homework time. Take everything off of the coffee table and leave only one decorative thing. Get rid of the dog beds, they take up floor space and can make a room feel cramped. Too many house plants? If the movers won't take them, now is a good time to find new homes for them. Go into the kids' rooms and take a critical look at them. Are their toys all over the place? If the kids haven't played with it in the past 3 months, pack them away. Get your children involved in the process, make a game out of it. Don't have time to do dishes in the morning? Have Janey load them in the dishwasher while Johnny helps you make beds each morning, and open all of the blinds and drapes, let the sunlight in so that your home is welcoming and bright.
You don't know when I am going to call with a showing request and your home should always look its best when you leave for the day. And here is my next: Little known real estate fact #4: Pretty homes sell faster and for more money! So take a look at some your competition online and see if you can "out-Martha" them.
I have probably saved the most touchy selling subject to (almost) the last. Pricing.
Your home is your castle. It has sheltered you from the weather. You have celebrated milestones in it. You have mourned in it. It is an integral part of your memories and in a way it is a physical manifestation of your family in bricks and mortar (or in Cold Lake's case, vinyl and asphalt shingles). In your mind you have put it on a pedestal and it out shines all of the other homes in the neighbourhood.
In steps reality in the form of your Agent. Don't hate us, trust me, we have enough anxiety as it is. We have to look at your home in an unbiased, objective manner and compare it to what has recently sold, what is currently on the market and then judge where it best fits in that market. We do cost analysis on how much it would cost to duplicate your home if it is a recent (within 10 years) build. We do a comparative market analysis if its older and judge it against the recent SOLDS, adding and subtracting for renovations and upgrades. We look at the market history and add and subtract the percentage changes to your values. Again, trust me, we aren't guessing your price and we aren't trying to hurt your feelings.
Don't over stretch! The buyers are not emotionally invested in your house and they are not willing to over pay. They don't care that you have measured the growth of your children on the kitchen door frame and in a buyer's market they have choices. When there are 35 homes within $25,000 of each other a buyer can afford to be choosy and if you are listed even $10,000 higher than a similar home then you are already out of the running and likely will not even be shown.
Your best chance to sell is in the first 30 days and if you over price it at the beginning you may end up selling for much less than had you listened to your Agent from the get go. So please, listen to your REALTOR (tm), that's why you are paying them. List your home at the price they recommend because there is nothing more frustrating than hearing the question "Why hasn't my house sold?" and having to say "Because the price isn't right."