After many weeks of preparation, Sylvia and I finally have our own home officially on the market and entered into MLS.
Our new home will be ready for move in by December. Summer rain delays put us three months behind in construction, so now we’re stuck trying to sell our current home during the slower season.
This will be the second time we’ve actually lived in a home we are selling, but the first one doesn’t count. That was back in 1999 and we priced it well below market and had a cash offer in less than 12 hours. Our motivations were different that time as we had just stumbled onto a fantastic deal and needed to move very fast. This time, we really want top dollar and have more time.
Given the time of year and the general slowdown of the Austin real estate market, we have gone to great lengths to ensure that the home shows like a model. The preparation has included interior paint, exterior power washing, carpet cleaning, tile cleaning throughout, painting of all three porches, de-cluttering of possessions, cleaning up the yard and planting new plants where needed, minor repairs, preventative maintenance, re-grouting some tile, cleaning all windows inside and out – including screens, professional maid service (now scheduled for every Friday while on the market), professional lawn service every Friday. Total investment in these pre-sale preparation activities? – over $5,000.
Most important though, we hired a professional stager who brought in staging furniture to replace and/or complement our own. We’ve never cared much about decorating or spending money on furniture, so our furniture was several notches below the quality of our home. The staging is another $1,500 plus $500/mo furniture rental. Finally, the professional photographer came yesterday to take photos for the Virtual Tour.
So after all the work and preparation, we have a home on the market that’s as close to being in “model” condition as we can reasonably attain with a 4 year old home. Now the big question – can we keep it looking like this while living here?
As a Realtor, I’ve often marveled at occupied homes that show like models, and also wondered “how in the world do these people live here and keep the place so clean and looking so great?” Well, having done so for three days now, I can tell you, it ain’t easy, especially with 11 and 14 years old kids, a home office and a busy, often hectic, lifestyle.
But the flip side is that the home is a much more enjoyable aesthetic space in which to live. We actually like the home more and feel better living in it. If I had known about this side effect, I may have done this major de-cluttering and cleanup long ago even without selling.
We are not complete slobs, but we are nowhere close to being neat freaks either. Our home gets messy very fast. So living in a staged home means old habits are having to change and a different level of consciousness and diligence must be applied to the manner in which we go about our daily routines. Everything from preparing meals, getting ready in the morning, leaving the house and working in our home office has changed. It’s tough, but not impossible so far.
My biggest challenge is to remain a loving and caring Dad and be patient with the kids. Instead of yelling “who left their shoes and socks on the living room floor” and “whose cereal bowl is that on the table – rinse it and put it in the dishwasher”, I have to remember that they are being challenged by this new way of living also and cut them some slack.
I’ve often heard that it takes 30 days to form new habits. Maybe if our home takes longer than 30 days to sell, we will by then be transformed into accomplished neat freaks and our new lifestyle habits will carry over into our new home. 🙂