we're selling our house by ourselves - any tips?

marybelle_2009February 1, 2009

We've always used a realtor in the past but this time we hope to sell our house ourselves. We've had 4 or 5 local friends who've successfully sold their home on their own who have encouraged us to try it, although this was a few years ago when the economy was better.

We just listed with FSBO and have had a number of page viewings and visitors, but only one call. Is it appropriate to ask forum members to look at our webpage with the photos we've posted for feedback? And, any advice? We've started clearing out the knicknacks, moving out furniture, spiffing up the place, and will advertise thru my work place. It's cold and snowy here and our beautiful big back yard is hidden under the white stuff, which is discouraging because it's a great feature. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

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Good luck. There are discount realtor services that list your house on MLS for just a few hundred dollars. They will also provide things like a lockbox, listing service, and a sign if you want. You might look into it as being on MLS can be a huge help.

If you want to post pictures people here are very helpful with suggestions.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 4:33PM
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Thanks, and if anyone wants to look at our photos, they are available at the following: http://web.me.com/hstmaurice/Arnold-StMaurice/431Crossbow.html

Here is a link that might be useful: house for sale

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 4:56PM
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Loose the wallpaper, get the pics and other stuff off the walls all I could think about is how many nail holes I'd have to paint and how much work it's going to be to change out all that wallpaper. The kitchen is going to kill you. It's small for the size of the house and it's not terribly impressive. Your carpeting even tho it's in good shape is dated.
I know you are proud of your yard but not everyone likes to garden and many are going to see that yard as nothing but work. I'd trim back some to the plants from the walk way and trim some of the trees so they look more controlled.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 5:41PM
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Lena M

So much advice is geared to 'what everyone wants' that it can be hard to keep in mind that you only need to find ONE buyer. One friend just had good luck selling quickly in a depressed market because he found a buyer looking for a house that was not the same old boring re-sale beige that is out there.

I know you are proud of your yard but not everyone likes to garden and many are going to see that yard as nothing but work.
I'd figure that those people will be looking for condos without yards. Play up your lovely yard! You might mention that the flower beds are low maintenance with native flower species (?), and raised veggie beds.

best of luck, Lena

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 6:13PM
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I LOVE the yard and gardens, however I would absolutely get rid of every speck of wallpaper. IMO, it's not a matter of the patterns/colors, but the WORK involved in removing it. SO much easier to paint over a color I don't like than the horrible task of removing wallpaper.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 8:00PM
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I think you have too many pictures. There is no reason to come out to see your house if it is not exactly what I want as I've already seen it all in photos. People connect with a house when they are physically inside. The more bodies through the door, the better a chance of selling.

You don't need six outdoor pictures. And I agree that the gardens are going to scare off at least as many people as they entice.

As far as your interior pictures. Do remove the wallpaper and repaint a neutral color. So many folks will not look at a house with wallpaper because they think of it as WORK.

You don't need pictures of every room and you certainly don't need multiple pictures of any of your rooms. I'd drop the sun room picture, the family room picture, the basement picture, the stairs picture, bedroom 1/den, bedroom 2, bedroom 3. I would then do some work sprucing up the paint and taking down wall paper. After the house is ready, have a GOOD professional house photographer take your pictures. Make certain the photographer is well versed in taking pictures used to sell a house. Some of your pictures are downright horrible.

Do you have the write-up? Listing price? Did I miss that?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 9:20PM
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we just recently sold our house fsbo in under a month. it takes lots of preparation but we got our asking price with no realtor. This is what we did. Took down all paper, repainted each room. Painted ceilings (amazing difference). Put new carpet in downstairs. We love green but realized not everyone else would. We then cleaned, cleaned, cleaned.

We paid to be on the mls which is where our buyer found us. We had a friend who was a mortgage broker so we had her card in case anyone needed help. She also helped us get all the necessary paperwork so when the right buyer came along all they had to do was take our packet with all the contracts ready to sign. We had the disclosures, ect. ready for them. We also went to a title company and let them know what we were doing and so they were expecting to hold escrow for us when the time came. The company that did the mls listing for us charged 495 to list us but would have charged another 595 to handle the paperwork. What we knew was there was nothing to it--the title company pretty much does it all.

As far as your pictures, if you decide to repaint (or not) the living room, change the positioning of the chairs to accentuate that wonderful fireplace! Good Luck.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 12:15AM
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I agree with most of what xamsx said, except, I wouldnt drop so many photos. You absolutely don't need six exterior shots, I got bored just looking at them. One of the front, one of the back is fine. I would keep the sun room picture, although I would try to get a better shot. Its a nice feature but it doesnt look great in the photo. Don't show the whole house, you want to show just enough to want someone to call to see it. The 2nd picture of the livingroom is horrible. It looks like two chairs in the middle of the floor. I know you are showing the "other half" but you would be surprised how many people will say, what a weird shaped livingroom. THere is no reason for a call right now, they've seen the entire house.

Absolutely get rid of all the wallpaper. Buyers see it as "work" period! Even if its just a plain paper with a slight pattern, they comment on it. I would also lighten up the kitchen floor, its very dark and dated and just makes the entire kitchen feel dated.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 7:37AM
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Lena M

If you are looking for an inspirational kitchen, check out what Ncamy did for $308 in the kitchen forum:
White kitchen that won't sell- $308 Update with tons of pics

and also read how Ncamy balked at the suggested changes:
The white kitchen that won't sell..pictures

The Home Decor forum is also a good place to ask for advice.

hth, Lena

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 8:37AM
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I would never advise someone to ask questions about preparing a house to sell in the decorating forum. While there are many knowledgeable folks in that forum, when you are selling you are NOT decorating. Decorating is fixing your house according to your family's needs, taste and pocketbook. When you are selling, you are "staging", or doing the exact opposite of decorating, "anti-decorating" if you will. You are prepping the house for the masses, not your particular tastes or needs. Most of the time I cringe when I read staging advice in the decorating forum. Some is spot-on but most is decorating advice; pertinent to the forum, useless to a seller.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 8:55AM
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I agree completely with the wallpaper comments. You're eliminating a good percentage of potential buyers entirely by leaving the paper up & those that aren't scared away will make a lower offer because of the work/expense involved in removing the paper. Wallpaper seems to bring out strong emotions in people.

I love your gardens & recognize that most of the plants are easy maintenance. But, easy maintenance is a relative term. There are an amazing amount of people that just don't want anything but the trimmed, "green meatball" kind of look. So, you'll lose those people. That's OK...let them buy another property. You'll find somebody that also love gardens & will recognize the value in your plantings. I do also agree though that there are too many outside pictures. One front...one rear...that's all you need.

The pictures hanging on the walls don't bother me...but the clutter stuck to the refrigerator's doors does...I'd suggest removing all of it for a cleaner, tidier look (especially for the pictures). Also agree that the cost of a professional photographer is money very well spent.

Remove the wallpaper.

Best of luck for a fast, easy sale!


    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 9:06AM
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Lena M

I would never advise someone to ask questions about preparing a house to sell in the decorating forum.

NEVER? Xamsx has an important point, it is a critical distinction for a homeowner that staging/neutralizing a house for sale is a very different goal from personalizing your decor while you live there. But if a question posted to the Decor forum is labeled as staging or for resale a person would get appropriate advice from people that do not frequent this forum. For example there is this thread: Help me pick a kitchen good for resale. If you post there understand that there may be conflicting advice, but I would not say NEVER post there.

The advice is pretty standard otherwise: Clean, declutter, remove wallpaper. Know your market, what is competition in your area, and just do them a bit better. Take good photos (and more tips from this forum here). I think a professional photographer would be overkill -- important for a Manhattan coop, but Plover is a village in central Wisconsin! If you want to go an extra step, wait until a half hour before sunset (if your home faces west; or after sunrise, if east), turn on all the inside lights, and using a tripod for a longer exposure try to capture an outside photo of the house with a cozy warm glow.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 9:57AM
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All of the furniture should face the focal point of the room ... the FP.
Get rid of the book shelf on the floor.
Remove all wallpaper and paint nuetral. This one is a must!
Replace all "builder brass" fixtures with anything but brass. Brass is out today.
Pack away at least half of the books on the built ins. You are currently screaming to buyers that there is not enough space.
The end table lamp that has a chord that looks as though it lays across the carpet in search of a wall outlet. Looks bad, is a tripping hazard, and screams to buyers that the room is not too functional when it comes to lighting and furniture placement.
Remove the cutting board and cook books in the kitchen. You want to sell space. take off of the microwave, the bread slicer. Clean up the refridgerator.
You already have a yard that to most folks is scary. If most buyers were like you and me, it would be no big deal. But most are not. So focus on the things on the inside that you can change.
MAke sure your agent markets to the local garden clubs and nurseries.
BTW... the dresser in the master is gorgeous.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 11:42AM
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Your gardens are absolutely gorgeous and that would be a plus for me if I was a buyer--but then again I am a gardener. Your home is gorgeous. I do agree about taking all of the wallpaper down and painting a neutral color.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 12:00PM
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Thank you to everyone who responded. Some of the advice was a little hard to hear, but nonetheless, important! We had heard that having photos on the site was a big plus and I agree we rushed to take them without enough planning and de-cluttering first. As you probably know, once you've been in a home for 12 years, you just don't see things the way that others do. So, thanks again.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 3:26PM
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Don't be too discouraged about the garden comments.
I sold a terribly outdated home last year for asking price simply by virtue of having a high maintenance garden.

All you need is one person to fall in love with it- my home had both it's original 1970 bathrooms- one harvest gold and one avocado green, but the garden made it a must have for one idealistic couple who just couldn't get it out of their minds.

Now, in reality I doubt they have kept it up as it really was a lot of work, but I did leave plenty of notes to help them along.
There's just gotta be someone like that near you!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 4:44PM
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Too many photos. You only need 1 photo of the dining room and don't need to photograph every bedroom and only 1 or 2 of the front of the home.

The living room photo, move that orange/brown leather chair before you take the next photo. It hides the room. You can slide it back after the photo.

Also, you need contact info and asking price on the web site. Also, you need several bullet points that describe the house and/or area on the web site. Maybe talk about the square footage and lots size also. maybe taxes and age of house and major features (new furnace, roof, fireplace, x bedrooms, 2 car heated garage, etc)? Don't list small crap that everyone has, like garage opener and such.

What made you BUY the place? Often that is a selling point as well that you can market.

List on craigslist.com as well and post 4 photos and write about a paragraph or so. And repost on craigslist about every 10 days. Don't get lazy and not post the photos, thinking the web site link will do. Folks need to see the pix on craigslist or they won't go to your web site.

Also ref to your web site from craigslist.

Get a custom made For Sale sign for your front yard. Go to a sign shop. They make them for under $100. It is well spend. You pick the color, font, sign size. I usually go bigger than the standard R.E. sign. Pick a color that will stand out against the green grass or white snow. I like electric blue and yellow. You can even use an icon, such as a golf club if that was the type of home you were selling. Put major features (finished basement? acre lot? waterfront?)on the sign and # bedrooms, bathrooms and your phone number.

Get flyers for the front yard. Keep them in the little box that you put next to/on the sign. Keep the flyers stocked. realize neighbors will take them, especially the first week. Don't worry, it is natural curiousity. Also reference the web site on the flyer, saying for more PHOTOS go to www.sitexyz. Make sure you have at least one front photo on the flyer. Have price and address in bold either at the top or right below the photo in large/bold. Have your contact info easy to see on flyer.
I sold several FSBOs, so am giving you advice that truly will help you.

Also, I suggest a discount broker to get into MLS. But then you have to pay an agent that brings the buyer (2.5-3%). If you do this, you need to be able to not pay this commission if you sell to someone that doesn't have an agent. In my case, this occurred and I simply paid the $400 or so to get the listing into MLS, and nothing more.

Good luck. it is hard work. Then screening the callers is not easy either. Neighbors might lie to get in to see the place. they say their uncle(or mother, brother, etc) is looking to move and they are looking for him. BS 97% of the time.

Return all calls pronto.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 6:57PM
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I want to thank everyone again for your advice - I just got off the phone with our wall paper person and she's going to get going on the dining room and the entry way within a few weeks. We are guessing that there will be more interested buyers scouting out properties once it warms up a little and the many feet of snow and ice melt away. It feels good to know we'll be more ready for showings by March, and I don't think we would have understood the importance of really spiffing up the place if I hadn't come to this forum. So thanks again.

Also, we do have a listing with FSBO.com (it's number 120995) and it has all the info that some of you have suggested we put on the website link. Anybody out there interested in moving to central Wisconsin, where the folks are friendly and the soil is sandy and great to work with? We're moving to a clay soil location and it's going to be a lot more work to get those petunias in every summer...

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 9:56PM
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I would not market the home until you are 100% ready with all of the fixes. By the time that you are ready, so many potential buyers have already flagged your property as one to skip over. They will never come back to it, once you repost it with all of the fixes and new price.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 7:17AM
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ncrealestateguy :I would not market the home until you are 100% ready with all of the fixes. By the time that you are ready, so many potential buyers have already flagged your property as one to skip over. They will never come back to it, once you repost it with all of the fixes and new price

Good advice.

Since you plan on spiffing, remove your house right now from the market, get all the fixes done, and then when you finally do put that spiffed up house on the market, take new pictures of the spiffed up rooms (you'd be shocked how many people do not) and make sure those new shots are what you use to market. Do look into that professional photographer. It will be money well spent as it should result in your house looking better in your ad, meaning more traffic, translating to the potential for a quicker sale.

Best wishes!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 9:20AM
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You only get one chance to make a 1st impression and with the changes you are planning I would get rid of some of the photos now to rooms you are working on (assuming you want to leave the ad, etc up). Also get rid of the dark pics.

I do suggest pro pictures they are worth the $100-$300.

FWIW, I think I saw red bee balm as one of the main plants. I garden & grow it and know how invasive it is.

I also think if you could border the garden some how it would look nice.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 10:16AM
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You don't have too many pictures. You do have some badly composed pictures.

I would add this to what the others have said. Don't use the term facade for the title of a pic, ever. Facade has a negative connotation in some situations, and potential buyers might pick up on that. Instead, say 'front of house' or something like that.

Along those lines, each photo should have a clear and distinct title. Don't repeat the title, as you have done with facade.

And don't use the term yard when you can use garden. It is much more elegant.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 1:04PM
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I didn't read the entire thread so maybe this has been said, but I would definitely do something with the windows. They are all blank and lends a cold uncomfortable look to me.

I don't see wallpaper?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 3:06AM
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duh...found it. Border. Yes remove it

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 3:08AM
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