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NOW is the time to sell!
When I bought my 1200 square foot condominium 10 years ago, I planned to stay long enough to finish graduate school, begin my new career then move out and turn it into rental income. Funny how a decade can come and go so fast. I did manage to earn my Master’s degree and start my new career. The only goal I did not meet was moving out and renting my home. I suppose it’s good that I waited all that time, as now is the time to be selling in a seller’s market!
So the years rolled on and I was content. Then my tastes started changing. Remember when the American dream was to buy a house and live there forever? That “dream” has shifted. Not only with me but among the Millennials as well. I am not interested in my next house to be my “forever house”. I know darn well my “forever house” is going to be back to a condo once again! Or a nursing home..
Selling in a seller’s market – It’s all about timing
The year 2020 has been the bad-joke year of the century. If it were a drink it’d be the colonoscopy juice before the test. It’s the murder hornet of the insects, the wildfires of global warming, the acne due to wearing masks (mascne), the giant turd that hit the fan, the newest 4-letter ugly word. Yet, something good has come of it if you are a homeowner. It has turned into a massive seller’s market. I’m talking about bidding wars for homes that are going for more than their worth. Homes that go on the market in the morning and are pending sale by that afternoon. I have no idea what is happening with so many people out of work while others are paying cash for homes. All I know is, if this is the universe talking to me, I’m finally listening.
How I started
I still wasn’t 1000% convinced I was going to try to sell my condo. I was still toying with just moving and renting it out. But, as I started watching the market closely, I realized it may be best to join the crowd. I started by going to some open houses and looking at tons of homes for sale online. We took note of the wall colors, flooring, and staging. Looking at comps similar to my own home helped to gauge price and length of time on the market. Then I had my “aha” moment. The Universe was speaking to me. Or, at least the real estate market was calling me. Let’s do this.
Competition in a seller’s market
Currently, across Ohio, there are more people looking to buy a home than there are homes for sale. This is what constitutes a “seller’s market”. Actually, I would even bet to say there is an economic explanation behind this, but you’re not here to learn economics. And I can’t teach it.
To be competitive, one has to offer an edge better than the rest. Look at what can and cannot be changed. My condo was built in 1974. I cannot change this fact. My furnace still has the original sticker dated from 1974 from installation. My hot water tank was new in 2005. Does that mean it will probably meet its death soon? Most likely, but for now, it continues to run as expected.
I cannot change the installation dates of these appliances and since they work fine, I am not purchasing new ones. Since these are big-ticket items, I will instead consider purchasing a one-year homeowners warranty. Did you know due to this current market, that sellers paying for home warranties for the purchaser is no longer standard? Times have certainly changed.
Compare, Compare, Compare!
To see what the competition looks like, browse current homes, and take note of the paint colors, flooring, carpeting vs luxury vinyl, ceramic tile, or marble floors. Small updates lead to big changes. Here are some ideas of what to update, considering your budget:
- Paint – the current 2020 trends are neutral grays and beige (Greige)
- White baseboards and trim pop with fresh paint
- Sometimes just cleaning the baseboards and applying new caulk freshens them up
- Clean all doors – or freshen up with paint
- Professionally clean the carpets or consider replacing
- Replace old peel and stick vinyl floor with newer flooring – MANY affordable varieties available
- Clear out 80% of the house BEFORE taking pictures and showings – Less stuff makes your place look larger
- Deep clean everywhere!
- Outdated cabinets? Consider painting and new hardware
- Front of house upkeep – clean out the garden, arrange the front porch, add seasonal decor
Great ideas, but what did I do?
I bought my condo in 2009. At that time, it was newly renovated with all new cabinets, carpeting, ceramic tile in all the bathrooms, kitchen, and entryway. All my kitchen appliances were new. In these past 11 years, I renovated both bathrooms and painted every room in the condo at least twice. I bought a new refrigerator and dishwasher in 2018 and new windows in 2019. Once I did my research, here’s what I actually did for selling preparations:
- Painted the entire first-floor, Chic Gray, from Home Depot
- Purchased luxury vinyl flooring and installed it ourselves, saving costs – Home Depot
- Ended up needing to replace parts of subflooring due to water damage from prior windows before laying new flooring
- Purchased new baseboards and quarter round – painted ourselves all white and installed ourselves
- Cleaned and painted all interior doors and interior side of exterior doors
- Painted stairwell wall, second-floor hallway, and one-bedroom
- Master bedroom touched up paint current color
- Washed all upstairs baseboards and applied new caulk (I’ve gotten so much better with caulking!)
- Replaced 11-year-old carpeting on 2nd floor and stairs leading up; replaced basement stair carpeting
- Updated mailbox
- Replaced the light fixture above the kitchen sink – it is now a dual light and/or nightlight option
- Purged every room, closets, basement
- Removed over 80% of household items (storage) before choosing a Realtor and taking pictures for the listing
How long did this really take?
My time frame for getting all this done? We started planning in July and slowly began making our to-do lists. All in all, it was roughly 4 months of planning and action. During this time we also procrastinated and just thought about the things we needed to do. That was much easier than doing the things we needed to do. I was a bit worried things would take too long and we would miss out on the seller’s market timing, but, that was just silly. Below is a slide show of some of our renovations. The back door window was covered with a window film – for under $20 it looks like etched glass in person! Another trick to make more room in a small space? At the top of the basement stairs, there is a small landing. Since there was no coat closet on the first floor, I added towel racks to use as make-shift coat hangers and placed a shoe rack beneath them. Viola! Instant closet!
To sum up
It was a lot of work to prepare, but we were able to keep costs low as we did much of the work ourselves. We are your average do-it-yourselfers. We learned how to do things thanks to the internet and good ole fashioned trial and error. And as I said, timing is everything. The first and only weekend of showings we received 4 offers. Check back in soon as I’m writing a post on how to organize the daunting task of preparing to sell your home. More to come!
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