Monday, December 22, 2014

Moving This Year?

photo credit:  Svilan Milev

You've finally decided that this upcoming year is the year you're going to move.  Maybe you want a different school district for your kids, maybe you've outgrown your current home, or maybe you got a new job and want to cut down on your commute.  Whatever the reason, one thing is certain.  You're going to have to get ready for that big move.

Spring market will be fast approaching.  It is the best time to get your house on the market and have the most people looking at it.  And while you may think you can get your house ready in a couple of weeks, the reality is that it will take a lot more than that.

We've provided a list of things you can start doing now so that when springtime comes, you'll be ready to sell.

Find A Reputable Realtor

Selling your home is a lot harder than it looks.  There are many things that realtors can do for you that are very hard to do on your own from marketing to all the paperwork involved.  Start by asking your friends and neighbors for referrals. You may find that one or two names always stand out.  Once you've narrowed it down to a few realtors, then go to their websites and do a little research.  See how they show homes on their website, check out testimonials, read their About Us page.  You can get a good feel for a real estate agent from their website.  Then give them a call, and have a chat with them to see if they are a good fit for you.  After all this, you should feel very comfortable with your choice.  At least more comfortable than being forced to use your step-mothers niece once removed!

Research Moving Companies

Sure, you can probably coerce your friends and family into helping you move, but a better idea is to hire a moving company.  And it doesn't have to cost a fortune.  You can save money by packing the items yourself and just having them move them to the new location.  And if you start now, you have plenty of time to get several estimators in your house so that you can snag the best deal.  Once you've made your choice, then start saving money for the actual move.

Collect Boxes

Believe it or not, but boxes are expensive!  Start your search now for boxes.  Great places to check are liquor stores and grocery stores because they tend to have large sturdy boxes.  Ask friends who have recently moved if they have extra boxes that they haven't parted with yet, especially if they had a moving company pack for them.  They have the ultimate boxes for every type of item.   Check online sources like Craigslist.   If you have the room, always try to keep the big boxes that your TV's and other electronic equipment comes in so that you can pack them back up when you move.

Start Decluttering

It's never too early to start decluttering.  It's a win/win every time because you are already starting on your packing, and it's way easier to keep an uncluttered home clean for showings.  So get started on those storage closets, the basement, the garage, the attic and anywhere else you store your stuff.

For every item you look at you're going to decide whether you have used it in the last year or not.  Be tough on yourself!  If you know you haven't used it for a long time - maybe it was an impulse buy or maybe you bought a better version and don't use it anymore - then get rid of it.  If it's something you love, has sentimental value, or you use only on special occassions, then keep.

Get-Rid-Of-It Pile

Once you have your keep and get-rid-of piles, go through each item in your get-rid-of pile and decide if it has enough value to sell, or if its in good enough shape to donate, or if you just need to toss it.  Separate everything from the get-rid-of pile into these 3 piles.

Sell Pile:  You might even want to go a step further and divide your Sell pile into higher value items that can be sold on Craigslist or eBay and other items that would work better in a garage sale.  For those items to be sold online, take good pictures of them and get them posted right away so they have every opportunity to sell before you move.  For the rest, box them up and find a spot in your garage or shed and label it Garage Sale.  Decide on a date and start pricing your items.

Donate Pile:  Box or bag the donate items and put them right into your car and get rid of them at your next opportunity.  But first check with the place you are donating.  Some places will not take out-of-season clothes, or won't accept certain items like furniture.  Whatever they won't take, put in the garage sale pile or the toss it pile.

Toss It Pile:  If you find that your toss it pile is getting pretty big, you might have to have a dumpster brought in.  Or you could order up a second garbage can from your waste hauler for a couple of months.

Keep Pile

Next, go through your keep pile, and decide if you will need it before you move or not.   If not, box it up and label it carefully showing the contents and what room it belongs to.  Another option is to place these items in see-through plastic bins so that you can tell by looking at it what it is.  If you find that this pile is getting pretty big, you might want to look into renting a storage locker.

For those items that you think you will need before you move, but you don't need on a daily basis, find a spot in your home (like the basement) or the garage where you can store them until the move.  The more things you can pack away, the better.

Do A Critical Sweep

When buyers are walking through your house, you want them to envision their stuff in the space.  So you want to de-personalize your rooms as much as possible while still making them look inviting and showing them to their best advantage.  Think of a very nice hotel, sparse but tasteful.  You want everyone to be looking at the space and not at your stuff.

Therefore, take down those photos of your kids, eliminate 80% of your little decorative touches, and even take out some furniture.  The idea is to make your spaces look bigger and very clean.

Whatever you take down, decide if you want to keep it or get rid of it like you did earlier with everything that was in your closets.

While you're doing this critical sweep, have a clip-board in hand and note anything that needs repair or replacing.  It's amazing how your eye slips past those dings along the wall in the stairwell after you've lived there for a while.  Walk through the house like you're a buyer and take note of anything that doesn't look it's very best.

Check Out The Competition

Find homes in your neighborhood that are for sale and check them out, both online and in person.  Try to find homes that are similar in size, style and location to yours so that you can see what you're up against.  Take note of how they compare with yours in upgrades.  Do most houses in your area have stainless steel appliances with granite countertops while you have standard white appliances and formica countertops?  If so, will you upgrade your kitchen to be on par with them or are you willing to accept less money and more time on the market by keeping it the way it is?  Do most homes like yours have finished basements?  Is it worth it to finish yours off?

Remember, that you will almost always lose more money from dropping the price of your home when it has been on the market a long time than you will spend on upgrading before you go on the market.  It is in your best financial interest to get your home looking as good as it can and to be on par with other homes in your neighborhood BEFORE you go on the market.

Make Repairs and Upgrades

Base on your clipboard list and what you noted when you checked out the competition start making repairs and upgrades.  At the very least you should address dinged up walls with spackel and a fresh coat of paint.  Upgrade lighting, get the carpets cleaned, and even consider new bedding or furniture.  Then decide on the bigger ticket items like new carpet, hardwood floors, new appliances, or a new roof.  If you can't afford it all, talk it over with your realtor to determine what would be the best thing to address for resale.

Prepare To Show It Off

See, that was a lot more to take care of than you thought, wasn't it?  Aren't you glad you didn't put it off?  If you want a few more tips on getting your home ready to sell, we've done many articles on this in the past.  You might want to check out Clobber Cluttered Counters,  Stage Your Mudroom?, The Importance of Staging, and  Going Above and Beyond For Your Open House.

Now that everything is done, the only thing you have to do is keep your house clean and orderly so that there isn't much to do to get ready for showings.  There are many things you can do to make this easier than it sounds. Just check out our blog post, Show-Ready In A Flash for all the tips you'll need.

After a few showings, you'll start receiving offers and before you know it, that moving company will be putting all your things into your beautiful new home.

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors

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