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Getting a House Ready To Sell

My husband and I have owned a few houses in our lifetime. Our friends tease us constantly that we are never in a house longer than three years. Although that's not exactly true, it is almost true. When you move and build a lot, it also means you get a lot of houses ready to sell. I am NOT a realtor, but I have learned a thing or two about getting a house ready to sell.

My mom and dad are actually working on getting their house in Bay City ready to go on the market. It's a really long story, but my parents are moving to Georgetown to live closer to Clint and me. Once their house sells, we will build a little cottage on the property where our new house resides. McPhailville 3.0 will start to look like a compound, but the kids are going to love having their grandparents nearby!



So, with building a new house, we also have been helping to get my parents’ house ready for the market. It's been a really long process, but it will be worth every ounce of work once we're all together in McPhailville.


My parents house was built in the 1930s when houses were meant to stand the test of time. It has been such a joy to visit and love on this house. My grandmother bought and renovated it in 2002. We have kept the house maintained as best as we could and have done our best to keep or restore the original charm.


Here are some of the original features of the home that we've been able to keep. The front door is original and has been repaired a few times, but it keeps all its original beauty. The wood floors are white oak and gorgeous. The kitchen has been renovated but we kept in the same style as the house would have been built in the 1930s. The crystal door knobs are original and are throughout the home. The telephone stand remains in the main hallway, even though is is no longer used. Finally, the black and white floor tile is original in the hall bath. You can tell by the picture it is old, but it is in exceptional shape. We felt so lucky to be able to keep that bathroom almost all original.


There are a few things that you have to do to get a house ready to sell. It takes a lot longer to really get a house ready than you probably think. So, today on the blog, I am going to go over a few steps and things – from my point of view – that you should think about when you get your house ready to sell. These are things that have brought us success in selling our past homes, and the things we have been doing on my parents’ home, so hopefully it sells quickly.


Step 1: Clear out the clutter. You have to go through all the clutter. All the times that you've thought “I'll go through that cabinet later” – that needs to happen now. First, purging the clutter feels really good. If you pick up an item that you haven't used in a year (or remember you even owned it), it needs to go – trash it, donate it or give it to a family member. This rule goes for all your closets, cabinets and those random corners in your house where you’ve let things pile up. It all matters. Clear it out. If you really love that random stuff and don't want to throw it away, go get a storage room to keep it safe. Otherwise, throw the junk away. Doing this makes moving MUCH easier, so think through it, and purge – it is work that will pay off big time later.


Step 2: Pretend you're on HGTV. Go through your house and imagine that you're one of those lookie-loos on HGTV who has never been in your house. What kind of things do you want them to remember? Do you want them to remember it is a charming old house with three bedrooms? Start moving stuff around and make the spaces look like that. When we live in spaces, we sometimes transform spare rooms for our needs. That doesn't always mean that the room you have as a workout room is the best way for your house to show. If the majority of people are going to walk through your house and want to see three bedrooms, make that workout room a bedroom. Take the workout stuff out. You can work out somewhere else while your house is on the market.

In my mom's house, she had one of the bedrooms converted to an art room. My mom has always been an artist and loves to paint. It's also really really good for her psyche to be creative, but we knew showing her house with a bedroom as a workroom wasn't going to work. So my mom got to work moving all the studio items to the area that made sense. It took more than a month to really get the space organized, but in the end, it looks fantastic.

BEFORE. This just looks like a workspace. There's even a bed for the cat. No big deal. This is how we live in the house.

AFTER. Of course, this is just a snapshot, but we rearranged the furniture to show off the old, wonderful windows better. We also added a fun rug to make the room look more "current." The knotty pine walls are original to the house and can make the room look old, but adding bright accents and white furniture makes the knotty pine look vintage and fun.


Step 3: Fix everything. If you want to get the best price for your house, fix the stuff that doesn't work. You know that fan that makes a funny noise? Fix it. When a potential homebuyer turns that fan on (and they will), it'll make a funny noise for them, too, and they’ll think, “I wonder what else is wrong that I’m going to have to fix if we buy this house.”

In my mom's house, it meant repairing some light fixtures outside, restoring the almost 100-year-old front door, and completely replacing some glass panes on the gorgeous arched windows that had cracked over time. My mom's house was built in the 1930s, so it is almost 100 years old. When you have a house that’s 100 years old, things shift. It's just part of having an old house. It also means cracks happen in the corners of doorways and such. These cracks mean nothing except “old house,” but to a buyer, they could freak them out. So fix them. It does cost a little bit of money upfront to fix that stuff, but the inspector will put it on a report in the end, which would give the buyer a reason to ask you to come down on your price, so fix it now.


Step 4: Paint and touch up. Living in a house takes a toll on walls and baseboards. The normal wear and tear on cabinets are just going to happen. After the repairs to the sheetrock are made, repaint the walls, ceilings and doorways. Touch up the cabinets. Do your best to make everything look pristine so that it doesn't look “lived in.” You don't want a potential buyer coming into your house feeling like they're in your house. You want them to feel like they could be in their own house. Again, this step can be a lot of work, but it will pay off in the end. Fresh paint goes a long way.


Step 5: Clean up the outside. The outside areas are just as important as the inside area. When a potential buyer views your yard, you want them to feel like it’s an outside living room – another living space where they can entertain or grill a steak. You don't want people looking around and see dirty garages and dead plants. So pressure wash the porches. Heck, pressure wash the house if you can. Anything that appears clean and fresh just leaves a potential buyer feeling good. That's what you want. You want them to walk outside and sit in a chair and imagine themselves drinking a cup of coffee in the morning. I mean...that's what you do right? So make the outside inviting.


This includes the curb appeal in the front. The first impression a person gets as they walk up to your house is important. You want them to see pops of color and have the “I’m home” feeling. So make that front area fresh and clean.


We hired a guy named Ty Casey and he sent this video of some before and afters for the cleaning of the exterior of the home. Our realtor gave us his information and said it makes a huge difference. She was right. We highly recommend doing this.


Step 6: Clean up the inside. After the walls and cabinets have been repainted, go back through the house and clean everything. Clean the baseboards, the fridge (yes, people will open your fridge!). Clean the inside of the cabinets, organize your closets, wipe down everything. Your house needs to look like a model home.

You’d be surprised how dirty some of the out-of-the-way things can get over time – the couch that’s too heavy to move, the top of a cabinet you don’t think about, or the clutter under your kitchen sink. Spring Cleaning isn't always the most fun, but once you start deep cleaning, you’ll see how much it needed to get done. And when you list your house, it pays off. Move the furniture, dust behind it, wash the windows. Do all the things that will make your house feel immaculate. You'll be glad you did.


Step 7: Call a Realtor. After you feel like you've got the house in good shape, you’ll want to start researching realtors to help you sell it. In my mom’s case, Bay City is a very small community. However, homes don't fly off the shelves like you see in Houston or Katy. Hiring someone who is an expert in the area, who has a good reputation with other agents, and who has a network of potential buyers is what you want to look for when hiring a realtor.

Invite a realtor to see your house and ask them for their honest, professional opinion. They will tell you because they know. It's their job to know. Then, do what they say. In our case, the realtor asked us to have the outside of the house washed with a detergent. The years of dirt and soot were really in the brick, even though we had power washed it. So we did exactly what she told us to do, and let me tell you, it was worth every penny. It was like getting the exterior painted without getting a paintbrush out at all.

When my parents’ house is listed, we will be using Elizabeth Hewitt with Ward Real Estate. She was knowledgeable and kind, and I could tell she was a go-getter from the moment I met her.


Step 8: Add trendy accessories and color pops, but not clutter. Any realtor will tell you almost all buyers want everything move-in ready. If you've fixed, cleaned and painted you are making the property that way. But there's also this weird little thing about people when they're looking for a house. For some reason, they like to see things that are trendy and what's in style now.

In our case, Joanna Gaines’ black-and-white modern farmhouse style is still very popular. Joanna is also really big on adding green in rooms to add an organic flair. So, we went through the house and changed some pillows. We added a few blankets tha