Thursday, May 2, 2013

10 Easy Tips & Tricks for Selling Your Home

Yes that's right, we sold our house by ourselfies and are moving on to other adventures! (Stay tuned...) The whole process has been a crazy learning experience, with lots of stress mixed with excitement. So I thought I'd fill you in on some of the things I learned all the way from home prep a couple months ago before listing, all the way through showing our home, and finally getting an offer only 5 days after we listed it :) Here are my tips and tricks, (click on the picture links to find more advice)


#1. Organize the overflow: 

If you're scared of opening your closet yourself, it might not go over well with potential buyers... A few months before listing our home I tackled all the nagging organizing projects. Trust me, they were not for the faint of heart. (My closet, top of the fridge, under the bed, craft drawer, and toy box.) You know what yours are. But you won't believe all of the space this clears up for potential buyers to imagine their junk in!

#2. Send the dustbunnies packing: 
Besides triggering allergies, some dust bunnies contain toxins.
Break out the cleaning supplies and invite your relative over for a par-tay!
This was another mandatory part of the selling process that I hated every minute of. I don't know what  was stuck on the stove, but it was N-A-S-T-Y. We won't even mention the shower... It was so bad that I left it for the day of the first showing. It took 3 hours. I would not recommend that. Just do it all up front no matter how painful, because nothing will kill a potential deal like seeing someone else's soap scum.

#3. Junk half of your stuff, (and then rent a storage unit)
Oxfam donation posters
This is a very important one. Get rid of everything that is optional. Take everything off of the surfaces in your house, and only put three things back on. For example, in the kitchen I only left a bowl of fresh fruit, my spice rack, and my knife block. People need to imagine themselves living in your home. So it should look like someone could live there, but that they don't. Have you noticed that model homes have all of the furnishings, and no overflowing garbages?

During this phase I said good-bye to my piles of magazines, adios to that cook book I never used, and toodles to my personalized decor. Get rid of stuff you never use. Donate things that will bless other people's lives more than your own. And get a storage unit for the sentimental things you can't part with. You want to play up the structure of your home, without distracting potential buyers with that tacky knick-knack from Aunt Marge.

#4. Your Home is a Stage: 
Before and After
Play up the 'WOW' factors and diminish the downers
We thought about all of the things that made us fall in love with our home: Original woodwork, wood floors, hutch, red brick exterior, remodeled kitchen and baths, and newly refinished basement. These were the things that we focused our best efforts on.

We got rid of a rug and rearranged furniture to showcase our wood floor. We bought new towels and soap dispensers for the kitchen and bathrooms. We planted pansies in our front flower beds to add curb appeal. We borrowed a couch from my parents home to make our downstairs living room look more functional. We bought fresh fruit and flowers on the day of our showings. These were all small and simple changes that added the final sparkle to our home.


#5. Ditch the Polaroid & Hire a Photographer
6 home-photo tips to draw buyers (© Tetra Images/Getty Images)

Pictures are the single most important part of your listing. No pictures=no showings. Bad pictures=no showings. It really is that simple. So put your money where it matters most. If you don't know how to take pictures that show more than the corner of a room, this is where a photographer comes in handy. They have the equipment and know-how to make every nook and cranny of your home look bigger and more inviting. Seriously, don't skimp on this one. It will pay for itself!

Also, make sure your listing has at least 15 pictures, which would include a picture of each room and the exterior features. Start with your power pictures first - front exterior, kitchen, family room, master bedroom, and bathrooms. Place the awkward stuff (themed kid bedrooms, storage room, etc) at the end.

#6. Romanticize your Listing:

Everyone likes a little appetizer before the main course. Likewise, everyone like a little preview of what to expect from your house in the listing. The time for generic catch phrases, like 'updated kitchen' is over. Instead add detailed phrases like "gorgeous knotty alder cabinetry" and "a custom travertine tile backsplash' to get people drooling.

At the same time, don't go overboard with the cheese. They don't want to know that 'you love kicking your feet back on the deck, while barbecuing steaks and watching the geese fly overhead.' It will translate as trying too hard.

#7: Give 'em your number!
This ended up being a huge thing for us. I listed my phone number and email, with the acknowledgement that they could text me, call me, or email me and I would respond promptly. Guess what the buyers ended up choosing to set up a showing? A text message!

Also, make sure that you check your phone, email, and messages frequently. You never know when the window of opportunity for a showing will be.


#8. Only cookies or freshly baked bread allowed in that oven!
Hersheys cookies
We judge with our noses. That is a definite fact. No garlic, onions, fish or pungent spices should be used in cooking before a showing. Those smells have a way of lingering days afterwards, just ask a pregnant woman ;)

And while air fresheners are wonderful, don't go overboard. Fresh, homey smells will appeal to a larger audience than 'Lavender Fields.' You aren't going to have time to make a batch of fresh rolls or cookies in the madness before showings, so purchase some Pillsbury products and pop them in the oven while you clean. I had several compliments on my home's wonderful smell thanks to the Dough Boy ;)

Also, if the weather is nice, open your windows. A refreshing breeze works wonders.

#9. Add the final sparkle: Shimmering Mirrors, Gleaming Floors, and Sparkling Showers 

Make your cleaning list for showings, and power through it. Those toothpaste remnants on the sink might not be a big deal to you, but to a buyer it could signal that there might be bigger problems elsewhere. Buyers definitely judge books by their covers.

To help with this, find cleaning supplies that make your life easier. I invested in Swiffer wet mop refills, furniture polish with Febreze, and high quality shower cleaner. This is not the time to try out homemade remedies. Go with the trusted brands, unless you want to poke out your eyes when the baking soda scrub doesn't remove any of your hard water stains. Learned that the hard way.

#10. Brush your teeth, put on your Sunday clothes, and be tactfully honest!
If you are showing the house yourself, make sure you feel confident by dressing to impress. As you show the home, make sure to keep the personal details to yourself. No one wants to hear about how roomy your bathroom is because it can accomodate two sick children who child barfed in the toilet all night long...

Also, don't take things personally. People might have a different opinion on your purple bathroom than you do and it's okay. They can always repaint.

Finally, be upfront about everything. Our buyers came over for a second time and asked all of the hard questions. Stuff like radon testing (?), lead paint (probably), leakage (when the sprinklers broke and sprayed the foundation), and all the other nit-picky things. We answered them honestly and to the best of our knowledge. They appreciated it and there were no surprises during the inspection to throw a wrench in it.

What tips and tricks have helped you in the Real Estate Market? I'd love to hear about your experiences!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The 'Knotty' Bun

Here is an easy one. I daresay it could be done in about a minute. Anyone that knows how to tie shoes is more than qualified :)
Divide your hair into two sections and tie into a knot

Knot it again...

And again...

Until you run out of hair, then tuck the ends under the knot...

Loosen the knot section, by pulling gently, then pin and pin and pin...
-until you run out of bobby pins, then go find more, and pin and pin and pin :)
Then you are done!
Add some earrings and you're good. Now how is that for a fast and easy hairstyle?!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lady Mary Crawley Inspired Bun

This post is a little late in coming, or a little early, but you can just think that it's a little taste of what's to come in 9 more months ;) Anyway, this is my homage to all things Downton Abbey, which was meant to debut in January, but then life happened. (Although that didn't prevent me from watching them religiously every Sunday night on PBS' website.) Oh, and did anyone else get a little heartbroken after season three?

To recreate Lady Mary's famous hairstyle without Anna there?! I'm sure Lady Mary herself would be appalled. But for the rest of us that don't have a servant and friend to wait on our every whim, we'll have to make it work.

Start with brushed, leftover hair. (The scandal I know)
Gather the top section and backbrush it to add volume.
Put your hair into a half pony.
Separate the top part of the pony into two sections, and pull the tail through it to create those luxurious rolls on both sides. 

Pull through one more time to add more volume.

Gather the bottom section of hair.
Fold it over to the rolled pony tail.

Stuff it in through the pony tail and bobby pin in place.

Now you can enjoy your elegant bun, without having to pay someone to do it for you. Although how fun would it be to chat with Anna, and discuss all the Downton Drama while having your hair done?!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bohemian Braid

This is the hairstyle I've been using to survive the adventures of the last few months, if I ever ventured anywhere that is. If not, I would just pull it into a bun or leave it long and tangled. (Think Wicked Witch of the West or Professor Trelawney. Scary I know, but pretty accurate. I might have alternated acting like them too ;)

So the few times we went places, like to the doctor's office, and I had to be presentable, I jumped out of the shower, made sure both boys were still alive, and threw this braid together. It's perfect to accessorize with long dangly earrings to channel your inner free spirit. (Or just try to look like you didn't just roll out of bed.)

Step 1: Take a section of hair from the large side of your part.

Step 2: Reverse french braid your hair, adding only to the left strand by bringing the hair all the way around from the other side of your face. 
Continue French braiding to your jawline, adding hair until all of it has been added to the braid.
Braid the rest of your hair.
Add volume to your braid, by gently pulling the hair out.
You can also French braid your bangs :)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Survival & House Tour

So for the last three months my motto of "survival is my only goal" has been thoroughly tested ;). We survived potty training - marshmallows were the trick. We survived two bouts of the stomach flu. I survived making a huge quantity if curtains that were due all at the same time while sick, but only barely... *Thanks for a great husband that didn't mind being recruited to sew ruffles :) We survived the coldest and most depressing January I can remember. Yuck! And my two-year-old survived to become a three-year-old, which I take great pride in because we've already had an ER visit, two sets of staples on his head and now he had his two front teeth knocked out of position from getting hit by a teeter totter swing. I think I'll deserve a medal if he makes it to be an 18-year-old.

So now that I've gotten all of that out there... Here's the fun stuff we've been up to!

Drumroll.... We finished our basement! What a glorious feeling!!! Good-bye to nasty orange linoleum, hello to soft, amazing carpet. Yes, I stretched myself out on the floor as soon as the carpet install guy left. So without further ado here is our house tour:

Our formal sitting room, with the original hardwood floors. I still love them, even though they are a pain in the neck to clean. 
 Our front room/upstairs playroom. If you look really hard at the corner of the bench, you can see some awesome Lightning Mcqueen undies that someone stashed there ;)
 Our original built-in hutch. Love, love, love it!
 Master bedroom

 My happy three-year-old geraniums. They are much easier to keep alive than certain other three-year-olds in the house.
 Newly finished basement family room.

And last, but certainly not least, my new CRAFT ROOM! Can you tell I'm excited?! Now instead of stashing it all under my bed, closet and the top of the fridge, I have an entire room to myself to fill with fabric, ribbon, buttons, and whatever else I can think of. Oh the possibilities!!!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

I'm dreaming of sunshine and sand... Easy Beachy Waves

It's really cold outside right now. Like my nose hairs freeze when I breathe in the air kind of cold. I'm so done with winter, and it's only January 3rd... April is a long way away. Sigh. So I'm just going to pretend that I'm visiting a tropical beach instead of being stuck in the frozen tundra. If you want to join me on my imaginary getaway, or if you are among the lucky few that have that privilege outside your door all year long, then come along :)

Here is my hair-ode to the beach. Long, loose, waves. I learned how to do this style a few years ago, and it's my favorite way to curl my hair. I love it because it's curly enough for special occasions, but not too uptight, so it translates well for a casual day running errands, cleaning the house, or sequestering myself inside my home by the heater with wool socks, a parka and hot chocolate.

Step 1: Take a section of hair. The size is completely up to you, just like Goldilocks and the Three Bears :) I've used Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear sized chunks and they all work out well ;) 
You can tell what we've been obsessed with lately.

 Step 2: Open your curling iron and slide the section of hair to the top of the barrel.
 Step 3: Keep the curling iron open and wrap your hair around the barrel.
Step 4: On the last go around, leave the end of your hair out, clamp down the curling iron, and turn the iron so it slides the hair around until the end is secured underneath. (This makes sure it curls the entire length, so you don't have a funny crimped end.)

Step 5: Curl all of your hair (it usually takes me about 15 minutes) and then you can froof it a little bit. 

Now you are prepared to bask in the sunshine with a good book at the beach.
 ...Or go curl up under a blanket like me.

How do you escape the January blues?

*I would like to thank my medicine cabinet for providing a place for my camera to safely use it's self-timer function, along with my deodorant that propped it up ;)
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