If you’ve never bought or sold a house, you have no idea of the fun in store for you. In our case, we’re selling one and buying another (hopefully). First comes the decision to sell and move. This is the hardest part for me since I detest moving. When I initially moved in with my husband, I told him I might have one more move in me, but that would pretty much be it. Of course, times and needs change so your mindset needs to change too.
The uninitiated might think the next step is just call a realtor and it’s over. Wrong. The next step is to clean your house. I don’t mean vacuum and dust, I mean go through all your stuff and start two piles: (1) stuff to donate somewhere or otherwise get rid of; and (2) stuff you want to keep but can be packed away for a while. This is called decluttering and is harder than you think until you’ve been through it a few times. A good rule of thumb is to consider whether you’ve used any particular item within the past year. If the answer is “no”, then you can probably get rid of it.
After the decluttering, you’ll need to consider all those little jobs that you just never seemed to get to before – changing the washer on the kitchen faucet, painting the bathroom, cleaning out the shed or garage, replacing ripped screens, etc. Then, of course, you have to really clean like you haven’t cleaned in a long while. The windows need washing, the exterior of the home may need washing or even paint, steam-clean the carpets, cut the grass and make sure the gardens are weed free, and the list goes on. In our case, there was fix the ramp into the shop and paint the shed, too. We also made time to have a yard sale and sold off a lot of junk…I mean valuable stuff…that was hanging around. Double bonus here is decluttering and making money at it!
Now you’re ready to call a realtor. Do your homework and figure out who you would like to represent you and will give you the best service. Just remember: the one with the most signs out is not necessarily the best at actually selling. S/he may be simply good at listing properties, but have little experience at finding buyers and closing the deal, or alternatively, s/he may simply be too busy listing to spend any time working at selling.
The realtor will come with forms, a contract, and a camera. After the necessary paperwork where you contract with them to represent you and agree to a certain selling price and commission fee, you need to decide what you’re going to include with the house when you sell it. Are you taking the window coverings? How about the stove, or the beer fridge in the man-room (aka garage)? The appliances are always good to exclude because they can be used as bargaining tools later when your potential purchaser wants to add them into the deal. Our bargaining tools include the appliances (fridge, beer fridge, freezer, stove), a snooker sized pool table, a riding mower and trailer, and a snow blower. We also have a window air conditioner that is only two years old that works well to keep the house fairly cool on hot, humid days.
With the paperwork done, the realtor will take several pictures of your house including both exterior and interior shots. Make sure the rooms are tidy, beds made, table not still holding your breakfast dishes, kitchen clean, bathroom sparkling and laundry not visible. Also make sure the smoke detector works and all the light bulbs work. Soon after this your MLS listing will be posted online and your realtor should also be advertising your home locally in newspapers and real estate listing books.
Next your realtor schedules an open house where s/he invites other realtors to attend and look through. These are the folks that will be trying to put a new owner into your home so this is a good step. After the realtor open house, you’ll have a public open house. This will be advertised by your realtor and on the day of the open house, just take yourself (and the dog if you have any) out to the park for a few hours. Your realtor will hang out at your house and hopefully lots of people will show up to look at it.
We went a step further. On the second week in August, the Welbeck Sawmill holds its annual wood show. Since we live about one kilometre from the sawmill, we put out lots of open house signs and our son even had one on the back of his bicycle. He and my husband walked over to the sawmill and advertised our open house. I stayed at the house ready to show people through. Over the course of the two days we had five showings. It had rained on and off all weekend so we were (are) hopeful about the ones that came through because they are obviously die-hard woodworking hobbyists if they’re out in the pouring rain to attend the wood show. Since our shop was originally built and set up by someone that was into woodworking, we figured those die-hards would be thrilled to see a house for sale so close to their favourite store!
We have a lot to offer a potential buyer. The property is pretty unique. We have 300 feet of river frontage. The location of the house is such that it could not actually be built where it is today if you were purchasing raw land. The house is almost 1900 square feet, completely finished throughout, with big open main rooms thanks to the engineered trusses in the roof. There is an acre and a half of land (approximately 212’ x 300’; or 65,600 square feet; or about the size of a football field with an extra end zone). Aside from the house, we have a large shop, a decent sized greenhouse, a drive-shed (think garage with dirt floor and no door), and a garden shed with a loft and attached wood storage area. We’re surrounded by mature trees and our driveway meanders through the trees so that the house is invisible from the road. In fact, you can only see one little spot near our fire-pit from the bridge over the river. So there’s loads of privacy. Sure, we have neighbours, but they’re very few and only a couple are there all year round. Mostly the neighbouring places are owned as cottages and the owners only appear now and then throughout the year. Deer, otter, wild turkeys, migratory ducks, geese, great blue herons, belted kingfishers, various woodpeckers, blue jays, cardinals and hummingbirds, as well as robins, chickadees, sparrows, junkos and more make their way through and around the property regularly. On a quiet night you can hear the coyotes. In early spring you hear the peepers (little frogs) and of course the ever-present running of the river.
So now we’re playing the waiting game. People are looking through the house on occasion and one day soon someone will fall in love with it. We love it, but our needs have changed for now.