Thursday, September 30, 2010

How to sell your house by owner: PHOTOS

*You are reading Step 2 in How I Sold My House By Owner in 3 weeks, so you can too! 
All 5 easy, descriptive steps are listed & linked at the end of this post. 

Photos can make or break your sale before you've ever had contact with a buyer.
Even the retired people that came to my house had visited the home's website first.
(make yours in Step 3).
Good photos were integral to the sale of my house (the buyers saw several homes after mine and kept coming back to our website to view our photos & it won!)
Before you start clicking, here are some tips that made my photos a hit.
Thanks to STEP 1, even the pantry was photo-worthy.
I highly recommend you finish STEP 1 before publishing photos, first-impressions can't be re-done.  
Grab a good digital camera. (This is the time to borrow a friend's or better, ask the friend to come by & take a few snapshots if s/he’s got a knack for it.)

1. Find the best angle to flatter the space.
Don't shy away from getting down low or stepping up high for the sake of the shot.
High ceilings? Crop down & shoot slightly up. 
  • Be sure to get floor to ceiling in your shot. Chopping the space negates the high ceiling effect.

I snapped the photos of my bedrooms midway through an abdominal crunch! Yep. I got down on my back, crunched up, & stayed as still as possible while I snapped.
Hey, it’s the best way I found to get the magnitude of a room from the doorway!

2. While you've Cleaned & Cleared in STEP 1, consider removing excess furniture from a room just for the photo. I removed something(s) from the floor of each of our bedrooms (chair, ottoman, toy organizer, etc) before photographing. It was worth the extra energy to exude "spacious".
    3. Aim to photograph your home's best assets.
    Buyers want to see the kitchen, main living space, and bathrooms. 

    4. Bad photos are worse than no photos. 
    • If you can’t get a good photo of it or it's not picture-worthy, leave it out. 
    If you missed STEP 1: click here
    If you want to start at the beginning of our journey, read here, here & here.

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      Wednesday, September 29, 2010

      How to sell your house by owner: before the "for sale" sign

      This is Part 1 of How I sold my house by owner in 3 weeks so you can too!
      You may want to follow the personal journey starting here.
      This is not to downplay the job of a Realtor. If you have the time and tools, you may be able to keep the 6% of your home's sale for yourself like we did.
      Confidence is very important starting this journey. I talked about a big reason for mine here.
      I had Realtors calling & knocking on my door explaining the odds were against me selling, telling me my price was too high in comparison, and insulted me with "when you're ready to sell it, give me a call". Here's a little glimpse of how many homes are for sale within 3 miles of my house. Red dots represent homes for sale. 
      Looks like a pubescent face, right? Directly in my neighborhood there are handfuls of homes for sale by Realtors that were for sale for a long while before mine was & are still for sale now, after mine is sold.
      Our house sold by owner in 3 weeks for more per sq. foot than the comparables & we kept every bit of the money! Sound good to you?
      This is how I did it, so you can too!

      We took 3 days to clean out the house.
      Room by room, we got to bare essentials.
      The bottom line is buyers want to see space, not stuff.
      Clothes, furnishings, toys, etc were divided as follows:
      Keep the minimum for use now,
      Store what’s necessary for later,
      Give it away because it’s rarely used or has run its course.

      You may wish to hold a garage sale, or list big items on We were working with limited time so it made most sense to donate, keep an itemized list, get a receipt, & use it as a tax deduction. Be careful to evaluate the time vs. your true need for $ from the items in question. Is it worth the time & effort of a garage sale that may end in $150 at best? Is it better to sell high value items on & donate the rest in the interest of time & for the sake of getting started on selling & showing the house? Either way set realistic time limits & stick to them.

      The space you’re selling should invite the potential buyer to imagine their stuff there.
      Pay careful attention to counter, closet, wall, & floor space (limiting furnishings, toys, & storage); less is more.

      Don’t forget the pantry, bathroom, & kitchen drawers. Toss rarely used and expired toiletries, organize utensils & clear junk drawers.
      This works better for you too. You’re moving, which means you’ll be packing. The more you toss or donate the less you have to pack & unpack.
      Think: they’re buying the life-style this home offers.

      One of the first couples to tour my home, had already looked at the home’s website (more on that in step 3). When they came in they were discussing where their own furnishings would fit. This is a good thing.

      Think: hotel room or vacation rental: welcoming, but generic. Most importantly, you don’t walk in & feel like an intruder. Rather you are free to make yourself at home.
      (This is in large part done by the previous step. Opening closet doors & seeing empty shelves & hanging racks create just the “imagine yourself here” image you want for potential buyers.)

      Replace ALL owner-specific artwork & decorations.
      This is the time to bite the bullet and paint that owner-specific hot pink wall! You want to sell, and the buyer may share your great taste in homes but may be turned off by your choice of navy blue & green in the bedroom because they have all girls. You want to make it as neutral as possible to keep from turning away buyers.
      Your goal is limited furnishings not zero furnishings. Let’s say: fill 1/3 of the shelf or main wall. Choose furnishings to scale that highlight the space the home offers.
      My mantle was filled entirely with family photos, and because it’s a central focus of our living space it needed something to appropriate scale to highlight the great space.  I scored clearance items that filled in the gaps.  You may borrow generic items too if needed. Tasteful seasonal d├ęcor is the way I went because it was fall & those colors are warm & welcoming. (see Step 2: photos)

      Some thrifty decor ideas: bowls of vibrant colored produce (lemons, apples, pears, artichokes) on bare kitchen counters, bargain blooms on tabletops, a pumpkin on a coffee table (in season).
      We had several people, including a Realtor, assume we had the home professionally staged. I even had interested buyers question if it was for sale furnished. This is a good thing.
      Consult my photo album for more ideas.
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      Monday, September 27, 2010

      How I sold my house in 3 wks, so you can too!

      The top FREE resources used. 
      The top paid resources used.
      I sold my house by owner in less than 3 weeks. 
      We got what we wanted for it, buyer paid all closing costs. And we saved the 6% commission. 
      Think you're up for it? 
      I'm happy to share how I did it, so you can too!
      This series includes a 5 Step process (links found below)
      For introduction sake, here are a few key players I had sitting around in my house:
      1. Computer
      3. Sharpie markers
      4. Sprayway glass cleaner, Disinfectant wipes, Swiffer dusters, paper towels
      6. Plastic storage totes & garbage bags
      7.Willingness to let go of what I don't need
      8. TIME
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      Wednesday, September 22, 2010

      If He said He would, He will

      This time I wasn't afraid to get my hopes up.
      No matter who said, "it's unlikely" or pointed out the odds are against me,
      this time I let myself believe in it as though it was secure.

      I gave it everything I could, even if it could end up in vain.
      And when I looked around me and saw evidence to the contrary, it only compelled me forward.

      Because I heard the voice of God. 
      It sounded just like the last time I heard Him.
      It sounds a lot like your parents' voice.
      You know the "even if I don't like it, as much as I may want to reason it away or deny I know it..IT IS"?
      Truth is good that way. Absolute.
      If He said He would do it, He will 
      If He's done it before, He CAN do it again. 
      It's more than optimism.
      It's faith; "the evidence of things hoped for, the certainty of what we do not see." Heb 11:1

      I love what The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary says about the providence of God
      "[In His providence] God attends not only to apparently momentous events and people but also to those that seem mundane and trivial...Indeed, so all encompassing is God's attention to events within creation that nothing...happens by chance"
      We have experienced this providence, this attention to mundane & trivial just recently.
      You may notice something missing from the top of my sidebar.
      The house is no longer for sale, it's sold. 
      In less than 3 weeks, for sale by owner.
      Especially considering there are handfuls of houses for sale in my neighborhood by Realtors that were on the market for a while before we started selling ours & are still on the market now.
      The price, the method, the timing, it all came under scrutiny.
      Understandably so.
      But, we heard God's voice. We were obeying until He gave us new instruction that was just as clear as the first.

      We put our house for sale not knowing where we'd live when it sold.
      We set our sights on Virginia being the perfect place for our family to spend the next many years. Though it's been years since we visited & even then it was brief.
      For months there wasn't a single job available there, so we had every reason not to put all of our eggs in that basket.
      Still, we did. Even resigning from his secure job here in TX, before he had another job secured.
      We heard God's voice and His promises were etched on our hearts.

      It was the most backwards, spontaneous, unconventional thing we've ever done.
      But we heard God's voice. We trusted His words to us and His promises became our security.

      We were still surprised by the way He Divinely weaved the details together, even as they are still unfolding.
      We got the call for the offer on the house moments before entering a meeting with the VP of the company that Dan will now be working for in Virginia.
      The offer on the house was for what we wanted, closing costs paid by buyer & the closing date provides ample time for Dan to finish up his current job with integrity.
      Virginia proved to be a collection of the things we'd been wishing we had here in TX for the past five years and more.  Oh, much more.
      (image above is a glimpse at our new region)
      I promised God His faithfulness wouldn't be lost on me.
      So this is my encouragement to you if you are considering following the unlikely Word that God has spoken to your heart: He has already gone before you! He said He would.
      Trust. Obey. Believe. You won't regret it.
      Need a little more encouragement?
      Get it here.
      There, you'll find some scripture & encouragement to hold onto after the jump!
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