We sold our home in one of the worst real estate markets in US history since. And along the way, we made some mistakes…some costly mistakes. Don't get me wrong, we made certain improvements and staging adjustments to our home that cost us several thousand dollars, but I don't think we necessarily focused on all the areas we should have. If we could do it all over again, I'd certainly do a few things differently.
Realistic Sales Price
We really blew it when it came to the initial sales price for our home. While not getting into too much detail, we ended up setting our home's price at about $20,000 more than we purchased it for several years prior, bearing in mind that home prices in our area -- as well as around the country -- had dropped significantly during this time.
While it didn't take us long to recognize our mistake, it took long enough. And in the several months that passed, we missed out on the opportunities that the initial wave of prospective buyers that came through our home provided. After that point, we were left trying to get our price point even with a market that was continuing to decline. We realized that in the future, it would be critical to our ability to sell a home to set the proper price point from the get-go in an effort to avoid letting the property linger on the market too long.
We made a variety of improvements to our home before selling. A new garage roof, a new back porch awning, tile repairs, staging updates, and various other repair work and adjustments were made to make our home look great. And as much as we tried to see our home through our buyers' eyes, we failed in one respect. We didn't put enough focus upon the room into which they entered the home…the kitchen.
Not only is a home's kitchen often a critical selling point, but seeing as how prospective buyers would see this area first upon walking into our home, it should have been our major focal point. Instead, while we indeed updated cabinets with fresh paint and hardware, fixed several cracked floor tiles, re-caulked around the sink and backsplash, and cleaned the tile grout, we failed in one major respect…we had outdated appliances. In retrospect, we would have been better served by putting several thousand dollars into a new oven, stovetop, microwave, dishwasher, and refrigerator to make the space pop and create a superb first impression upon those entering the house for the first time.
The descriptive write-up for our home was another aspect in which I feel we initially failed miserably. Sure, we touted the repairs and updates that we had done to the property, but we failed to expound upon the amenities of the surrounding area. We had the local middle school just two blocks away. The community center and pool was just three blocks the other way. And we failed to make mention of such items until late into our home sale process, which didn't help our chances of selling.
Fewer, but Better Open Houses
We had numerous open houses during the nearly 18 months our home was on the market. Unfortunately, it's not always the number of open houses but the quality. While our home was just off a major thoroughfare, "open house" signs were not being put up where people could see them from that road, and therefore, sometimes we only got one or two people passing through our home. As soon as we communicated with our real estate agent that we wanted signs up and visible from this road, foot traffic picked up, but it would have been nice to have this additional traffic months earlier.
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