The current housing market varies across America, but thankfully in the area of suburban Kansas City where I lived, it was only slightly lower than years past. The house we sold was an approximately 1300-sqft ranch in a historic area. It was arguably the nicest looking house on our street, and one of the nicest in the neighborhood. We had only lived there about a year and a half, but decided to sell and simplify our lives a bit.
Our first goal before listing our house was to upgrade the kitchen. The house was about fifty years old, and the kitchen was very outdated and small, yet open to the dining and living rooms. My husband is very handy, so we took it upon ourselves to do the work rather than hire it out. We painted the walls a nice, neutral beige, bought new, custom cabinet doors, laid oak veneer over the cabinet boxes, and put down a new countertop. Overall, we spent about $2000 on our kitchen, and it looked great!
Another cosmetic "issue" we paid attention to was paint color. When we moved in, the master bedroom and main bathroom were a dark, bluish-grey and not very flattering for the rooms. We painted them a neutral beige so that they felt warmer and not so "blah". Where we live, it seems like people want to move in and not have to do any work, so we took that into consideration before even putting the house on the market.
Once we felt like the house was ready, we found an experienced realtor that was very familiar with our area. The first realtor we spoke with wanted to list our house for $115,000, which we thought was way too low. We shopped around a little and found a realtor that was very familiar with the area and recent listings, could show us very good comps, and was enthusiastic in her findings. She thought we should list for $135,000! Much better, we thought!
Once we had our realtor picked out, we staged our home. The formal dining room was the first room from the entry way, so we set the table like we were going to be having a nice dinner. We also had fresh flowers placed throughout the home, nicely scented candles, decorative pillows and blankets on the couch and beds, fresh towels in the bathroom, etc.
Well, the house went on the market and after no showings for two days, we lowered the price to $129,000, which is what we felt was a little more accurate since we only had one bathroom. Our realtor also sent out our listing to the other realtors in her company and we quickly got four showings. After only six days on the market, we had our first offer. We accepted! We ended up selling for $129,000 and paying $3000 in closing costs.
The heater in the home was about fifteen years old, but had been faithfully serviced each year. The buyer, however, was a heating repairman so having a good heater was very important to them. The type of loan they were getting also required a newer heater to be installed. We ended up giving them $2000 to go toward the purchase and installation of a new heater, which had to be installed prior to closing due to their loan regulations. So, all in all, we ended up paying them about $5000, but our house was sold in less than a week, and with the economy the way it is, I'd say we did pretty well!
*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.