So, I think we could become transition specialists. We have a little experience. Duwan has gone through an estate to set up a yard sale. And we both helped a friend get her mother’s house ready for market when her mom moved out. The only problem with specializing in transitions is that it’s not extremely fun.
Now we’re selling my parents’ house. Here are some of the things we did.
Worked on the back porch exterior. I replaced screen. Screens don’t last long in FL. Also, addressed drainage problems.
Painted the porch floor. Doesn’t sound complicated, but there was a wrinkle. The floor was textured. First I scraped up all the surface that would come up. Then, after a lot of practice, I came reasonably close to patching and matching the existing surface. Then painted.
Painted the garage floor. First step here was getting the dead camper van out. Then I followed Home Depot’s cleaning, degreasing, etching, primer bonding and painting instructions.
Redistributed furniture. We swapped the contents of two bedrooms to make them both look bigger. Took down family pics and patched holes in the walls.
Ground down trip hazard on the sidewalk. I got to use a concrete grinder for this one. Lots of fun!
Replaced smoke alarms (you should replace yours every ten years), and some GFCI plugs.
Replaced the AC. This is the one project that required professional help.
Clean, Clean, Cleaned. Baseboards, behind washer and dryer, under furniture, inside cabinets. It never ends.
Paint interior. The original white paint looked pretty good. Tabula Rasa for the new owners.
Replace 18 year old water heater. It didn’t leak. There is a huge variety of water heaters now, from tankless to water heaters that you can set by cell phone. We’ll let the buyer pick one.
Replace 18 year old appliances and put in granite countertops. Lots of folks thought these upgrades would help sell the house. Turns out it wasn’t a big factor.
For Sale By Owner
Determined asking price. Duwan looked at comparable properties. There were many close by, but values varied due to condition. We looked at a couple of these during an open house. My folks’ house had some nice features that other houses didn’t have: 3rd bedroom, great view, no glaringly bad ‘improvements’.
Market! Duwan took pictures, we wrote up a description and seller’s disclosure. She put an ad on Craigslist one day and on Zillow the next. (We could have put it on the standard realtor’s MLS for about $400, but we tried the free options first.)
We had pretty good luck trying to sell the house FSBO. We showed the house a dozen times. We had three offers, one being reasonable enough to go to contract. The contract fell through.
One of our challenges was that we were in a gated community, where open houses mostly draw nosy neighbors. And generally people who want to live in a place like this expect to use realtors to buy a house.
To identify what the family wanted to keep, Duwan took pictures (over 500) of everything. My folks reviewed these on Facebook, and chose what they wanted. Then the rest of the family got to review and claim. We actually started this process while we were under the first (FSBO) contract. We unloaded the closets and attic. After the contract fell through we had to move most stuff into the garage. We started packing in earnest, but left the major pieces of furniture in place to stage the house.
For Sale By Realtor
Chose a selling realtor. After three weeks of FSBO we didn’t have a contract in place. If possible, we wanted to get a contract so we could move out all the furniture. We started talking with realtors. We have a lot to say about this process, but not in the blog.
We interviewed four realtors. We felt that two under-valued the house. We liked the other two and went with the one who lived in the neighborhood. He had negotiated another contract the day after he listed it on the MLS. The inspection went well, and the buyers’ loan pre-approval letter looked good. (At this writing we are still waiting on final closing.)
Most of the family stuff was loaded into a moving truck and taken to NC. We were able to sell a sofa on Craigslist. An auction company picked up the rest of the furniture and sold it (for a hefty commission). Our friend Michelle bought some items to sell in her shop, Shiney Shelley’s. And we made 10-12 trips to Goodwill.
Then there was the stuff that belongs to Duwan and me. We had been storing boat items in the house. We spent a couple of days cleaning the boat, the stuff, and storing on the boat (in the Indiantown storage yard). We also have some memorabilia we plan to go through this summer. And, in our first E-Bay experience we sold the radar we had taken off the boat. We brought a lot of stuff with us to Atlanta to sell. So keep an eye on the world wide web for some good bargains!
My parents were great throughout the process. I talked to them several times a day, especially when the offers started coming in. They fronted money for the projects. They got to learn a few new things, like wiring money and electronic signature.
The house is in a gated community occupied mostly by retired couples. Five years ago when we started using it as a staging point for our sailing seasons, we didn’t know any of the neighbors. (Well I did chat some with the sandhill cranes and their young chicks.) Over time we grew to know many folks. And people were very helpful throughout the sales process.
Also, after we cleaned up the house and rearranged the bedroom we had been sleeping in, the place became more pleasant. We lived here around three months each year. We entertained sailing friends and other travelers. We are going to miss both the house and the community.
We did get something pretty nice out of the deal. But that’s another post.