Thursday, August 20, 2015

House Hunters: Blue 11 Edition

Hi friends! I’m here today to show you our new house, but I thought I’d make it a little more fun by turning it into a House Hunters-esque post. So, just like the show, I’ll take you through three houses we toured, and at the end you’ll see which house we ended up getting!

House #1: The Pool House

Pool House

This was a beautiful, big house in a great neighborhood. The homeowners had put a lot of work into updating it and it showed: they had a beautiful kitchen, modern bathroom with large walk-in shower, and a gorgeous finished basement. Plus there’s the show-stopping pool with the fantastic patio. And unlike a lot of houses with pools, this one actually had room for a dog: there was a separate fenced-in side yard that Finnley could run around in.

    • Pros: Move-in ready, great for entertaining (pool/patio and basement), updated kitchen and bathroom
    • Cons: Over budget, expensive upkeep for pool, already updated so no way to choose my own finishes

House #2: The Historic House

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Francis St House Collage

This house from the 1920’s was absolutely gorgeous! I fell in love with it as soon as we walked it. It had great original (or original-feeling) features like hardwood and tile floors, brass light fixtures, stained glass windows and doors, and even a fountain inside the house! It also had beautiful formal gardens that I could totally picture throwing a Gatsby-themed party in.

  • Pros: All the original features listed above, the gardens, just an all around impressive home in great condition
  • Cons: Expensive to keep up, the kitchen needed updated, small showers, neighborhood wasn’t quite as safe as others we looked at

House #3: The Basic House

Devonshire House Collage

This was a perfectly nice house under our budget. It had lovely features like a finished basement and a great screened in porch, plus it backed up to a pretty wooded area. It was move in ready, but the master bathroom could definitely use an update and I wasn’t crazy about the kitchen. The only thing we’d really need to do right away though would be to build a fence.

  • Pros: Low price, pretty backyard, great screened-in porch
  • Cons: Overall kind of a boring house

Sooo…which house did we choose??

Houses

 

Well, that’s kind of a trick question, because we actually put an offer on all three of these houses!

We started with the Pool House. It was a really nicely updated home, and the pool was an awesome bonus. But it was over budget, so we tried to negotiate to get the price down. Unfortunately, the current owners weren’t able to meet us in the middle so we had to walk away.

Then we found the Historic House and I fell in love. It was priced at the top of our budget, and we only went back and forth a couple times before agreeing on a price. Once we were under contract we moved forward with an inspection. For being about 90 years old it was in really good condition, but it had a few problems that would have been quite expensive to fix (roof maintenance, friable asbestos, radon, and a buried oil tank), and we just didn’t have the cash to do these things right when we moved in. The current owners weren’t able to fix any of these problems, so we had to walk away from this house and move on to plan C.

By the time we got out of our contract on the Historic House we were in a bit of a time crunch. We were already under contract on our old home and we needed to find something quickly or else we’d be living in a hotel all summer. So we toured a few more houses and found the Basic House. It was nice, and it’d work well for us, but it wasn’t nearly as impressive as the other two homes. We made an offer though, and we were able to close on it without any issues.

IMG_3256

So this is our home! It took me a little while to get over the disappointment of losing the Historic House, but I think this is a really good home for us. Both the Pool House and the Historic House cost a lot more money upfront, plus they would have taken a lot of money to maintain. Our Basic House is much more manageable, plus we have more room to make it our own. I also really love our neighborhood, and I was little iffy about the neighborhood of the Historic Home.

So in the end, I think things worked out exactly how they were supposed to Smile  I’ll be back next week to show you more photos of our new house and our plans for making it our own.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Ten Tips for Getting Your House Sold Fast

This spring was a really busy time, as I mentioned in Tuesday’s post. We had a lot going on, but one of the biggest things was getting our house ready to sell. We didn’t tackle any major projects, but all the little things added up. It was all worth it thought: we sold our house for full asking price (plus closing costs) in four days!

IMG_4054

This was our first home, so I’m not an expert in real estate, but I would consider our sale quite successful. We put a lot of work into getting our house ready and I think it showed. Here are my top 10 tips for getting your house ready to list and sold quickly.

1. Consider Home Improvement Projects

About six months before we planned to list our house, we met with a real estate agent to talk about home improvement projects. We had a list of prospective projects that we thought would increase the value of our home and make it show better, but after talking with our agent, we shortened the list. I would highly suggest meeting with your agent several months before you plan to list the house to go over projects. He or she can help you decide what projects are worth your time and money and which are not. For example, we considered refinishing our wood floors, but our agent told us that for our neighborhood and price point our floors were in good condition, and that we might not recoup the cost of getting them refinished. She did encourage us to redo our kitchen backsplash though, since that was an inexpensive update that made a big difference.

Kitchen before and after

2. Do Small Updates

When prospective buyers tour your house, you want them to feel like it’s well taken care of and that they will have very little to do to make it livable. We tackled small projects like painting chipped trim and changing out brass doorknobs and hinges for new, polished nickel hardware. These little changes made the house look updated and in good condition without spending a ton of time or money.

3. Deep Clean

This seems obvious, but you want your house to be really, really clean when buyers tour your home. Don’t be afraid to hire a cleaning company to give your house a really good, deep cleaning to get it ready to list. If you have carpet, I’d also recommend getting your carpets professionally cleaned, especially if you have pets. This will get out any stains and help eliminate pet odor.

4. Declutter

Decluttering is another obvious rule of selling your house, but it’s important. Having some knick-knacks out is ok, but limit it to just your favorites. I have a lot of decorative objects, so clearing some of it out was hard for me, but it made the house show a lot better. You want people to focus on your home, not your stuff.

P.S. A personal pet peeve of mine is too many plants (especially fake plants!). A few pieces of greenery add some life, but too many makes your house seem like a jungle. Nobody wants to buy a jungle.

5. Clean Out Closets

I’m not going to lie, this was a tough one for me. All of our closets were overcrowded and messy, especially our master closet. It was a walk in, but not very big, so we took a lot of time to clean and organize it to make it look more spacious. Everybody wants big closets, so put some effort into cleaning out your closets to make them seem bigger. Only keep the clothes you’re going to be wearing that season, and store or discard everything else. Make sure your shelves look clean and organized too, and don’t leave anything on the floor.

6. Organize Basement/Storage Space

Our house had a big unfinished basement, which was great, but over the years we had let it turn into a giant mess. Nobody wants to walk into a giant mess, even if it’s a basement or storage space. Pack away extra items and stack boxes and tubs in one section of the room so that there’s still plenty of room to walk around. You want every room in your house to feel spacious, including the storage rooms.

7. Clear Out Bulky Furniture

Like I said above, you want every room in your house to feel spacious, so if you have extra furniture consider moving it out to make the room feel a little bigger. This is especially true if any of the furniture blocks the flow of traffic into a space. We moved the chair in the living room and the chair in our bedroom to create a little more space in both rooms and make them feel more open.

Living Room before after

8. Show a Little Personality

Decluttering is important, but you don’t want to clear out absolutely everything that gives your home some personality. I think leaving some pictures on the wall and showcasing a few treasured personal items is perfectly fine, and it can help buyers picture themselves in it. And while neutrals are great, don’t be afraid of showing a little color, especially in accessories that will be moved out.

I know someone that completely renovated their home before listing it, and while they did a lovely job, they didn’t stage it at all. They moved out all their furniture during the renovation and only moved in the bare essentials (couch and bed) when they were done. The house had no color and no personality, and it took a long time to sell.

If you’re in a similar situation, it can be advantageous to hire stagers to make your home more appealing to buyers. It’s more money upfront, but worth it if it helps your house sell faster.

9. Hide Personal Items

For this one I’m talking about things like medicines, bras, tampons, etc. They’re things everyone has, but nobody wants to see them when they’re touring a home. This probably seems obvious, but I’ve noticed all of these things during our house-hunting search. I bought a cloth basket to put tampons and other personal items in so that they wouldn’t be visible to buyers. Before you list your home, walk through it like a buyer and take notice of anything you wouldn’t want a stranger to see, and make a plan to take those things out of sight.

P.S. Remember that everyone will look in cabinets and drawers too, so keep that in mind when you’re organizing everything.

10. Pay Attention to Scent

You want your house to look and smell really clean when buyers tour it, so be sure to take out the trash, remove smelly items from the fridge, and clean the litter box before buyers come through. If there are areas of the house that may have a little smelly (like a litter box), you might put a clean smelling (not floral or tropical) air freshener in that part of the house, but otherwise I would suggest not using any artificial scents. Even if you typically love scented candles, etc, you don’t want those scents to overpower the house. Plus, some people are really sensitive to smells, and you don’t want too many air fresheners to ruin their perception of your house.

 

So there you have it, my top 10 tips for getting your house sold fast. For those of you have have sold a home before, do you agree with my list? Is there anything you feel like I left out?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Happenings

Hello friends! Welcome back to this little blog of mine. I know it’s been ages since I’ve posted, but life has been more than a little crazy around here. Over the last five months my husband and I have endured some of the biggest stressors life can throw at you. To go into everything that’s happened since March would take around 10,000 words, so I’ll just give you the highlights.

The biggest thing that happened was the passing of my mother-in-law, Traci. She was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer four years ago (two weeks after our wedding), and over the years she endured a mastectomy, hundreds of chemotherapy treatments, radiation, and two brain surgeries to try to beat the cancer. This spring things took a turn for the worse, and at the end of April, after a few days in the hospital, she elected to go home on hospice. We spent a lot of time at her house during her last month, right up until she passed away on May 25.

Traci’s death was hard for everyone, but I’m so thankful we were able to spend a lot time with her at the end and that we were with her when she passed away. I miss her a lot, but I’m happy she’s not in pain anymore. Rest in Peace, Traci <3

Our Race for the Cure team, “Show Me the Cure for Ta-Ta’s!” two years ago today. Traci is in the center wearing the white hat.
At the same time we lost my mother-in-law, we were also dealing with the stress of selling our home, buying a new house, and moving to St. Joseph, MO, about an hour north of Kansas City and a 75 minute drive from our old home in Lee’s Summit. Moving is always stressful, especially when you’re moving out of town, and moving at the same time that we were dealing with the loss of a loved one put my stress levels at about 1000. And when I say we “at the same time,” I mean that literally: the movers packed up our house while we were at Traci’s funeral.

Needless to say, the past few months have been quite busy and stressful. We’re slowly settling in to our new and house and getting to know St. Joe, though I do miss Kansas City and our old house. We did have some good stress in all of the craziness though: Ben graduated from residency at the end of June, and he started his new job as a family physician at the beginning of August at a clinic here in town. We were also able to get away for a week and relax by the pool at a resort in Mexico last month, which was wonderful.

So, with all of the stress and business of the last several months I had to step back from blogging. Plus, I found out that blogging is a little like exercising: once you get out of the routine of doing it, it’s hard to get started again, even if you miss it (which I did). But now that life has settled down I plan to get back into my blogging routine and share more updates with you. Over the next couple weeks I plan to share some of my tips for getting your house sold quickly, our house hunting journey, and pics and plans for our new home.

Thanks so much to those of you who have stuck around during my hiatus, I really appreciate your understanding and support