9 home-selling tips for when your job makes you move

Editor's note: The Gray Area is undergoing a format change. Donna Gray is going to start blogging on common issues facing small business owners, lending her perspective and insights based on a lifetime of experience in business. Think of it as “Dear Abby” for business. If you have a business issue or question you'd like expert guidance on, email Online Editor Jason Busch at jason@ibmadison.com, with the subject “The Gray Area,” and we'll have Donna and her extensive network of business experts tackle it for you.

Let’s face it folks — the home sales market is crazy busy right now in Dane County. I learned that firsthand this spring.

A friend in the medical profession recently accepted a position in another state and she and her husband had to sell their home quickly. Getting their home ready for showings was a challenge because they’d recently acquired a number of things from a parent’s estate. Never imaging the sudden need to move when they took in everything from furniture to collectibles, they’d stored the items wherever there was room in their home until they could put them up for sale or donation. Now, in their haste to make their move, they were stymied as to what to do and how to do it.

Talking about this dilemma with other friends, we discovered several of us, including my husband, Dave, and I, were in the same boat when it comes to having overstuffed homes. Some of us were even thinking of using this seller’s market to make our own moves. Since no one had any great ideas about how to approach this challenge, I called on another friend, Kelda Roys, realtor and owner of Madison startup OpenHomes, to get an opinion on where to begin and what to do.

Kelda, who is also a real estate attorney, and full of expertise in helping clients who have challenging move situations, was quick to offer some tips:

  • First, clear the clutter. Clutter confuses buyers who need to be able to imagine the way different rooms would look with their possessions. While de-cluttering, de-personalize. Put away family pictures and personal items.
  • Make sure the home is neat and clean. Hire a professional, if possible, who will make everything sparkle, because potential buyers might not be able to see past a dirty abode.
  • Utilize Craigslist, eBay, or other online sites for selling items not going in the moving truck.
  • Donate. Locally, St. Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army will pick up furniture in good shape, as well as appliances that are fairly new and in good working order. They, along with charitable resale shops — Agrace Thrift Store, among others — will accept everything from clothing, shoes, and books to records and small appliances, etc.
  • Don’t create extra headaches for yourself. There are ways to sell your home that don’t cost as much as a traditional agent, and also don’t end up with you doing all the work like a “For sale by owner.” Make sure your home is listed on the MLS, as well as non-MLS sites like Zillow, so the greatest pool of potential buyers can see it. (Listings from flat-fee services can be excluded from MLS sites.) Ask potential brokers what they bring to the table in terms of negotiation expertise and handling unexpected hurdles with your sale. Do the homework. There are lots of realtors looking for inventory right now, so you should have your pick.
  • Get some curb appeal. The buyer’s first impression can make or break an offer. Make sure landscaping looks cared for. Take extra time to do some trimming and edging. Create a welcoming look.
  • Light up the house. Raise the shades and open curtains. Turn on lights. A bright, well-lit home shows better.
  • Put pets in a safe place. Buyers may be allergic or not take well to different animals.
  • The home must be “show ready” at all times. This can be challenging for busy business folks, especially when there are small children in the home. A cleaning service every week or two, with daily “policing,” can help keep the home showable.

One thing is certain, business people can’t always plan well in advance for a move, whether going across town or across the country. After taking a little time to shop around, my friend — busy trying to get everything done in an organized way — decided on a realtor who offered to help with relocation. In the end there was hardly even time to sign the deal. Their home sold within 24 hours, and several bidders helped bring in a selling price of more than expected. Crazy!

Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine – your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.