Home Week - Selling and Buying a Home (With Two Under Two)


I'm so excited to kick off Home Week here at Smidge of This! One of the questions I've gotten most often recently is about my experience with selling a home and buying a home with a newborn and a two-year-old. So, how did it go, and what words of wisdom might I have to impart ... and, basically, how did I stay sane.

(Spoiler alert: I barely stayed sane)

So, here's the background. We were living in a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom ranch style house. Around 1850 square feet. We used all three bedrooms as bedrooms and we converted our dining room into an office so my husband could work there. We had two living areas but one was right off of the foyer and fairly "formal" so we never really used that room. You could always find us in the den, the kitchen ... with two little ones and a dad working right off of those two rooms (or trying to work amidst the chaos), we were quickly running out of space. 

We loved the house and loved the area but ultimately decided to list it this past spring and focus on moving out a little bit to get more space!

Here's what we did to ready our home:
+ Majorly purged the extra "stuff." We did lots and lots of selling and dropping off items for charity.
+ Cleared out some larger pieces of furniture from smaller rooms so they appeared roomier. Sold these items or put them into a storage unit we rented.
+ Took down a sentimental chandelier we wanted in our new home and replaced it with a new light fixture.
+ Completed repairs on our home that we knew were necessary or may come up during an inspection (replacing burned out light bulbs, etc)
+ General tidying up and cleaning on a daily basis to ready the home for photography and showing!

We didn't really worry about removing personal photos -- our realtor said that as long as everything looked spacious and neat and tidy, family photos were okay to leave out. Big baby gear like our swing also stayed put.

We had the home photographed and officially listed on a Wednesday with the first showing being held off until that Friday morning at 10am. That gave us the opportunity to pack up weekend bags, drop Camille off for a night with my parents, CLEAN and mop every inch of the house, and exit the house that morning -- heading first to pick up Camille from my mom, then to Sesame Street Live in Charlotte, and then driving straight to Ian's family mountain house for the weekend. YES I packed in way too much that Friday morning and YES it drove me to the brink of insanity and YES I was probably one toddler tantrum short of the world's ugliest ugly cry ... but we survived.

It was so nice being out of town for that first weekend of showings. But ... no offers that weekend.

We returned home to Charlotte and geared up for a week of normalcy while trying to keep our home show-ready with two little ones. If I could pass along any tips here, it was that I kept an empty laundry basket near the front door. When we had a showing request, I ran around the house and threw all of the mess inside it -- slippers, baby toys, folded laundry that hadn't yet been put away, unopened mail, you name it. 

We had a few more showings that did not result in offers. Before our last showing request that following week though, I lit a candle on the kitchen countertop, put the TV on the light classical station, and turned on all of the lights. I had it down to a science! We received a call about an hour later saying that the agent's client loved the house and would be submitting an offer shortly. The offer came through, it was great, and we accepted after some discussion. Why discussion? Because we were slightly panicking that we hadn't seen a home yet that we loved enough to put an offer on! Where were we going to move?!

But then, in the middle of the night one night, I was up feeding my baby in her nursery and looking at areas of Charlotte on Zillow, and I came across OUR NEW HOUSE. I screenshot it and emailed it to our realtor and said "What's up with this one? Still available?" and she set up a showing immediately. I went to scope it out with the girls, my best friend and her girls (pre-screening it for Ian ... we had seen SO many doozies and he was losing hope) on our 5th wedding anniversary, May 28. I had Ian to go by with me later that afternoon, he liked it, and we decided to submit an offer!

The two parts of home buying I detest are going back and forth on the offer and back and forth on inspection/repair agreements. But we somehow made it through all of that nonsense and closed on our home at the end of July. This whole process was so incredibly stressful ... stressful on our marriage, stressful on me emotionally (we were saying goodbye to the house we brought our babies home to!), stressful on the girls, physically stressful with all of the cleaning, moving, heavy lifting -- just a crazy time. But we just tried as a couple to focus on the long-term happiness we were gaining and keep our heads down. It was not easy.

Fast forward nearly five months, and we are loving our new area and the new house. It is only a few miles away from our old home. We have more space and a quieter street. There are plenty of projects we've done (more details on those later this week) and plenty of projects still on our wishlist. If you are considering listing your home and/or buying a new one, I think you just have to embrace the crazy and hold on to that bucking bronco for dear life. And by all means, align yourself with a great realtor!

I did ask my realtor Holly if she'd be up for a little Q+A, and she happily obliged! Here are some tips straight from a seasoned real estate agent. I'd also love to hear your stories about buying and selling your home and any tips you may have to pass along.  

Holly Evans 
Owner/Office Administrator at Brooks-Evans Properties

What traits should you seek out in a realtor? 
There are 3 attributes I think are very important in a realtor. A realtor who is RESPONSIVE. communication is key, be sure the person representing you knows your needs and wishes so they can work on your behalf. A realtor you are COMFORTABLE with. If you aren't able to comfortably talk with someone, they won't be the partner you need while in a heated negotiation....and they all get a little heated! Make sure the realtor you hire is KNOWLEDGEABLE about the area in which you are selling or buying. For example, choosing a realtor that is an expert in lake property will do you no good while looking for a new home in town.

What should you expect of your realtor?
Your realtor should be able to handle any of your expectations as long as you are upfront with your realtor about what you want. Communication is key! At the very least you should expect your realtor to be willing to work around your schedule. Also expect your realtor to be prepared with information about comparable sales in your area if you are selling and detailed information about any house you have an appointment to see when looking to purchase.

How can you ready your home for photography? 
Two easy to remember tips I can give everyone are: Get smaller items and clutter out and off of the floor in corners of rooms, off counter spaces and inside closets. Add light where ever possible! Open drapes and blinds also use higher wattage light bulbs.

How can you ready your home for showings? What if you have pets, kids, etc? 
Plan to be out of the house for all showings! Take your pets unless they can be quiet and inside a crate. Make it seem like no animals even live inside the home. While on the market, cut your children's toys down to a bare minimum so that they can be hidden quickly before a showing. A few children's items are ok however, too many will be distracting. Before leaving for a showing, make sure the trash is out and the home smells nice.

Any insider tips, tricks of the trade? 
Well... I like to keep those for myself and my clients but I will share a couple. Staging helps! If your house has very few updates some fresh updated furniture can do the trick without spending too much on actual updating. Also, if you can only afford to do one thing to ready your house for the market, make that one thing fresh paint! It makes the home looks nice and neat and will smell new too!

What are your thoughts on using social media to promote your home sale? 
Absolutely! Your realtor should showcase your home on real estate sites as well as social media. You can help by also showing your home is for sale on social media, the more people that see the home the more opportunities you will have for an interested buyer to want to take a closer look!

Holly Evans 
Owner/Office Administrator at Brooks-Evans Properties
"Charlotte Natives Specializing in Southern Charlotte Residential Sales"

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