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  Help! Baby on the way
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My wife and I listed our house in St. ***** last fall, de-listed for the winter and re-listed in February. We've currently been on the market for about 75 days. That's not all that long but...we're due with our first child in 4 months. That means we need to sell and close by early August.

We have been getting a fair # of showings - a couple of dozen at least, though it's dropped off in recent weeks. The feedback is almost always the same: the layout.

The house is 1182 square feet including a partially finished basement. The house was listed as 4 bed, 2 bath when we purchased, but it's realistically 2 bed, 2 bath (which is how we have it listed). There is 1 small bedroom on the main floor and 1 bedroom in the basement. The 2 additional rooms on the main floor that could be bedrooms are staged as a family room and a nursery. You can't get to the main floor bath room without walking through the family room. You can't get to the kitchen without walking through the nursery. There are doorways, but no doors to any of the main floor rooms (except the bathroom), including the main floor bedroom. The estimate to hang doors (2 doorways) for the bedroom was $1,500.

Additionally, the main floor except for the kitchen and bathroom is carpeted. We just got a quote for installing hardwood floors ($6k). The carpet is in decent condition, but the hardwood would probably make a stronger impression. We assume hardwood is preferable, but there doesn't seem to be much hard data out there.

The house started at $114,900 (our purchase price). We have dropped to $103,900, which is a little lower than most of the comps in the area. Our square footage and the 2 full bathrooms put us ahead of most comps.

We don't have room to drop the price much more. If we spend the $6k to install the hardwood floors, we would need to raise the price to closer to $109,900, which still wouldn't solve the layout problem.

So, with that lengthy amount of detail and with our time crunch in mind, are the hardwood floors worth it even though they don't solve the layout problem? Any other helpful troubleshoots? Is our best approach just to drop the price as much as we are comfortable with? And if we do drop the price, better to do it incrementally or one big drop (to $99,999 perhaps)?

Thanks everyone for your suggestions!
Posts: 5 | Registered: May 10, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I suggest putting up the doors (which can be done for far less than $1500) and forget the hardwoods. Not knowing your market it is difficult to say what your best strategy is.

The layout you can't change without some expense. So you need to change what you can, to make it desirable enough for a buyer to see value.
Posts: 524 | Location: mi, usa | Registered: Apr 10, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have never been in favor of spending big amount of money on homes that you are selling. fix what needs fixing. and put your money away for your down payment and closing costs, you will need it for then.
Posts: 5014 | Location: 0 | Registered: May 31, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Personally, I wouldn't put the 6K into floors... because you probably won't get it back. YES, it would make the house look nice... but buyers can add that if they really wanted to in the future.

Talk with your agent on adding a realtor bonus to the sale. We added a $3,000 realtor in MLS (only realtors can see it under the notes) and it makes them VERY motivated to show and sell your house. For instance, if a couple is torn between a few homes- that bonus will make the realtor push to get them to put in an offer on your house. (some realtors suggest starting with a $1,000 bonus... they word it '$1,000 realtor bonus with accepted offer) That bonus really helped us get some traffic (but not a sale... yet!)

You also may want to think about dropping the price to show as 'just reduced' in MLS or other home apps that people often look at. I think all it needs is a $500 drop to show as 'just reduced'. If you can afford to go all the way to, save 99,999 for a couple weeks away. How are the comps in the area? Are there other of your floor plans for sale?

It's so hard with a baby on the way- just keep it charming and picked up. Keep it clean as possible and de-cluttered and the right buyer will come along. Best of luck, I'm in there with you when it comes to needing to sell fast!

Posts: 11 | Location: AZ | Registered: May 03, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Mike & Amy, when you make a last-minute update, you may sell faster but typically don't recover your costs. I'd pass on the floors at this stage of the game. (See below.)

WRT the doors, sounds like they were previously up so hardware may be existing, in place. I'd buy some inexpensive replacements and install them myself for a couple of hundred dollars. Watch for free seminars at your local home centers, if you need a few DIY tips or check online.

Sounds like you might want to restage your home to show it off at its best advantage. Not sure if I'm understanding your post. You mentioned a bathroom adjacent to a f/r. If you changed the f/r into a b/r, does that create an ensuite for you? If at all possible to set up an ensuite, I'd do it.
That'd really stand out in your price range, IMHO.

Do you have a young child in the nursery already or is it set up for the new baby? If it's for the new little one, I'd consider staging that room as a f/r, adjacent to the kitchen and set up a temporary bassinet in the newly created master. I know, it'd be an inconvenience but I believe that layout would sell much faster. Who wants a nursery by the kitchen? Nobody that I know, anyway ...

Or, you might consider setting up a nursery/bedroom/playroom in the basement. I'd keep the baby with you b/c of the distance, however and probably stage the basement as a combo guestroom and family room.

So, after making those changes, you'd have 2 br's (basement + ensuite) plus options on 2 more. How about using 1 of the small rooms as an add'l br (perhaps that could be the nursery) plus a lr. So, you'd have a lr and fr on the main floor plus a guestroom/fr combo in the basement. Does that work? Or, one of the two rooms could be a d/r, adjacent to the kitchen with the other staged as a lr and fr in the basement. Make any sense at all? (I probably miscounted the rooms - sorry!)

You're correct that 2 br's is about right for that amount of sq. footage. That said, I'd focus on comparing the price/sq. ft instead of # of b/r's. Without add'l info, I'd probably leave the price as is.

After restaging some rooms, installing doors and doing any other fixups, e.g. repainting pink nurseries, I'd see if showings improved while investigating flooring options. In that price range, I'd consider doing DIY on a nice laminate.

Can you link up to your listing so we can give you further staging tips? That way, I can get the rooms straight, too!

Hope something helped - best of luck!

This message has been edited. Last edited by: SurfNow,
Posts: 532 | Registered: Aug 29, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Mike & Amy, you guys probably did a terrific job preparing your home for the new baby. So, it's probably a real pain to think about possibly restaging your home at this point in time.

In RE, however, you have to makes choices and prioritize. If you want to sell, then you have to think of the home as the buyers' possession and prepare it so they'll instantly feel at home when they enter upon touring.

So, you have to physically and mentally let the home go. If you set it up with the typical or expected buyers' needs in mind instead of your own, it will usually sell within a reasonable amount of time, depending on current market conditions.

Good Luck!
Posts: 532 | Registered: Aug 29, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks, everyone! The advice is helpful. I think we can decide against putting the $6k into the floors.

The MLS number is 14009229 (one four zero zero nine two two nine).

We really haven't done much with the nursery other than put a crib and a small amount of decor in. We thought it could be a solution to what otherwise could be an awkward room if it were staged as a bedroom. It's painted neutral, so it would be easy to re-stage as something else. We don't actually NEED the nursery until September (when we'll hopefully be in our new house), so the functionality isn't an issue for us.

Staging the current family room as an en suite is interesting. It would mean the only bathroom on the main floor would only be accessible through the en suite bedroom. The 2nd bathroom is in the partially finished basement. How much of a problem do you think that would be for potential buyers?

The price per square foot is similar or lower than most comps in the area (not just compared to # of bedrooms and bathrooms).

I think that answers most questions in the responses so far. Thanks again everyone!! This is very helpful (and encouraging, maybe we'll actually sell it in time!).
Posts: 5 | Registered: May 10, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Posts: 5 | Registered: May 10, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Mike, cute, cute house! You've done a great job cleaning, decluttering and preparing it for sale. I didn't check into your area for pricing b/c it sounds reasonable so far, given the sq. footage.

Yes, I would suggest you do more, if you want to maximize **$ realized from your sale and hopefully get out of there to welcome your new baby!

Can't believe it but I think the restaging would work, if I'm correctly guessing the rooms' locations. BTW, if you have a layout, even a quickly hand-drawn one, including the doorways, that'd help, too.

Because of its age and the choppy rooms, I would try to make it feel more open and larger. To do that, I believe the best thing to do would be to paint every room in the same color, what we call "boring beige". I'd coordinate with the carpet color, going much lighter than it. (Am I guessing correctly that your carpet has more brown than grey? The grey paint appears to contrast - not coordinate.)

Although your existing colors are neutral, they feel like a cacophony of shades and IMHO emphasize the choppy rooms. Plus, the gold or butter yellow feels slightly dated. In general, they feel a little dark, too. Personally, I'd go very light but not white and picking up your carpet's brown tone.

WRT your concern about the bathroom in the en suite and guests, to me, it's not that uncommon for guests in an older home to use a b/r in the basement or walk thru another room. Personally, I wouldn't worry about it.

In addition, based on the photos, it appears that the basement might be the place to set up your main living area. So, guests would be down there anyway, hanging out. Still believe it'd be far preferable to market that space as an ensuite, too.

Assuming you guys use the upper b/r, I would stage the basement b/r with a nice set of guest towels and soaps. Would also remove the blue and gold shower curtains to open up the space and again, help it space feel larger. (If you do need to use that tub, the translucent/opaque window covering's about $8/roll for privacy.) Selling a home's very different than living in a home!

You've probably removed a great deal of furniture. If possible, I would get an inexpensive storage unit or borrow a friend's garage and remove a little more. In particular, I would remove anything that invites conversation or controversy and makes the home appear small or w/o ample storage.

For your master b/r, I'd definitely eliminate 1 dresser. Would remove at least 1 couch from the f/p room (Am not placing the f/p room from your photos. What's adjacent to it?). If possible, I'd borrow a loveseat (a light brown might be ideal) and an open, not heavy, chair or two, grouping them around the f/p, away from the walls, on the edge of your rug.

To finish off the f/p area, you might try leaning your mirror (or a slightly larger one, if possible) on the mantel and removing all the small items. (They often make the space feel smaller.) To finish it off, a tall, narrow, healthy green plant on the hearth might be ideal.

I love your bar area. You live in a conservative area, however, so I would remove it altogether and move your dining table into that area, underneath the light and off the wall. I'd make that the main dining area for upstairs. To finish it off, I'd go with a lighter, neutral tablecloth and possibly set it, partially.

BTW, in general, it's a good idea to move all furniture away from the walls, allowing potential buyers to walk around your spaces, creating an illusion of more space. If possible, it's best to group the furniture around a focal point, e.g. a f/p, IMHO.

Your nursery items are adorable but would invite conversation, distract buyers from the merchandise, i.e. your house, and possibly make you appear to be a desperate seller, open to low-ball offers. So, yes, I would pack/store every bit of it away to set up in a terrific nursery in your new home!

Can't see if the shelving unit is generic - that is, not specific to a nursery. Would love to see its photo - could it be used for a wall-mounted TV and other adult staging paraphernalia (e.g. books, pottery, etc.) in the basement?

Is one of the 2 couches a pull-out sofa? You might try that on the long wall in the basement, across from the shelving unit with a TV, hopefully a wall-mount. I'd also remove the chaise from the little jog by the window, leaving that open, and try that in the basement. You might not have enough room, however. Less is more, IMHO. If the buyers can't walk around, the overall home feels smaller to them.

Would try staging the small b/r adjacent from the ex-nursery, new f/r as an office/den. An open table and 1 chair, keeping it light and airy, plus a small bookshelf might be all that's needed.

WRT your doors, I would remove the curtain plus rod from the new den's doorway, opening it up to the living space. Would also remove the curtain and rod from the adjacent wall (that doorway goes to what room?) and install a door there. Hopefully the den and f/r would feel a little larger and lighter.

The long, narrow print/painting in the new den might be ideal hung much lower, above the basement couch, to make that room feel larger. Some of your other artwork may be a little small, making your spaces feel small. If/when you paint and remove everything, I'd save it to reconsider placement after restaging your rooms.

Sorry for the length. It's all quickly flowing out as I check out your cute home and photos. I hope at least 1 thing helps you!

There's more so will try to return later. Hope you're both enjoying a nice, quiet, before the (wondrous) baby storm, Mother's Day!

Good Luck!

P.S. After you paint and restage, as I mentioned above, I would definitely consider some inexpensive but decent laminate, done DIY, in every room but the kitchens/baths. BTW, if your basement has moisture issues, you might need the very nice linoleum that looks almost exactly like laminate. Again, like painting, if you make every room consistent, you'll be amazed (IMHO) at how much larger and more open the home will feel!

I wouldn't increase my asking price, however, or expect even a penny more from the sale. It's only if you want to sell faster at that point and move on.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: SurfNow,
Posts: 532 | Registered: Aug 29, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks again, SurfNow! Very detailed, and very helpful. It'll take us a few days to take everything in and settle on a plan of attack.

I'll follow this post with a crudely drawn floor plan as you suggested (hopefully the image shows up).

The walls on 3 of the 4 main rooms on the main floor are the same - country (boring) beige. The small bedroom (future den, possibly) is the one in the listing that is light blue. The kitchen is a very light yellow. The carpet is more beige than grey, and both the carpet and paint are pretty light (at least in person).

The only room in the basement that makes sense for guests to hang out is the rec room (Room I on the sketch that follows, the room in the listing w/ the linoleum floor and ugly wood paneling). I currently use it as a home office, we have it staged as a potential poker/game room. The photo of the room w/ the tv in the listing (with the green couch) is on the main floor (Room B on the sketch). It's the room attached to the main floor bath room.

Before listing the house, we used the upstairs bedroom, but are now using the downstairs bedroom with the house on the market.

The upstairs bathroom has a tub, but now a shower. So the downstairs bathroom (with the blue shower curtain) is the one we use primarily. The window is a privacy window, the issue w/ the shower curtains is that we do use them since it's the only shower. And since it's a clawfoot tub, there is a small amount of space between the tub and the wall, which means the shower curtain liners are unfortunately necessary.

Most of the people who have come to see the house so far have been young couples (in their 20's from what I can tell). I'm not sure if the hutch (bar) is a negative for them or not (we are in the neighborhood that hosts the big St. Patrick's Day parade, and has lots of young professionals), but it obviously hasn't helped us sell the house. So we can try changing it around as you suggested.

Which shelving unit are you referring to? The two in the nursery (larger and smaller shelves right next to each other) are regular (non-baby) bookshelves. Either could move to the basement.

None of the couches are pull-out couches.

We removed the curtain in the doorway a few weeks ago. It just seemed to highlight that there weren't doors. I think we will do as suggested and install the doors.

By DIY laminate, do you mean for the floors? Would that mean removing the carpet? There's no hardwood underneath (they are tiles, probably not very smooth). Does that make a difference to your recommendation?

No moisture issues in the basement (thankfully!!).
Posts: 5 | Registered: May 10, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Floor plan sketch attached

Floor Plan Sketch
Posts: 5 | Registered: May 10, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of real estate lady
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Your home is being marketed as a 2/2 - don't spend any money and 99,999 it.
Posts: 9311 | Registered: Aug 14, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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You do not want to spend money to sell your house unless it is necessary.

Turn the nursery into a dining room as it was meant to be. Take down curtains used as doors.
Posts: 7282 | Location: North MN & Northern AR | Registered: Oct 01, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Mike, your floor plan will be very helpful. I'll study it and get back to you later.

Agree, pricing at $99K and change helps by getting you below $100K on buyers' search engines. You've done small multiple price changes w/o success. I haven't looked at your area. It sounds like your price is reasonable.

I'd consult your realtor and ask her to provide a CMA form with the latest comps. If/when you restage a few things, you can reconsider pricing based on the data and your realtor's recommendation.

I also agree about not spending **$. Paint is so cheap that for staging purposes, we pretty much consider it a time investment. Everything else I suggested is reusing your own furniture and other items.

WRT the laminate, I would pass but it's very tempting b/c I believe it'd look great, especially if the painting's done. IMHO, the house would feel updated and much larger if completed in conjunction with standardizing the paint colors. It's usually on sale for 80c/sq. foot around here. With such a small place, most people would consider that a reasonable staging/fixup expense.

Have you ever considered retaining this property as a rental? If that was financially feasible, I'd definitely do the laminate before listing it as a rental.

So far, I've only noticed 1 door that needs to be hung - the long wall in the (proposed) office/den. (Where's the 2nd location you're thinking of?) Have you checked out salvage places for used doors? Salvage would be a good source for a few other staging suggestions I have, too. (Will post again, later, if you're interested.)

If you do end up purchasing an item or two, I suggest you select things that can be used in your new home. Otherwise, I would try to borrow furniture from relatives, if possible. Or, consider Goodwill. I doubt you'd need much, if anything.

WRT storage expenses, do you have room in the unfinished portion of your basement or an outdoor shed? Or possibly a neighbor/friend/relative? If not, you can usually find inexpensive storage units that constantly run specials.

Thanks for your return post. I'll come back later today and address those items - plus more staging.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: SurfNow,
Posts: 532 | Registered: Aug 29, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Agree with metwo, I noticed the nursery was originally a d/r. Considered making that suggestion but rejected it b/c I don't feel you have enough general living space so it's best use is as a small f/r, IMHO.

Plus, you have another overhead light and space for your table by the existing bar area. In a home with such small sq. footage, I don't believe a d/r area is the best use of that space. IMHO, the kitchen eat-in area is sufficient. And, most homeowners don't use formal d/r's these days.

BTW, that's the main reason I would remove your cool bar area, i.e. to provide space for your table. Incidentally, you'd be surprised how many people have attitudes about liquor. They won't make negative comments to you or your agent as feedback. Most people are nice and don't like to criticize homes - they'll rave about your pad but won't return for a 2nd showing!

In staging, although we're mindful of your target or most likely buyer, we also try to make things as generic as possible to appeal to many groups of people. And, you don't want any distractions as potential buyers tour your home.

BTW, I'd remove the shamrock and its pic, too. I didn't know what it was until you mentioned it. Not everyone would appreciate the parade's crowds, noise and the partiers!

You know, looking at your floor plan, I see that the f/p is the front room. Instead of a door to the (proposed) office/den, you could leave that open but you'll want a door to the (proposed) m/br.

Do you normally enter the home through the front door? Just curious if you have any type of entryway or mudroom set up on that side of the room. How about an open console table for keys, etc., if that's where you usually enter.

Anyway, later -

This message has been edited. Last edited by: SurfNow,
Posts: 532 | Registered: Aug 29, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Mike, your floor plan helped tremendously. For some reason, without it, I wasn't able to place the location of the front room, aka the "f/p room".

Sounds like your target market may be young professionals, no kids. I started to stage a nursery but couldn't find a logical place for it. Makes sense, huh - you're moving, right!

So, given the front room plus your (proposed) family room on the main level - the ex-nursery, I would stage the home as 2 master bedrooms (the new ensuite plus your basement), perfect for either 2 roommates, a young couple or an in-law suite. Yes, I would stage the other front room as a den/office.

I was confused by your mention of the "rec room". I would stage that as a mini kitchen. For example, if you have an old coffee pot and/or microwave, I'd set them up in there.

If you're still around and interested, I'll go into some more detail tomorrow on the staging, including paint colors, etc.

Hope something's helpful for you.

Take care -

This message has been edited. Last edited by: SurfNow,
Posts: 532 | Registered: Aug 29, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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