10 Tips For Showing a House

We put our first house on the market on Black Friday of 2015… it was so scary to think that the listing was out there and now all we could do was wait. Wait to see if anyone wanted to come and see it. Wait to see if anyone liked the few pictures we thought best captured our house enough to want and visit in person. Wait to see if this whole “let’s sell this house by ourselves!” thing even had a prayer of working.

Waiting is scary.

Moving From Our First House

But then the first text came just one day later. Someone wanted to come and see it, but they would be out of town and couldn’t get there until the next week. And then another text came in… someone wanted to come and see it the very next day! YES! And then in the same breath, GOOD-THING-WE-CLEANED-THE-CARPETS-BUT-SHOOT-SOMEONE-WANTS-TO-COME-SEE-OUR-HOUSE! And thus began the preparations.

Over the next three months, we showed the house probably around 20 or so times, sometimes several in one week. I will tell you right now- it is exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time. Have you ever tried to live in a house that is also supposed to be in showing condition? Yeah, HARD. And we didn’t even have pets or kids! As we got more familiar with the process, we subconscienciously came up with a mental check-list that we went through before every showing. Making sure our house was looking its best every.single.time eventually helped in getting a full-asking offer, so in the end… totally worth the effort! Here’s how we did it:

10 Tips for Showing a House

CLEAN the house. Within an inch of its life. I’m sorry, folks… there’s just no getting around this. You can usually fake a clean house when you have guests over by throwing things in baskets, putting junk in a back bedroom and closing the door, etc. But not when you’re showing your house. People can tell when a house doesn’t feel clean and that definitely has an impact on how much potential they can see in a space.

DON’T FORGET THE CLOSETS and other areas that you can usually close and lock. Because guess what? When someone comes to see your house, they are going (and are perfectly entitled) to look at and in everything. This means closets, pantries, cabinets, the garage, the basement, etc. Make sure to tidy up those spaces too!

Tiny Closet Hacks-005

DE-CLUTTER, DON’T DE-PERSONALIZE! This is very important when you think about how to present your home to a potential buyer. My first thought was to rid the entire house of anything that felt personal- give them a blank slate, so to speak. Here’s the thing, though… most people walk into a house hoping to be able to see themselves making a home there. If the space is devoid of any homey touches, that can be a real challenge for some people! My mom reminded me of this after our first showing and promptly came over with a few potted evergreens for outside the front door and some nick nacks to put on the kitchen counters (I had packed mostly everything away).

Winter Front Door (1)

There definitely has to be a balance with this, though. Your space should still feel clean and inviting. A good rule of thumb is to pack up anything that could be seen as clutter or overly personal decorating choices and leave out pieces that make the house feel like a welcoming, livable space. For example, part of our choice to repaint the Spare Room white was because we knew that not everyone would relate to a bright turquoise wall. That alone might have made it challenging for someone to be able to picture themselves in the house. However, we left our Family Room shelves styled (we even had a few family pictures up there) and kept pillows and throws on the couch to give it that livable vibe.

Styling Shelves in the Family Room

TURN ON THE LIGHTS and lamps in every room. It didn’t matter what time of day it was that we happened to be showing; we always had every single light on. Even the front porch light and the back patio Christmas lights. More lights make the house feel brighter (duh), cozier, and inviting. Psst… Make sure to double check that no bulbs are out beforehand! We definitely had a few showings that we noticed that detail too late to do anything about it.

OPEN THE BLINDS. This goes along with the turning-on-lights thing… there is just no substitute for natural light and prospective buyers will want to see what the views are out the windows anyway. Even during night-time showings, we kept the blinds up because otherwise the rooms felt a bit dungeon-y.

Big Lots-003

GET RID OF ANY WEIRD SMELLS. We had a formula by the end of our house-showing time. The first step was to do our best not to create any excessive food smells if we knew we had a showing coming up. Our bottom floor tended to hold onto the “what was last cooking” smell for a day or so and we definitely did not want that to be a potential buyer’s first impression of the house, however yummy the meal was. :) If we had a showing scheduled, we would avoid cooking smelly things like bacon or burgers, etc. Often times, we ate out just to make sure. If a showing popped up without much notice, we had a plan for that too. Unfortunately, because we were showing primarily during the winter months, opening the windows and door was not always an option. My go-to method was to boil a small pot of water on the stove and add cranberries, a stick of cinnamon (or ground cinnamon if we didn’t have any sticks), and some vanilla.

Christmas Potpourri

Occasionally, I’d even add slices of fruit if we had it on hand (lemons, oranges, and apples work nicely). Allow it to simmer on the stove, add more water as the steam evaporates, and you’re good to go. This method worked every time and made the whole house smell so nice relatively quickly. I found this felt more natural and smelled nicer than just spraying Febreeze everywhere or cranking an air freshener up to full blast. That being said, one of our final touches before every showing was to give each bathroom a quick spray of Febreeze, just to add a touch of freshness for good measure. Nothing overwhelming, just a light spritz!

LIGHT SOME CANDLES for extra mood. We had a few in select places so we’d always remember to light them and then extinguish them at the end of the showing. We had one on the stove, two on the kitchen table, one in each bathroom, and one in the family room. We didn’t necessarily use them for the scent (I actually try to buy them scentless or with very subtle smells), but they did add to the coziness factor of the house. In addition to the candles, we always turned on the fireplace as well!

SET UP OUTDOOR SPACES to look their best too! Even though it was winter, unless we had a layer of snow outside, we set up our patio every single time we had a showing. That meant tables and benches wiped down, umbrella out, pillows and cushions out, candles lit, and Christmas lights on. Since outdoor space can be such a big selling point, we wanted to highlight ours in the best possible way, even if it meant a little extra set-up. This really helped visitors to be able to picture what it could look and feel like in the warmer months when you’d actually want to be outside.

Backyard: AFTER

TAKE OUT THE TRASH! This means in every room. It might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s an easy one to forget. This is one of those times where “personal touch” will not work in your favor. No one wants to see your trash and a full bin could negate even the best cleaning job!

PUT OUT A FLIER for guests to take home with them. We printed a few (you can see it here) on cardstock paper and had a pile sitting out on the counter. Because our flier had lots of pictures of the rooms that visitors had just walked through, it gave them something to take home to remember which property was ours. Make sure to include contact information for getting in touch later down the road, should they want to ask additional questions or even make an offer!

I think that about wraps it up… 10 Tips for Showing a House. For those of you visual people, we have a Final House Tour coming your way tomorrow! You’ll get to see what our first house looked like right in the middle of “showing season”, when all (or at least) most of these methods were in place to get that house SOLD. Also… and get hype for this because I just watched it and it’s a real gem… we shot a “Messy House Tour” during Moving Week, so you’ll get to see the real deal. The honest-to-goodness disaster of a house that was our reality the very last week we lived there. That’s coming next week, so stay tuned! :)

Or For Worse

For better or for worse. We had a “for worse” last night.

I had a completely different post scheduled for today, but something happened last night that I haven’t been able to stop my mind from thinking about, my soul from processing, and my heart from reeling from.

Yesterday was a normal-ish one for us. Mitch and I carpooled to work together, him dropping me off and then going on with his day. I had a day trip to a water park with our students. We had a blast, playing in the water and in the hot sun all day… they loved it, as they usually do this trip. Returning back to the church at the end of the day, Mitch was waiting for me and together we drove home after I wrapped up a few last emails that needed sending. Plans of grabbing Subway on the ride home and taking it back to the house to sit, eat, and catch up on a few television shows kept us encouraged on the long drive home, knowing that our day could finally stop and we could finally unwind and relax. I took a nap on the drive; I’m tired all of the time anymore and long days like this one are proving hard, sometimes making me so tired I feel sick.

Back home, the house seems more familiar now, something I’ve been struggling with lately. The evolution of house to home is a slow fade, but these days mark days of progress. The house is cool, a respite from the hot air outside, some mail on the table, a handful of dishes in the sink, waiting to be washed, the faint, pretty smell of a Glade air freshener I’d bought the other day wafting around, and the couch inviting.

Baby Thomas

Our night is pretty well summed up in that picture above. Relaxing, eating, waiting for baby kicks. Unwinding. Sooner or later, bedtime came and Mitch went off to take a shower. I stayed on the couch, mustering up the energy to get up and begin the process of getting ready for bed. And then the sensation that I have grown to dread, and sometimes to fear, came over me. The one where everything I have worked for that day, all the energy I’ve spent, and all that I’ve digested wants to revolt. I know this feeling well at this point. There’s only so much I can do once it’s here and it usually always ends with me submitting to the physical weakness of my body and sprinting for the bathroom.

This time felt different, though. I dashed for the closest option, but for the first time, my body gave out before I expected. I only (just barely) made it to the sink. The sink full of dishes, full of to-do’s, full of home-making in the process. The kitchen that we’ve been cooking our first meals in our new home in. Next to the kitchen table that still wobbles a little because the legs need tightening, but holds so many memories of friends and family. My body recoils against the sink and any last remnants of control I have disappear as the sickness washes over and through me in harsh waves, one after another.

Tears start to fall as I gasp for breath and panic sets in because as I take in my situation, I realize… I need help. Usually, I can work through it, flush it all away, brush my teeth, and move on. But not this time. For some reason, this time I am helpless.

I called out to Mitch, who had been showering down the hall. I think he recognizes the desperation in my voice because the intensity in response, “Hang on, I’ll be right there!”, jars me back to what is happening. And then, for the first time in all of this… and maybe in all of our marriage… my body is filled with shame. Embarrassment, yes, and I’ve surely been embarrassed in front of Mitch before. But I’m learning that while embarrassment and shame are neighbors, they are completely different. Embarrassment is “what I’ve done”, while shame is “who I am”. And in this moment, I saw myself.

I am putrid. I am dirty. I am covered. I am the culprit of this mess. I am weak. And I was filled with shame, knowing that Mitch would soon walk into the room and see me as vile as I saw myself. Tears turned to sobbing, as I leaned against the counter, listening to Mitch jump out of the shower and run down the hall.

I remember saying, “Don’t come over here!”

“I don’t want you to see it.”

He did, of course, and said, “Step back. Come this way. I will clean it. Don’t worry about it, I will clean it.”

And, oh, I fought. “No! No, I don’t want you to clean it!”. The shame and humiliation coarsed through my body; all I wanted to do was prevent the man I love most in the world from having to enter into my darkest, most ill-inviting space.

But Mitch fought too, at one point sternly taking control of the situation, “Leslie, don’t argue with me. I need you to step back, I will deal with this.” He walked me back to the bathroom and the sickness came again, this time mostly out of disgust for myself and what I knew Mitch was about to deal with. I got into the shower as he grabbed the yellow latex gloves from under the sink and headed back to the kitchen. The shower was warm, but my tears were hot and burned my face as they continued to fall.

It was then that I realized the depth of unconditional love. And in that moment, Mitch taught me something about Jesus that I never saw before. My sickness was just plain vile and as I watched Mitch march right through the bathroom door into the thick of it, I realized that my sin is just as crude, just as dark, just as putrid.

And yet… without a question, Jesus steps right into it and says, “Step back, don’t worry about it, I will clean it.”. I think I often gloss over the nature of sin. Yes, it’s a word. But I saw the pure ugliness of it as I watched our sink, our home fill with the worst parts of me.

And yet…

I tried to hide it, tried to protect Mitch from it. I tried to deal with it on my own. “I don’t want you to see it” were the exact words out of my mouth. It was too putrid, dirty, weak. And yet.

“If you step back, I will deal with this.” What an invitation.

I showered myself clean, all the while hearing Mitch clean up the sink and floor and then the clink of dishes, meaning he just went ahead and washed the pile that had been sitting there, waiting, too. I cried myself to sleep that night as Mitch rubbed my back. These tears were different, though. Tears of deep humility, reveling in the fact that I am deeply, deeply loved. By my husband who waded through the worst of me. But also, by Jesus, who did the same and did it first. When we realize how deeply we are loved, it is life changing. It is humbling. It is heartbreaking, in the best way possible.

Mitch, I have always said that God brought you to me because He knew I needed you. I have always said that you are continuously teaching me. But on this completely normal-ish Tuesday night in July, you really changed my life. I know Jesus a little bit better because of you. Because you chose to love as Jesus loves. And I’m not sure that you realize it, but I can tell that my heart feels different. “Thank you” doesn’t quite cover it, but I think you know. Or at least, I hope you do.

And I pray that you may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19)

You’ll Never Guess What Color We Chose…

We painted the house. Well, most of the house, that is. We were fortunate enough to have a seller that allowed us to come in and paint (and move!) the week before we signed the closing papers. So, we enlisted the help of our families and over the course of a few verrrrry long days/nights, got the entire house spackled, sanded, and walls & ceilings painted.

Painting the House-003 Painting the House-002

We have had a bunch of people asking what color we ended up choosing (“something in the blues family for sure!”) and now finally we can show you some pictures. Sorry to disappoint, but the walls in our house are not actually blue, teal, or any form of the like. The color we chose for almost every room in the house? Drumroll, please…

WHITE!

That’s right, everything has been painted a crisp, clean white and we are stoked about it. I’m really excited to try a different style of decorating… I naturally gravitate to all things colorful and that includes wall paint. It takes every ounce of energy for me to not paint each room in the house a different, bright, and vibrant color. I mean, just check out our last house…

First House Colorful Rooms

Our kitchen was yellow, the family room and hallway were a light blue/gray, the upstairs bathroom a spa blue, the spare bedroom started out mint with one dark teal accent wall (before we painted it white), and even the insides of our closets boasted dark teal and fuchsia at one point. Yeah. We like color. :)

We loved that house and how it ended up looking, but with this one, we’re on a different mission. I want to stretch my wings a little bit and experiment with decorating a house starting with neutral walls as the base. Oh, there will be color. Make no mistake about it. But I wanted to take on the challenge of incorporating the colors we love without necessarily relying on paint. Should be interesting!

Painting the House-001

Ok, back to the story. Our seller let us into the house the whole week before we signed the papers to paint and then move our stuff (both of which we vlogged and have the home videos to show you!). The first step was to get all of the walls ready for paint. This took some time because the walls were pretty dinged up and needed some cleaning before any paint could be applied. The week before all of our family came to knock out the big project, my dad and I stopped by the house one afternoon to spackle all the holes and marks so that it would be dry in time for sanding later.

_MG_0624

The next weekend, all three sets of our parents, our sister Kylie, and my parents’ dog, Sophie, came over to get the painting party underway. We painted the ceiling with two coats of Ultra Bright White (Behr) and the walls all got two coats of Swiss Coffee (also Behr). Everything is definitely white… and we could not be happier with it. Here is what the space was looking like after one coat (you can really see the difference when you look at the color of the trim and door, which was similar to what had been on the walls before).

Painting the House

The color just brightens up the whole space, makes it feel really clean, and will serve as a great foundation for adding lots of personality in the details. Also, we had to pick a color that would look good everywhere because EVERY SINGLE ROOM is connected and flows into each other besides the bedrooms. This serves us well in the “open layout” we’re looking for, but it definitely pushed us to pick a color that reads well everywhere. White, it was!

Painting the House 1

So that is the story of our walls! Sparkly white and ready for some fun. And we all know a picture is worth a thousand words, but how about a video? Because we have one… a vlog of the entire process! Oh, and PS… be on the look-out for a little prank we pulled on Mitch’s stepdad. Let’s just say we had him in pure panic mode for a good solid minute. 😉 Enjoy!

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