For Sale: From ‘Let’s Sell’ to Deal Done– in Under 2 Months!

Posted on 01.05.12.

The Mission:
Get a house ready to sell in less than two weeks…
The Result:
Did that… AND it went under contract in less than 3 days AND it closed in less than TWO months! . Just for good measure, there was a back up offer as well!

Click here for the listing and click on the photo to see the photo gallery. Meanwhile here’s a recap of the process that brought about a sale (for a profit, in a down economy) within 3 days of going on the market. What isn’t is in the day-by-day recaps is the great energy that was among all of us. Everyone knew what we were trying to do and was into it, with ongoing banter and lots of “oohs and ahhs” about small victories and the occasional “Houston (that was me), we have a problem.”
The day I left town (with the open house set for the next morning), I texted thank yous to all involved late last night (one of the guys was at his second job delivering pizza and whose girlfriend was in from out of town for the weekend. They remet on Facebook after 16 years and had been engaged and are now madly in love …). His reply was: “it was fun. I wish we’d had more time on to do the job.” Music to my ears (but for me, I’m sure glad to be moving on!!)
So here’s the story and at the end you’ll see the final outcome. A sold house, for a profit, in a down market… in less than 3 days on the market!

Comfort Living College Edition for Sale: 3 Days til Liftoff!

Here is story of creating home for the present as well as the future owners:

SATURDAY, Midnight:
4am woke up in sarasota for a 6am flight through atlanta to Detroit. I’m not a morning person – at least, I’m a firm believer in sunrise!
I slept on both flights, knowin what these next 2 1/2 days have in store for me.
On the drive to ann arbor, in running through my to do list on my mind, coordinate with the window cleaner,de-junk (not even clutter), mulch under the big beautiful tree in the front yard, pre clean for the cleaners comin first thong on Monday, buy an hang art, get the lighting in shape, replace the light fixtures on the living room a d entry, check the paint job and sign off wig the painters, bed skirts on the beds, talk with the kids about their rooms and how they need to be in decent shape for showing — and hopefully get them to lend a hand.
Find the rug that used to be in the dining room along with the missing window treatment on one of the windows, buy lamps and other accents for rooms, etc etc.

When get to the house, I fin out that my hero, pat the handyman is out of commission, but fortunately he has sent Tom as his replacement, who gets right to work, fixing a couple of doors, touching up some paint, putting to door to the laundry room back on and a host of other things that were on the to-do list. Thank god!
Matthe takes me around and I see tape still on the floor from the painters and he shows me a couple o areas that were overlooked. I tell him everyone’s human and that’s why it’s important to check things over. So I text dan the painter and he says he’ll be by later with one o his guys to get things done tk our satiafaction. Good for him and his company, Action Painting, which he just bought from the guy who paint the exterior over the summer!
Matthew and I get started… Or rather I join in on the efforts he’s been doing over the past couple of weeks – but not before going out for one of the best burgers I’ve had in ages (hungry much!!?!),
The rest of the day, from 2-11 is spent at the house, cleaning, moving, shifting, texting key people and workin with Tom, my new hero – who at the end of the day, Fonda out that pay ha committed him to the next day – Sunday — when his girlfriend is in town for the weekend!! I feel lousy, tell him to being her along, promise we’ll be quick… But he’s on board. What a sweetie! I love him already!
The painter come by, do touch ups and “while your at it’s” and find that they need to come back tomorrow with matched paint for an overlooked (peacock blue) window and the back door (evergreen).
At about 9, Matthew joins me in a heap on the couch and we look around. We’re doing it, but there’s alot to do between now and my 3pm flight. On Monday, in 2 days….
Then at 10pm, it’s off to the salvation army for me at 10pm (close Sunday’s) as I drop matthe off to study with friends.
For me dinner is potato chips, pretzels and the turn down Chocolate at the hotel. Not typical, but after such a long day, nutrition will happen tomorrow.

SUNDAY, 830am:

Just getting ready to head over to the house in about 15 minutes.
Last night’s salvation army taid was a hit! Bought 3 lamps, 5 framed pieces or art and candle holders and a bunch of other things for about $215.
Today will be a big leap – I hope. I need to get welcome mats, light bulbs, logs for the fireplaces and get art on the walls, the kitchen happening etc etc.
Also a trip back to my buddies at the reuse center, maybe I’ll find a rug and who knows what else… It a work in progress.
Here goes!

Sunday, Midnight:

We were at it from 9 to midnight. What a day. Joining Matthew, Tom and me, were Larry and brad. Also two of the kids in the house pitched in before classes as well, which was really appreciated.
Where to start? While Matthew was sleeping and Tom was at home depot picking up light fixtures for the living room and entry (and a bunch of other things I added to the list like switchplates, brighter light bulbs, etc), I tackled the kitchen. Cleaned up the shelves, put stuff away, threw away empty food boxes, oiled the built in chopping block and basically pre-cleaned so the cleaner tomorrow could make it “q-tip clean”, etc etc. I felt like the Karate Kid waxing all those cars. The acing grace for at least part of it was vein on a phone call, so part of the time I had “company”, but it was actually a bit zen to be breathing life back into the kitchen. (at the end of the night, when Nick drive me back to my hotel – so sweet of him to offer – he thanked ms about 4 times for making it more of a home and for all I was doing.)
The day took me everywhere, — – Tom put up the light fixtures — a night and day difference!!
– of course, the ring left by the ok living room fixtures was bigger than the new ones, so I came up with a great idea – since we didn’t have time to paint the ceiling, and frankly, it didn’t need it. I had dan, my Action Painting hero, paint the ring the same yellow as the walls, so it actually warms the light even more that the lights put out! And brighter bulbs in the bathrooms and on the lamps will make for a brighter space.
– Matthew swabbed the deck of the front porch, hauling tons of water in a huge bucket to rinse it off. He also gave both stairwell and the upstairs hall a good pre vacuuming with the dustbuster I bought last night at the Salvation Army for $4.99.
-Larry closed the dampers in the now-opened fireplaces so no more drafts. Tomorrow he’ll be back to paint the insides black to make them look good and I’ll add wood so that we have campfires ready to go (but closed off except for showings so the renters aren’t tempted to light them.. We don’t want to take that risk.)
– Dan from action painting came back and finished up a window, the front and back doors, etc. He also was ready to step in to touch up some of the stuff the other guys marked up. I took a paper towel and touched up some marks on the exterior paint.
-meanwhile I wiped down the art that I bought at the SA as well as some some other pieces that had never gotten hub up by the guys, windexed the glass and placed them in the spots for them to be hung. Still looking for a couple more, which hopefully find at the ReUse Center tomorrow.
– my helpful hint for the day came from Tom: to get labels off items, no need for Goo Gone o nail polish remover. Windex makes it easy!
– stuff that wasn’t getting use and was just getting in the way was brought out for the scrap guy: the elliptical machine that was living in the living room, the old futon that had come with the house that was taking up space inthe sub room, a broken desk chair, and on and on.
– in one of the bedrooms, I switched the location of a standing lamp from by the door (!) to next to the bed. Finding a swarm of cords, I made some peace with them and swapped out the broken shades with some curtains that we’d taken out of another bedroom yesterday. Instead of worrying about curtain rods, we just pulled the shade material off the wooden rod and slid the new ones over it. Presto!
– the art went up – what a difference!
– in the kitchen we took off the outdated valence and instead I put in a set if cafe curtains on springrods that I’d found in the hall closet, a second set for the dining room, but perfect to focus the eye on the trees next door, as opposed to the wall of the building.
…. Still trying to get someone to wash the windows!!!
At about 4, dick mattie, the real estate agent comes by with the listing agreement and more for me to sign. We go over it all (I have video of his comments after walkin through the house. He was shocked at the change: “800% better!” I put a heart by his name on the listing agreement, saying that I wanted to be under contract by thanksgiving. A first for him. No hearts on contracts til now!
At about 9 pm I headed to Meijhrs, a Wall-Mart clone and found almost everything on my list. Some microsuede throw pillows for the living room sofa, shower curtains to swap out with the old ones, an iron for those kitchen cafes, rug tape to secure the living room rugs (which we’d flip flopped ao that the dark one was in the brighter half of the room, and visa versa), even firewood for the fireplaces (!), welcome mats for the front and back door (i got a “C” for the front door, with a larger frame for it to sit in, to emphasize the historical aspect of the house as The Campbell House, new pot holders and a kitchen towel in red, a nod to the holidays as well as a door decoration (not too chriatmassy, but just enough)… and a couple of Greek yogurts for me, since food seems to have become a scarce commodity for me;).
So $210 later, I load it all up and head back to the house where Matthew helps me load in and finish up for the night. 1am, pooped!
Tomorrow the cleaners come at 10, I still need to find some drawer pulls for the kitchen and maybe a couple more piece of art… And flowers.
The yard guy is supposed to finish raking leaves and I want to get him to lay some mulch down, a good suggestion of Dick’s — and Victory — The cleaners are goin to wash the insides of windows and pat’s guys will do the outside. This just might work!!

The open house for agents is the next day and the open house for the public is on Saturday!

Off to the races!

MONDAY, 7:30am:

My flight to DC is at 5:40. I need to leave by 3:15, the latest. The house is far from done. Actually, it’s not even clean…
First stop is Home Depot to try to being back unused rods from january and get cabinet pulls for the kitchen. They take them back and with $100 in store credit + $30 cash, I leave with 30 pulls at $2.50 each and a rug pad to keep the dining room rug secure. I am trying to meet the cleaners when they get to the house at 10, but the lure of the ReUse Store is too strong, especially knowing the empty spot over the sofa in the living room. Sure enough, waiting for me for a mere $25 is a mission-style mirror. Which will be the perfect counterbalance to the mission sofa that is actress from it as well as the mission loveseat on the entry hall!
So with that and a quick stop at Kroger for fresh flowers, a bag of green apples and a box of clementines, total bill $32, I’m race home to catch up with the cleaners.
Cynthia and Todd of DeMedeci Domestics are in full swing and Tom is back to do final stuff like fix electrical outlets, spray paint the insides of the fireplaces black, repair the desk ms dining room table and any other things that come to mind.
Randy the yard guy is out blowing the leaves in the back yard and I’m under the impression that the windows (at least the inside) will be done by Cynthia and Todd and Pat will do the outside…. A bit of a miscommunication, but Cynthia and Todd stepped up to do the interior, which was the worst of it.
With most of the back yard done, the skies open up, winds pick up and some pretty serious thunder, for several hours. Randy takes off and I see things starting to deteriorate….
But we keep cleaning. I tidy up the laundry room and get some of my clothes in so that, during my trip to DC, i won’t look like Pig Pen. All the while, II try to stay one room ahead of Todd (Cynthia spends a chunk of her time doing a deep clean of the kitchen, and then the bathrooms, while Todd’s first challenge is cleaning the dark green carpet on the 2 sets of stairs. (dark green carpet is pretty impractical on high traffic areas!)
With the fireplaces painted, I put logs in each and even load up the log carrier to the side with the leftover.
As I said to Dick, the real estate agent, I don’t believe in staging for appearances. I help people create lifestyles that allow them to live the lives yet want to enjoy. That’s why the fireplaces are laid with real, not birch logs. That’s why the towels in the bathroom are NOT tied with ribbon or raffia. That’s why there’s fresh fruit, not flowers on the kitchen counter and on the dining table. (that’s also why there are candles nestled among the apples on the sonic table.). Same with the coat rack in the hallway. It’s meant to be put to use in the every day life of whoever happens to live there, now or in the future.
I out the doormats out and arrange flowers for the desk in the living room and the powder room and set out the holders for votive candles… As it turns out, I didnt pack mine, so it seems like a final store visit is in order. But I’ve only got 1 1/2 hours before I have to leave – and I want to see the cleaners off before i go, of at all possible.
So I race to kroger and the only candles they have are in the kosher section, for sabbath. Of course too wide for the various votive holders I brought, but I buy them anyway and, strategically placed, the label doesn’t show.
So. Back to the house where I see Tom off, who has been so amazing, as well as DeMedeci Domestics, from whom I’ve been learning little tips through the day:
– lemon removes coffee stains
– cotton cloths are the best for washing windows (now that newsprint ink is made with soy oil) and more. They know their stuff, that’s for sure.
Cybthia’s parting words are: “Aquanet hairspray takes out any ink stains!”.
I just love the midwest!!
So with that dash around, snapping a few photos, taking off some painters tape in one of the bathrooms, etc etc.
And at 3:40, I make tja mad dash to the airport… Even almost a half hour late, I make the flight (and even have time to replenish the tank of my Avis rental!)

2 emails to share: one from Dick, the agent and the other to the agent, and a text frm Matthew. I think we have liftoff!

Email #1
From: DM
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2011 17:55:08 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Update and Photos

Good evening,

The house looks amazing! thank you.

Attached are my top 20 photos for your review, they will be downloaded into the system in the morning. Also no sooner did I put the sign in the yard than an agent called and wants to hold the home open on Sunday from 2-4. Let me know if that will work. 2 open houses on the weekend should generate a lot of interest however it might be asking a lot of the young men living their. Let me know.

Matt I will see you at 10:30 tomorrow. feel free to pass along the photos to the young Lady you mentioned who might have an interest.

Have a Great Night! Amazing work Christine and Matt!!

Dick M
Associate Broker, Charles Reinhart

A text from Matthew:

That girl and her family are very serious about the house FYI, I’ve talked to dick about it, but I’m going to try and see if we can work something out there, because they would WANT us as lessors. I’m sending info to her dad and hope h follows through.

Email #2:
As I left, I sent this to Dick:

A few notes about showings
Entry:
The front rug, when you show the house, can be places directly over the rain mat, with only a 1″ overhang, so no need for a rug pad

Candles:
Candles to light prior to each showing, are located:
– front bedroom side table (also 3 lamps to turn on there)
– dining room table
– green bathroom
I think that’s it all of them. Pls bring matches.

Fresh flowers:
-n There are vases in the powder rooom and on the living room desk. Bear in. Mind that they will need to be swapped out! 😉

Kitchen:
– kitchen bulletin board:
Please use this for the main and 2nd floor furniture plans and any photos you want to display. (maybe the house with leaves on the trees?)
(floor plans are displayed on the counter)

Bathrooms:
– The light blue towels are the only ones to remain in the bathroom during showings.
– The white mat in the powder room should be put out for showings and then stored.
– Use your judgement on the mats in the other two bathrooms.

Tonight:
– I just spoke to pat and he assures me that the Porch swing, mirror and towel rods in green bathroom will be done this evening.
– Also the debris in the garage, basement pile, the hammock, the old piece of yard fence and the contents of the closet at the base of the back stairs will be hauled away tonight, according to Pat.

I think the rest is in good shape.

TUESDAY, morning:
Today at 11 is the open house for agents. Saturday is one public one, and Sunday is the other.
Gentlemen, start your engines!!

WEDNESDAY, 11pm:
We have a contract!!! The offer came in on Tuesday and we the deal was finalized just now. All cash, 576k, closing on Jan 4th and all the leases will be honored through their term, so the kids get to enjoy and matthew gets to be a tenant as opposed to a manager!

In a nutshell, assuming this is the deal that goes through, though there are other interested parties, we sold the house in a year for a profit in a very poor economy. Our son got the experience of managing it and learning, first-hand, the “life 101” lessons that go into owning property. During that time, he lived rent-free for a year in college as well and gained experience that will have relevance as he heads out into the job market having graduated from University of Michigan’s undergraduate program at Ross Business School.

Mission Accomplshed!
In all, with painting, cleaning, handy-man stuff and miscellaneous expenses, we put in about $6,000 to get it ready. Along with that, was a lot of tlc to make the residents as well as house hunters feel welcomed in to the experience of “home”.
Click here to view the listing and photos again… Do you need help moving on to your next home. That one that will help you live the life you really want to live?
Let me know!


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One Response to “For Sale: From ‘Let’s Sell’ to Deal Done– in Under 2 Months!”

  1. Isah says:

    Why thank you! The scneod I saw that lamp, I knew I had to have it. Crossing the border with it was amusing to say the least

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