Buying and Selling A House During a Pandemic: A Multi-Part Series

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house with for sale sign
Buying your first house in your twenties is different than buying your second home for your growing family. Additionally, buying and selling during a pandemic can make the process more stressful, but could also provide the perfect opportunity if you take the right steps!

This will be the second home my husband and I have purchased. When looking for our first home we were in our twenties, childless, and looking for a house that we could put some work into and then sell for a good price. In January, before Covid-19 took over our lives, we got the itch to move. With family from out of state and desires to expand our family, we wanted a space for guests to stay that also had the potential to grow our own family. Our goal was to complete three major projects and then list the house early May, but then Covid-19 halted our plans. Even though we faced a huge hurdle, I am excited to say that we are currently under contract after multiple offers with simply a weekend of showings! Here are some tips I used to ensure success selling a house during a pandemic:

Selling A House: Preparation for a quick sale

  1. Choose a realtor with a history of success. Choosing a realtor can be very personal. This person will hold your hand through potentially challenging moments, so you need to be able to trust their opinion. Firs,t ask your network for recommendations, then conduct “interviews”. Ask your potential realtor the following questions: What improvements should we make before selling our house in order to get top dollar? How have you supported clients in selling their house? How will you protect my house from Covid-19?
  2. Budget for repairs that make a big impact! Quarantine and daycare closure has allowed us to substantially build our savings in the past three months. Use that money to invest in your house. If you want top dollar, your kitchen, bathrooms, and big ticket items need to be updated. Replacing your countertop and updating backsplash will cost at least $3,000 but will have a huge impact on an outdated kitchen. A new vanity and modern tile will wow visitors and encourage buyers to increase their offers because you have completed all the projects for them!
  3. Make a smart decision about the big costs. If your roof and windows are nearing their life span, you either need to hand over the credit card or significantly lower your asking price. Additionally, painting the outside of your home is costly but has a huge WOW effect for curb appeal. For big ticket items, get multiple quotes and negotiate offers. High ticket item repairs may discourage buyers that don’t have immediate equity, so if you are in a finical position to complete those projects, you will be able to ask more when selling your house.
  4. New interior paint goes a long way! You might love the bright red dining room, but not all buyers have that taste. Lighter colors make your space feel larger and brighter. If you are looking to fit in with the trend, a light gray pallet always looks classic!
  5. De clutter, de clutter, de clutter! I cannot stress this point enough!!!! Decluttering costs absolutely nothing but has a HUGE impact. Remove all personal photos and personal items. When a potential buyer walks through the house, you want them imagining themselves as homeowners. That is difficult when your wedding photo and newborn pictures are staring back at them. Additionally, do you want the 60+ strangers walking through your house to see all of your personal photos? Probably not!
  6. Clean up the yard. Before putting your house on the market, you will need to get dirty! Pull up those weeds, mow the lawn, lay some mulch, and plant some planters. Buyers with families want to see a space their children can play in and a place where parents can relax!
Selling a house during the pandemic can seem scary, but a house that is in a great location, priced well, and in good condition will sell fast! With inventory low, most houses that have prepared successfully end up with multiple offers within days. This makes for an excellent selling environment but a competitive buying market! Stay tuned for tips on buying during a pandemic.
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Beth Northup
In 2010, Beth, a native Oregonian, moved to Rhode Island in hopes of becoming a high school teacher. Ten years later and she is married to a native Rhode Islander, a mom of an almost two-year-old, and an elementary Assistant Principal. As a working mom, Beth's mission is to balance marriage, toddlerhood, work, and her "me time". Beth has fallen for the Ocean State thanks to Seven Stars Bakery, Brickley's, Waterfire, and Narragansett Town Beach. On most weekends she can be found enjoying breakfast at a local cafe, chatting with the Cranston librarians, or watching her son admire the giraffes at the Roger Williams Zoo.