My husband and I currently own a condo in Chicago and we’re looking to buy a fixer upper in our same area. I have big dreams to transform a property that needs lots of TLC into a space that is perfect for our family.
The problem? The market is pretty slow right now. We’ve had a horribly cold winter and my realtor thinks a lot of people are waiting until the weather warms up to list their homes (fingers crossed!). Makes sense to me. I certainly don’t want to galavant around the city going to open houses when it’s five degrees outside!
But the thing is … I’m a huge planner. I hate sitting idle waiting for things to happen. So while my dream home might not be available just yet, here are the tasks I’m getting done now, so when that perfect home does come on the market we are ready to pounce on it!
Prepping Our Home to Sell
The biggest item on my to-do list is preparing our condo to sell. It’s in amazing shape (if I do say so myself!), but there are still a few things that need some sprucing up before we allow tons of strangers to come critique it from top to bottom.
Use This House Work List to Start Cleaning What Matters
Being cooped up inside all winter has given me ample opportunity to show my home some love and attention. Here are a few things I’ve done around our condo over the past few months.
- Deep cleaned every nook and cranny (this list is a great reminder for some of those hidden spots you may forget!)
- Touched-up paint on the walls, baseboards, and trim
- Took care of a few nagging chores (like fixing a leaky faucet and tightening door knobs).
If you’re in the same boat as I am, I suggest taking a walk around your home with a paper and pen in hand. Jot down areas that need some TLC and then make a plan of attack to get them done while you have the free time.
Purge and Declutter Like Marie Kondo
The Marie Kondo craze is happening at the perfect time for me, as we recently did a major purge of our entire house. I shared my experience with her methods here, but long story short … our home is feeling a lot lighter now!
This is key when it comes to showings because I’m fully expecting people to be peeking in our cabinets and closets. Afterall, the goal is to make your house appear like it’s where they will live, not me!
I’ve also removed some personal items, cleared countertops, and pared down our home decor (my biggest vice!). I also read this post with even more tips to get my home prepped for the spotlight. Even though we’re not having showings just yet, I’ll be ready when the time comes.
Get Your Real Estate Photos Early
This task was one I didn’t think of all by myself. My friend recently sold her home really quickly right after finding her dream place. I asked how she got her listing ready so fast and she mentioned that she actually had photos taken of her place months ago!
Why so early? She wanted to get photos of her exterior when there wasn’t snow on the ground, so she ended up hiring a professional photographer last fall to document her entire home. Genius!
I immediately made plans to get photos of our home completed. That way, we would have that monumental task done when we were ready to list our place. If you’re doing real estate photos yourself, this post is filled with lots of great tips!
Prepare Your Listing (With an Agent)
Because we’re new to buying and selling at the same time, we’re using a real estate agent for the process. During this down time, we’ve chatted with her a number of times to get the selling portion of the process figured out and ready to go.
What did our agent actually do? She helped:
- Finalize our listing price
- Gather comps for similar properties in our neighborhood
- Document all the most important information for the listing itself
We also provided her with a list of all of the upgrades we’ve made to our place, so she could take that into account when pricing and doing the write-up about our home.
All of this was a process and it required several weeks of back and forth communication. Getting it done ahead of time is such a weight off of our shoulders! Now we can focus our attention on searching for our new place, and when it happens we’ll be confident that we can list our current home immediately!
Prepping to Buy a New Home
Even though we’ve focused on the selling portion of this process, I haven’t let buying fall to the wayside. Here are a few things my husband and I have been doing as we prepare to buy in our area.
Update (and Get) Your Mortgage Broker
It has been four years since we last purchased a home. A lot has changed in our lives, including our finances and jobs. We figured a 15 minute call with our lender was worth the time upfront. We had her review where things are at right now so we could make a solid gameplan for our new home budget.
If you’re in the same position of recent changes, this is a worthwhile task to complete before you are knee deep in open houses and have to frantically get pre-approved for a loan.
Explore Other Neighborhoods
Chicago is filled with tons of amazing neighborhoods and we’ve grown to love the area where we currently reside. However, for our new place, we’re very open to moving to another area. While there aren’t a ton of open houses to peruse just yet, we have spent a few weekends exploring other neighborhoods outside of our own. These adventures have opened our eyes and have expanded our search for our new home sweet home.
Take advantage of this time and leisurely browse outside of your target area. Be curious! That way, you can be 100% sure you’re in love with your potential buying area.
Browse Online Like Crazy!
For the past two months, I’ve checked websites like Redfin, Zillow, and MLS every.single.day. I love when a new home pops up on the market and I can see if it fits our requirements! Even though it’s been slow moving, keeping tabs on what’s available and the price points is invaluable research for me.
Because of this, I have a much better idea of what I want, not to mention what’s a good deal for when the right property pops up. So even if you’re not seeing anything you love right now, don’t stop browsing! You never know when your next home will appear in your inbox!
I’m excited to see what the spring market has in store for me and the Chicagoland area. If you too are in this season of waiting, I hope you make the most of your time and check some of these tasks off of your to-do list.
Good luck to all of us as we search for our dream homes!