This is an interesting snapshot of how the home selling process works for the sellers.

by Carolyn MacNeill 

Most people at some point in their lives will go through the experience of selling a home, so it’s one that many of us can relate to. This is a story about my home for sale, told with an insider’s view on the team’s client service, administration, and expertise throughout the home selling process.

Welcome to the Situation Room

So maybe the third floor of 1010 Massachusetts Ave. isn’t exactly like the 5,000 square foot intelligence and management center of the White House, but it does have a certain mission control feel to it.

Sit in a Realtor’s office for a few months and you’ll understand why real estate is a 24/7 job. I came from high-tech marketing and PR, and I’ve seen my fair share of all-hands-on-deck, nose-to-the-grindstone operations. Yet I was still in awe of the sheer volume of inquiries, paperwork and attention to detail that’s required to buy and sell a home. I also observed that while it’s relatively easy to get a real estate license and become a Realtor, it is incredibly difficult to run a business that is credible, trustworthy and professional.

Then one day, the tables turned. It was my turn to experience the home selling process. I was out at a new construction site to chart the development of Summer Hill Circle for the blog when I got the call – we were moving, and we needed to move now. My husband got a new job and was immediately relocated about 90 miles away, and would be staying in temporary housing Monday through Friday. I have two young children, a job, a fondness of early morning exercise, and I knew this situation was going to get old – quick. So we needed to prepare and sell our home as soon as humanly possible.

Steve and the team immediately pulled out a calendar and went through the check list. First, they mapped exactly out what needed to happen when – when to have the first open house, when to have it photo ready, when to start cleaning it out. This was huge because, a) I’ve never had to sell a house before, and b) it took the guesswork and stress out of the process. They also pulled together a list of contacts to help me with the logistics – movers, cleaners, stagers, storage, a handyman, lawyer, etc. If I needed to, they probably could have referred me to a butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker. They just have those kinds of relationships with people, and they’re not afraid to tap them on behalf of clients. Knowing I had a list of valid references and didn’t have to vet each of these resources put me way ahead of the game.

From, “Honey, We’re Moving,” to Signed P&S in 31 Days.

This all started in early August, and Steve advised having our first open house before Labor Day. At the time this seemed counter intuitive: Summer = Slow Market. Why not wait until everyone was back from vacation and things picked up in the fall? Because of his experience, he knew we should tap in to frustrated buyers that had been looking at a limited supply of homes all summer. Wait until after Labor Day and we would have more competition and a shorter window of opportunity before things slowed down again for the holidays.

This meant that the housed needed to be ready in 14 days. 14 days!?! That’s two weeks, if you’re not into math like me. What made this seemingly impossible feat possible was the YourHomeforSale team guiding me every step of the way. There are, or at least seem to be, at least a thousand moving parts when it comes to selling a home. You want someone who can orchestrate every last detail.

Here is the chronology of events so you can see on a very basic level the logistics behind getting a home ready to sell. Maestro, if you please:


Honey, we’re moving. Steve has a very calm demeanor, which keeps everyone focused on the task at hand, rather than getting bogged down by insignificant details. He is also honest. For example, he told me, “Your life is going to ‘stink’ for the next few months, but you’ll get through it.” He was right, and I did.

Pack it up, pack it in. Let me begin by saying, I highly recommend pretending you are moving at least once a year and clean out all of your crap. Really, it is very liberating. Send your thanks in advance via Twitter to @yourhomeforsale.

All the world’s staged. We all play many parts, but one that is best left to a professional is staging your home to sell. Your home is very personal and it is a reflection of who you are, and it can be difficult to have someone come in and tell you to get organized. Luckily, if you have a good stager like I did, they’ll tactfully let you know how to de-crapify (trademark pending) and present your home in the best possible light.


No one wants to see your miniature teapot collection (sorry). Have you been to a really great open house lately? Everything is perfect – 5 dishes in each cabinet, closets neatly arranged, shoes are actually in the shoe racks, one toy per child, etc. We all know no one lives like this, yet we all still fall for it. So be sure to clean out the clutter, the collectible teapots, including the wall-of-fame photos going up the staircase. Putting stuff in storage and getting it out of your house – not just shuffled around into a different room – is an important step.

Choose your team wisely. This isn’t 3rd grade dodge ball. You want to pick the best and the brightest to be your offense and your defense. If you’re new to the process, you can’t broker-hop. You need to do your homework, interview different real estate brokers and find someone with local expertise, someone you can trust, and someone who will give you the personal time and attention needed to sell your home. I was lucky enough to bypass this step because I already had the number one real estate team, but be picky when choosing your real estate team and stick with them.

Curb appeal is real. Remember that Super Bowl commercial with the talking shirt stain? The point of the commercial is that you don’t want something visually distracting to keep people from appreciating what you’re trying to sell. Take the time to clean up your yard – don’t turn buyers off before they even get in the door. A cracked walkway, weeds, and an unruly lawn could bring down the true value of your home. We edged, weeded and put some mulch down and it made a world of difference in curb appeal.

Serenity now. When the movers are done clearing out your storage items, take a moment to marvel in the sparse simplicity of your home.


Say cheese! If your house were a face, this is when it would have its hair blown out, lipstick on and a twinkle in its eye. This is when you want the flowers in vases and sunshine coming through the windows because this is your first line of defense. This is the day you have photos taken of your home for online viewing. More than 82% of all home buyers start their search online. If your photos are dark, unbecoming or lacking in any way, you’ll lose potential buyers with the click of a mouse.

Calling Mr. Clean, Brawny, and the Pinesol lady. Sure, I could have scrubbed the house myself. But after a two-week whirlwind of activity I chose to indulge in hiring a professional. If you clean on your own, just make sure anything that should gleam is gleaming, and anything that should shine is shining.

The Open House. This is it. The big day. The first open house. When we got to this point our house looked so good that I almost didn’t want to move anymore. Almost.

Oh come on, Irene. Steve held our open house on a Saturday knowing that Hurricane Irene was scheduled to roll in on Sunday. Really? A hurricane?? Visions of a flooded basement, trees crashing through the roof and other hurricane-related damage kept me from sleeping most of this night. Luckily, we only had minor damage to our fence, and the show went on. While most open houses were cancelled on Sunday due to the storm, we got motivated buyers at ours on Saturday.

Offer Accepted. One hurricane and two days after our very first open house, and 31 days from when we first found out we needed to move, we accepted an offer. This was nothing short of amazing. Knowing that houses can sit for weeks, even months, we were truly amazed and grateful to the team.


Great Inspect-ations. As they say, it ain’t over till the inspection is done and the deal is signed. Or something like that. You never know what a buyer will see as acceptable or unacceptable. Fortunately, Steve was able to negotiate the post-inspection requests to a manageable few. It was hugely helpful to have his expertise at this part of the deal – letting us know which requests were reasonable, and which were not.

Signed Purchase & Sale. With signed papers approved and in hand we exhaled. Getting a signed P&S in 31 days was a true testament to the team’s job well done.

Fragile, Handle With Care

Not the boxes. Me. Anyone who has bought or sold a home knows that it is a tense, trying, and emotional process. After many back-and-forth’s with the team, lawyers, buyer agents, mortgage brokers, movers, stagers, plumbers, my family, my husband, and sometimes my cat – my outlook and frame of mind slowly frayed at the edges.

In the words of Claire Dunphy, from season 3, episode 3 of Modern Family after she ripped up a ticket in the face of the school parking official and got cuffed in front of her kids, she said: “I was not my best self today.” Many people are not their best selves when buying or selling a home. I know I wasn’t! At the very least it’s just not fun, and at the worst it can be a true nightmare for some.

Steve and the YourHomeForSale team are not only equipped to buy or sell your home, but they help you every step of the way. The best, most reassuring words I heard were, “Don’t worry, we have it under control.” I can’t tell you how many times those words kept me sane, relatively speaking.

For example, I was out visiting the aforementioned husband with the kids in the area we would be moving to for the weekend. We had been waiting for the bank appraisal and there had been some delays. Could the buyers not secure a mortgage? Was there an issue with their credit? Was the deal going to fall apart?? Financing was not what it once was, and skittish banks and overly conservative bank appraisals have caused many sale prices to be renegotiated in the eleventh hour. Luckily, the team was on it – calling, emailing – even badgering when appropriate, various parties to find out what was going on, and to make sure everything was moving along.

That night Steve called and said the appraisal had been issued for the following morning. What?? But I hadn’t made the beds! There were toys on the floor! The house was not its best self! (We left in a hurry that day). I was ready to drive home at the crack of dawn to make it just so, lest there be any reason for the appraiser to think the house was not worth what it should be, when I heard, “Relax, everything is under control. I will take care of it.”

Steve went to my house the following morning, made the beds, picked up the toys and made the house its best self. If that’s not above-and-beyond client service then I don’t know what is. And here’s the thing, they do that kind of thing for all their clients – not just because I’m their favorite blogger (which I am). I’ve heard them handle it all, from multiple photo shoots to get just the right shot, to helping new homeowners pick out tiles, to handling calls and emails at 3 a.m. No request goes unanswered, no client is left behind.

The Most Important Marketing Tool to Sell a Home

For all of the prep work, advertising, and promoting Realtors do to sell a home, there is one marketing tool which can’t be bought, taught, copied, or replicated, and that is the ability to price a home properly.

All too often Realtors accommodate the hopes and – sometimes deluded – dreams of sellers who love their homes dearly and believe they should sell at a higher price than the market will allow. Unfortunately, this can spiral downward in the form of price reductions and frustration, and can result in the home selling for less than it could (or should) have.

Everyone knows the real estate market has been shaky – even if Arlington has been considered the second strongest housing market in the U.S. At the time, Steve had walked us through the comparatives – homes that were on the market, had sold and/or had gone under agreement – that were on par with ours.

When Steve lists a home, he scouts out the open houses of similar homes the week before to see what the pool of buyers look like, and what they’re interested in. In our case, he proposed a price and was able to secure an offer in three days of our open house that was not only higher than what we listed it for, but it was higher than what we bought it for at the near-peak of the housing bubble seven years earlier.

Today, I’m settled in my new home in time for the holidays. I may not be in Arlington anymore, but I can just about click my heels together and hear Steve following up on calls and emails, Erika scheduling viewings and guiding buyers, Mitzi finalizing documents, and Donna going out to meet her favorite firemen to get smoke certificate inspections. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to stay tapped-in thanks to the wonders of modern technology.

But take it from an insider who is also one of you, you’ll sleep better at night knowing your agent and their Team are in your corner, working hard to make all of your real estate dreams come true.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Read the entire story here.