As a continuation of my articles on selling our house without real-estate agents (First, the research and A marketing plan), I wanted to jot down some things that I’ve learned in the last month while we’ve had the house on the market.

Avoiding time-wasters

Because there isn’t an agent in between us and any John and Jenny who wants to look at the house, we’re really glad we have a comprehensive website. With a house plan, all sorts of details and many photos, by the time people have gone through the website, they can either decide properly if they like the house or not. So we don’t waste time showing the house to people whom it just wouldn’t suit.

That said, we still have had people drive up to the front of the house and ask to be shown around (with no notice). Generally, the house hasn’t really suited them for one reason or another, and in a perfect world, I would try to make sure everyone visits the website first.

Real-estate agents promote their trade by saying that they vet people before showing them through your house, but we know this isn’t the case. (We’ve visited houses in the area without being properly questioned.) Agents are also more likely to take potential buyers to a string of houses in the area, hoping that at least one house will be sold. So we still don’t feel like we’re at a disadvantage by listing privately.

Assessing the marketing

Every time someone comes through the house, we hand them a flyer that we had prepared that showcases some of the main features and displays the house plan. At the same time, we ask where they first heard about our house.

Most of the people who’ve come through first learned about the house from the signs we’ve posted around the area. So if we had our time again, we would skip the postal mail-out (which was actually the most expensive advertising we used).

Timing is everything

We have been experiencing one or two groups coming through each weekend, although some have come during the week. Before we go out, I try to leave the house clean so if we get a call, we can return home with only a minimum amount of work left to be done.

In the last couple weeks, we’ve perfected the final tidy-up. I keep a bucket of my tools handy in the laundry. It contains all the different cleaning products, brushes, clothes and paper for the windows.

Twenty minutes’ notice is about the bottom limit that I can handle, and in an hour and a half, David and I can have the whole house positively sparkling. If only the grass would stop growing — our mower broke down the week before we listed!

With absolutely-no-notice, well, viewers take the house as they get it. (Once it was at the beginning of a birthday party.) A friend has reassured me, saying that people are coming to view the house, not hire me as a housekeeper. Still, I don’t want people to come around and get put off by realising there are acres of floors that they’d have to clean or endless panels of glass windows they’d need to shine.

Balloon graveyard, March 2010
Where do you store all the party balloons when you need to keep your house in showroom condition? In the shower, of course! (I knew a family who kept a veritable balloon graveyard behind their corner couch — you'd never know what you'd find back there!)

A new perspective

Keeping the house clean has previously been a low priority for me, so this has been a good experience. I’ve benefited from the exercise (try mopping every day for your aerobics workout) and am preparing meals from a minimum of ingredients in the pantry.

This perpetual showroom state also means that I don’t think that frog on the window is so cute (“Look, girls!”) anymore. Instead, I’m making a mental note that I’ll need to bring out the Windex in the morning and wipe off its little fingerprints.

The girls have also been fantastic in pitching in. We’ve explained the process to them, so when someone is coming around, they pick up their toys quickly (hmm, just now I’m wondering if I could use that motivation all the time…) and are also generally showing tidier habits.

With most of the house packed away, we don’t have a lot of stuff left to clutter up countertops and bookshelves. I’m wondering (but don’t tell David) if we really do need those boxes that are currently stored in the shed. It certainly makes life simpler to have less.

So it continues

We knew we were listing the house at a slow time because the first home-owner’s grant was cut at the end of last year, and that incentive generally boosted the market. However, we’re certain that there’s a buyer out there somewhere, and they’ll come along when it’s the right time for us to move on.

In the meantime, our adventures continue as we concentrate on enjoying our family, our friends who are here and the fabulous amenities that are part of this city. But if you know anyone who needs a big house with a huge shed, send them here...