6 Tips for a Successful Yard Sale

Springtime. A great time to go through the closets and find anything you’re not using. What do you do with all that unwanted junk in your trunk? For lots of homeowners, the choice is clear: it’s yard sale time.

Running a Successful Yard Sale is Simple

There are so many things in life that people will remark, “if it was easy, everybody would be doing it….” when presented with a related struggle. This is not the case with a yard sale. They’re a lot of work, but they’re not all that tricky to pull off. If this is your first yard sale or you simply want to be sure you’re doing all you can to make it a success, these are tips just for you:

  1. Check your insurance policy. Hey, it seems innocent enough until someone slips and falls and breaks a bone. Suddenly you’re on the hook for their medical expenses. Do you have enough coverage for this? Check with your agent before you start that big sale.
  2. Label everything. It can be tempting to simply put things in bins that are labeled with prices, but it’s much better to label everything so no one is confused. Your kids can be great helpers here, it’s a low risk job that will keep them busy for hours.
  3. Group like items. When you set things out, group them by use or some other common theme. After all, if you sell someone a bucket, they might also want to buy that hose.
  4. Pretend you have an outside store. Everything in a store is for sale for the right price, so make sure that you clear the area of anything you’d rather not sell (or at least put a sign on it). Also, keep your money in a safe place like a money box, keep records on sales, and while you’re at it, get a credit card reader that will work with your phone (many companies offer these for low or no cost swipe fee).
  5. Line up plenty of help. Buying stuff at a yard sale can be fun, but running said yard sale is generally pretty boring. Make sure you’ve got plenty of help so that you’re not forced to spend the whole weekend sitting all alone at the check-out table.
  6. Advertise liberally. If you want to sell something, you have to tell people it’s for sale. Advertise liberally, using social media, local media like newspapers and signs that you’ll post a day or two before the big day.

Donating to Charity

Many people make arrangements with a local charity to collect the items that did not sell. You can do this, too, just keep in mind that most charities will not allow their volunteers inside your home. In these cases, you’ll have to be present in order to donate stuff. It might be just as easy to box up the remains and toss them in the back of your vehicle for a ride to your local charitable drop off.

Happy selling!


Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Is a FSBO for You?

Everybody likes the idea of a little DIY. Whether that means unclogging your own sink drain or putting in a few shelves in your pantry, there’s a lot of satisfaction that goes along with doing it yourself. Maybe this is why homeowners often seriously consider selling their homes on their own. Although going FSBO has the potential to save a few bucks, there’s a lot to know before jumping in.

What is a FSBO?

In real estate agent speak, “Fiz-Bows” are homes that are being sold and marketed by their owners; it’s short for For Sale By Owner. These sellers may negotiate with Buyer’s Agents to sell their house, but more often negotiate with the buyer directly. This buyer is either someone that the seller knows or it’s a complete stranger who called off of some kind of advertising for the home in question.

As you might imagine, this situation is just peachy until it’s not.

A Few Points to Ponder Before Going FSBO

The decision to sell your home yourself is not one that you should make lightly. There are a lot of things that must be done in order to execute a real estate contract and even seasoned real estate agents sometimes make serious mistakes. So, before you take the leap, keep these items in mind (just for starters):

Real estate agents carry errors and omissions insurance for a reason. There is no perfect contract and the more complicated they get, the higher the risk of something being accidentally recorded incorrectly. When that mistake is a high dollar issue, E&O kicks in to help resolve it. Generally speaking, if you’re selling your own home by yourself, your errors and omissions are on you.

Marketing matters. Even in a seller’s market, it’s fairly unlikely that plopping a “For Sale” sign on your lawn will attract the right buyers. Sure, you might get the neighbors popping by for a look, but they’re really just comparing their home to yours, they’re not generally serious buyers. This is going to be one of your biggest expenses, and marketing doesn’t come cheap.

You can’t just list your home on one site, you need to be putting your marketing where the people are — that means social media, local FSBO sites, the MLS (if you can access it where you live) and other outlets. This is where knowing your audience (your buyers) is really important. It’ll help you narrow your focus so you don’t spend as much on marketing as you could if you took a scattershot approach.

Contracts. You can’t sell a house with a handshake agreement. Well, you CAN in most states, but it’s not advised. Makes it real hard for the bank to finance and so forth. First thing’s first, do you have a contract you can use or a lawyer who will draft one for you? Any existing contracts should be checked over by a real estate attorney to ensure that you are protected.

Handling Offers. We all expect that contracts will come in at full price and also include nice notes about how our kitchen is amazing and the buyer can already smell the bubble bath in the master suite. That’s not always reality, though. What will you do when an offer comes in that’s insultingly low? The emotional weight can be massive. Most of the time, these things go off without a hitch, but there are some trouble contracts here and there. Are you confident enough to stake your equity on this gamble?

There’s nothing wrong with selling your house yourself, but if you choose to do this, you have to realize that it’s a huge commitment, as well as essentially being a second job. You have to be ready to show your house any time a potential buyer appears. You need to monitor the market so you can see when a price change is going to be necessary. Most importantly, you have to know how to respond when there’s a problem.

There Are No Perfect Houses

Anybody can sell a house that’s perfect. There’s no question about it. But in the real world, all homes have some kind of flaw. They’re structures made of thousands of different parts, after all. That one knotty stud with the bent nail under the drywall makes your house totally unique, even when compared with other homes that are the same floor plan.

The thing with all this uniqueness is that when a home inspector comes to inspect the home, they’re likely to find something wrong. As an owner, not having a lot of experience looking at inspection reports, you may think you’re being unfairly attacked or just feel generally insulted by the findings. After all, you wired up that outlet or plumbed that tub yourself.

If you can see your home the way your buyer does, you may have the stomach for selling it yourself. You have to be fair-minded, otherwise everything will blow up during the inspection period, if you make it that far.

5 Steps to Easier Gardening

If the idea of getting up early on Saturday morning to commune with your landscape is an idea that you cherish, but don’t dare pursue because of the high level of maintenance required, you may be surprised to find out that a perfect garden doesn’t always require backbreaking labor or gallons of water to keep it alive. In fact, there are lots of ways to make gardening easier and increase the time you have to spend glancing at your pert little petunias.

Gardening Doesn’t Have to Be Hard to Be Rewarding

Keeping a garden used to be a massive labor of love, with a huge emphasis on the labor part. But people have been keeping some kind of plant life semi-domesticated since the dawn of human evolution. And, since the dawn of evolution, we’ve been trying to make the process easier and more productive. Whether you’re growing fountain grass or exotic herbs, there’s something on this list that’ll improve your gardening experience:

Sprinklers. The old standby for greener lawns everywhere, sprinklers can be used in other situations, too. For example, if it’s a nice sunny day and the risk of water standing on leaves is small, use one to water your vegetable garden plot. You can also help young trees and shrubs get a good start by sprinkling them gently every warm, dry day.

Drip irrigation. Sprinklers are great for big areas, but what do you do when you just want to water a few specific plants? Drip irrigation is the answer you seek. You can use these systems with basic timers or upgrade to a much more sophisticated system that will let you slowly drip water at the base of plants that don’t like water on their leaves or otherwise need individual care.

Native plants. There’s no such thing as a plant that needs zero attention, but native plants come pretty close. Instead of having to fret over special care for plants that are delicate in your area, choose the ones that have spent generations evolving there. For prairie dwellers, native grasses are a great start; those in the desert can do some pretty incredible things with barrel cactus and dramatic succulents. Visit your local nursery or ask your landscaper what plants are native to your area.

Containers. From pots on the patio railing to gutters loaded down with strawberries, containers make gardening so much easier. You can start with the perfect soil mix, ensuring that drainage isn’t a problem, then add a little fertilizer and your favorite plants. Now you just have to water and watch those babies grow.

Vertical gardens. Plants in and on the ground tend to end up in a mess — especially if those plants are vines! Vertical gardening isn’t limited to these twining climbers, you can also hang levels of containers, allowing you lots of extra space for growing things. Like with any containers, you are totally in control of the environment, but vertical gardening minimizes bending and kneeling. Win-win.

Want to Know The Easiest Way to Garden?

Hire a landscaper from those recommended to you by your real estate agent or other trusted professional! They can connect you with home pros that install sprinklers, groom your lawn, or even help you divert graywater to landscaping. The sky’s the limit in your garden once you get to know the clever folks recommended by agents and pros alike.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash