How to Sell a House in 28 Days!

I’ve had the idea for this article for a few months now, but I didn’t want to publish it at the risk of “jinxing” a pending transaction; but now, I can finally share it with you. That’s because we closed on the sale of our old house last week!

In case you’re a new subscriber (or if you just need a quick reminder) let me provide a quick recap of the last
year or so...

Do We Really Need All of This?

With our kids both out of the house and done with college, we now have a bit more flexibility to travel and spend time on things that are more important to us in the grand scheme of things.

Unfortunately, the house that was perfect for us ten years ago had somehow turned into a third child that seemed to need constant attention: painting, maintenance, yard work, cleaning, yard work, caulking, and...you guessed it...yard work.

We were spending a lot of time, money, and effort on a house we didn’t seem to have time to enjoy anymore, and it was beginning to create a level of stress that took away from our new-found freedom.

We had planned to stay in the house for another 7 to 8 years, but Lorie began suggesting that it might actually make sense for us to downsize to a smaller, lower-maintenance house. I was resistant at first, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.

This is It!

We started looking around casually at what was available, but nothing seemed quite right–either the location, the property, or the layout was lacking in some way. Still, we didn’t force the issue, and kept alert to what became available (an entire lesson in itself!).

Then, in early December, we discovered about as perfect a place as we were going to find...while actually looking at a different house in the same neighborhood.

It was new construction and one of the last homes being sold, so we were able to negotiate a really good deal. The obvious downside, of
course, was that we had to sell our existing house and we’d be carrying two mortgages until we did.

All Hands on Deck!

We knew we’d have some financial exposure–and 20 minutes with a spreadsheet gave me the exact amounts–but Lorie was sure it would sell quickly. In fact, she confidently predicted that we’d sell the house within 30 days. This was a very bold prediction, since we were still in a slow housing market, and the average time to sale was about 167 days.

So with that kind of motivation, we pulled out all the stops, applied every bit of marketing knowledge we had, and put together a strategy to achieve this challenging goal.

1. Start with a Good Product

They say the three most important factors to consider when purchasing a new home are “location, location, and location.” Along the
same lines, I would argue that the best way to sell your house is to buy the right one in the first place.

Our house was on a quiet, safe cul-de-sac, backed up to a wooded area and a golf course, and had a great layout, including a first-floor
master bedroom.

On top of that, during the ten years we lived there, we had upgraded most of the house–inside and out–so it was actually much nicer than any comparable homes without being the most expensive house on the block.

2. Position the Product in the Best Possible Light

Most of the pictures in online listings look as if the seller had picked a random day to walk through the house–iPhone in hand–and take photos of the different rooms.

In our case, we took a weekend and moved a lot of the furniture and “clutter” items over to the new house, and staged the old house to
make it really attractive.

We hired a professional photographer who took pictures with a wide-angle lens to make everything look bigger and more spacious. Then Lorie went to work in Photoshop to make the skies bluer, the grass greener, and the exterior of the house brighter.

Finally, we invested a lot in “sweat equity” to touch up the paint, caulk the cracks, and clean the grout, among other things. The house
looked so good, we wanted to buy it ourselves!

3. Write Compelling Copy

Admittedly, writing strong copy is a learned skill that gets better with practice. And yet, you have access to the 12-Point Kick-Butt Copy Checklist, and should understand quite well by now the importance of focusing on benefits instead of features.

We frequently mention the “feature puke”–the bullet list of features, characteristics, or attributes that people include in their marketing materials thinking all the while that they’re actually describing benefits.

Remember, features are about the product, the service, or the company; benefits are about the buyer, the client, or the customer.

One of the formulas we use to help people transform features into benefits is fairly easy to use: “Feature so you can Benefit.”

With that in mind, take a look at the  flyer to the right that Lorie created to leave for prospective buyers when they came to the house for a showing.

Almost without exception, every competing home had the standard list of features–a feature puke–that did absolutely nothing to help
the buyers see themselves in the house.

Ours, of course, is different. For starters, take a look at the leading paragraph:

If you want to live the “Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous,” at a fraction of the cost, call...to set up an appointment and test out the spa for yourself! The spa will be prepared for guests with robes and towels provided–just bring your suit. (Robin Leach not included!)

Then, she takes each feature and turns it into a benefit:

  • Large patio built with pavers and tiered to add lots of outdoor living space
  • Sprinkler system that makes lawn and shrub upkeep easy
  •  Bay windows and transom windows add space and light to your home

Sold...in 28 Days!

We had a fair amount of traffic in terms of showings, had two competing offers, and ended up selling the house to buyers who turned out to be the parents of our daughter’s really good friend!

The house was under contract within 28 days of listing; we closed on time and without a hitch; and sold the house for about 20% more per square foot than other recent sales.

Certainly, there were other factors involved here, but there’s no doubt in our minds that applying the marketing strategies we teach here every month played a big part in the process.

Be very clear on your intentions and desired outcomes; apply what you learn here; and you could get similar results too!