A quirky Texas couple finds the worst houses in the best neighborhoods and works their contractor-designer magic. Sound familiar? Whether you watch endless reruns of “Fixer Upper” on HGTV.com or tune in when it’s airing, you — like the rest of America — have a soft spot for Magnolia.
Stars Chip and Joanna Gaines’ trash-to-treasure approach, charming personalities and chic design savvy do more than just whet your appetite for home projects. If you look under the surface, they might also teach you a thing or two about how to sell your house.
You love quaint Waco, Texas, Joanna’s open-concept designs and Chip’s ability to tackle remodels big and small, but ultimately what makes the show successful is the couple’s on- and off-screen chemistry.
Chip’s goofiness supplies the camera crew with endless bloopers (remember the bees?) and he’s even made a character out of his belly.
Joanna is all business and finds Chip’s silliness both endearing and annoying. They’re polar opposites of each other in many ways, but they’re real and honest when they’re together.
Their whole find-a-home-fix-it-up schtick is successful because it’s authentic. When you’re in search of a real estate agent, take a page from their relationship playbook.
Make sure you mesh with your agent.
You wouldn’t buy a home without seeing it first, or a car without test driving it, so don’t commit to working with a Realtor until you know if it’s a good fit. Selling your home is an extensive feat and you’ll be in contact with your agent a lot.
Keep looking if you don’t feel confident with her experience, or if he doesn’t take the time to actually listen to your concerns. Don’t put the task in the hands of just anyone. Find an agent in your area who works with and for you.
HomeLight is a good place to start.
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Find someone who thinks differently.
Opposites attract for a reason.
If you’re prone to organized chaos, find an agent who can keep it all straight. If you think big picture, find someone who thinks about the details.
While you might remember to hide the giant laundry pile for a showing, you’ll want someone to point out the little things like the toilet seat that’s up in the bathroom.
Be honest with each other.
Chip and Joanna are always forthcoming with their clients. Find an agent with whom you can be candid. If you ask pointed questions, you’ll want direct answers.
Just as you’d like a good friend to tell you when you have broccoli in your teeth, you’ll want a Realtor who can tell you to buy air fresheners because your house smells like cat.
Your home needs a little TLC before you list it, but you’re not a contractor and you don’t have Chip on speed dial. (You don’t, right?)
If binge-watching HGTV has taught you anything it’s that budgets aren’t unlimited, renovations are expensive and you’ll have to set priorities. Allocate your pre-sale budget with advice from your favorite goofball contractor.
Make a statement inside and out.
You oooh and ahhh during the big “Fixer Upper” reveal; make viewers feel that same way when they pull into your driveway.
Keep your curb appeal game strong with a manicured yard. Buy new flowers for the pots and window boxes, trim your lawn, sweep your porch and then maintain it all.
If you need a big facelift for just a few hundred bucks, replace your front door.
Paint the walls in the foyer to make a big impact. For less than $50, you can transform the whole space. Start with Joanna’s go-to colors from Sherwin-Williams and take some major inspiration from the stately entryway she redesigns at the very beginning of Season 4 (Episode 2).
Joanna uses little more than a lick of new paint and a few accents to completely transform the feel when you walk in the door.
Focus on ROI.
Projects that improve curb appeal also tend to increase Return On Investment (ROI). Rather than thinking about projects only in terms of aesthetic appeal, think about practicality too. While a sparkling new kitchen might pack a punch, it won’t pay for itself when you list.
In fact, according to Remodeling’s Cost vs Value report for 2017, installing loose-fill insulation in your attic (ugly!) will get you a 107.7 percent return on investment, versus a full upscale bathroom remodel (pretty!), which will only give you a 59.1 percent return.
Prepare to make a few more repairs.
It seems every episode Chip and Joanna run into some unexpected challenge. Chip turns up the drama when he finds termites have destroyed the siding, or asbestos that needs abatement or water damage that’s caused extensive rot… or all three, like in Season 3 (Episode 17) when they renovated the problem-ridden Carriage House adjacent to the Magnolia Bed & Breakfast!
Though this is “just TV,” it’s likely you’ll come across something that needs additional attention come inspection time. Prepare to make a few repairs or lower your price.
You’ve finally listed your house on the market and it’s about to be the venue for many a home showing. You’ve rid — or at least hidden — all the clutter on the bathroom counters and bedside tables, but now you’re asking, “What would Joanna do?”
Four seasons say she’d bring in all her classic Magnolia Market inventory and stick to the timeless design that’s served her well.
Your staging checklist will be less extensive (and also less expensive) than Joanna’s redecorating checklist, but you can still adopt many of the same staging techniques she uses for her jaw-dropping finishes.
Go for “clean but lived in.”
Home viewers will notice if you don’t wipe down the baseboards or if you forget about the toothbrushing spatter on the vanity mirror. Cleaning is a no-brainer, but you also don’t want the house to feel sterile.
Don’t remove all evidence someone has made the house a home. Place a bottle of wine, a magazine, and some fresh flowers on the table; put a bowl of lemons by the kitchen sink; fold towels and set them next to the bathtub.
Small touches say “someone lives here now, someday you can too.”
Appeal to a buyer’s optimism.
You and your Realtor are a team, and your team’s job is to help potential buyers feel like they could make your home their home.
Your agent might say: “Imagine the grandkids around this large kitchen island.” or “Picture the backyard barbecues you can host with this built-in grill.” While you’ll have to leave the actually talking to your agent, you can certainly paint the picture for them.
Joanna uses oversized clocks, distressed wood, shiplap, and candelabras in her designs to make spaces feel warm. Include homey touches like these, but take out family photos or items that make the house yours, not theirs.
Subtly emphasize the location.
You’ve read it in books and seen it in movies. You’ve heard it from your agent, and Chip and Joanna say it on nearly every episode: “Location, location, location.” It really does matter.
It’s not always easy to show potential buyers the more abstract perks of your home, so you’ll have be sneaky. A few subtle ways to do this: Keep curtains wide open during showings so buyers can get a glimpse of your view.
Stack a few textbooks on the clutter-free kitchen desk or keep your favorite piece of kindergarten art up on the refrigerator. This might prompt buyers to ask about nearby schools.
Schedule open houses at times when you know your neighbors are out and about. Kids playing baseball in the cul-de-sac or families out walking the dog show an active community.
“Fixer Upper” isn’t about selling a house.
It’s about buying a house and fixing it up and all the joys and misadventures that happen in the process, and of course, it helps that the Gaines’ are the cutest family on the planet.
Lessons about selling are apparent though, even if subtle. Learn from them… or at least use “it’s educational” as your excuse the next time someone gives you a hard time about watching endless reruns.