Monday, September 14, 2009

The four groups that help unpack priorities for readying your home for sale

When getting your home ready to be listed for sale, most people obviously would like to make their home the most attractive it can be utilizing the resources they have to work with. For most people, there also never seems to be as much time as they need to accomplish the task.

It can be very overwhelming when you see all that needs to be done to receive top dollar for your property, especially in the competitive environment we find ourselves in today. You need a plan and you need to get it all done in a specified time frame. This what you're telling yourself, right?

The written plan is a major part of getting started. You need to first get yourself organized and put the projects and tasks in a list of priority. What should be done first? Do I do the biggest projects first, or get the little ones out of the way? These are all very good questions to ask yourself.

In any project, whether it is work related or not, I use a system I read about in a book called, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", by Stephen R. Covey. It is a system that helps to prioritize the tasks that are in front of me.

They are separated into four quadrants and are as follows:

1. Important and Urgent (Quadrant I)

2. Important, but not Urgent (Quadrant II)

3. Urgent, but not Important (Quadrant III)

4. Not Urgent and not Important (Quadrant IV)

Quadrant I consists of deadlines and emergencies, but Covey suggests that some of us spend too much time on things that are important and urgent. This is because we have let them become urgent by possibly spending too much time we don't have on time wasters in Quadrant IV, for example. In the long run, if we stick to the important priorities, we will have less things piling up in Quadrant I because you have taken care of them before they became urgent. One good example of Quadrant II might be replacing that old and cracking washing machine water hose before it springs a leak and floods your home when you're on vacation. You saw it was old and needed replacing. You knew it was important because of the potential damage it could cause, yet it wasn't urgent because it may last awhile longer. You went ahead and replaced it, problem now solved.

In how this relates to getting your house ready for sale, I have come up with a few examples.

Quadrant I: They should be the things you do immediately, at the expense of anything else such as a crisis, pressing problems, and all deadline driven projects. It's July and your a/c unit just died. That's a crisis. An example of a deadline driven project might be that you have agreed to move all the furniture out of the bedroom yourself in exchange for a lower carpet installation price. The installers are coming to replace the carpet in that bedroom on Wednesday. It's Tuesday afternoon and you haven't moved anything out of the room yet.

Quadrant II: Here an example might be the flower bed alongside the sidewalk that leads up to the front door is overgrown and full of weeds. At the same time, that sidewalk is dirty and moldy and in need of a good pressure washing. Good first impressions are very important, so this needs to be done for sure, but if you don't get to it until next week, it's not the end of the world. This is not a crisis, but it is still very important. Choosing the colors for repainting the exterior of the home is always an important decision, but if you're not scheduled to have the house painted until next month, it's not very urgent. One more example may be making sure you have necessary tools and supplies ahead of time for a project instead of waiting until the morning of the day you're going to do that project to go out and get them, only to find out the tool you need is now not available. Quadrant II produces the strongest results. This is where the real work happens, where we’re able to get things done that will help you move forward towards that end goal. Problem prevention, project planning, scheduling, and preparation also fall under this category.

Quadrant III: It may be urgent that you choose your choice of size for the backyard utility shed you plan on replacing two months from now by the end of the day so it arrives on time, but it's hardly important. One thing that is very important to remember is that sometimes we tend to focus on urgent activities and making the mistake of thinking they are also important when they're not. You will have to determine how important some of these urgent tasks really are. This is a tricky Quadrant to get right.

Quadrant IV: Replacing the mailbox with a dent in it, You have a few boxes of old personal items in the attic that you don't know if you want to move, and you want to go through them. It's great if you ever got to these projects for your personal accomplishment and enjoyment, but it's not going to have any impact on how fast your home may sell or any impact on squeezing that extra few bucks out of the selling price. These tasks may also be called "busywork". Ask yourself if you even need to bother with anything on this list. If you have everything else done, and you have the time, have at it.

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