Removing knickknacks, other items lands homebuyer quickly

Name: Mark and Kristine Ross. Mark is a senior research engineer at Georgia Tech Research Institute; Kristine is a management consultant with Accenture.

The home: A four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home built in 2011.

Where: Mableton

Why they sold: When the couple moved to Atlanta 14 months ago, Mableton was close to their jobs in Midtown (about 15 miles away), and the access to Cobb County's Silver Comet Trail appealed to Mark, a runner. But as they spent more time in Midtown and Buckhead, the couple desired to move Intown. They decided to sell this spring almost on a whim, Kristine Ross said. They emailed Donna Murphy and Ann Sander with Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby's International Realty, who helped them buy their Mableton home, and asked if they thought the home would sell so soon after they purchased it.

Time on market: 6 days

Original price: $228,000

Sale price: $225,000

What it took: The couple filled a 10-by-20-foot storage unit with their furniture and knickknacks such as figurines and vases. Donna Murphy provided staging expertise, even down to rearranging the pillows on the bed, Kristine Ross said. By keeping larger pieces of furniture, such as the kitchen table and couch, the home was decorated but in a minimalistic way. It was important to remove their items so potential buyers could imagine themselves in the home, she said.

The new home still was under warranty, so the builder returned to make repairs, such as fixing nail pops in the walls. The couple touched up the paint and did basic landscape maintenance such as adding mulch and trimming the bushes and lawn.

Potential stumbling block: They received three offers, but two were "comical" because they were lower than what the couple paid for the home in 2011 (in the low $200,000s), Mark Ross said. Instead of starting negotiations with one of those offers, they accepted the full price offer. The buyer did request that they remove the IKEA closet system in a bedroom, which they did. Then they had to quickly find a new place to live.

“We expected it to take a while,” Kristine Ross said. “We were like, ‘Oh my gosh, we sold our house. What do we do now?’” Adds Mark Ross: “We actually had no plans.” The couple spent a few weeks doing online research to learn what was on the market, focusing on Grant Park. Homes were quickly getting multiple offers and leaving the market, they discovered. After seeing a 1925 Craftsman bungalow with a front porch and mature landscaping that was in walking distance of the Atlanta Zoo and Atlanta Cyclorama, they made an offer within 48 hours. They closed on both homes in June.

Seller's hint: Add a number of quality photos to the listing, which they did. The Grant Park home they purchased had photos online, but the pictures weren't good, so the couple didn't originally plan to consider the home. They had to drive by the house before they decided to view the house. "That first impression is just so important," Kristine Ross said. "The first day that goes on the market, it needs to be ready and it needs to have great pictures."