Advice on house for sale

christy2828March 17, 2009

Hi, I'm new to this forum, guess why I'm here :) We are military and are being transferred this summer, and need to get our house sold. It is spotless, and we have had an Open House every Sunday since we listed, about 4 weeks ago. We are working with an agent through Assist 2 sell, so we host our own Open House's. We are present for our OH's along with our 3 year old (we have no chance of a sitter). The dogs and all of their belongings are put away. We make cookies, and try to remain scarce during OH's. My husband does the walk through. I have advertised anywhere I can think of or find on the internet, mostly the free ones. My REA is, too. Is there anything more I can do, to help this process? Am I advertising correctly, need improvements? Thanks for any advice!!! Here is a link to my page on zillow, I'd rather not have a search for my MLS pull up this thread - the MLS is on that page. Thanks so much!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Zillow

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When you say that your husband "does the walk through" do you mean that he shows the potential buyers each room of the house while pointing out its assets? If so I would have him stop doing that. People usually like to explore a home on their own without the owner hovering over them. You can be present in a non hovering way and available to answer questions as needed.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 10:52PM
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I do mean being present in a non hovering way and available to answer questions as needed. We are trying to be friendly, polite, and informative - and invisible :)

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 11:00PM
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I think your writeup about the property is terrific.

But there are too many photos, and not all wonderful. The cherry tree shot is great, but there is a duplicate. The deck shot is nice, but would be a real selling feature if staged with colorful plants.

Photos for the public rooms should be near the beginning of the series, followed by bedrooms and baths. Only one photo is needed for kid's bedrooms and any baths. The upstairs hall photo is unnecessary. If using more than one photo for a public area, be sure to group them together. Especially for public rooms, take care with setting up the shot. Often a lower camera position (as tho' you are seated) will feel more welcoming, and also make the ceilings appear higher.

Some minor staging of the living room to add color would be helpful. I would remove swags from drapery, and ideally, add matching drapery to the slider. I'd work on getting one or two clear shots of the dining room, as the existing photos are partially obstructed. Photo 'kitchen 3' is unnecessary. The master bedroom could also use some minor staging, and changing the mirrored closet doors would be a big improvement. Changing the guest bath shower curtain to a solid color would also help.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 11:45PM
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It would be nice to see photos of back yard and of lake across the street -- both sound very nice. If schools are good, that should be prominently mentioned too.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 11:56PM
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Hi, I just went to the listing, haven't yet looked at any pix, but already have been "turned off" going further by having to wade through ALL the location highlights at the beginning of the description. I'm sure 80% of it could have been left at least to the end, rather than the beginning. Now I'll go look at the pix...

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 4:26AM
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I'd probably clean and rejuvenate the deck. It looks old and tired. The rest of the house looks great. Clean, crisp and uncluttered.
I would definitely want the people who go through the house to be escorted and not left alone.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 8:13AM
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You have too many photos for one. Some shots aren't needed. What I used to do was put all the pics on my picasa account, then I was able to move them around to organize and see exactly which order I want. I then used to rotate them for craigslists, and was able to link to the album if need be.

It might be worth having a pro come in and do new pictures & a virtual tour. I assume the tree blooming is from last year?

You also should check to see what the days on market is for town homes and that you are priced correctly. If someone can buy a house for almost the same price they are going with the house.

I'll check out the photos more later. Looks like a cute place.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 8:28AM
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Wayyyy too many photos. I've seen every nook and cranny of your house, why do I need to come see it in person? 35 Pictures on a townhouse is overkill. I do 15 pictures on a 5 bedroom 3000 sq foot home and that sometimes is mulitple shots of rooms. Post enough pictures to get them interested to WANT to come see the rest. I would have weeded this house out because the bedrooms look too small.Had I just seen a few pictures of the downstairs, I might have called because it peaked my interest. Take a picture of the front and backyard, a pic or 2 (different angles if you have to) of the kitchen, one pic of all the "living areas" of the house and one of the lake. I dont do pictures of the bedrooms, its just too hard to get a good picture without it looking like you're taking a picture of the furniture and never gives a good idea of the actual size. You could do "A" bathroom picture but I wouldnt do more than that. What is the picture in the bathroom of the toilet paper holder? Are you trying to show the paint? Then there is another one of a shower curtain and another of a sink? The railing picture upstairs is just useless, the hallway picture is just useless, take them out, they arent doing you any good. The write up is a little long with the location description. I agree with the other poster, I would shorten this up a little. (it almost sounds as if you're giving precise latitude and longitude points). The house has good curb appeal, and it looks clean and well decorated. Just take out about 25 pictures and only show the "best points" of the house, not the entire house. Good Luck.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 8:30AM
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" See all 35 big photos..."

Are you kidding me!? It says a lot about your house and the price that you are getting anyone through with that many pictures, many of which are less than flattering. There are far too many to go through an critique. Reduce to no more than 10 and then we can critique them individually.

Concerning your open houses...because your husband is doing a walk through you aren't getting feedback, at least not honest feedback. Few people are going to say to him, "Oh that kids room is going to be such a chore to repaint, the deck looks tired,I hate paneling", etc, etc. How about having a friend run the open house next time, or ask the RA how much she would charge you to be there one OH, or how much to have her assistant there, and have a professional run the next OH? You need feedback, both good and bad, to see where you stand. The impulse to be there and watch over your "stuff" is real, but it may be impeding your sale.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 8:34AM
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Thanks very much!!!! I greatly reduced the photos, but cannot rearrange - my realtor seems to have access as well, and I cannot move his photos. The weather has been dreary and cold, so I haven't been able to add plants, but I think it is warm enough for pansies now, I'll pick some up today to put on the deck. The cherry tree pic is from last year, but will look like that again within a month, and the bulbs are coming up right now, too. I am leaving at the beginning of the month with the kid and dogs, so I have packed up most necessities and valuables already. We rented a storage unit to unclutter the house and make it look like we have plenty of storage space. I'm not too concerned about anyone swiping anything, there isn't anything of value left!! Two things my husband points out is the attic stair pull down in the master, and that we will repaint the nursery with the mural white if desired. Most people have said they'd prefer if we left it. That is the only reason we haven't repainted it sooner. Could my husband do the open house and just introduce himself? Not mention he is the homeowner and let someone assume he is the realtor? We don't have much of a support system in the area, and I can't think of one person who could do the OH for us - besides our realtor (I'm not sure how interested he is in doing one - Assist 2 sell). The closest co-worker is over an hour away. Thanks for the help, I really appreciate it!!! Christy

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 11:22AM
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Your home has great curb appeal...but I think it needs more color in the house.....plants, flowers, accessories.
And this is just something that "bugs" me....I'd get rid of the towels hanging on the stove handle...and get a can of blacks appliance paint and paint the stove hood and the panel of the dishwasher, this is very easy to do and I think all the appliances should be one color....and some of the other posts have good ideas also...pansies on the deck would be great.
I wish I were there, I would love to show your house....not a realtor, just someone who loves going to
open houses~~~~

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 12:15PM
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I looked at your house on Zillow and noticed a couple of things. It is the most expensive house for sale in the neighborhood and it has been on Zillow for over 170 days. I also noticed that it really isn't across the street from the lake. When I think across the street I think that I can see it from the house, and it is a little distance.

I also noticed that your house is set back from the parking lot which can be a good or bad thing. It's a little more private but also a bit of a hike to the house with groceries or in bad weather.

On the other hand, it does look very neat and clean. the back deck is very nice and you back to woods. Have you considered having professional pictures taken with some staging? The right pictures can really draw people in.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 12:27PM
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Pretty cherry tree & having an end unit is nice.

I also suggest your DH lay as low as possible during OH showings. It's very hard for potential buyers when an owner is hoovering within earshot. Most just won't feel comfortable & their instinct will be to get outside so they can talk...not good. You want to keep them inside looking as long as possible. Since the valuables are gone I'd strongly suggest your DH excuse himself & say, "I'll be on the deck if you have questions."

Pictures: Much better than before you reduced the quantity. I would reduce them further. The living room shot taken from up above is good. Leave that one & lose the other living room pictures. In the kitchen, lose the toaster oven & the crock of cooking utensils. Add something brightly-colored & decorative (Fresh flowers are always nice...but keep them refreshed. You don't want week-old flowers.) The master bedroom picture is just not good...can you try another angle to show more of the room?

I'd pare down the write-up even more...maybe something similar to this:

"Easy access to I-95, 295, & trains. Bright end-unit, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths with slate fireplace, hardwood, & fully applianced eat-in kitchen. Central A/C. Fully finished walk-out basement with wet bar & separate laundry. Mature landscaping & privacy fenced. Only 30 minutes to Baltimore, DC, & 5 military bases. Walking distance to Laurel Mall & Granville Gude Lake. MLS #PG6979232."

Unfortunately, people have very short attention spans & many just won't read past one or two lines. You've got to meet their criteria in that space or risk losing them entirely.

All in all, I think you've got a very nice, clean home that looks well maintained. I also did just a short price comparison & it looked on the high side to me also?? Have you thoroughly checked recent sold prices?

Best of luck!


    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 1:06PM
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You are a person who can take suggestions -- reads and looks better already! Hope you sell soon.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 1:08PM
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I also noticed that on your listing on there are two pictures of the kitchen but none of the living room. Take the one picture off of the sink area and include the picture looking down into the livingroom with the fireplace instead.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 1:25PM
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Since the photos, I have gotten rid of the towels on the stove. I'm considering repainting the range, though the dishwasher and refrigerator are new with the beige color. Maybe stainless steel paint? I've also added fresh flowers to several rooms, I've become a regular at the florist (half price from 4 to 6!!). I'll take some more pictures with flowers this weekend - if the weather cooperates with some sun shining in.

As for comp houses, it really is hard to compare! The ones that are listed - 2 foreclosures that need to be completely gutted on the inside, at least (IMO) $100,000 worth of work. The 2 bedroom under contract has one less room, is not an end-unit, and an unfinished basement. Another I went into the other day, they are asking $250 and are not an end-unit, need new carpet and paint throughout, did not have new appliances, the fence needed repair, the deck needed some work, and they were a disaster on the inside. The one with no sign I have not been into - I'll see if I can get in there and look!! I don't think we're priced out of the neighborhood, just that what is out there doesn't look all that great. The closest one that could compare sold last July for $286 without a fireplace, fence or being an end-unit (I realize that was too long ago to really compare). Single family homes in the area are most built in the 50's with one bathroom, and are quite small. Newer ones are starting in the $400's, or they've stopped building. Such a hard time to sell a house right now!!!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 2:17PM
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Don't paint the fridge! It's one thing to have a new one, but painting inevitably looks ... (even well done) not as prof. or well done as the real thing. It would be ok if you were very young, in a college crowd, etc., but I wouldn't use it as a selling tool.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 3:15PM
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Lol, no - I definitely won't paint the fridge. Just considering painting the range a stainless steel color.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 3:31PM
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I did not notice your frig wasn't black.....NO, NO, NO don't try to paint the refrig or especially the stove (too hot of a surface).....but would like to see them all the same color some how....could you find some nice looking used ones? The hood and panel of the DW would paint fine. Wishing you well....and a quick sale.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 6:29PM
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I think you've done a good job - just some small changes would be helpful. I agree with the poster who suggested removing the swag part of the drapes in LR and DR. Are the boxes on the "bookcase" in the DR needed? If not, a more decorative approach would look nice. I would remove the towels from the kitchen stove for a cleaner look. Also there are a couple of typos in the write-up. If you use spell check, you can easily find them.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 7:54PM
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Since the valuables are gone I'd strongly suggest your DH excuse himself & say, "I'll be on the deck if you have questions."

Is this really how open houses are done around the country? I NEVER EVER let someone walk thru a clients house totally alone. Even if all the valuables are put away, there are still things that can be stolen, broken, snooped at that are personal. The house is "open", meaning no appointment necessary, but it doesnt mean its open to the point that there is no one watching. I certainly wouldnt go on the deck and leave them to do whatever they wanted. I keep an eye on them, but give them their space. Walk with them, but not hover on top of them. I want them to know I am there and I am watching.

Have your husband show them thru the house, but he doesnt need to be constantly talking about something in each room. If they have questions, they will ask. Make sure he's not doing a lot of nervous chatter. That can be real annoying to a buyer who is trying to concentrate on room sizes and where his furniture will fit.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 10:31PM
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In the bedroom pic, it looks a lot like a "fake" window. Is that a real window with blind and exact color match to the wall? maybe you can open the blinds and have it look more real?

What does everyone think about repainting the knotty pine in the basement? White could be a nice color there.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 2:04PM
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I went to the listing website and there is no description of your home whatsoever. The Zillow ad has more detail than the listing.

I don't know much about pricing in your area, but if it's not selling, you may want to consider a 10K price decrease or more get you into the under $250K range. It's tough for first timers or alot of people to qualify for your price range.

Have you advertised on Military by owner dot com? I think that's the address. I paid to advertise our house on there even though dh isn't in the service anymore. We advertised there b/c there is a base in Tucson, so we thought we could attract soldiers from that. Turns out, we didn't get any lookers from it, but you may since you're an area with more bases.

As for your photos, I didn't see the original 35 pics. Is there hardwood in the dining room under that area rug? The DR looks very cluttered and busy to me. If there is hardwood under there, remove the rug and showcase it. Even if there isn't, the rug envelopes the room and makes it look too small. Additionally, the table setting makes the room look even more busy. The little 'storage boxes' on the shelving unit are a hint to me that there is no storage space.

The master bed, child's room and kitchen photos all look like photos of the things in the room rather than the room and thus, make all the rooms look very small.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 12:32PM
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Well, we sold!! We listed at $269,900 and accepted an offer where we pay their closing at our asking price. We only appraised at $255,500, so we renegotiated and only paid half of their closing at 5.5K. We owed 251k on the loan, so we are out some money. But, we did sell in 3 months time, and with the market, short sales and foreclosures in the area, we did good. Thanks for everyone's help and suggestions, I see my Zillow page got over 1500 views in the past few months, so I was doing something right!!! Now it's time to start looking for another house, in Weston, FL :)

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 9:52PM
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    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 4:45PM
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Congratulations and best wishes!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 8:36PM
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