frozenelvesJune 25, 2012

I hesitate to post here but I love reading this forum so I will whine here tonight! Our house has been for sale for over 3 years with 6 months off last summer! But, the first 2 years not one house sold anywhere near our price when the market had tanked. Our market has rebounded this spring. I know that price is everything on this forum and yes, it can always be lower but I doubt I could go low enough to change people's minds about the layout. (BTW, I'm starting to hate that word!) All comments from lookers and realtors have been that it's priced right and shows beautifully but they just don't like the layout for them. We are priced at or below sold prices of the comps that have sold. We have a cape cod style house on full basement while most of our comps are split levels because there aren't any other cape cods that have been for sale near our size or in our area. We mainly use sq. footage and number of bedrooms to find comps. Other than style of house, it's pretty typical of what you'll find in our price range. It seems that most of the people who have passed up our house have chosen a split level. We have an extremely low buyer pool to make matters worse. I've talked to many realtors in our area and they they've agreed that rezoning of the school boundaries hurt us. Essentially, there's a good half of our city that will not move to the other side which we are now on. That issue was already factored into the price.

There's nothing wrong with our house, it's updated and has a great location. I realize that I can lower it a little more but we aren't desperate to sell for financial reasons, we just need a bigger house for our huge family. If I go any lower, we won't be able to get into a house anyway without the equity we need for a down payment. People have always complimented our home. It's just frustrating because we can't change the layout.

A little bit about our market too. Staging is not a common practice here. Houses will sell here regardless. Neither are fancy kitchens or bathrooms, especially in my price range. We don't have a lot of inventory in my price range but there is always that one split level that people like more than mine. We had a buyer once but it fell through because they found a split level down the street that had just gone on the market. They had loved our house for a long time too!

I'm just venting, I know I can't do anything but wait, it just stinks having the less common house design here. We have a very unique market as opposed to a big city. I'm so tired of showing a house with 7 kids and half my stuff in storage.

For what it's worth, I'm not emotionally attached to this house, but I have to be realistic about price. My realtor is doing what he should and we get the showings. My price is $244,000 for 2600 sf on a 1/2 acre in a great neighborhood. We've reduced it enough to cover market conditions and age and the school district issue.

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Well, you need to move that Cape to my area where a Cape is generally preferred over a split level.

Is the layout thing because you have 1 bedroom downstairs and 2-3 upstairs? For families with small kids that can be a deal breaker. Or is it something about the flow of common spaces (kitchen to dining room to living room)?

We live in a cape (I love this style, BTW) and although you aren't looking to spend money on your house ... We have found that removing the lower portions of the walls that flank the staircase makes a huge difference in how the first floor feels. You still need banisters so people don't fall off the stairs but being able to see through that space connects the 2 rooms on each side of the stairs (the dining room and living room, in our house). The cost to do that here is $2500. I know it sounds like a lot but it makes a huge difference.

Good luck, selling is no fun IMHO.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 6:57AM
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People prefer split levels in your neck of the woods? Wow, that's opposite of 3 place I've lived.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 7:25AM
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Same here - capes will sell long before a split of the same general sq footage and amenities. I am also curious what the layout issue is and thought the same thing as EngineerChic about the bedrooms or staircase.

We opened our staircase on one side and even that is a huge change. Splits around here tend to have long sight lines on the main living level so perhaps that is what your potential buyers are objecting to since capes elicit that cozy feel of small, separate rooms but no room to room views. Anything you can do to open up and get longer sight lines may help.

I'm sorry you're having this difficulty selling - it has to be so frustrating.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 8:07AM
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I feel your pain. Our last house was on the market for 2 years, but it never sold. So I rented it out for 2 more years hoping the market would rebound. That never happened. After making a few repairs and freshening up after the renters moved out, we put it on the market again. This time around, we priced the house lower than what I really thought it was worth just to get a quick sale. And it worked. It sold in 6 weeks. I did wonder if it wasn't actually priced too low, but I was glad to finally get rid of it.

I know you don't want to hear this - I was sick of hearing it myself, and it took me a long time to accept it - but PRICE is what sells. Nobody wants to pay a fair price - they all want a bargain. If you really want to get rid of it and move on with your life, you DO have to accept this.

Good luck

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 10:03AM
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Sophie Wheeler

No one prefers split levels anywhere for any reason. That's just what they are telling you as an excuse for passing up your home because they are too polite to tell you that you are overpriced. 3 years for sale and houses all around you and down the street selling is overpriced.

If you want more constructive feedback than you are probably overpriced, post a link to your listing so we can actually compare what you have to offer versus your surroundings.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 11:50AM
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I agree. Post a link.

(I also live in a Cape, and they are far preferred over a split. They are rarer in my area too).

Now, one thing about pricing according to sq ft age and you have a basement.

Are you including your Basement square footage in your "sq ft" comps? (And, perhaps the splits aren't, since they are at least 1/2 above ground at "basement"/ground level?

I wonder if you've chosen inappropriate comps, since I don't really consider a basement in sq ft-age for a cape cod. You need to look at your above ground sq ft-age and comp to homes with that. Because, as you know, a Cape is really a 1.5 story home; and a split is a "2 story" home. And, that difference may be why they don't like your layout.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 12:03PM
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So why NOT try staging? You'll stand out from the others.
Take some great pics and see what happens. Don't spend much. I staged my 3300 sqft house for approx $600-$800. I de-emphasized some traffic flows. I removed clutter, extra furniture, emptied out half of my closets.... Boy, were they roomy ;)

While I agree that homes in certain areas and price ranges may not benefit much from staging, I still think it works. Staging is also used to emphasize certain pluses about the house, and you can DE-EMPHASIZE the negatives.I would still try staging... while the market is hot-ish (Summer). This way people may NOT notice the layout ;)
I see this with Model homes all the time. Many times they use distracting tactics, so the negatives are not apparent.
BTW- split levels do not sell in my area.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 12:07PM
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It sounds like you have information on the houses your potential buyers eventually chose: split levels. Do you also have info on the prices they paid for those homes? Because I don't think it's as simple as cape vs. split level. There has to be something else to it; most likely price. And perhaps you haven't adequately priced for the change in the school boundaries. Have the "winning" houses been in the other school zone but at a similar price point?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 12:09PM
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When we were selling our house we kept hearing layout as an issue (not the same issue you had) and it is frustrating since it is something we couldn't do anything about. Ultimately we did want to sell so we lowered our price to the point that it was attractive which was way below what I ever wanted to sell it at.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 2:55PM
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Hollysprings, you really can't say "No one prefers split levels anywhere for any reason." That's not true in my area.

Everyone else: We are not including the basement in our square footage except the 1/4 of it that's finished. The split levels that have been used as comps by realtors and appraisers are similar finished sq footage. In our area there is too much variety of housing styles to find exact comps all the time. You don't have to believe me but we've had appraisals done 3 times and interviewed 3 realtors with the same results.
As far as price, yes we took it into account when it was originally priced and is already low. We do not live in a low income area but the price is getting close to the price of the same size houses in a low income neighborhood. Oh, and yes we know what the sold prices are.
Lastly, as far as staging, we did stage the best we could. We have 7 kids and have to live here, so there's only so much we can remove. We've packed up half our belongings and have it in storage. What's left is what we need.

Much of our housing stock is old, and most houses here are not going to be perfect. Mine is in very nice condition and shows nicely for the area. Our open houses here are on Sundays and we've seen most of our competition in person.

About our school district. We are still in the same school district, just rezoned. It made the citizens mad because they closed our high school and divided the city in half. It's not a bad school vs. good school. Just people not wanting to switch their kids.

Like I said before, the price already reflects all these considerations. We have no reason to sell if we can't get another house and this house. It's not priced because "we need to get this much out of it".

Here is a link that might be useful: My listing

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 4:20PM
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Warning - the link goes to Duluth, MN Apartments For Rent.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 4:26PM
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oops, let me try again

Here is a link that might be useful: My listing

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 4:34PM
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I think that you listing could do with some better pictures, or at least enhance the ones that you do have a bit. I've brightened your kitchen picture so you can see the difference.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 4:58PM
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Well, if finishes in your comp kitchens are similar (ie: laminate is expected, no newly remodeled kitchens), then I can't help but wonder if the houses that sold had better kitchen layouts. I'm no real estate expert, just going by the saying that 'bathrooms and kitchens sell houses'. Dated finishes I could live with, and they're easily changed; however, as a potential parent, the layout of your kitchen would terrify me (cooktop on the peninsula), and I'd wonder how expensive an extensive remodel would be.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 5:17PM
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I think I see some of the problem. As Terriks pointed out, the interior shots could be a lot better. The exterior shots are great--clear, good lighting, and those trees are gorgeous. Whenever you show the house, I hope you turn on all the lights and lamps, which will help the rooms seem sunnier.

The problem I see with your interior is that it is definitely dated and cramped. The bathrooms have single sinks, but this is a 4 bedroom house. I don't have an easy answer for you, but the bedroom with the bunk beds is too cramped looking too, and I see no way to get around that since you are still living there. But it ends up making the rooms look even smaller with so much furniture in the rooms. I know you have decluttered and put things in storage, but with 9 people living in your house, all the necessary furniture ends up making it look cramped. All the small rooms downstairs make the house feel smaller too. My guess is that people are buying other houses because they look/feel more spacious with more of an open floor plan. When we buy a house, we buy space.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 6:37PM
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Definitely think the lighter picture of you kitchen is an improvement. You have A LOT of books and things on your shelves, can you possibly reduce them further? Also I see many personal photos on the wall. That can be distracting.

I also agree with Sheilajoyce that from the pictures your interior spaces do seem cramped. Any furniture that isn't absolutely necessary in hallways and bedrooms should be removed. Make the space look as large and spacious as you can.

There are somethings that can't be changed, you do have to live in the space while it is on the market, but anything you can do to make it look roomier would help. When people see all the stuff, all they think is that they too, will run out of space. They may not realize that you have a large family.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 7:01PM
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Yes, there's nothing we can do about beds in our bedrooms. In person, though they don't feel as cramped as in the picture. As far as the other rooms, the living room is the only other room that is the most cramped but it's normal. Our pictures are fine for our mls, actually better than most realtors take here. We only have 100k people in our area and we are 3 hours away from any other big city. We don't have to go to great lengths like many on here to get people in our door. Do a search in my zip 55811 from 200k-250k, 4 bedroom, 2000 sq ft. There's only 6 that come up. Three are on very busy roads, 2 are significantly smaller. If I go lower than these, I'm basically selling at the same price as our distressed neighborhoods, which I am not. We've actually been told our house is too big in some of the "we don't like the layout" comments. Can't control that either. As far as dated, in our city it's dated if it's decorated from the 60's or 70's. 80's and above is still tolerable. We did all of our house in the last 5 years. If you want better, then you'll pay 300-400k. I'm not trying to compete with that.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 7:24PM
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Our pictures are fine for our mls, actually better than most realtors take here.

But you have been on the market for three years and haven't sold! Perhaps you need to step it up a notch. Just because crummy pictures, no staging and dated decor are normal for your area doesn't mean that using better pictures and staging is worthless. You may not be able to change the size and layout of the house, but you can change how it's presented. Or maybe you just want to continue to whine...

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 7:47PM
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"Our pictures are fine for our mls, actually better than most realtors take here. We only have 100k people in our area and we are 3 hours away from any other big city. We don't have to go to great lengths like many on here to get people in our door. "

I certainly do not mean to be rude but this statement is in defense of a substandard presentation.
Is it really "good enough" if it is not working?

If you are determined to sell you must not leave one stone unturned.
Everything it is in your power to do in order to present the home in its best possible light is something that you need to do. Better photos are such an easy thing to do that I am baffled that you would choose not to tweak that aspect of your presentation.

I get that you are tired of trying to keep your home in showing condition. It has to be discouraging.
But if you choose to continue trying to sell, it seems clear (at least to me) that changing some things is in order.
If it was me I'd either get busy changing them or take the house off the market.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 8:27PM
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elves: You sound like you've paid a lot of attention to your market and positioned/priced your house appropriately. There's a ton of good info from these boards, but they are skewed to the higher end of the housing market, so it can be hard to see things from the perspective of the lower or middle segments. I share the difficulty.

We recently FSBO'd a rental in Iowa and although we had completely redone it after the tenant moved out (new kitchen and bath, paint, carpet) the feedback on the photos and price was "dated, boring, no curb appeal, better cut the price." My pleas that the comps were no better and that our potential buyers wouldn't care if the appliances didn't match fell on deaf ears for the most part. So I understand that the feedback you're getting can be frustrating because we DON'T understand your market and you do. Your responses are specific and detailed, which tells me you're watching your market like you should be, you're listening to the feedback, and responding as appropriate in your area.

So in my "toned down" eyes, and looking at a few of the comps' listings, I think you're fine. You're not overwhelmed with clutter, everything looks clean, and it's updated (not meaning spa master bath, but meaning no 60's color schemes). Oak cabinets are fine in your price range. If you're getting showings that means your pics are fine.

BTW, for others, I did a quick scan of the listings, and median price in this zip code is around $200K. OP is at about 63rd percentile.

It sounds to me like layout is an issue, but you haven't mentioned what about the layout. A downstairs garage would be a downer for me, having to lug groceries up stairs. Is that the issue they mention? Or are there others? If it has to do with the living areas, it's possible to make things flow better by repurposing (staging) the rooms so they meet potential buyers' needs or expectations.

Can you post a floorplan sketch? Any other details you can provide about the complaints?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 9:41PM
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I looked at your listing, and for the most part it looks really nice. It is nice and clean, and uncluttered. I love the living room w/the leather furniture and the grandfather clock. I'm usually not a big fan of dark colored rooms, but I also like that brown bathroom.

Someone commented on all the books, but I think they're fine. They are on a bookshelf where they belong. It might look nicer to remove a few, but then you'd have to place a few decorative thingies in the holes to dress it up. Either way, I don't see this as something that would scare buyers away.

Someone else commented on the cooktop being in the peninsula. Well it's gotta go somewhere, right? Whether it was on the penisula or another cabinet, little fingers can still get to it. I don't see why a parent would look at this as a reason not to buy the house. One thing I do not like is the multi-colored Partridge Family tiles. That is a little too over the top for my taste. Replacing all that could get expensive - but you also have to realize if the buyer doesn't like it, they are already seeing an expense. Are they going to reduce their asking price to cover this, or are they going to the next house?

One picture I do see that could be either eliminated or redone: The hvac and the shoes and coats. I guess you were trying to show there is plenty of storage space. While it IS neatly organized, this picture doesn't do much for you. If you are not using all these clothes, it would be better to box them all up and get them out of the house.

I would probably get rid of the picture that shows the desk, a cabinet and the family pictures. Only because I can't tell what that area is supposed to be. I assume it is the foyer? I don't think that picture does much for you.

The front view of the house seems like it could be better. It looks like if you stood on the garage side of the house and took a 3/4 view it might be nicer. Of course you want to do this only if you can keep the neighbors' houses out of the shot. The picture as it is, the pine trees block the view of the garage and driveway a little too much. It could also look a lot nicer to throw in some more color. Go get some nice red or yellow flowers and spread them around.

The rear picture shows a little dog. I am a dog lover, and I wouldn't mind that at all. But for non dog lovers - they may cross your house off their list without even looking at it. Maybe they're allergic to dogs, maybe they think the house is all furry or stinky, maybe they think the dog has torn up the yard. Who knows what those dog haters think - but they may have already moved on to the next house. On days you have showings, it would even be good to take your pup with you and hide his things as much as you can.

One thing I don't care for too much, and of course it's not cost-effective to do anything about - and I am not saying this to put your house down. I am just thinking other people may also be thinking this, and this could be why you're not getting offers. All of the windows are very small and plain looking. The side of the house with the triangular window is really nice, but the rest of them just aren't that exciting. I also don't like how the dormers are not positioned directly over the 1st story windows, and how the windows don't match. The rear dormer has the same issue. Again - these are all things you can't do much thing about. I don't know if installing a few shutters would improve the appearance.

OK, now that you hate me for insulting your windows and the kitchen tiles, I will move on. Nothing personal, I hope you know that!

Before I go, I will plant this idea in your head a little deeper.........if your house didn't sell before and you had plenty of showings - it is probably all about price. The object is to sell it and get on with your life. If you are competing with 20 other houses in your same price range/house style/location, and only have 1 buyer looking at them all - what's the best way to snag that buyer? With the lowest price of course. Doesn't matter how capable the buyer is - EVERYONE is looking for a bargain, the most bang for their buck. It stinks to have to give in to these bargain hunters, but it stinks even more to be stuck there if you want to go elsewhere. Do some serious thinking about this.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 12:09AM
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Weedy, you pretty much hit the nail on the head, everything you've said. The feedback isn't very specific but I know that 3 levels cuts out the older crowd. Young families have commented that they don't want the kids upstairs with the master down. I know that not having a private master bath will be a deal breaker for others, but that's the same in a huge majority of our houses. We had a showing on Saturday, one tomorrow. At our open house 3 weeks ago, 5 groups came. That's typical of open houses here, usually 1 hour long. Neighbors don't come, very few lookie loos, except in the most expensive homes in town. Of the ones that came, 1 didn't like the layout, 2 were quiet, and the last 2 loved it. One is going to come back with her realtor but is just listing her house now. She came on the recommendation from our neighbor. The other specifically said, "this house is impressive".

One of the top realtors here had a cape like ours, same big size except the interior was right out of a design mag, very contemporary. She had her house on the market for the same 2 years we did at first. She took it off for about half a year and then back on, not much lower and sold recently. Hers was listed over 110k more, but smaller yard,it finally sold. She knows her business and knows our market and said there is nothing more we should do except wait as it will take the right buyer to come. She showed our house once.

So many of you all here are professionals but you can't claim to be an expert in every market. You can't make the same assumptions that what works in your area will work in mine. I've been following real estate for 15 years so I'm not a novice, I'm actually getting my RE license this summer. I've also sold 2 houses, one in a down market in a metropolitan area, one in a decent market. It's not the same here as it was there. Not one agent takes professional pictures here, nor stages with professionals in our price range. But for sake of argument, we did stage. It still had to function for a large family and not be a model home. We bought new neutral furniture, eliminated everything nonessential. rearranged most rooms, I'm laughing at the suggestions we take out more. What exactly do you see that we can live without? Books? We homeschool and my kids love to read. It's an office, so where is a better place to house our books? The bedrooms have beds and dressers only. The basement rec room is staged to look as such, but is really my son's temp bedroom and he sleeps on a leather couch, which we bought 2 of to stage. The other items are just a few of his personal belongings he was allowed to keep in return for not having a bed or bedroom. We sold the glass bookshelf that you can see one corner of in our office, so now it's more empty space. Our kitchen is bigger than most kitchens you'll see here. Some of the picture are taken in the middle of the room looking each way. Our main level living areas are open and flow nicely, but are just different for lack of a better description. We did retake our pictures and they are better than our competition. Go ahead and look at my competition and tell me which house you'd look at based on pictures or clutter or staging. We've had no trouble getting showings, just buyers. We do "step it up" where it counts which is to make our house spotless all the way from the basement up to the third floor. Closets only have clothes, nothing on the floor. Realtors have always said it shows great. It's the best we can do with 7 children from 17 to 7 months. I know everything that has sold here in all price ranges. I've been in most of them at some point, not all. Some were better, some weren't. None of the them would suggest I'm overpriced. I'm just not the normal average home in my neighborhood. It's what the buyer wants that matters.

Remember the split levels? There are 5 of them directly across the street and 3 to my direct left. Yes, they are favored here, and make up a large share of my neigborhood. To my right is are 2 small 3 level homes from the 20's. Next to them, newer builds much larger. There isn't any neighborhood here that has the same age, or style homes.

As far as whining, I believe that's what I said I was doing, as that's what my title alludes to. You can stop reading it if you choose.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 12:20AM
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If you are not getting any showings nor offers, you are way overpriced.
If you are getting lots of showings and no offers, you are still a little overpriced.
If you are getting lots of showings and at least one offer, you are priced right.

Sounds like you are stuck in the second category.
You do have a couple options... leave price as is and MAYBE find that perfect buyer (but it has already been 3 years), reduce the price enough to turn those "not so perfect buyers' into making an offer, or if you financially can not lower the price and are tired of waiting for the perfect buyer, then take the home off the market.
These are your true three options. This process can be in your control, you just have to decide which is best for you.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 7:29AM
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The only thing that strikes me is that your kitchen table and benches are too visually heavy for the breakfast area and make the breakfast area and the adjoining space look cramped. An inexpensive farm table with stools around it would make all the difference in the world.

Here is a link that might be useful: Look for a table like this -

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 8:01AM
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I also want to add that we all understand that it's an emotional situation for you. Time and time again people come here to complain that their house is not selling. Forum members give advice, the poster gets defensive and more often than not, the poster comes back later and says "yeah - you were right."

No, we don't know the intricacies of your market but honestly, real estate is not that complicated. It used to be location, location, location. Now it's price, price, location. Your house looks good but it's not perfect. If you can't or won't lower the price you are going to have to tweak things like raising the quality of your MLS pictures, staging, decluttering, etc. to raise your appeal.

If you want it sold, don't make excuses for why can't step it up a notch. Figure out how you can make changes work for your family. Your kids will survive for a month if their books are in boxes in the garage. You can go to the library.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 8:15AM
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Just one more piece of advice: listen to and carefully consider all the advice here, as it's all from well-meaning people who are trying to help. Apply what makes sense, but don't worry about responding to everyone or arguing with them. You don't need to convince anyone, it saps your time and energy, and the market will be the final arbiter. All the opinions (sometimes contradictory) can drive you crazy if you let them!

We listened to some and discarded other advice, on both the rental and our much larger personal residence, which we put on the market 6 weeks ago. Our little rental closed less than 4 months after listing. Our offers yet.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 11:12AM
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Hi! I couldn't get your link to load (went to a house that is not for sale or something) but I did see the kitchen photo posted here in the thread.

Here's the thing about those tiles--they are very very very taste specific. If I came to your house, they would be the first thing I would totally dig and comment on, and I would be totally sincere about that. HOWEVER, if I was checking out houses and I saw that backsplash, it would stop me cold and it very well might make me not even come to check out your house. I think the backsplash is totally cool and I would love to go visit it--but it's not for me.

So, having said that, is there some sort of product that can be applied over tile that would just make it plain white? I know they have it for bathrooms. Would that be possible? Plain old white tile is not the most exciting thing either, but it would never stop me from buying a house and certainly not from looking at one (says the woman with a kitchen full of boring white ceramic tile backsplash).

Good luck, I hope something breaks for you soon!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 4:29PM
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There really are a lot of good suggestions here.

And the bottom line is this--if what you've been doing for the past 3+ years isn't working, what do you have to lose? It's past time to make some changes. Whether you're trying to sell YOUR home or eventually trying to sell others' homes, you have to be willing to be flexible.

We just went through the selling process--last year we were listed with an experienced, reputable, 'hometown' agent. Little activity (he didn't do much but list our house in the MLS, we only had 3 showings, no offers). After 6 months, we took the house off the market, did some SERIOUS work on it--updating things by stripping a lot of wallpaper and painting with colors that are 'in', among other things. We relisted in January with a young agent from a big chain. He was aggressive, had our house on all the real estate websites, on Craig's List, targetted ads on Facebook. He had open houses every few weeks, he was in touch with other agents, he marketed our house to attract people from out of the area. In short, he was a LOT more active than our first agent. The result--in under 6 weeks, we had over 26 different groups come through, and we found our buyers. If we'd been content to keep things as they were, we'd STILL be trying to unload the place.

Your house sounds like it would be perfect for families with older (Jr. high and up) children. It's nice now--when the parents may like having their bedroom on a different floor for peace and quiet, and makes sense for the years down the road when they're emtpy nesters and may want to close off the second floor to save money on heat/ac, and even further for when they may be older and have health issues that preclude using the stairs. Is your agent specifically going after that market? If not, why not? Another market to tap might be the caregiver family--they could give the grandparent(s) the downstairs bedroom, while they take those upstairs.

Look, regardless of what you've been told, split levels are NOT that popular anywhere. They're dated without being classic, they're inconvenient and labor-intensive. Older people simply cannot manage homes where you are constantly going up and down stairs. I have a feeling if your agents are telling you that, they're using it as an excuse to cover up their 'laziness' in marketing your home, OR to spare having to tell you that there's something people find unattractive about the place. Because the fact is, no matter what is 'in', there are always some individuals who manage to think for themselves, and who would prefer a standard Cape over a split. It's just a case of finding the right buyer.

I really think, if you find yourself a young, hungry, creative agent who is willing to aggressively market your home--one who you can sit down with and really discuss what features are causing the problem--then you'll soon make your sale and be on to the next adventure life has to offer you.

And if nothing else, please read and digest the coments here so that you can be the best agent YOU can be once you've qualified. Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 4:35PM
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Some years ago (mid 90s) we wanted to sell a house that was only a couple of years old. It was very new looking but had colors that didn't appeal to many and the market was down a bit. We had it listed for over a year. At the time we needed to sell it for about what we paid for it in order to have enough money to buy another house. I knew that had nothing to do with market value but I couldn't buy another house if I couldn't sell the house for X. After a year, we took it off the market. We didn't have to sell, we just wanted to sell. We waited another 3 years or so then listed it again. We repainted and recarpeted (by then we were willing to do it since we had had several years of use out of the original paint and carpet). We price it well above what we had paid for at since the market was better. We sold to the first person to look at it.

The point being that when we didn't have to sell and we couldn't sell at the price that would move it we just took it off the market. You have said you don't have to sell, so that may be what you may want to do if you don't like having to live in a house and have it ready to show all the time.

On the other hand, the last house we sold we needed to sell so in that case we bit the bullet and went ahead and sold it for less than we had paid for it several years earlier (and, in turn, we bought our current house from owners who sold it to us for less than they paid for it 5 years ago).

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 5:15PM
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Your kitchen backsplash tiles scream RUN!
You need to cover them with plain pictures, so they don't scream at buyers.

Lower your price if your school district stinks. There is a buyer for every house IF the price is right.
BS about the layout.

Why sit around being miserable?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 1:59PM
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OP, it really IS a pain to show your house for sale. Not a fun experience at all. Hope you feel better.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 10:50PM
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Just looking at the map with all of the other listings, I think it's pretty obvious where the line for the school division exists. also "values" the home at 172K, which while you should take it with a grain of salt, seems much nearer the actual price that might generate a sale.

I think this info from the site is pretty telling.

Listing price for this home is $239,000

Area Average Listing Price Average Sales Price
Duluth Heights $219,262 $158,068

Although the home appears to be charming and not too small, the rest of the story is "too much" and "not enough". There is too much clutter and personal belongings in the home. It's distracting. Personal photos crowd the walls and dressers and there are too many knicknacks. And the walls are all white. Not all white as in that's a deliberate design choice that works with the other elements of the home, but as in "I gave up and painted it white". It's on the stark side for your darker furnishings and makes the rooms look cold and not that friendly. There isn't enough color. As is you need to repaint with a warmer colored neutral. Behr Ground Ginger, Honey Beige or Lion have always worked great as neutral backdrops with a bit of color to make the woodwork stand out yet stay quiet. I would strongly suggest repainting. And change the floor in the powder room. I had to look 3 times to see it wasn't carpet, and that is NOT a good impression to have online!

I'd also suggest removing the kitchen tile, repairing the drywall, and just painting the walls a nice neutral after replacing the countertops with something that isn't white. White and oak is very dated, and adding in the colorful tile doesn't really distract they buyer from seeing that. All if does is make them imagine the work in ripping down the tile and putting in new counters. Do that work for them. I'd suggest a nice neutral in the green family like Behr Mochachino as it will complement the oak much better than the stark white/light beige that you currently have. Pick laminate counters in a darker color, install some inexpensive fluorescent undercabinet lights, and change out the knobs and pulls to black iron or oil rubbed bronze for some contrast. That will give the kitchen enough added warmth and "updating" that buyers will not feel they have to immediately go in and do a bunch of work just to live in the house even if they do plan on ripping everything out and replacing it later.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 9:52AM
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Lower the price. Folks will accept the bad layout if the price is lowered. They overlook bad things when they are getting a decent deal.

Drop the price by $5000. A $10k-$15k drop will likely get you under contract pretty quickly.

If you have a negative like a bad layout, you need to price slightly lower than the comps to make up for that negative issue.

If you don't drop the price pronto, you could be stuck with the place until next spring. This is the busy buying season and you don't want to lose the next set of buyers to a split level again.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 10:13AM
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Something is wrong with your listing again. The house pictured is not for sale and is valued at $116,000. It doesn't even look like your blue house.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 4:20PM
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Sheila is right.
Maybe your problem is one on the linking side of things... people go to look, and they get wrong information (like, that it isn't for sale).

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 6:10PM
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I think I saw it immediately, and I would not buy or even consider looking at a house with that layout. If it's what I think I am seeing. No one else has mentioned it, so I will give this a shot.

The upstairs BR's are connected. I see a photo where 2 rooms lead directly into each other. As soon as I see "that layout" I would walk away. Sorry. Maybe I'm wrong about the layout up there?

Your house looks nice, maybe nicer than the others in the neighborhood? Zillow thinks it is worth $237, so priced right. You need the "best" buyers your neighborhood has, and that BR layout is turning them off.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 9:41AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Perhaps that IS some of the problem here. Legally, you cannot have a "bedroom" be entered from another bedroom. It has to have it's own entrance from a hall or other public room. Any room entered from a bedroom has to be a "sitting room" or closet type area, not another bedroom.

Some of the online descriptors have the property having 2 baths, and others as 1 bath. Does it have a legally permitted second bath with bath tub or not?

Some also list the home as 1536 square feet rather than your listing of 2600. Trulia has it at 3000 square feet. Your official city property records say 1536 with a finished basement of 528 square feet. A basement level entirely below ground isn't usually calculated in the actual square footage of living space. Only above ground space counts. You need to subtract out that space, even if it's finished. A split level is only half below ground, so enough of it is above ground for windows and egress that it is legally considered living space. Therefore, the square footage of a split might be legally more than what you can actually claim, even if the basic number of usable square footage is similar. 1526 above ground space is what you should be basing your main pricing caluclations on with the below ground counting at roughly half of the value of the above ground space.

As a whole, the difference in information out there about the home reads as deceptive listing practices and a realtor trying to "bump up" the stats on a small home to be something it's not. Another interpretation to a buyer could be that there was a lot of unpermitted work was done to have such conflicting information.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 1:19PM
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There are 4 legal bedrooms. The one in the picture is an extra room attached to it with a balcony off of it. It can be a sitting room, office space, playroom, whatever. There are 2 legal full baths, one on upper level and one on main level. There's some flexibility as to where one can put the master. There is 2600 sq. ft. in our house. We have had 3 appraisals done since living here. Our mls listing is correct. The unfinished basement spaces are not included in the sq. footage. Neither is the garage.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 3:08PM
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Well, I will say it again.
In my area, finished or not, the basement square footage would not be considered in the "square footage" for determination of price. And, if you are comparing yourself to split level houses with "your square footage" then I can see where they are winning out--as the finished basement sq ftage wouldn't feel the same.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 9:13PM
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I think the OP really did just want to let go of some steam as evident by her post's title "Venting".

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 10:36PM
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I agree with kirkhall. If you're counting any finished basement space at all when figuring price per square foot compared to others, I think you're probably overpriced.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 3:10PM
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Basements are counted here when valuating price. Depending upon the type of basement, and quality of finishes it can be valued at only 1/3 the rest of the home sq. ftg., or it can be valued at the same as the upstairs finished space.
The OPs home is probably over valued not because she counted basement space, but because the floor plan is not typical.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 4:54PM
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