T-minus 10 days until listing...

JadedBaronessSeptember 20, 2012

Hello everyone!

I'm new here and getting my feet wet on the forums. In 10 days we are going to be listing our home (a townhouse) for sale. I feel we have done everything we can to make it as desirable as possible.

--We hired a realtor who I believe will do the best she can for us.

--We hired a stager to identify anything we could do to make the house "show" nicely.

--Next week we are refreshing the home, making small cosmetic repairs, paint touch ups, cleaning the carpet, and fixing all issues. The house will be move-in ready with no issues (cosmetic or otherwise).

--We rented a storage unit to declutter and move things out of our closets and basement so that the home shows the most in terms of space.

I can't think of anything else that we should do and have taken every single recommendation given to us by the pros and implemented it. The market in my area is down (where isn't it?) and we will be losing money on the home...listing for much less than we paid. But we will never recover that loss, so we are just thankful we aren't underwater and wish to move on.

Am I missing anything? There are two other homes in our development currently for sale. They have been on the market for 5-6 months. While other homes have gone up and sold more quickly, these homes just sit. I want our home to be like the homes that have sold and not add a third listing that just sits. I am VERY nervous.

Anyone have any other tips or tricks to help sell my home that perhaps I haven't thought of?

Thanks for your thoughts!

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Out here, reasonably priced homes with good floor plans and with no obvious repairs needed sell promptly and sometimes there is a bidding war. Friends sold their mother's small house in a town next to us, experienced a bidding war, and it sold for $35,000 more than the asking price. When you leave the house, in case there is a showing while you are out, turn on all the lamps in the house so the rooms look welcoming. Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 10:06PM
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My advice would be to make sure you have EXCELLENT listing pictures - nice and bright, clear and well staged.

Everyone who is looking is getting instant email alerts to their phones when a new house comes on the market in their price range. Your listing has to grab those buyers instantly so they call their relator to schedule a showing right away. Where I live (Chicago suburb), houses that are priced right in the popular price ranges are either under contract within two weeks or else they seem to sit and sit and sit. I think people are wary of "older" listings thinking that they must be either overpriced or have some latent defect. But they jump on the new listings.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 10:26PM
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Have you looked at the houses that are sitting? Is there any obvious reason why they have not sold? (Ones around here sit a long time if there are cat smells, or if the assessment is too high.)
Pricing is a big component -- are those other houses priced higher than yours will be?

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 10:29PM
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Thank you for the tips! I will be sure to turn the lights on and will make sure the pictures put our best foot forward.

I have looked at the listings for the houses that are sitting. One is priced too low, IMO. Which makes people think there is something wrong with it I bet. The other is priced at the same price as the other two that sold. My home will be priced just under 5k more than the latter. So we will be the highest priced of the three. We have a finished basement whereas they do not. It seems as though the homes listed have no "wow" factor? No major upgrades or distingushing features? But there is nothing "wrong" with them, per se. Our home has some additional features that buyers may find desirable (hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, finished basement, etc). It is those features that I hope will help...

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 10:45PM
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Good Luck!

How does the ones that sold compare to your unit? Same finishes, location, and price?

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 10:11AM
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My previous place was a condo. The one next door to me with an identical floor plan had sold to a realtor in the spring at $30,000 less than my listing price, but no finished basement, no updating, although the PO had kept it spotless.

Some in a different complex across the main road were about 400 sf larger and listed for $20,000 more than mine was, and they sat. They were 3-4 years older than mine, which might have made them lead paint/no insulation situations, but the complex looked much nicer than ours (landscaping, style). However, most had not been updated, and I know from being in a couple of them that there probably was a structural issue with the loft.

Ours was completely updated. New 90% efficient furnace, energy efficient decent quality aluminum clad wood windows, totally redone kitchen, new vanity/sink/lights in bathrooms, new paint throughout, new tile in entry & mudroom, new carpet throughout, somewhat recently refinished wood floors in the LR/DR, which almost no other condo in our price range of that decade had. Other smaller things done too numerous to mention. New DH worked really hard to make it move in ready after my having done nothing to it for a long time. Everything was scrubbed. I put pretty planters on the deck and front porch, attractive plantings along the front walk, interesting plants inside in key places. We felt that we had to do most of this, since there were already LOTS of houses & condos sitting on our already declining market, that became a total disaster the following year.

When I asked the woman at closing what made her buy my condo, she said, "The updates, and the fact that it was CLEAN!" When my daughter was looking for a house a year before, it was amazing the condition that many places were in--some messy, some grungy, some dirty, lots with uncorrected problems.

So price isn't everything when comparing apples to apples. When people come inside yours, they'll see the difference, and know why your price is higher--IF the others have some of the deficiencies mentioned above.


    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 10:44AM
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If you are in a townhouse/complex, make sure your first picture is NOT of the signage of the complex. I hate when I get an email notification of a new property on the market and the picture in the email notification is of the complex's sign! It should be one of your best interior pictures--something that will catch the eye of a potential buyer; not a silly sign that sits out front.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 12:32PM
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Thank you for all the thoughtful responses! The two homes that most recently sold do appear to have had many of the options we have (fireplace, hardwoods, stainless steel appliances) and some things we do not have (tile backsplash, security system, etc) Neither of them had a finished basement though they both had walkout basements and we do not...

One of the homes for sale currently put an open house sign up for this Sunday. Would it be in poor taste for me to go? I am very curious to see for myself how our home compares...we have the exact same floor plan.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 1:14PM
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I just sold my rental condo the first day it hit the market. We had 2 offers on the first day. We priced it to sell, obviously.

In this market, the first impression is very important.

1. professional photographer. Do NOT let your realtor take his/her own photos. The first photo has to grab the seller instantly. Unless they like the photos, the potential will not bother to come and look at the house/condo.

2. Absolutely spotlessly clean as the above poster mentioned. We hired a cleaner, washed windows, new carpet, new paint, rejuvenunated the grout etc. No smells if you can help it. Do not cook much during the time the house is showing if you are in the house. Stinky refrigerator is a turn off. Same with the pets if you have any. Be vigilant.

3. You need to know what your competition is. Yes, you need to go to the open house! Go look at every for sale home and keep track to see what is selling at what price point.

4. I actually like homes that do NOT have personal photos or too much of personal things. It seems odd to me to see the wedding pictures of owners. I don't want to know who lives there. I want to buy a product. This is especially true when I know the owners are losing money. With the information on the internet, you know exactly how much money they are losing. (I am buying 2 investment properties right now) Others might disagree with me that you might want to appeal to the buyers that you are a great family.)

I will open built in cabinets to see the structural integrity. I do not open furniture or dressers. You have to assume that many will. Again, remove stuff that may be a turn off to someone: ie strong political stuff, books that may be extreme in view etc...

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 1:45PM
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I agree with kaismom's post above. In addition, definitely take into account the fact that the potential buyers will open your drawers, cabinets & closets and take a quick peek. Usually, they are looking to see if the drawer/cabinet/closet is kept as neat as the house currently appears. If the drawer/cabinet/closet is a shambles then odds are the house was kept that way too. If everything in the drawer/cabinet/closet is neat & tidy, odds are the neat & tidy house they are seeing has been kept that way during your ownership.

Vacuum the carpets, wipe down counters/sinks/faucets/mirrors in kitchen, laundry & baths, & make the beds properly right before any scheduled showings & before you leave the house in the mornings in case you have a last minute or midday spur of the moment showing. Should be a given, but make sure any dirty dishes are out of the sink and in the DW & trash has been taken out.

Same with the lamps--turn them on before you leave in the morning.

Burn a baking scented candle in the morning while you're getting ready for work to fill the house with that just baked smell to give potential buyers that warm & cozy feeling--cookies, pumpkin pie, apple pie scents are great choices. Just be sure to put the candle out before you leave--preferably with a snuffer or wet paper towel to reduce the amount of afterburn smoke smell and just leave the scent of baked goods.

Make sure the grass is mowed regularly (minimum once a week) and landscaping has been spruced up.

Have you taken any photos of the house since it's been staged? If so, I would post them on here to get a second opinion on if you need to add anything or if something is a little too over the top.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 10:44PM
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I have looked at the listings for the houses that are sitting.

Go look at the houses - they may have something you don't spot in a listing photo.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 12:18PM
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If a house is priced "too low" and not selling, then the house has issues. It is not because buyers think it is priced too low and assume there is something wrong.

Otherwise, you sound like you are on the right track.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 7:38AM
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You were right, ncrealestateguy! I was surprised to see yesterday the home would be having an open house today. I went..and it is obvious why it is listed so low after seeing it.

I hope to have a listing on the MLS today or tomorrow. We had pics taken yesterday, they are being edited by th photographer and the realtor should be listing soon! In the meantime, we do have a sign in the window :)

Thanks for everyone's input!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 3:49PM
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