Floor Plan Feedback

kats_meowSeptember 11, 2010

We recently dropped the price on our listed house to mid $530s (had started at $600). Before dropping price we had had a mixed bag of feedback. Since dropping the price we have had 3 showings with almost identical feedback. The house and lot are nice but buyer doesn't care for floor plan. There is nothing specific on why. I don't think that there is much I can do about it but posting to see if any ideas. The house is large (about 4500 sf). The primary specific negative on the few (when it was listed at higher price) was that the kitchen was too small and/or that didn't have a breakfast room.

Posting some picks to see if I've missed something:

This is the kitchen. The counter on the left where the pendant lights are has a bar area with 3 seats (the bar area is about 5 feet long and 3 1/2 feet wide):

If you turn around from the bar area there is a hall and to the right is the powder room and to the left you can see into the family room (that is the family room is on the other side of the hall from the kitchen offset a bit). On the very left of the picture, you can just see the entryway into the kitchen:

So seated at the bar the family room is behind you across the hall.

If you look in the kitchen picture to the left of the refrigerator is a doorway. That opens into the formal dining room. The picture of the dining room is taken while standing in the foyer of the house:

The formal dining room opens into the foyer. The picture below is a picture of the foyer taken standing in the dining room area (with the dining room behind the photographer). The point being that when you walk into the house the first thing you see is the dining room:

When entering the foyer there is an opening to the immediate left (as you stand in the entry doorway). That opening opens into the formal living room which opens into a small sunroom at the end:

I don't think there is much I can do about the layout. The agent suggested possibly turning the formal dining room into a breakfast room and then turning the formal living room into a formal dining room. I think that wouldn't work since you would be seeing a breakfast room when you first walk into the house and turning the formal living room into a formal dining room would mean there was no formal living room (and some people already think that the family room is too small...house has huge secondary bedrooms but the kitchen and family room are not huge and neither is the master bedroom).

We put the bar area into the kitchen when we bought the house. The prior owners just had that space as dead space with nothing there. Before them there had been a small eating peninsula with no counter space or storage. The entire space there to put something is about 4 feet by 5 feet.

We have put a lot of money into getting the house ready to sell so can't really invest a lot more money into doing much else.

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Your house looks very inviting in the pictures. Is there an area you can put some bar stools? Maybe at the bar? Your kitchen doesn't look small in the picture but it looks like it could use an island.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 8:37PM
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We have 3 bar stools at the bar. The counter part of the bar area effectively functions like an island. The eating part is raised to bar height.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 8:40PM
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I think the problem is you have a 4500 sq foot house that isn't living that large. I would have guessed your home was more like 2400 - 2800 sq feet because of the common areas I see. Where is all the space? If I was looking for a 4500 sq foot house, I'd expect a larger kitchen, definitely an eat in kitchen -- not a bar. I'd also expect a much larger dining room. That may be the thing that buyers are surprised with -- where is the rest of the space in this house?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 8:45PM
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Here are a few more pics to show the actual area more:

This shows the bar area and kitchen looking in from the family room The wall to the left of the bar is where the pantry is:

This is taken from inside the kitchen looking out toward the family room:

The table added at the end of the family room (on the right) was put in by the stagers to show that you could eat in the family room. I have wondered if this draws attention to the lack of a breakfast room and have considered getting rid of it. Thoughts?

Cordovamom - You do have a point. The house has a fairly large utility room (15 x 9). There is an office/boggy room (15 x 9), sunroom (you can see it at the end of the living room) (12 x 8). Master bedroom is not all that large (19 x 14) but the master bathroom is huge. It is longer than the master bedroom and about 12 feet wide.

The secondary bedrooms are large. A prior owner converted attic space to a very large upstairs bedroom and bath. That bedroom is 27 x 13. The other secondary bedrooms are about 15 x 13. We do get favorable comments regarding the 4 large bedrooms upstairs. (There is no separate gameroom upstairs but one of the large bedrooms could be used as a game room).

There is also a separate guest house (about 700 sf, that is not part of the 4500 sf), two double garages, a very large covered patio and a large porch We get a lot of favorable feedback about the lot (a little over 2 acres with trees). Here is a pic of the outside of the house:

We do realize the floor plan is not the large single room open plan that many like in newer houses (this house is 20 years old) but that is one reason why we reduced the price to where we reduced it.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 9:34PM
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You're not going to be able to do much about how the space is allocated. You'll just have to find the right buyer that wants a huge masterbath and large bedrooms and doesn't need a larger eat in kitchen or large dining room. Good luck! It is a beautiful home and I'm sure it will be perfect for someone !

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 11:25PM
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The bar area isn't doing you any favors. You have a pantry elsewhere so there's plenty of storage besides just the kitchen cabinets. Take out the bar and put the breakfast table there. It'll be perceived as a larger space, and will add that "eat in" area that the bar is supposed to provide but doesn't.

And drop your price.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 8:31AM
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Where are you? In our area(Missouri)your house would be 325-400k. Doesn't mean it isn't worth what you're asking in your area.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 11:35AM
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I don't know on the bar. When we bought the house the bar area wasn't there and the kitchen had very little usable preparation space. It seemed very odd and was actually a big negative to us. The one thing in the years we've been there that we've gotten a lot of positive feedback on was putting in the bar area. It is the most used area of the kitchen as the counterspace area of it is where all the food prep is done.

We did think about putting a breakfast table in the area when we bought the house but the usable space (to still allow entry into the kitchen) is only 5 feet by 4. We could cannibalize some of the inside of the kitchen to get a little more width (maybe a foot) but no more length without being unable to get in the kitchen. I don't really think there is room for a breakfast room table given that.

On the price, we recently (less than a month ago) lowered it about $25k to its current price putting it within a different search bracket. That isn't to say we wouldn't do it again.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 11:38AM
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Where are you? In our area(Missouri)your house would be 325-400k. Doesn't mean it isn't worth what you're asking in your area.

Really? This house sold for more than that 2 buyers ago which was about 7 years ago. We are in Texas, not in a "bubble" market.

7 years the house sold well above the range you mention. At that time it had less square footage (upstairs bedroom and bath had not been added), only had one garage. It was on a little over 2 acres with a pool.

Owners before us added the upstairs bedroom and bath and a playroom and built a roughly 700 square foot brick guest house and added a second double garage. We paid $530 for it (not that it has anything to do with market value but most houses in this particular area have stagnated in value the last couple of years but have not gone down in value).

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 12:56PM
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Is the kitchen floor tile as orange as it appears in the photos? That would be a turn off for me, and an expensive, messy change I wouldn't want to undertake.

The sense I get from the photos is that the room with the fireplace and the room with the piano both look awkward for furniture arranging. My thinking would be that if the current owner can't figure out a good furniture arrangement, I would have the same problem.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 1:01PM
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I agree with Orv1. Where I am, that would be the price range of that square footage with the described large lot.

If the home was on a much smaller lot, and without the guest quarters, it'd be much higher. Large lots are considered a drawback unless it's an area that is MUCH higher priced that are accustomed to never doing yardwork and always hiring it done. Keeping up a large home is labor intensive, and that translates into a full time housekeeper and gardener for that size combo. Which would work perfect with the guest house you have.

Maybe the problem isn't that your home is overpriced, but that it's underpriced and marketed to the wrong segment. If it's large enough to qualify as an "estate" rather than "family home" then you enter into an entirely different bracket and marketing effort. "Family homes" with acreage on the other hand don't generally sell well unless it's a dedicated equine type community or other type of similar planned community designed around utilizing that acreage for some type of recreational activity. (Natural wilderness area with hiking/biking trails, etc.)

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 1:25PM
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In my area houses over $500k are considered high end. The house is in an acreage community (1 to 5 acres). Most people either have horses or other amimals. The house is in a suburban but semi-rural area. It appeals to the person who likes to live near the big city but wants a more rural lifestyle. Most people do not have a full time housekeepers or gardeners but most people do have a landscape service who does the mowing, etc. (we do). The average person probably does have a cleaning service in each week.

Most of the properties have some sort of outbuilding, either a barn or a workshop or a guest house.

I've followed the market here for years (before we bought in the area) and the houses (including our house) are not at all in the $325,000 to $400,000 price range. That is not the price range of recent sales in this area. Houses smaller than mine (I am talking 3000 to 3500 range) without the pool or guest house or any outbuildings in this area would sell for around $450k to $500k.

To be clear I have never seen a house in this area sell in the $325k to $400k range. Even the smallest, least updated houses with no outbuildings or pool sell for considerably more.

The large lot is not a drawback in this area as it is the entire point of the subdivision. Most of the houses in this market area are on acreage, with at least half having a pool and most with one or more outbuildings. This area would not appeal to someone who wants a large house on a regular size subdivision lot. However, for those who do want that, the particular area I am in is considered very desirable due to location and the mature trees.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 1:54PM
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Houses are only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it. Unfortunately right now the ball is in the buyer's court.

We sold our house in July of this year for 15k more than we built it for 10 years ago. After paying commission we lost about 3 or 4k. Normally houses appreciate much more than this and if we had sold 4 years ago we would have seen 2 to 3 times more.

There are some real hard realities out there right now for sellers. Most of the people that have closed on a house in the past 18 months understand that.

Good luck with yours.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 2:01PM
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I think the stager had the right idea with the table there to make it sort of a breakfast area. What jumps out to me is that the "great" room concept isn't working with the current family arrangement with the sofa and table at an angle. Can it be placed so it faces the fireplace. Yes not optimal for TV viewing, but would make the table area seem more like a separate area with the back of the sofa separating the space.

I don't think there is much you can do about the space as is.

BTW is the 4500 sq ft including the guest house? Could be people expect to see a 4500 sq ft house and then see a smaller because the guest house is part of the listed sq ft. If it is then I'd put the house actual and add the guest house in the description.

BTW looking at new construction houses in Austin and Houston a couple of years ago we were suprised how small the great rooms were for a 3500 sq ft house. Seemed they just crammed lots of rooms in and the rooms that mattered to us such as the great room was small. Yours seem to fit that same mold so not that out of date. I do think the kitchen is on the smaller side in comparison though.

What is the actual size of the kitchen? The first pic you posted makes it look really large, and the one from the bar area makes it look much smaller. Could it be buyers see the first peek on the listing and then when they see it are disappointed?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 2:55PM
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Do you have a floor plan you can post - maybe from the broker's site?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 3:01PM
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Lyfia - The 4500 SF does not include the guest house.

In fact, I was so irritated the other day when I looked at a nearby listing with a guest house and it seemed the house was similar size to mine, however, when I really read the listing it became clear that they were adding the guest house sf to the house sqaure footage.

The kitchen is 16 x 14.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 3:40PM
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The furniture arrangements in most rooms are not showing the space to it's best.
The ceiling fans in almost every room tell me you have heating and cooling issues...........for selling purposes I'd ditch the unattractive ceiling fans and go with something with some that makes a statement.
Get rid of the rug floating in the center of the room where the piano is.It looks like Aladin just dropped in. Maybe move the piano to the room where the wicker is and move the TV and sofa into the room where the piano now is.
Dress up the kitchen some. You've gone too far with the less is more idea. You need a few things to tie those bar chairs in. Loose the curtains in the dining room and the hutch. It's way too big for that space. Stick a couple of tall potted plants in the corner by the windows and again change out the ceiling fan to a nice hanging lamp and maybe for some color put a nice high quality silk flower arrangement on the table.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 3:59PM
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carol - in TX a ceiling fan is a plus to have in every room and I'd never remove one. Got to remember regional differences. They allow you to keep the AC set a little higher and be comfortable in our long hot/humid 6+ month season.

That is a fairly good size kitchen. Do you think adding a free standing island might help. Most buyers seems to be about islands like they are about stainless and granite. Can't figure out why. Only do it if there will be more than 42" space around it though.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 4:46PM
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My guess is the ceiling fans are completely appropriate for the region. And they are nice looking ceiling fans - don't take them down. I'm not crazy about the dining room curtains because they are too short and don't appear to match anything else, but they are better than a bare window in that room. Not that it's going to make a difference in the sale, but maybe you could remove the hem and try to get them to end a half-inch from the floor.

If your neighbor can include the square footage of the guest house in her listing, then you might want to re-word yours so that people know right off the bat how much space they are getting at your house. Don't try to deceive people, but get the total amount in there somewhere so they don't have to do the math.

Your drive-up appeal is spectacular.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 4:50PM
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I'm not saying your house is worth that. What I'm saying is in my area similar properties can be bought in that price range. Values are undoubtedly higher in your region than ours.

Just like the ceiling fans are a regional thing. Personally I don't care for them but almost all new construction in our area have them in all rooms.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 5:48PM
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I live in the (cold) midwest, and I love ceiling fans. I would not take them to mean there was a problem with HVAC.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 6:10PM
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I know you said you had stagers arrange the furniture, but they have made the family room look as if a) there is no wall space at all for a TV (which would be a huge drawback to me) and b) there is only room for one sofa and no other furniture in the room. Which sort of defeats the entire purpose of a family room.

The living room also looks as if a) not much seating can be fit in and b) it's a cold, lonely space that no one uses very much.

The entire house, with nothing on the walls and mostly bare floors, looks as if no one really lives there and no one wants to.

Honestly, I think you've done the best you can with the breakfast bar to offset the fact that it's not an eat-in kitchen. I'd replace the table in the family room with a smaller round table that would be good for games or the odd snack, and put some furniture back in, so that it looks like a family room with a small table for eating or games, not a room where you've squeezed in a sofa and TV while allowing a lot of room for eating.

Right now, the only room that looks at all inviting is the sunroom. Neither the living room or the family room is going to give a potential buyer the feeling that there's a place to snuggle up with the kids and watch a DVD or there's a comfortable place to entertain other adults while the kids play video games in the family room.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 6:15PM
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I live in the south...ceiling fans are not only expected here but are well used. I personally dislike the look of ceiling fans in general, but you really need them in the south.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 6:15PM
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Carol -- I don't personally love ceiling fans but most houses here have them all over. It would be more odd not to have than to have. It does mean we have any problem with our AC.

Camlan - I did have stagers who are very familiar with the area (live near by) who staged the house. They are very familiar with what is typical for this area. We actually had in the family room the sofa that is there now plus the love seat that is in the living room. So there is plenty of room for both. That said if I take the love seat from the living room to put in the family room then the living room is bare. (We had office furniture in the living room which was functional for us but not appealing to look at).

I'm not sure what you mean by no space for a TV in the family room. We have a 52" TV there in what is the logical space for the TV.

There are a lot of other things I guess we could have done including buying new furniture to stage it. (We don't actually need two living areas. The formal living isn't used by us). There is just a point though where you've spent as much as you can spend. When all is said and done we spent about $30k getting the house ready to sell (repainted, recarpeted upstairs, refinished woods floors, new appliances in the kitchen, new granite vanity in master bath and powder room, etc). At this point we already will be writing a check at closing (which we are OK with) and just don't have the cash laying around to do a lot of additional work. The bottom line is that the main issue for people centers around the kitchen/breakfast room and there isn't much we can do about that other than price (which was a factor in why we lowered to where we lowered the price recently).

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 7:41PM
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What camlan means is that there is no appropriate, logical space for the TV in the living room. From a decorating standpoint, the TV positioned where it is looks awkward, and the position of the sofa looks awkward as well.

If you were to move the TV into the space where the piano is now, you could have the sofa face the fireplace and avoid the awkwardness. Then move the loveseat so that it directly faces the TV in the other room.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 9:47PM
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Graywings-- I don't think Camlan is talking about a TV in the living room. Camlan said

they have made the family room look as if a) there is no wall space at all for a TV

so I think that is talking about the family room. Maybe it doesn't come across well in the pic but the place where the TV is seems like the only real logical space for one. Prior owner had theirs there as well. TV fits in the space perfectly and can be seen from the entire room and from the kitchen.

We are not about to move the TV into the living room. It would seem strange to have a TV in a formal living room but not in the family room...

We did have a TV in the formal living room (when we had a desk in there). We had a sofa against the wall (where the piano is now) and the TV was against the fall between the window and the sunroom. It actually looked fine (stagers did suggest taking it out).

I guess people can debate the staging. In the end I probabl have to go with what they suggested since they are familiar with the area (and much better at that kind of thing than I am). They felt it looked better for the formal living room not to have a TV in it (although there is clearly an outlet there for those who do want a TV there).

That said, I don't think it is TV placement that is the issue with the house. No one has given any feedback on the living room (well nothing except positive feedback).

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 10:01PM
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Photos can be deceiving and in the end you need to go with what looks best in real life. We are just telling you what the photos appear to show.

I confused the names of the rooms. What I should have written was:

What camlan means is that there is no appropriate, logical space for the TV in the family room.

Right now, your formal living room doesn't look particularly formal from the photos except for having hardwood floors. And we are not trying to change the look of the living room, we are suggesting changes to what looks to be an odd arrangement of the family room by getting the TV out of there. But again, maybe in real life the TV doesn't look strange where it is. And then there is the question of where the piano would go if the TV were moved to its place.

Did the stagers recommend leaving the red rug in the living room? Generally they want hardwood floors to be exposed as much as possible.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 9:24AM
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I think the TV looks fine in the family room. Frankly it is at the logical place for people to have a TV particularly if you want to be able to look at the TV while doing food prep at the bar (which is where all the food prep is done). I would never move the TV out of the family room as I think that would look strange.

The rug in the living room is not mine. It belongs to the stagers.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 10:42AM
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This is what sometimes happens when people add on. The 'public areas' don't seem in line with the overall square footage in the house. You can't re-design the house. Would it work to market it as less square footage upfront and say it has X amount of 'bonus space'? (The attic additiion.)

It looks like you use one end of your family room for family dining, with the table at the kitchen end. If that's to be considered the family dining area, it needs to be more defined as such.

You *could* show the family room as only living space. You could remove the formal furniture from the too-small-to-be-formal DR and make that space into the family eating area. (YOU probably don't have to actually do this, but a buyer could separate the DR from the Foyer with a wall and French doors, or just doors, as you have between LR and Sunroom.) Right now, the DR looks like a display in a furniture store. Even a pair of tall pillars would help -- something stagers could provide.

That is a very grand Foyer and staircase. Unfortunately, the rest of the house's public rooms pale by comparison. There is also a disconnect between the formal (Tudor?)exterior and the modernistic inside of the house. (I like both styles, but not alltogetherinonehouse. LOL) The garages look like an afterthought -- nice space but no continuity. Again, that's not anything you can help, but I think it's what buyers see.

You have a BIG kitchen, but with a lot of empty space in its center -- need skates? (Maybe it's just the camera angle.) People are in love with islands. Is there room for one? Could even be something on wheels.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 1:16PM
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Chisue -- I had much the same thoughts about adding a wall for dining area, and I'd love to see the floor plan to see what's possible. A redesign is unlikely to help the current owner (but it couldn't hurt to show buyers a renovation path to make better use of the public area square footage). I'm curious about what is behind the dining room wall with the breakfront, and how one enters the house from the garage. It seems like more connection to the lovely grounds (or porch/sunroom/etc.)be a good idea too.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 2:54PM
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Chisue - We don't eat at the table at the end of the family room. That was put in there by the stagers.

In real life, we rarely have everyone eating at once. In truth the bar is used for eating all the time. It has proven to be fine for us.

When we do have more than 3 people eating at the same time (rare) we eat at the dining room table.

Kitchen really doesn't have room for adequate clearance if there was an island in there due to the need for walkways between hall, family room, and dining room.

When we first moved in we planned to take out part of the wall between the kitchen and the dining room (the upper part) since we don't really need a "formal" dining room. But never got around to it.

We basically mostly use the family room to watch TV and eat at the bar. Before we listed the house for sale we had a sofa against the wall in the formal living room (where the piano is now) and the TV was across the way. We had a large desk in front of the window. But all that was moved out since that room was very cluttered looking.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 3:45PM
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You say the stagers but a table in the family room so it would show as a breakfast area. Can you show a picture of that? How does it look? Does it crowd the room?

I almost think the family area is TOO empty. One sofa, a coffee table that seems too far from the sofa and a huge tv that is blocking a couple of windows (I think that's what people mean when they say it doesn't seem like a good spot for it). I know you don't have another spot of it, but it does kind of look like it's blocking the windows in the picture.

Can you add a rug maybe? An end table and a side chair?

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 4:27PM
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Happyladi -- You can see the 'family' table in the picture taken from the kitchen, looking over the bar into the family room. I can't imagine why the stagers set up the table with a formal look!

The more I think about this the more I think I'd try to make the interior more closely 'match' the exterior -- and the grand foyer/staircase.

It doesn't matter how your family uses the house. We want to make it appeal to someone who needs a large house and who is probably attracted by the exterior photo. You didn't say how many BR's and baths there are, but 4500 sq ft would indicate to me that this is a home for a large family.

Looking at the exterior, I would have expected to see an interior with heavier ceiling mouldings and window casings, and window treatments -- not minimal or *no* casings and *mini-blinds*. I love your kitchen bar pendant lights, but they and the ceiling fans everywhere in the house are very modernistic. I wouldn't expect to see *any* ceiling fan in a formal LR, much less a fan with down lights.

Maybe tastes are very different in your area. This house would be very hard to move in suburban Chicagoland and outlying areas. If I were to consider buying it I'd have to choose between modernizing the exterior or formal-izing the interior! LOL

Was this house built new like this or is it a remodel, remodel, remodel? Did it start out as a semi-Tudor style? I could believe it is a former ranch that got a 'facelift' in a clashing style. (Sorry, that won't help you sell it, but I am curious.)

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 6:18PM
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Chisue - Do you think we should remove the setting from the little table? I do think it makes it look formal and like it isn't really used. Maybe I should just put a small centerpiece on the table?

There are 5 bedrooms and 3 1/2 baths. Master downstairs, rest up. There is, of course, also a bedroom and bath in the guest house. In our case we used the large upstairs bedroom with its large bath for our au pair.

There are no mini-blinds in the downstairs. The blinds in the family room are regular size. (the kids rooms do have mini blinds). It isn't that strange to have a ceiling fan in a formal living room here. We are currently working on plans with builders to build our next house and they all have a ceiling fan in the formal living room.

I wasn't too worried about the TV blocking a window. The window next to the fireplace that it is front of looks onto the side porch of the house so there is no view. There is a nice view out he family room but that is not blocked by the TV....there are 6 windows on that side. Really there is ample viewing area out the windows.

Anyway this is what I know if house history.

Built as a custom home 20 years ago. I've seen the original plans and the kitchen had formica counters for example. Lots of built in cabinets. The master bath is huge - 24 x 12 with an entire wall of very tall built in cabinets. At the time built it was a 4 bedroom as the large bedroom and bath upstairs had not been built out (it is clear on the plans that it was always intended that it could be built out).

I think there were 2 owners after that owner.
Someone built out the attic and put in a full bath. In general we get positive feedback for that large bedroom with a sitting area.

I do know that the owners before us bought the house very quickly (was only listed a few days). They were originally from Germany living in California. They had a small home in California and were I think amazed at what could be bought for half the price in Texas. They did most of the remodeling. They put in the modern looking ceiling fans (what I thought of as a plus when we bought the house as I like a modern look). They painted the brown wood cabinets in the kitchen white, replaced the formica with granite. The original plans had a formica peninsula eating table (regular, not bar, height) which they removed. They had nothing in that space. They put in new ceramic tile in the kitchen and the hall and the hobby room/office (built in desks along the entire wall. They built the second garage and built the guest house (for their au pair).

Then they had to move back to California (and the wife was none too happy about it either) right after they did all this work.

We saw the house shortly after it went on the market. We bought the house largely because of the guest house (my mother is a frequent guest and there was a chance she might need to move in with us). We put the bar area in the kitchen which basically functioned on one said like an island and on the other for eating. We don't have a formal lifestyle and had 6 people in the house when we moved up (us, 3 kids and an au pair). The house was great for us but two kids in college now so don't need all the space. We put a granite top on the built in desk area in the office, put in granite in the master bath and the vanity and put in slate tile in the family room, master bedroom and master bath (prior owners had put in yellow carpet in those areas and I detest yellow).

Anyway, it is true we don't have formal style furnishings, decor. We are much more contemporary in style (hence the pendant lights that I put in...). Although pre-staging the house was anything but bare. We had roughly 20 bookcases and virtually every available wall space had a bookcase against it.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 7:03PM
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If you think the table settings look too formal maybe you should remove them. I can't really see the table, just the very corner of it so I can't really get a feel for how it looks in the room.

I think the floor plan is what it is and you just need the right family to come along.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 7:42PM
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I happen to like your floorplan, I just think the furniture placement isn't working to make your home look welcoming. Instead of an actual eating table in the family room could you get a game table? A game table isn't quite so formal as what you have in there now and gives the impression of gathering around to grab a snack as you play a game and watch TV.

We bought this set several homes ago when we didn't have an eat-in kitchen. It's one of the best investments we ever made.

Can you use the FP wall as your focus wall by placing the TV next to the FP? Then have the sofa face them both. Add a comfortable chair and recliner and an area rug and I think the room will "warm" up.

I like your kitchen and it's size. I don't care for the modern lighting or your modern bar stools.

I see no soft surfaces in your home. No patterned accessories or artwork or plants.

There's no reason your home isn't selling other than it looks cold. I'd get another "Stager"; this one doesn't seem to know what she's doing.

Your home would list in the high $600's in our area today. 4 years ago it would have been in the high $700's.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 9:15PM
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I have to echo a couple of the other comments...the family room is off. The placing of the couch and tv is a little bizarre. It also says to me subconsciously that the family room can only fit one couch, a coffee table, and TV. A typical family room would have at least a couch and a sofa, maybe a recliner, end tables, and a TV.

It's hard to say what is appropriate because no one lives in that neighborhood, we aren't familiar with your local real estate conditions. But that's just my take on the family room. It almost looks like a bachelor pad...like a bachelor could just afford a couch and a big screen tv.

BTW, your house is beautiful. I am absolutely IN LOVE with your entry way, sunroom, and formal living room. LOVE IT!

Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 11:50PM
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Can you use the FP wall as your focus wall by placing the TV next to the FP?

The TV is next to the FP. It is to the immediate right of the FP.

Here is a pic I took tonight:

Also here are a few more pics of the family room. Before staging the family room had an old (we got rid of it) ratty fullsize sofa that was directly facing the sofa (TV was where it is now). We also had a love seat that was to the left of the FP facing the 6 windows along the front of the house (that loveseat is the loveseat now in the formal living room). The sofa that is now in the family room was in the living room (where the piano is now). We also had a kids gaming chair (very low to the ground) and every video game system known to man. We had a short bookcase against the wall to the left of the fireplace and a tall bookcase where the 2 person table is now located.

I think the stagers philosophy in general is to show off the house and not the decor of the owners. They were negative to having a lot of decor items (we did have pictures and some silk floral arrangements but they removed all of them). We had a lot of books in bookcases all of which we removed as well.

Here are a few more pics to show the family room. The stagers had angled the sofa to face the TV. I did move it to face the FP. Of course I don't know if that emphasizes the fact that it doesn't face the FP. I could put the loveseat in the family room but then I have nothing for the living room.

This shows the bar height table the stagers put in as well as how I've rearranged the sofa. Is that better or worse?

Here is a closet of the table put in the family room. The stagers put it there to show that you could have a table in there.

Another photo showing how I've arranged the table and coffee table.

I don't have an area rug to put in there but could bring the one from the living room in there and put it under the coffee table.

To give an idea of some of the rest. Here is the office we actually work in.

This is the master bath:

This is another angle of the living room.

This is the master bedroom:


We did generally follow the suggestions of the stagers who are familiar with the area. I did think that they wanted things too bare (taking down all the pictures and almost all decorative items). But they felt we should emphasize the house rather than my decor. That said, we did a lot to get the house ready for sale and there is a point where you just can't spend much more. I could certainly hang up some of our pictures, for example, and could move around some furniture but can't really go out and buy new furniture. We don't have a formal lifestyle and never had a lot of expensive decor, it just didn't fit our lifestyle.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 12:24AM
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I would include in your handout to potential buyers a simplified floor plan showing a typical furniture arrangement for living, family, and dining room. That way, potential buyers can see how the rooms could function even though most of your furniture has been removed.

For staging, I would do the following: Since the dining room is the first room that you see, I would remove the tired-looking draperies. To widen the room, I would relocate the china cabinet to the living room, and rotate the dining table, placing two chairs on each side of table. I'd leave the living room empty except for the china cabinet on wall opposite window. Your sun room is fine as-is.

For the family room, I'll throw out a suggestion, which may be wacko, frankly. But it might work. And it is work, so measure first! I assume that the large armoire in your living room is not a corner piece, and is large enough to hold your TV (or a dummy TV). Place the armoire in the family room, in the center of the opening to the hallway. The armoire will act as a wall, and since the slate tile floor jogs out at that point, I think the armoire will appear to be in a quasi-alcove. Place sofa in front of window facing armoire, with coffee table in front. Place round table (about 42-in. diameter), with four chairs at the breakfast bar end of room.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 9:15AM
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B-t-w, I like your sofa placement facing fireplace much better than angled toward TV. I like the breakfast table pulled away from wall as stagers did, rather than flush against the wall. The stagers seemed to angle quite a bit of furniture. In general, that should be avoided as it implies there is no more conventional way to arrange the furniture.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 9:42AM
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I like the sofa straight there much better and it now looks like the room is bigger and has room for more furniture. I would put the love seat back in along with the rug and make it seem like a cozy space where the family can gather and hang out together.

I would remove the setting for that "breakfast" table, maybe leave a news paper folded there to imply somebody sat and had coffee and read it, if you want it to seem breakfast like.

I think the goal of staging is to show off the space to its best advantage and de-personalize it and make people feel like they could live there and help show use of the space. I think your current stagers failed some with that in the family room. Since most people spend most their time in the kitchen and family rooms that is where I'd put more focus.

The living room has some good architectural details and if sparse or empty I don't think it is a big deal because the wood floors, moldings, and its shape can stand on its own and I think people can like that room even without furniture as I do even with the awkward placement there now. Also the sun room focus at the end helps the room even if it was empty.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 10:17AM
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Thanks for the extra pictures. The area with the sofa and the staged table does look very tight. Is there room to pull the sofa towards the tv and move the table out from the wall?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 10:28AM
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Thanks for the additional photos. Now I'm all for making the DR into a family eating area. There's just not room in the FR for a big enough table and chairs, and that teeny bar-height table only emphasizes the point.

Let's try showing off the full size of the FR and put an upscale round table with six chairs in the present DR. Put down placemats and plates and give it a big bowl of fruit or other 'homey' centerpiece. It can look like 'family' but it could also be viewed as 'the DR'. I don't like the drapes either. Do they cover some of the window?

The house does look 'bare'. I like the idea of having a handout that includes a floorplan with furniture in place. Right now, the house might as well be empty -- it's that bare. I understand that the stager wanted to show off the space by eliminating all your bookcases, but now it looks as though you are 'camping out' there. (You must feel *naked* without your books!)

Thanks, too, for the 'history'. The German couple emphasized and added to the hard-surfaces modernistic look of the house. Now all we have to do is find another family just like THEM! A specialized marketing effort? "You will love the clean lines and sleek look of this spacious, easy-care home."

Have courage! You'll soon have a new home to enjoy.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 11:10AM
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The OP is not prepared to buy furniture to stage this house. To me the dining room looks normal and I can't see any major improvement coming from a round table or from removing the china cabinet.

gwbr54 - I don't see an armoire in the living room.

Kats meow - do not add back decorations. Bare is almost always better.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 1:36PM
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I LOVE the new arrangement in the family room. It is much better. It makes all the difference.

And you have a very beautiful house - the rest of your pictures really help to show us where the sq. footage in your house is and it's such a nice, updated home. I'm sure once the right buyer comes along they'll bite.

Family room is much better. Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 1:56PM
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Graywings is correct. We are extremely reluctant to spend more money to stage the house. We already spent about $30k getting the house ready to sell and will probably be bringing a very large check to closing. We just can't spend more money unless there is a clear benefit in doing it that will either cause us to get more money for the house or make it likely that it will sell faster.

I am willing to do some rearranging (for example with the sofa in the family room) since that doesn't cost money. I might spend some small amount of money if it is necessary.

As far as the dining room table/china cabinet is concerned that is an interesting question. The house we are building will be much smaller (about half the size) and will have no formal dining room. We will not be keeping the dining room or the china cabinet. So removing it now is sort of OK. That said, I am reluctant to buy breakfast room furniture when I don't know yet the exact size or shape of my future breakfast room and I won't need that furniture was probably at least a year to 18 months.

I am a bit torn by the thought anyway. Personally I would be fine setting it up as a more informal breakfast room. But then I might get complaints of no formal dining room... The bottom line is that there is only one large eating area in this house.

For the family room, I have a few options:

1. Keep the original staging. Sofa angled and bar table against wall (see original pics).

2. Keep sofa in new location (recent pic) and keep bar table against wall.

3. Move sofa closer to fireplace and move bar table from wall.

4. Keep sofa in new location and take out bar table.

5. Move sofa to face the wall of windows (ie put sofa at 45 degree angle to where it is now) and then move bar table out from wall.

6. Keep sofa in current location, move in loveseat from living room to be at 45 degree angle and facing windows. This would certainly mean taking out the bar table. That would leave the living room with the piano, the armoire and one arm chair and the small end table.


About the armoire - it can't be seen in the listing pic. it is in the photos I posted last night. It is at an angle in the corner. Moving it is very difficult (requires professional movers as it is huge and heavy). Our TV could not fit in it. The TV is a 52". Also the armoire is actually a computer desk so really not ideal for a TV.

Graywings -- On the bare is always better. That is what the stagers thought. On the other hand I do have people here saying the house looks cold and too bare. So, hard to know what to do some time.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 2:03PM
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I really love your home, the rooms and the floor plan. I think it's beautiful and would be perfect for us.

Just a thought here....Hope it doesn't sound too crazy.

What if you moved the DR furniture into the LR? And moved the piano into the family room?
And moved the sofa and chair into the current DR? It could become a casual reading nook.

Family room:
Move the TV to the other side of the FP. Angle the sofa to face the TV so from the kitchen you're not seeing the back of the sofa. Place the piano against the wall where the table is now. Move the table to the general area the TV is now. Kinda like this.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 4:47PM
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I don't think moving the TV to the other side of the FP works. The small issue is the TV outlet is on the other side of the FP. We could change that of course.

The bigger problem is that right now someone working at the bar counter top side in the kitchen (where we actually do all prep work) can see the TV. Also people eating at the bar can it at a slight angle and see the TV. Due to where the wall between the kitchen and family room is located if the TV was left of the FP it could not be seen by anyone in the kitchen or anyone at the bar. My family would mutiny.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 5:15PM
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Mine would, too. Didn't think of those things.

I was under the impression you were not living in the home right now. Are you?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 5:25PM
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Still living in the house with kids. Getting them to keep it looking nice is always a struggle. And if they had to give up watching TV while eating or working in the kitchen...well that wouldn't be a pretty sight.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 6:00PM
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This is an interesting house, and it does have a unique floor plan. I also don't like the dining room set up basically right in the foyer. If you are thinking of getting rid of it anyway, I would suggest putting bookcases up in there and a couple of easy chairs, like a library. It can always still be designated as a dining room in the brochures.

I would take out the bar table in the FR and move the love seat in there. The living room would actually show just fine empty, with the fine windows and detailing.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 1:00PM
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"This is an interesting house, and it does have a unique floor plan. I also don't like the dining room set up basically right in the foyer. If you are thinking of getting rid of it anyway, I would suggest putting bookcases up in there and a couple of easy chairs, like a library. It can always still be designated as a dining room in the brochures. "

I think this would be a mistake. You can't have a 4500 sq foot house with no space to eat other then the bar in the kitchen.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 1:20PM
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Kats Meow Writes:
"Since dropping the price we have had 3 showings with almost identical feedback. The house and lot are nice but buyer doesn't care for floor plan. There is nothing specific on why."

This is funny... everyone has spent about 60 posts worth, trying to figure out what in particular that the buyers are having trouble with the floor plan. While all this time, all your agent has to do is pick up the phone and call the showing agents and ask for details as to what the Buyers did not care for. (believe me, they commented on whatever it is) Then, and only then can you take action. Until then we are all guessing. Call your agent today, and demand that she call each agent back and get this powerful piece of information that has been missing since day one. In your other threads, you mentioned that before the price reduction there were other buyers that said the same thing. Your agent should have been asking for details after the first time. If you do not find out what the objection here is, the only way to fix it is by reducing the price. And I have a gut feeling that you are now priced pretty close to where you need to be.
IMO, you do need to warm up the kitchen and family room. The slate, tile and granite all add up to a cold, hard feeling. An area rug, large planter, (etc) would do wonders. And it may not be in your budget, but those windows in the family room are cold as heck too. They would really add a WOW factor if they were draped.
But before worrying about that, have your agent call the other side and ASK THE BUYERS, before asking us. They are the ones with the answers!!!
Your home is lovely... I love the slate floors. I love how you keep us updated.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 5:14PM
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I agree with what ncrealestateguy has said. In addition, I think there have been a lot of well thought out suggestions...many that seem better than those of the stagers.

That said, your home may be priced correctly in terms of its size, location and property. However, it has a very taste specific layout that clearly does not appeal to many people. As such, it is not easy to furnish and decorate in a way that would maximize the common space effectively.

In addition, kitchens sell homes, and in a house of that size, the kitchen does not meet the expectation. Our home is half that, and our kitchen is 14 x 21.

That said, the bottom line is that the home has two main unchangeable issues that will not appeal to most buyers who are looking for a 4500 SF home. That does not mean it will never sell...it just means that it will probably take a very long time.

Therefore, IMO, the only way to garner more interest will be to cut the price to a point where it offsets the two unchangeable drawbacks.

In addition, although I can understand not wanting to put more money into the home simply to sell it, it could present much better and would be far more inviting with some window treatments and decorative accessories that you can take with you when you move. You don't have to spend a lot...as there are many great choices at Target and such for a very reasonable cost.

This is where your stagers dropped the ball...as with your home, one does not want the buyer to focus on the layout...and right now that it ALL there is to focus upon.

Last but not least, while I do understand the family mutiny thing, in this market, sometimes you just can't sell a home the way you live in the home.


With the nationwide love affair with huge TV's, that is not something that you want to smack people upside the head with when they walk in the door....that said, IMO, it really is worth rethinking.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 10:38PM
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imho, Any room with a fireplace screams "There is no place to put me in here". The fireplace is meant to be the focal point but then we try to jam TV's in them. Just doesn't work.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 12:49AM
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I do agree with many comments but commenting on a few.

The agent has been asking about the floor plan feedback. In some instances it has been specific about floor plan (kitchen/breakfast room usually) the last couple when asked gave vague responses -- buyer couldn't see herself in the house for example. I have asked the agent to check with two others that were non-specific.

For all the focus in this thread on the family room and living room that hasn't been the focus of any comments. No one has said anything negative about the living room. One family (on the third visit -- first with wife) said kitchen/den too small - that was the only family room comment.

I would spend some amount of money (not a huge amount) if I felt I had consistent feedback on something. But even in this thread some say I should put more decorative stuff out (I could do that from existing items that I removed) while others say to live it more bare. I've had several different suggestions on the dining room with no overall consensus so I'm inclined to leave it as is.

On the family room, I am thinking about either making the bar table in there less formal looking and moving out a bit from the wall or removing it all together.

About the TV. I guess this is just something that doesn't come through in the photos but the TV doesn't look strange where it is. In fact to put it somewhere else would look strange in my opinion as it is located in the most obvious place.

On the windows in the family room. The last owner had brown bamboo woven shades in the room. The stagers suggested removing them (I agreed) and selected the white blinds that are in there. So having just bought them at the suggestion of stagers who live nearby and are familiar with the area and have a good reputation I am reluctant to remove them or add drapes (which they didn't recommend).

On the house taking a long time to sell -- I know that the last two times it sold it didn't take a long time to sell. Of course, I realize that was then and this is now. When we bought in this area we were told that houses generally take over a year to sell -- this was during good times.

That said, I do want to sell faster. I am open to making some changes ... it is just that it is unclear exactly what to do. On the two recent feedbacks that didn't specify exactly what it was about the floor plan I have asked for more information so I'll go from there once I get that.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 1:10AM
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I don't know if this would help you, but...in a former home our largest TV was in our FR. The room was a rectangle. The TV was built into a bookcase at one 'short end' of the room. I put a low-backed "L" sofa along the exterior long wall and across the far 'short' wall. I put a pair of 18" deep sofa tables, end to end, behind the portion of the sofa facing the TV. I added three low-backed leather director-style chairs. DH and DS often ate there while watching sports on TV.

This would give you seating, near your kitchen, without changing the main function of the FR. You could make the "L" with your sofa and loveseat, a floor lamp, and the table + chairs. (I'd remove the throw from your sofa for photos.)

I agree about re-furnishing the FR (including a rug) and leaving the LR open.

Has any of your 'competition' sold? What features did those homes have that yours lacks?

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 10:58AM
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I personally wouldn't put too much stock in vague inferences as to why a buyer wasn't interested.

When we recently bought we personally looked at around 50 houses and culled various others from internet descriptions.

There are any number of reasons why we would prefer one house over another. Sometimes when you walk in a place you automatically rule it out. You just know it's not right. We didn't always tell our agent exactly why one wasn't right. And in their defense as we were looking in a rural lake area we would schedule 7-10 showings a day. Unless they took notes I could see how the reasons or discussion on each property might run together.

In your house I would have issues and would have ruled it out due to the combination of white and wood trim. No one else mentioned this but it's a pet peeve of mine. I've seen it enough to realize it's fairly common. Just not a style we would want. It's also something many people would never really notice or think about. When we were looking there were various houses that I would mention it had "cheap" Masonite interior doors. After about the third place I mentioned that our agent had to sheepishly ask what a Masonite door was as she didn't understand my objection. Sometimes it's the little things.

Eventually a buyer looking for the same things you were when you bought will come along and overlook the cons. Unfortunately in the current market they know they can buy for much less than you could 3 to 5 years ago. As I've stated before that's a hard reality for today's sellers. We actually lost money by not pricing right when we first listed. Perhaps you're in the same boat. Do you think that if you had been priced at your current price when first listed that you might have had a buyer earlier? I know we would have as there were various interested parties that our house kept being in the top 2 or 3 for them but invariably they bought the others for 10 to 15k less.

I wouldn't stress too much over every little bit of advice you're getting here. Since you paid stagers I would trust they know what they're doing and that they understand your local market. Just like the ceiling fans many concepts are regional.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 11:11AM
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Chisue -

Has any of your 'competition' sold? What features did those homes have that yours lacks?

Truthfully, no real sales. In the area where we are there have not been a lot of sales since we went on the market in April. There were two houses that closed in May-June that are a few miles away but not otherwise very comparable. They were smaller, few bedrooms, more land and were in a very different (lower price bracket). One is older than our house, the other newer. The newer one was listed almost 18 months before selling, the older one sold in 2 months. They were listed and sold in the low $400s. Another house was listed in the $470s and recently closed (it is several miles away), not sure for how much. It was much smaller, on less land, had a pool but no guest house and really has not much in common with our house. It was listed about 7 months before selling.

Orv1 - I suspect you are right in what you are saying.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 3:00PM
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I have not seen any of the decorations that you have packed away so this obviously is not a comment about them. There is a difference between decorations for staging and the typical decorations someone has in their house. If stagers suggested removing your stuff, I would keep it packed away.

One final comment on the TV. It may be in the best practical place to view it, but that may not be the best place to stage it to sell the house. But honestly, it sounds like the kitchen and eating area are what are troubling your buyers.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 6:13PM
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The agent talked to a couple of the agents for people who didn't like floor plan. One of them couldn't recall specifics. The other said the master bedroom was too small. Neither mentioned anything about kitchen/breakfast room/family room, etc.

We did talk about the fact that feedback from a couple of people was kitchen/breakfast area related but they had large families and said that the large secondary bedrooms were more important to them (these people are still on market and we are still on the short list).

We did talk about putting the loveseat in the family room to make it clear that the room does have room to have seating for several people since the house is most likely to appeal to people who like the larger secondary bedrooms and like the guest house. She agrees that the bar table in the family room doesn't get us much mileage. It only seats two so doesn't really serve as much of a second eating are.

FWIW, she also feels that we should not move the TV in the family room. That it would look strange anywhere else.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 8:46PM
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If this is the same agent with whom you originally listed the house at 600K,and if she did not advise you at that time that the price was too high, you may want to take her suggestions/opinions with a grain of salt, as your home is still on the market, and she still has very little info to share in terms of why none of the potential buyers have made an offer.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 10:01PM
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Don't you have some furniture in the guest house? Why not move the love seat back into the family room and remove the small table. Then you can use some of the furniture from the guest house in the living room.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 11:05PM
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Yes, it is the same agent. The agent has had a lot of info to share on various buyers although on some the buyer agent just hasn't provided a lot of feedback. I do think she was wrong on the original listing price. That said, it isn't an easy house to value and it wasn't out of line with the comps at the time.

She does keep a good eye on the houses that are most comparable to this one and comments that my house is getting many more showings than most of them. She says that many of them are getting hardly any showings at all.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 12:33AM
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Thanks for the update. It seems that part of your problem is just the market. Homes coparable to yours aren't moving. Have you been able to visit any open houses to see your 'competition'?

Your kids aren't going to like this idea, but... your FR would look larger with a smaller screen TV.

If you are still on some buyers' 'short lists', what do you suppose they are waiting for? Yes, that's it: a price cut. (sigh)

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 12:16PM
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If you are still on some buyers' 'short lists', what do you suppose they are waiting for? Yes, that's it: a price cut. (sigh)

Nope. On one list, we've cut our price twice since the house was first seen. That buyer has to, however, sell their house first and it hasn't sold yet.

On the other list, they are still on market but stopped looking for a few weeks while school was getting started again. Supposedly they are going to come back for a second visit "soon"....

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 6:15PM
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That is encouraging. Sorry the second buyer isn't worried they could lose out -- that someone else will snap it up. Hmm...how to put the pressure on...

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 1:12PM
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