Frustrated w/Real Estate Agent

wantoretire_didAugust 1, 2010

I don't want to post this on the Buying/Selling forum, so here goes. Our Cape Cod house (1400 sq. ft.) has been on the market for nearly 2 years - listed 3 days before the crash. We've had few showings, mediocre attendance at open houses, and not one offer. Unfortunately, we have become (not close) friends with our agent.

So now we are at the tourist season in our area (horserace track) as well as a huge nano tech campus being built nearby, and had an open house today (Sunday 11-1). A man came in just as we were leaving, right at 11. We killed 2 hours then came home a little after 1:00. No note from realtor, and it's after 7:00 and no phone call as to how it went. I just left a message saying that we had expected to hear SOMETHING back by now. She wants to hold open house on the one day a week that the track is closed, which means hiding all of the below yet again and going through the routine.

We had lawn guy and cleaning fairy in on Friday at no small expense, and hid all meds, personal papers,and jewelry today. We did our part. Is it too much to ask for at least a phone call follow-up?

We are about ready to list with another broker. Have thought about it for quite awhile, but she is making an effort - publicizing in newspaper, online, etc. She is not aggressive; has not received any feedback to speak of; just comments that are stated on the online ads and printouts in the brochure handouts by the sign on the lawn ("Its on a slab", "rooms are small").

Since we have not had even a lame offer, we are wondering why. Price is within the range.

I think I know what we need to do........

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Update - She just called and we agreed to go with a more agressive agency. We will pursue that tomorrow.....

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 8:41PM
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You may want to post in the buying/selling forum...they have valuable advice.

When you meet with your new realtor agency, make double sure the price is right on your home. I just bought a house last year and am still friends with my realtor. The number one reason houses aren't selling is due to price. The houses that are priced right are still selling.

I always recommend to people that they ask their realtor to be brutally honest with them on pricing. In exchange, I would tell the realtor that you will not get defensive about the price. That is their fear, is that you will run them out of town. In the end of course it is your decision to price it as you see fit, but the realtor should have valuable advice on pricing.

Do watch out - sometimes agents will give you a higher selling price than is justified because they want to pick you up as a client. Make sure they do their homework to justify the price.

Also, maybe your new realtor can help you determine why you aren't getting any offers, assuming it isn't the price. Once again, I would let your realtor know that you would prefer him/her to be brutally honest as to why it was not sold.

Honesty and directness are important in the realty relationship.

I did note that the only feedback you're getting on showings is stuff like "small rooms", or "It's on a slab". This *could* indicate that a buyer does not believe the price is right for the home they are seeing(small rooms and a slab instead of a basement). Even a little feedback is valuable and telling.

Good luck, it's tough out there but you can do it!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 1:53AM
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Wanttoretire, I'd say for one thing the info your previous realtor included, "on a slab, small rooms," is a very NEGATIVE way to present the house and it forms a first impression that cannot be offset later. It might be more productive to say "cozy interior" and maybe not mention the slab construction up front. It will be apparent when they come to look.

I had a realtor to sell my mothers house, and I chose her because she was a female running her own business, and I wanted to be supportive. She had the exclusive listing for six months, and never called me, nor did she have many folks interested--even though the house was across the street from a middle school and near shopping, on the bus line too. Well, when her contract was ending, she called me and wanted to renew it. I said NO, and did not bother to explain why. The new realtor worked for a large firm, she evaluated the selling price, we reduced it, and three weeks later the house sold to a single mother with a teen who will go to the middle school across the street. Good match.

It does not have to be an adversarial situation, but business is business. Be clinical. Do what you muust in order to get on with your life.

I watch Sabrina Soto on HGTV, GET IT SOLD. If you have a chance to watch that show, I recommend it. I'm not selling THIS house, but we will be selling DH's house in MA next year, and this show helps me look at it objectively. Take your personal identity OUT of the house. When it goes on the market, it is no longer YOUR HOME. It is an object for sale.

Think of the positives:
Good Location?
Quiet and settled neighborhood?
Close to transportation?
City sewage, water, gas?
Shopping nearby?
What kind of schools close by?
Are they GOOD schools?
Is there a garage and storage and gardening space?
Low maintenance?
Attic storage or possible expansion upward?
You get the idea.

I think you did not get offers because of the disinterested attitude of your realtor. If the best she could do was "small rooms" and "on a slab" that does not say much for her approach to selling.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 11:51AM
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ML's advice about HGTV Get It Sold is useful. Those HGTV shows are very informative.

But a good realtor can help you do a lot of those things too, like making the house appealing to most people. Now if you're not having any people show up then you might have to rethink your price, which krycek said too.

good luck.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 12:06PM
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You most definately need a better real estate agent. The way the agent presented your home is awful! A home should always be presented in a positive manner, and it sure sounds like your person has not done that. Most of a home sale is emotional. The first impression is the most important and ususally the buyer makes up their mind the minute they walk in. It is up to the person selling it to confirm that is what they should buy. Unless there is a glaring issue with the home that should be disclosed, anything else is usually small stuff that can be delt with.

Keep in mind that the way times are, you won't be able to price your home the way you'd really like. The reality is that the price has to be appealing, and you will need to have a nicer home for the price than anyone else. Fresh paint, cleaning out clutter, and a neat looking yard with no weeds go a long way.

My husband and I faced the reality of pricing our home below what it was actually worth, but it sold in less than a year. It was in a specialized type of subdivision, so no small feat. It was basically the nicest and best maintained home for the price, and it was not overly large. Smaller homes seem to be selling better. Since we wanted out of there and had land we wanted to buy, the sting didn't hurt so bad. Life isn't always fair.

The hardest part is emotionally letting go of the home and removing your personal feelings from it. I had to really work at training myself at looking at it as an object to sell, and not my home.

Remove highly personal items and decorating. Just keep enough personality in the home so it doesn't look stark.


    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 2:24PM
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Your agent sounds way too much like the one I had~~he only brought in ONE client! I will tell you i've been hearing on HGTV that 'a home sells in the first 30 seconds'~~now that's a quick decision! Seems people like to look at a 'well-dressed' house, even though the 'dress' does not belong to them. When I sold my condo 3 years ago in a horrific market in CA, I had 7 offers, all based on 'visual presentation, and unfortunately, only 2 above asking price.' Even though people might not be able to replicate the decorating you've done, they like buying a home that's nicely decorated, as well as freshly painted. The only things I did change were the light fixtures because I didn't think anyone would appreciate my crystal chandeliers, and I could use them in bedrooms/bathrooms of my new house. I bought new-in-box fixtures at my local Habitat for Humanity for $10 each. Remove all clutter from countertops/tables/closets, too, as well as pictures of the family, and family mementos. Keep drapes/blinds open too~people like to see lots of light. Good luck! ;o)

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 3:08PM
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I'm confused - I thought the OP stated that the realtor said that the feedback they were getting on the house was "small rooms, on a slab", not that it was LISTED as such. If it was listed like that, shoulda gotten a new realtor long time ago!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 3:40PM
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Thank you for all of your suggestions, most of which we have already done, including putting books, yarn and some small furniture in a storage unit for last summer. $$ not well spent.

The "small rooms" and "on a slab" comments were lame feedback from prospective buyers. The square footage (1359) and the fact that there is no basement (slab) is part of the listing info, as well as low taxes, type of heat, etc. This is all online. Were I looking at a house, I would certainly want to know this information beforehand. My point being that if they don't want a house with low square footage on a slab, why waste everyone's time......The price is pretty much in the ballpark, giving us a little wiggle room.

We are meeting with prospective realtors this week.

I didn't post on the buying/selling forum because you are all familiar with smaller homes and I much prefer the friendlier atmoshphere here :-)

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 5:19AM
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Wantto, I was mistaken, I thought the first realtor had written those comments about slab and no basement.

In my world of south AL, basements are not a plus, and I think I'd consider them a problem because of our high water table. Mostly concerned with good drainage.

Would it be necessary to list all the things the house DOES NOT HAVE? Or easier to list all the things the house DOES HAVE? I'd opt for the second approach. List these things:
1. 1359 square feet heated space.
2. Heating system........
3. One story....and style of construction...ranch, whatever.
4. Roof material....asphalt shingles, standing seam metal
and maybe the YEAR IT WAS INSTALLED if it was replaced recently
5. Year of construction for the house.
6. Year an addition built on..
7. Number of bedrooms...number of bathrooms...and sizes
8. Jetted tub or type of tub soaker tub
9. Kitchen size, eat in or not, breakfast space if there is one, and a separate dining room.

  1. If there are French doors to a patio or deck, mention that there is outdoor living space
  2. Is there a single or double garage or a cemented carport which doubles as a party patio and what paving for the driveway?
  3. Is the house on a corner lot? Is it landscaped with mature plants?
  4. Do you have a separate living/great/dining space?
  5. Any cathedral ceilings or are the ceilings over 8 feet?
    Only mention ceiling height if they are above 8 feet.
  6. Does the house have crown molding, hardwood floors, plaster or drywall, separate tub and shower,
  7. Is there an ensuite master with a walkin closet?
  8. What energy efficient features like replaced windows for double glazed or low-e, kind of insulation etc.
  9. Oh yeah, and do you have granite or stone countertops, or stainless appliances, which are Energy Star certified?
  10. Put all your appliance manuals and warranties for EVERYTHING into one book.
  11. If you have flood insurance and termite bond and homeowners coverage, have that in a book too.
  12. Is there a fenced back yard?
  13. What kind of schools are nearby....and the general age of the neighbors

In short, I'd leave off mention of WHAT YOU DO NOT HAVE. If someone wants the basement, then they'll realize it is not there, but they will have to read all the PLUSES and your house will make an impression by what it does have FIRST.
If you have extra storage places, maybe it would be OKAY that there is no basement. Whatever you do, DO NOT HELP THE POTENTIAL BUYER TO ELIMINATE YOUR HOUSE FROM HIS CONSIDERATION.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 6:08PM
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ML - I'll keep this brief for now. We are in an area of MANY springs. I know the advantages of having a basement, but we also have a very high water table (springs) and have read horror stories of locals who have had flooded/wet basements. Seems like it is a tossup.

We do have a showing tomorrow from a year ago looker who just sold her property. Fingers crossed!!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 6:20PM
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wanto, I just got back from the midwest where dd bought her house with basement. Even though most people up there have them, I don't see the appeal. No one here has basements, and even dd said that every one she looked at had some kind of water problem. If I moved to an area like that, I'd be looking for a house on slab.

The right buyer is out there, even if it's a displaced Southerner who wants nothing to do with a musty basement.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 1:02AM
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WE had a house on a slab and it was just fine. I know there are issues like JudithinVA is having not being to easily move her washer but it can be done and plumbing and all repaired. the house we had on a slab was a great house.

I know it is so hard to be in a house just waiting. Since we have sold so many houses even when we were not on the market I felt the need to get up and sweep mop vacuum and dust scrub the toilets daily. Was such a drain on my brain and energy.I could not stop doing it. NOT THE CASE NOW!!! And maybe that is not a good thing. LOL I do vacuum almost daily with all the critters in the house. but the rest I get to it when I can.

I sure do hope a new Realtor will help get it sold. Also I heard if it has a new listing it does not look like it has something wrong with because it has not sold sooner. I remember the pictures of your house and it is darling.


    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 1:22AM
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Slabs have significant drawbacks in areas with a lot of freeze/thaw cycles, especially when clay is involved. I would never, ever purchase a house on a slab, at least here in Ohio. I am equally fascinated that most people in the South DONT have a basement! lol!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 1:30AM
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krycek, I have always heard it is because our soil isn't right for basements, but I suspect it also has something to do with the water table. Most, if not all, new houses are built on slab. A pier & beam house is a rarity, although that is because of cost - and termites. It is becoming common for houses to have a storm shelter though and those are a lot like cellars except not totally underground. I wouldn't have one of those either I don't think. The few cement cellars I've been in were buggy and moldy. I'll take my chances with a tornado.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 2:02AM
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The main reason for basements in my area is freeze heave. Slab built houses would be out of whack in no time. The basement also provides insulation saving on heating costs. A house built right on a cold slab is going to be losing heat and occupants experience cold floors in the winter. Basements provide an even insulating temperature year round being cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter with very little fluctuation in temperature.

Having the extra storage space a basement provides comes in handy too. Keeping the water heater, furnace, washer/dryer, ect all off the first floor is preferable for many people, but of course many wish for laundry rooms to be on the first floor nowdays.

Basements are often referred to as 'the storm celler' in the tornado corridor where I live, which is a throwback term from the old prarie pioneering days when sod cabin and log cabin occupants needed protection from the many tornadoes that come through during the year. Sometimes they are referred to as 'the root cellar' another archaic term from days when late fall harvest items were stashed for long term storage for the upcoming winter in rooms under a house before refigerators were invented.

Barns never needed a basement because there is no floor to twist with freeze heave. Yeah, city folk do ask about what is kept in the "barn basement". LOL. Some old barns do have a milk elevator that with springs that lowers milk cans down to where the temperature is cooler underground extending the shelf life of milk waiting to be sold, but now days there are refrigerators to chill milk and they are never built anymore.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 2:28PM
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The reason there aren't basements here in Florida is because they would always be very wet. We are too close to the water table. Slab foundations are fairly common. We are going with a concrete pier foundation since we are having a real porch, and the piers allow for air circulation. It was how the original settlers built their homes here, only they didn't have the benefit of concrete. many are still being lived in though with brick piers from that era. I'm in north Florida. South Florida is a different game altogether.


    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 4:47PM
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Hum that is odd about what you say slab built houses shift. We never had that problem at all. No cracks in the walls. BUT maybe it is because they build a footing and stem wall then put what I will call expansion joint and then pour the slab. So the slab is not connected to the walls. The house keeps the ground under the slab warm or from freezing. And believe me we do get some cold weather here. Many winter nights of 20 below zero and even 25 below now and then and often 10 below as a norm.

We lived in that house for 4 1/2 years and it was warm and comfortable. Kitchen , laundry and bathroom floors were vinyl and they were not cold on your feet. No heat in the slab like the newer bathrooms have under tile.

I would ask my husband more about it, why we did not have heaving troubles, but he is asleep right now. I will later and if there is more to add I will do so.


    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 6:05PM
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OMG - Guess what?? Received an offer well within our "wiggle room" and accepted. A month to closing. Gotta get the girlfriend packing brigade recruited!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 8:10PM
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Want to, Congrats!
Coming back after a year because they sold their own house was a very good sign and I was hopeful for you. What a relief that must be for you.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 9:34PM
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wantoretire, that's FABULOUS!!! You must be so excited, that's really wonderful for you, now you won't have to think about it and can move on! Congratulations!!!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 1:15PM
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Congrats on the offer! :)

For anyone else selling their house, my mom had a similar bad experience trying to sell her home. The realtor kept listing it as a ranch was 3 bedroom/1 bath/no basement.

We switched realtors and I asked the new realtor to list it as a cottage (the other realtor had refused). When people see ranch, they usually think there's going to be a basement. When they see cottage, they're surprised that there's three bedrooms, rather than two.

Having a better realtor, who listened and knew how to market the house made all the difference. My mom sold the house within a few weeks, in fact, she had three bids on the same day! LOL

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 2:52PM
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OH BOY now we all get to decorate another house. hehehe

Congratulations. I did not remember. Are you moving very far to your new home?


    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 10:30PM
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Thanks all - we are excited! We are buying a DW in a 55+ park just 4 miles from here and close to all shopping :-) It has a sunny eat-in kitchen, large living room, dining room, 2 bedrooms, 2 baths - one is a reasonable size and the master bath is huge. Master bedroom is roomy and the second bedroom is so large we will probably divide it so we can each have our own space - he dabbles in painting and I have an obscene amount of yarn (I packed a lot of it yesterday) for crochet, laundry room and a shed with electricity. The kitchen has black appliances w/a bottom freezer refrigerator. I have almond appliances now and will be glad to have black again, and an installed dishwasher after 7 years using a portable. We have the name of a MH inspector and someone who does MH repairs, not that that is anticipated right away, but you never know. Just a comfort to have that info at hand from the getgo.

I'm so relieved to not have to do the routine to show, never knowing when, what, etc. Huge relief. (I'm using "huge" a lot here LOL) A fantasy I have had for many, many years is to have a bathroom large enough that I can keep the scale in it! Sure doesn't take much to make me happy......

Guess I'll have to open a photo hosting account so I can post some pics.

TTYL, everyone - time for coffee.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 5:06AM
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As it turns out, the buyer had seen the house from the outside a few weeks ago, and I talked with her outside for quite awhile, then she spoke with her agent about it, so our agent will get her share of the commission. I'm so glad, because she did expend a lot of time and advertising $$, and she is working with our attorney and corresponding with the buyer's agent. Nice to have that communication.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 5:11AM
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Congratulations! Ooh, now the packing begins. So you never did change realtors?

Now remember, we want pictures from the moment you put the key in your new lock! ;)

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 10:32AM
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How wonderful, Wantto! I am pleased for you.

I guess we'll have to start a new thread about slabs and basements. Everybody okay with that? :)

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 4:18PM
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congratulations. I love happy endings.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 1:49PM
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Our sale went without a hitch, but wanting to buy the mobile home turned
into a nightmare. Seller doesn't have title. Our attorney said DON'T BUY w/o
it. Stayed in a motel for 3 weeks, now with DS in his house that is gutted for reno. Love spending time with
him, but his house is gutted (remodeling the whole thing) and DH is having
allergic sneezing, etc. from DS's cat. Not good at 82 :-( Date for closing
has passed and attorney said please wait another week to make any decisions,
which will be this Wednesday coming up, just to be sure. In a nutshell, this
seller (MAN) has lied, stalled and generally been a PITA.

We have a backup in another over 55 community - much nicer but 7 miles from
supermarkets./mall, etc. More social interaction; complete snow/mow
coverage. Come Wednesday, we will make an offer and can move in as soon as
we write a check (it is vacant).

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 7:39PM
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Wantto, please update us on the house situation?
God bless you, it has been a long hard road.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 10:45PM
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ML - According to seller's attorney on Friday in call to DMV, title is in the mail, so we have given seller until midnight tomorrow (Wednesday). I hate this back and forth, but we don't want to get involved in a lawsuit for specific performance. When you read about how situations come to this, you wonder, HOW, WHY? Just arrogant people who think they can bypass the law. OK, off my soapbox and hoping for a place to settle into and be done with living out of suitcases.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 7:26PM
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I know what you mean, not wanting to get involved with a law suit. There are so many options available these days on the BUYING side of the deal, I'm surprised the seller is so cavalier about it. You'd think money grew on trees.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 10:33PM
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Just got a call from our lawyer's office that seller has received title from DMV. Lawyers will talk tomorrow morning and we will get the lowdown. Ready to move and get settled :-)

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 7:04PM
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