Tips for Selling...What do you wish someone had told you?

mom2fiveDecember 30, 2005

Hi All,

We are about to list our house for sale (with an agency) - do any of you have any selling tips that you can share with me? What have you learned in the process of trying to sell that you did not know before you listed - or even things you have learned (good or bad) that your agent did not tell you? We have been cleaning and decluttering for months and have put a lot of time and money into renovations inside and out (new kitchen, new siding, roof, new fence, entire interior repainted etc) in the past two years - so its not so much the house itself I am concerned about it is the process. Will it hurt our chances if I limit showing times during the week to the hours kids are in school - say 10 AM-2 PM? Are there a lot of no shows? When are most of the showings - during the weekends? When is the best time to do an open house? Good or bad experiences with lockboxes? Do you recommend people take off shoes (our house is about 2000 sq ft - mostly hardwood, but we do have brand new carpet in our hallways.) Does the cinnamon stick thing really help??? Appreciate ANY AND ALL Feedback!! Thanks

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My experience is that most of our showings were on evenings or weekends, so restricting them to weekdays between 10 and 2 would have eliminated most of our walkthroughs. That said, I'm not sure whether it would have completely turned them off--but we did not have many people walk through during the day.

We've never asked folks to take off their shoes. In sensitive carpeted areas we just laid down that plastic runner with the teeth on the bottom and never had any trouble with people tracking dirt/mud in.

My best advice is this: remember, when dealing with your agent, that you are the client and they work for you. That's not to say that you should boss them around (they're doing this professionally for a reason, and you did hire them for a reason), but at the same time they need to respect your opinions. If there's something that you're not comfortable with, let them know.

Good luck! I hope it sells quickly for you!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 2:39PM
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Don't limit your showing times. Suppose you were interested in buying an expensive car and found that one show room was only open four hours a day while the other was open eight hours a day. Which dealer would be more likely to make the sale? It's sad but true: selling a house means enduring a fair bit of inconvenience and intrusion.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 4:05PM
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Most of our showings were between 4-6:30 p.m. We were selling during the summer, so we did have some daytime showings as well, but the majority of people came by after work. You get used to it, and you learn to keep the house picked up All The Time, Just In Case.

We had a lockbox, but our realtor's office ALWAYS gave us at least a two-hour notice before a walkthrough. That was wonderful, as it gave me a chance to dash home and make sure hubby didn't leave dirty breakfast dishes in the sink, etc.

People's experiences with open houses are varied, as you'll see if you search that topic here. It all depends on your area; in mine, open houses are strictly for the nosy neighbors and for the realtor (to generate more business/find more clients).

Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 4:11PM
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Oh my goodness, I didn't answer your question!

Something I wished I'd known -- people may move your furniture around. Be super-diligent with that broom and vacuum!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 4:13PM
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Woops - did not mean we would limit times to only 10-2 during the week - we would definitely show other times and all weekend, I am just concerned about keeping the house picked up with the kids - but I suppose 2 hours notice should work. With 5 of them its crazy - I am so nervous!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 4:22PM
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Remember that your realtor's greatest motivation is to sell your house at any price. No sale; no commission. It is to the realtor's benefit to get a contract, even if it means you lose several thousand dollars. The difference to the realtor is only a tiny percent of those several thousand dollars, and if there is no contract (s)he gets zero dollars. That's one place you need to realize you and the realtor are not necessarily on the same "side".

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 5:21PM
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This isn't a case of what I wish someone had told me, but I would say to you: keep your house clean and orderly, but with five children, be realistic about the level of perfection you can reach. Someone who would not do a contract on your house because some dishes are in the sink or they find some Legos left out isn't worth courting as a buyer.

Ditto the comments from ChiSue and Gina on your relationship with your agent.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 5:42PM
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they are right after doing this for almost a year, I wish we would have gone with our gut feelings and started out at a very low price our realtor did not want us to lower and when we finally did it was too late. Find a good realtor that matches your personality... two, remember you have a family and there is just so much you can do, you are in for a ride get a bottle of wine and chill...LOL....just remember you live there and it isn't amodel house. I tried to make ours one and it drove us all nuts...good luck!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 7:31PM
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I agree with Cindydj about starting out with a realistic price. We started out too high, based on the crazy prices in our new home neighborhood. We ended up in a negotiation that put us at what WE thought the house should have gone for -- after 4.5 months. We could have saved ourselves interest on our construction loan for those months it was on the market.

Our house showed better with our furniture than after we moved out. We didn't get any negative comments until after it was empty-- "too dark" because we didn't have all those lamps turned on. It costs a bit, but turn on all your lights when you leave the house. It's more welcoming and people don't have to go hunting for the light switches.

In hindsight, I wish we had sprung for a home inspector ($500 around here) so that we would have taken care of the things the buyer's home inspector has found. These things aren't a big deal, but now our realtor is scrambling to get handymen out there for those little things before the scheduled closing. Our buyer brought a guy with a microscope!

We have Corian in the house being sold -- everyone expected granite. It would have cost us $3000 to upgrade it, but probably would have gotten us $10k more in price because all the other new houses of the same size have granite. If Corian had been the "norm" for our neighborhood, it wouldn't have mattered. But, all the other houses have granite or engineered stone, so it did matter.

We had $20k in landscaping -- beautiful trees, flowers, stone walls, a dry stream bed, a stone bridge, 5 zone irrigation -- it didn't matter--we could have gotten the same price for the house if it just had foundation plantings. That was disappointing. Everyone liked the landscaping, but no one was willing to pay for it.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 8:07PM
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wonbyherwits, by the way love the name! We have lots of landscaping also and I sometimes think it is a hendrance....and I thought it would be a selling point, wrong....

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 9:35PM
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I would say skip the cinnamon sticks...just have the house smell neutral. Candles, room sprays, etc; always makes me wonder if the house smells bad without them.

In the houses I have sold with hardwood throughout, I didn't worry about people taking their shoes off. The one house I sold that was almost completely carpeted with new carpet, I just put a small sign at my door saying to please remove shoes. It was winter out, so there was great potential for mud, snow, etc. You can also get a box of those work shoe covers to put at your door.

I ditto the others to say that most of our showing were always late afternoon/evenings/weekends. I would have the house reasonably "show ready" at all times, though people will certainly understand if you have kid stuff out. I have kids too, and they can make messes way faster than I can clean them up!!

Lastly, something I learned from reading these forums, take the feedback you get from showings with a grain of salt. Don't worry too much over the critical (unless it can be easily fixed). If you can't change it, then just do the best you can. Remember that you liked the house well enough to buy it, so will someone else.

Good luck and try not to go crazy trying to keep up. Hope you get a contract super fast!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 10:10PM
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Wonbyherwits makes yet another great point re: what people are willing to "pay" for--I think it's crucial to believe that buyers won't pay for every upgrade in all RE markets. In Texas, it usually just doesn't fly--to a point-yes, but not every cent. At least these upgrades can help get a house sold, but like Wonbyherwits mentioned, some beautiful, expensive upgrades (like intricate landscape) are unappreciated by buyers.

That landscape will still be good for you, Cindydj--have faith. That house will sell (I remember seeing it in pics here and it's beautiful-can't believe you're still trying to sell it!)-it was probably the point about the price that held things up--the word's getting out that Texas has some of the most under-valued real estate in the country--(mom called me from out-of-state to tell me she'd heard this on the news:) Soooo, maybe this will spur activity for sales in Texas. Hope your house sells quickly OP and Cindydj!!!

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 10:13PM
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Thank you so much everyone for sharing! I hear you ChiSue -and great points wonbyherwits - we are planning to price sharply - we are in the retail business, so we are concerned about pricing too high and having to "mark ourselves down" LOL as DH and I say! We invested some in landscaping too, and now its winter, but at least if we dont sell quickly I will have flowers blooming to look forward to (lining the walkway to our front door). We do have granite in the kitchen but... here's another question... we don't have a fireplace (many of the homes in this area don't - its an older community of starter type homes so its about 50/50.) We have a very pretty cherry wood ventless fireplace (portable)- about a year old and in beautiful condition (elegant looking style). A relative (ex RE agent) of mine thought we should remove the fireplace before listing as it draws attention to the fact that we do not have a "real" one. We thought that we could either include it with the house --- or make it negotiable -we hadnt really thought of it as drawing attention to a negative. Any thoughts on this issue???

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 11:19PM
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I just want to echo ChiSue's and others' comments that you should make it clear to your agent up front that he/she works for you. Let the agent know you made your selection based on his or her reputation, professionalism, and expertise, but emphasize to the agent that he or she will be providing guidance to you and that YOU will be making the decisions. That includes the initial sales price, if and when to reduce it if necessary, if and when to hold open houses, language in ads and flyers, etc.

Finally, to reiterate ChiSue's point, the agent wants to make a sale....period. If that means trying to talk you into taking $10,000 less than you were seeking, so be it. After all, a $10,000 reduction in price only costs the agent approximately $150 in commission.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 8:25AM
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When we sold our small condo, we rented a storage unit to remove a lot of the furniture from the house. THis was our realtor's advice and worked well.
WE had white carpet througout the house so we put a small note at the door to remove shoes.
We vacuumed everyday, cleaned the bathroom, kitchen everyday.

Opened all the blinds and curtains to let natural light in.

Ran the AC lower to keep the house cool...Got more than our asking price...

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 1:07PM
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I would like to offer a counter opinion to the landscaping issue. We sold our home, in NH, June 2003. It sold in 3 days without ever hitting the multiple. Why? Fantastic gardens that were in peak bloom! It was exactly our landscaping/gardens that sold our home. They were so awesome the curb appeal was off the charts. People were "in love" before they ever entered the front door. So, like everything else in life...."it depends". We received $17,000 above what our realtor thought the home was worth because of the gardens.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 2:00PM
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We are one of the smaller homes in a very nice neighborhood in the midwest- most built 7-11 yrs ago for $600,000 to 900,000. We were the first in the n-hood so our home is 13 yrs old. Today, 6 in our neighborhood are asking 850,000 to 1.5 mil -- most are 1000 or more sqft larger than ours and are 2-stories.

We have a ranch, full brick home with a great, open floor plan--none for sale are similar to ours. We think $725,000 is a good (high-side) price to list (and hopefully get, but $650,000 would still make us an acceptable profit).

Here's DH & my dilemma: Do we do $30-50,000 in "updates" in the hopes of listing/selling it for $100,000(?)more OR sell it AS IS at a lower price, so the buyer may make the changes THEY WANT?

**SOOOO, we COULD re-do the cab color---but then someone may still choose to tear the cabs totally out and do cherry....
**Or we COULD change the cntrs to granite---but then maybe the buyer would have preferred soapstone or a diff granite.....
**We COULD replace the onyx in the mstrbath with a granite, BUT the buyer may have preferred marble/diff granite/tile....

SO, do we leave e/thing as is and tell lookers we've lowered the price to allow them to do the changes THEY want?

I think it's better to be lower priced than all the others--but we are about 4yrs older than most, so we are probably more dated.

Sorry so long & detailed (maybe I should have shown my pics(?)--I just really need some knowledgeable advise***which I know I can get HERE!!
tks, Cheli

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 3:13PM
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Cheli, you might want to try to start your own post about it. I'm sure you'll get plenty responses. Pic's are always good too. I wouldn't put the money into it and have to live with the mess of having contractors etc to deal with. I'd rather take less as I'm currently sick and tired of dealing with contractors.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 3:56PM
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Thank you Lyfia--I will start a new question--and I'll work on getting some pics.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 4:14PM
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If my husband and I came into a house where we were told to remove our shoes, we'd remove OURSELVES instead. It must be a regional thing because I have read other message boards where this was discussed and I couldn't get over how many people ask their guests to remove shoe....EWWWW..I would NEVER remove my shoes in another person's home. And I would hate even MORE for someone to walk around in MY home in their sweaty feet.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 6:51PM
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Redcurls - I am not sure if its regional (we are in the NE) - my husband and I looked at houses for at least 8 months and in most of them we were asked to remove our shoes (to the point I went to look at houses in clogs - and also noticed that our buyers agent needed some new socks - LOL!). Most of the time the houses were expensive ones (but trust me, most were certainly not in the shape warranting shoe removal - not even close). Guess we should be so lucky to have so many people look at our house that the new carpet would get worn! Wow - in our dreams right!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 7:00PM
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removing shoes has been discussed on this forum before and it all comes down to your upbringing, class, cleanliness, aethetic, and geography. My simple solution is to do what the host expects you to do. always ask if in doubt...

Everyone has different ideas of public and private spaces, sidewalk versus home.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 8:01PM
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I actually turned around and walked away from houses where I was requested to remove my shoes. It was summer and most of the time I had sandles on. Like Redcurls said... ewwwwww to walking around in someone else's house barefoot.

Cover your rugs with walking paths and if they get very dirty resign yourself to cleaning them.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 8:13PM
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Ewwww...wear socks or booties. I've removed shoes or donned disposable booties to tour many homes; its a very common request here. When perparing to tour homes, I try to select apprpriate socks and slip on shoes. The request is so common here that if someone walked away and never returned, I'd figure they were lookie-loos (or at least were not interested in my home).

    Bookmark   January 1, 2006 at 11:36AM
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Somebody who's concerned enough to ask people to remove their shoes is probably a little fanatical about keeping the place clean. Sounds like a bonus to me.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2006 at 3:21PM
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Ummm, I don't understand the adversion to removing shoes, if requested - you don't go barefoot in the summer at a pool, beach or around your yard? Yeeesh!

    Bookmark   January 1, 2006 at 8:31PM
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I've never understood why more people don't remove shoes when you go into your own house. Think of all the dirt that you're carrying with you, and how it destroys carpets.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2006 at 2:35AM
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To remove or not remove shoes is a personal choice. The idea is to make things easier for the buyer when you are selling your home. This includes no requests that may be considered an impediment to viewing a home. Since taking off your shoes may be viewed as a negative to a potential buyer, I'd suggest not requesting it..... and this is from someone who recently purchased a home with a white carpet. We did not remove our shoes when viewing this home, were not asked to, and would not have gone into the home if requested to do so (and now that the house is ours we still do not remove our shoes nor ask anyone that comes into the home to do so). The house had been up for a number of months and the owners were fairly desperate to sell. A request to remove shoes would have lost this sale (because I would not have gone in).

Now, if it is so important to someone selling their home that everyone removes their shoes before entering their home, if inconveniencing the potential buyer is worth more than a sale, then by all means "house-rules" should apply. After all, $100 to clean a carpet is certainly more important than $400,000 to buy a home.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2006 at 8:48AM
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When I list my house for sale, I will provide a box of OR BOOTIES by the door, and a basket for disposal.

I hate taking my shoes off. God knows what is on those floors. It's worth the few dollars of investment for the booties to keep everyone happy. I've gone to open houses and people seem to be fascinated by putting on the OR booties.
This tells them that the house is cared for & their needs are respected.
I don't get offended if asked to remove shoes. I figure the owner shares my values.

If you are really serious about buying the house, you will see the little inconvenience of removing the shoes as a plus, and not a deterrent for purchasing the home.
I think that walking through somone's house with dirty shoes is very rude. If I take the time to "prepare" my home for sale, I want the same respect from prospective buyers.

I don't want a herd of wild, dirty animals running through my house UNTIL IT IS SOLD. After that, I don't care if they drop a pile of "you know what" in the middle of their living room-lol.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2006 at 9:12AM
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DaBunch, I would not know if I was serious or not about the home until I went in. My market was heated but not so hot that there was not another house around the corner (I looked at over 100 homes). However, getting the potential buyer into the home is the trick. We all try to accomplish this via curb appeal, price point, ease of access for viewing, etc. and the thousand other tips and ideas suggested on this forum.

The OR booties is an excellent solution/compromise.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2006 at 9:27AM
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I agree with you. I've looked at many homes where the RE agent has suggested checking out the yard before the house tour was complete. My response has been that once I finish viewing the home, I'll check out the yard-no sense of tracking dirt back into the home. If removing shoes is requested, I comply and have found as a general rule those homes are very clean & well maintained so it might be my loss had I walked away.

xamsx, I ask DD's boyfriend to remove his shoes-not so much out of concern for the floors, but have you ever seen what size 13 shoes due to stairs risers- those black marks do not come off!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2006 at 9:34AM
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Paulines, I have a son with size 15 feet. We have a carpet runner on the stairs. :-P

    Bookmark   January 2, 2006 at 10:42AM
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Enough with the shoes!

I wish someone had told me...
1. The buyer is just as enthusiastic about the deal as you are. Hold steady, and price correctly.
2. There will be times when you rush to clean everything up, and no one shows. Deal with it - it happens for a variety of reasons.
3. People will bring up all kinds of reasons to lower your asking price. Just say, "That was taken into consideration with the asking price."
4. Definately rent storage to hide clutter. Clutter is the worst thing imaginable in a showing (I will never understand why someone will show a cluttered home).
5. Homes sell quicker in the spring.
6. Don't waste money on huge upgrades - your price per square foot in your area is the biggest factor of sales price - upgrades just sell it quicker.
7. Try to include every flaw in the sellers disclosure so the buyer can't try to lower the offer more.
8. Clean your carpet - even with a carpet allowance.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2006 at 3:45PM
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muddbelly - thank you so much! I wasn't so concerned about the shoe thing so much as I was about the tips in general - your post is very helpful. Point 3 is an EXCELLENT point and suggested reply - We do have a storage facility and we ave also gotten rid of the older furniture that needed to be replaced anyway. We have done a lot of upgrades, but we have enjoyed them too (new kitchen, new paint, updated bathrooms). Not sure exactly when we will list (waiting for an update regarding our new construction) but will keep you posted! PS. We won't ask anyone to remove their shoes - we certainly don't want to offend anyone. DH reminded me that in one home we went to see (and it was pouring rain and we had all 5 kids with us) the homeowner DID NOT ask us to remove shoes BUT - we immediately volunteered because of the weather and the kids. About 10 minutes later our RE agent came to the house (late) and the homeowmer IMMEDIATELY INSISTED she remove her shoes. Funny..7 muddy shoed lookers would have been ok but 1 real estate agent with muddy boots was NOT OK!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2006 at 4:52PM
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The shoe thing has got to be regional. In my life, I've purchased and sold several houses and have never once been asked to remove shoes and have never seen anyone do it. I don't think it would offend me but it is definitely not common around here.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2006 at 12:35AM
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Re: Things you wish you knew prior to listing...

We actually bought our new home and moved across town (with our five kids) prior to listing our old home and found that even with selling a completely empty (obviously, not even a scrap of paper's worth of clutter) home, there were things we wish we'd known:

1. Realtors are "just" people too. In that I mean that we discovered even with our listing agent keeping a note on the front door and on the kitchen counter requesting that all lights be turned off when the showing was complete, that the blinds be lowered, that the door to the 100-year-old basement be fully closed, etc., we *still* would go check our house (which we did twice daily) and find all those things -- lights bright throughout the house, blinds tightly pulled right up to the top of the window, the basement door wide open (a possible safety issue to someone who wasn't aware of our home's layout). Even with written, gentle reminders, I learned that folks looking at the home and realtors alike were much more concerned about their own time management than the care of my (empty) home. It was rare I checked on the house to find it as I'd left it, if indeed there had been showings that day.

2. Carpets are going to get dirt tracked on them, despite any requests for careful consideration. We had new carpet in two rooms and had placed new carpet remnants - basically, a series of runners made from the same carpet that had been installed - strategically throughout the rooms so folks could get to nearly every corner without walking on the "real" carpet. No matter what we did, we always seemed to find someone's muddy/snowy/dirty footprints outside our little path and I spent a lot of time cleaning up what could have been avoided with just a little attention from the folks coming through my home.

3. Understand that some visitors will want to do odd things whilst in your home. I had folks pull up carpet (!) from the floor in the master bedroom, evidently looking for the holy grail of all 100-year-old homes, gorgeous wood floors (didn't exist). They also pulled the attic access panel out and left it on the floor along with a small ladder right underneath the opening. I haven't quite figured that one out, but those were the folks who bought the home, so I guess it worked out in our favor.

4. You may not receive the feedback you're expecting, whether in volume, detail or otherwise. I would sometimes have five or six showings in a day (as the house was empty, we allowed quite a bit of traffic) and would hear nary a word. I always wondered where the simple courtesy was in that as it would have been easy to email or call my listing agent with the buyer's impression.

5. Speaking of impressions, don't be surprised if you have folks coming through who don't realize that your home isn't actually a mix of what you said it was and what they want it to be. For example, we listed our 100-year-old 3br, 1ba home @ a total of 1150 sq ft, including room dimensions, etc. I cannot tell you how many people (the ones that *did* give feedback, lol) would claim the home was much too small for them (usually, a couple), or that the bedrooms were impossibly tiny, or that they couldn't live with a single bath. I always wondered if that was the case, why they opted to spend time in my 100-year-old humble little house. It wasn't going to grow a few hundred square feet on its own, and it wasn't going to sprout a second bath or master suite just because the house hunters really, really wanted one.

5. Be aware the the home inspection process is typically a nail-biter in the selling process, even if you are confident about your home. This is the buyer's final chance to wiggle out of a contract and also reveals any home defects that must then be disclosed if you must relist. It can be a headache, but it seems that most inspections reveal things that buyers aren't necessarily afraid of taking on -- keep telling yourself, "this too shall pass" in regard to the whole selling process. At some point, it'll be over, and you'll have so many funny/interesting/silly/odd stories to tell!

Best wishes!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2006 at 10:06AM
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I like FiveMonkeys point about buyer expectations being at odds with what a quick reading of the listing sheet should tell them the house *is*. Still, people come with their lists of "must haves" -- then fall in love with something totally different. My late mother-the-realtor especially loved the engineer-types who arrived with a binder of check-lists.

BTW, in Hawaii it is very rude to fail to remove your shoes at the door to someone's home. The red dirt there is impossible to clean out of carpeting. (We ripped out the carpeting in our rental condo and replaced with clean tile floors in a color close to Maui Dirt Red.)

    Bookmark   January 4, 2006 at 2:25PM
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Well we just went through the buying and selling experience and boy was it stressful, on both sides. We had a great realtor, I would've never made it through without her. We still had a lot of trouble. We had 3 deadbeat offers. People down here don't seem to get it. Yeah they all put up ernest money, but managed to get out through loopholes. One claimed they couldn't get financing. Another told my realtor he was planning to live there himself, then when he changed his mind he claimed he wanted it for investment property & got out of it that way. (Our condo assoc. had prohibitive rules about renting) My realtor doesn't use lockboxes on occupied homes, she was there for every showing during the day, and many of them even when I could be there. Basically we kept the place as clean as possible at all times, but we don't have kids yet so it was a bit easier. I didn't use a bunch of air freshener or anything, just made sure the cat box was hidden & odor free, burned maybe one nice smelling candle. Don't over do it with the candles or air fresheners, or people may wonder what you're trying to cover up. I did bake cookies before open houses a couple of times, but I don't know that it made any difference. We looked at so many houses, it amazed me the condition some people let their houses to be shown in. The worst was one that looked like a frat house. Beer cans stacked up in the kitchen, cigarettes floating in unflushed toilets, ratty carpet padding & carpet on the stairs & one bedroom, just sitting there not installed. a large pile of laundry in the middle of an otherwise empty bedroom. Plus it absolutely reeked like an ashtray. This person was asking top dollar! We couldn't get out of there fast enough! LOL.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2006 at 8:41PM
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Regarding fireplaces; there are people like my husband and I that simply would not look at any house without a real, woodburning fireplace, as that was top on our list, and we weren't going to waste anyone's time, since we would not buy a house without a fireplace.

But honestly I believe we're a minority, most people we know could give or take one, and if they take one they're happiest with gas.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2006 at 9:50PM
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If there is anything that won't be sold with the house (light fixtures, window coverings, etc.), then remove them BEFORE you put the house on the market.

As for the shoes........ most realtors in this community put a sign by the entrance which says, "You may be entering your new home .... please remove your shoes." This gets the potential buyer thinking about how he would want HIS house treated!

Living in the upper mid west, this is very common. In "home parades" of new homes, there are always the OR booties at the door.

We have aboout 2,500 square feet of wood floors in our present home. We will have the floors completely refinished when it comes time to sell, and there will be NO shoes allowed on the floors! All it takes is a tiny pebble lodged in a shoe tread to make an ugly scratch on the finish, or shoes that make those awful black marks. It is really funny; at well attended open houses you might seet 15 pairs of shoes parked outside the front door! (Hmmm..... those shoes look really nice.... I wonder if they are my size??!)

To make your life easier with five kids.... have baskets or plastic boxes with lids that can be slid under the bed as a catch all for those toys left out. Have a set routine at bedtime, where the kids put their toys in designated places. Even little ones can do this. Fold the bath towel in thirds and hang it as soon as you are finished with it. Keep lots of the clorox wipes(or generic equivalent) available in every bathroom - they are so fast for last minute cleanups. They make your bathroom look a lot cleaner than it actually might be, and have a pleasant "clean" smell. If you have bathrooms that aren't used frequently, put them off limits for your family while you are on the market.

What really worked well for me was to ALWAYS pick up/put away as I went, rather than saving it for later. Make the bed as soon as you get out of it. Wipe down the shower walls as soon as you are finished. Make the kitchen spotless before you go to bed. Make breakfast simple, and try to avoid crumbly foods. When the meal is over, vacuum immeidately if necessary. Staying on top of it means that if a realtor calls (even when you have said two hour notice) and wants to show your house in ten minutes, you can say "no problem." When evryone was gone in the morning, realtors did not need to call in advance. We did have "please call 30 minutes ahead between the hours of 3:30 and 7:30 p.m." Our realtor understood that there to be no showings before 8 a.m.!

I could have my last house in showing condition in ten minutes because I cleaned as I went. (And it had 2800 square feet, and our kids were 12, 10 and 5 at the time.)

It doesn't have to be perfect - just good enough!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2006 at 2:02AM
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Five monkeys - thank you for your post - I will keep all of this in mind! (funny my dad calls my kids his five tigers..) Gweekie - great tip about the plastic boxes and clorox wipes - I had been thinking about the tall rubbermaid baskets, but the underbed idea is much smarter. We are leaving all light fixtures, chandelier etc - just not including some draperies which were very hard to find (match our furniture) and quite expensive - but that is only in 2 rooms. Re: Fireplace - do you guys think if we have a portable fireplace (and it looks nice - I can try to post photos) we should include it? Or do you think something like that should be optional? If we include it, is it misleading to list the home as having a fireplace? Its only a few months old. (We don't need it in our next house - but would love to have it) Any thoughts on this issue? I would say about 60% of the homes in this area do not have a fireplace, and for those that do they are the woodburning type.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2006 at 9:56AM
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I'd ask your realtor if the portable ventless fireplace is considered "A Fireplace" on their listing sheet. I think I'd sell it with the house unless you know where you will put it in your next home. Is it obvious that it is "portable"? If it's attached to the house, it may be considered part of the house.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2006 at 10:57AM
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Please please please do not use a cookie scented candle.
Every house we looked at had a cookie candle and they all made me sick.
It took us weeks to get that nasty scent out of the house we bought.
They had one in every room.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2006 at 11:13AM
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Nancy zone 6

In our area, the true "portable" fireplaces don't really add a lot of value to a home, just like leaving a dishwasher maybe. As mentioned already, you should ask your realtor, it might be different in your area.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2006 at 11:21AM
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if they got their high price on their FIRST open house with 6 months DOM, maybe what's going on is that the rest of you guys are pricing way too conservatively.

That's been known to happen, too--one pioneer seller realized the true value of the neighborhood, and breaks the mold. If people ask lower than him, they'll get lower than him.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2006 at 1:45PM
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mom2five get you some of those Mr. Clean erasers in the cleaning dept. I love them. We have one in each bathroom and as soon as the kids get out of the bath/shower they will wipe it down with one of those and the sinks each morning. Oh and they work great for removing finger prints on paint too....

We will be listing again this coming week and our agent is going to ask that a card be left at each showing. She said some agents don't like to do this. We had lots of showings last Spring and with both kids playing competitive soccer we would need to come home and change and not know if they had been here or what. We also would place a folded piece of paper in the door jam and if it had fallen out we would know it was safe....

I am not sure abou where you are but our market has been really strange the last year and thing did not move in the summer like they have in the past and this is usaually a slow time but the market is picking up here now....

Good Luck....

    Bookmark   January 6, 2006 at 2:04PM
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These are great tips. I'm thinking about storing my household items in my garage as apposed to renting storage space. This shouldn't make a difference in how the size of the garage looks if the garage is kept tidy.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2006 at 2:44PM
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Not to buy the stupid house in the first place, LOL!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 3:16PM
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It's Springtime...any more tips???

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 2:29PM
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Gosh! I just read all of the posts and was amazed at some of the responses.
First of all, in the Chicago area, especially in the fall/winter months, there is mud, slush, snow, rain, and dirt. Who in their right minds would want to come home after work and then have to clean all or any of the above from their flooring. Obviously, buyers at that time of year have shoes and socks. Some feel uncomfortable about walking shoeless in someone elses house. The agent should provide shoe booties for that purpose. It cracks me up that those that refuse or feel slighted about having to remove shoes are probably the first to complain about the dirty carpet in the home that they just bought. Don't want to remove your shoes - get over it. You might just wind up owning those floors.

Now for the tips.
1. Hot spots for women are kitchens and baths. Make them shine. Clean the windows. Clean the light fixtures. Clean the return vents. Don't forget the stove, fridge, DW, and WD.
2. Hot spots for men are basements and garages. Keep both places picked up. Clean the furnace inside with a vacuum cleaner, and more importantly, the exterior. Make sure you clean all of the lime deposits off of the water heater as well.
3. What ever season you are in, take the other seasons clothes out of your closets and pack away. This makes your closets appear bigger and less cluttered.
4. Speaking of clutter - get rid of all of it.
5. Got a wall of family pics or a collection of plates of every movie ever made? Get rid of them. Keep a few family pics but get rid of the collection. Reason? You need to de-personalize your home so others can visualize themselves in it. Also, a home with all that memorabilia is what the buyer remembers. Not the home.
6. Keep your yard up to speed. Weeds, overgrown bushes, bald spots, dog feces, and fences/decks/patios in need of repair or paint/stain need to be dealt with.
7. Keep your countertops free of machinery. Blender, toaster, Cuise-n-art, etc. need to be put under counter or stored out of sight. When you go into a model home, you see very few props. Why? The builder wants you to think that there is plenty of counterspace when there might not be.
Take a hint from them.
8. Learn how to stage your home for showings. Even in the daylight, turn on every light you have. Closet lights too. Open the closet doors, allow your potential buyer the opportunity to see what you have. Have some soft music playing in the background. Make you home the one that the buyer wants to spend more time in.
9. Don't be home for showings. It makes buyers feel uncomfortable. Even though you are trying to sell, they feel like they are putting you out. You can go for a walk (with the dog), or if it's lousy weather outside, drive around the block and park down the street until they leave. They might be in your home 5 minutes or a half hour. No sense in being gone a half hour if you can be back in your house in 5 minutes.
10. Don't think that the longer they are in your home that it's a "Sign"! Chances are they are talking about the differences in the homes that they have already seen or about to see. "Gee, isn't this couch comfortable"?
11. Speaking of showings - be prepared for no-shows. "Oh!, I didn't know the house was yellow. I hate yellow." "Oh! It's too close to the school-the road-the mall-the corner". Go figure. The buyer agent might get stiffed. More times than you'd think, the buyers just don't show up.
12. Most importantly. As I have stated before in other postings, your home is not your home anymore. It is a commodity. Just like tires or a can of soup. Start thinking like that.

We don't live like we normally do when we have to sell. It hopefully is a short process but most people live through it. There are lots of other tips available and I would hope that my fellow agents can chime in with a few more.
I hope this has helped.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 6:47PM
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NEVER sign anything without having a real estate attorney review it. I mean NEVER! Not a single document.

In our case we learned (the hard way) not to trust realtors to act in our interest. So our lesson was do not use RE agents - use attorneys.

Add a clause to your contract with an agent (if you must use one) that gives you an out for any reason with no penalty. Why should you be stuck with a realtor who may not be getting the job done? If they will not agree, move on.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 9:04PM
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I'm sorry that you had a bad experience. There are good and bad in every profession. To disrespect ALL Realtors is wrong and your statement needs to be challenged.

The greater majority of us are hard working, ethical, law abiding, and more than willing to do whatever we can to help out our clients.

I've fired sellers that were obnoxious louts but I know that the greater majority of people are kind and I would never lump the first with the second. If you or anyone feel that you have been wronged by a Realtor® then you have recourse beyond firing them. Contact the governing body of licensing in your state. File a complaint.

Moving on....I have an Easy Out Guarantee that I present to all of my sellers. It basically states that for whatever reaseon, your listing is cancellable with a 24 hour notice. Call me and you are out. My reasoning? It makes my sellers more comfortable hiring me (as the majority know OF me but don't KNOW me) and no one wants to work for someone that doesn't want them.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2006 at 2:51PM
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Bumping...because Spring is right next door.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 2:31PM
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Starmom gives good advice. An attorney's advice is worth its weight in gold and is vital if there are any concerns about issues. I'm a buyer now (under contract) and was strongly advised by my attorney that a certain issue must be resolved prior to closing.
The listing agent (and my agent to a lesser extent) have been trying to point out that it would all work out OK to go ahead with closing and then they would make sure that the issue was resolved. No way, there is only 1 way to make sure that the critical issue is taken care of, and that is to have no money change hands until it is done!!

As a seller, I learned that the home should be move - in ready. My listing broker suggested that we just go ahead with an as-is situation on my monther's home (now I know that he just didn't want to be bothered with any more details). Had I not listened to him and had I found a broker who would advise me how to get the place move-in ready, I believe that we would have had a much better outcome.
Good luck

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 3:23PM
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I would NEVER get a realator again. You have the resources at your fingertips these days. I saved over $25K - Atty costs of $1300 and I ran the show. They are WAY over paid for taking NO risk, YOU took the risk of buying, selling and hoping to make a profit. Y should you pay them to do almost nothing and have them make 2.8% x2 on your risk. You probably know more than most of them do. They will be a thing of the past for the middle class and are already in the past for the wealty.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 4:50PM
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I would NEVER get a realator again.

Yeah, you should probably use a Realtor, who knows what a realator is? ;)

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 6:32PM
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A realator is that person who just left to look for the wealty.
But you probably know more than both of them.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 7:51PM
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Ha, You must be relos! LOL, You know Im right & you have to pick on the spelling errors b/c you cant defend yourselves. ( woops, missed the apostrophe in can't ) Relos are good for some, but not the financially educated. LOL! Big deal, misspelt a few words but pocketed about 23K tax free by doing my own research. With the housing slump in most areas of the US, profits from home sales are down. How to you get your profit back?? Get rid of the middle man, and that's you. It is a natural progression and they will be a thing of the past.

As far as risk goes, most relos took a risk and failed. That's why realtors are realtors, b/c most tried another career and it didn't work. Now they are assuming your risk, the one you made to better your retirement and your family. So why give away 5.6% to 7% of your largest asset? In addition, it's tax free!

Please, don't be foolish! Go to zillow . com and take a close looks at the comps. Talk to your neighbors and friends. Do it yourself and save close to 10% of the risk YOU took. Don't give it away, it is your future. Educate yourself and do it yourself. G/Luck!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 8:30PM
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hunterosx, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but realize many do not share that opinion. FSBO is definitely not for everyone, just as using a realtor is not for everyone. I have neither the time nor the inclination to try FSBO and have always, and will always, use a realtor to sell and purchase my houses.

Take with a grain of salt. The estimates can be wildly off.

Starmom offered excellent advice concerning an attorney.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 10:59PM
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starmom said "NEVER sign anything without having a real estate attorney review it. I mean NEVER! Not a single document."

Excellent advice. We lost a few thousand dollars using an unethical agent who tried to help the seller force us to buy his house after it failed the inspection.

She had represented herself to us as a buyer's agent. She had also promised the use of her broker's lawyers should it be necessary. She lied about both.

The frosting on the cake was when she tried to trick us into signing a new agreement with her for a whole YEAR after we told her we weren't happy with her services and would be using someone else.

Her broker fired her, but rehired her 6 months later after the smoke cleared.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 11:15AM
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hunterosx,as, I can assure I am not an agent, never will be. I also have no plans to do a FSBO. I welcome the services of an agent, I've met bad ones, but also good ones that earn the commission I pay them. I will add, I never pay the high rates you mentioned, top I'd pay is 5%, usually closer to 4%. There ARE good agents, just find them.
We can disagree about the usefulness of an agent, but you really lost your credibility when you suggested using Zillow for a serious comp. On my own house it values it almost $1 mil less than the current market value. My neighbors and friends haven't a clue to my house's market value, why would you expect that they would?
Also, I can tell you wealthy people regularily use real estates agents, I can't remember the last time I've seen a FSBO in the higher income areas around here. Wealthy people got that way by not wasting their time on FSBO's, actually the idea is funny. LOL I can just see the signs, phone calls and all the tire kickers coming through the open houses, too funny!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 6:46PM
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cmarlin20, I don't know where you are from, but I had none of the tire kickers come through my place and no signs. There are different approaches besides the below average approach you suggest. As a matter of fact, last week I stopped at a FSBO sign and talked to the couple. Their home was selling for 1.4 and already had a buyer. I saw another for 750K and their backstore neighbor was buying it. I sold for 500 with no sign and had multiple offers and finally sold for 540. Again, not sure where your selling and I know I don't want to be there. I choose strong markets and neighborhoods where you don't need relos.

As far your credibility, please quote what I wrote correctly. I never said zillow was a serious site. I said you have to closely look at the comps they use to get an average price...nice try!

Your right FSBO's are a funny idea! Expecially when you sell a 1.5M home and pay 5% in total comission and give the relo's $75,000 tax free cash! Yeah, that is funny! LOL

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 2:43AM
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hunterosx, I was referring to my doubt about your comment that Realtors are a thing of the past for the wealthy. I know that many people still sell FSBO, I wish them success, everyone should use whatever tool they choose.
I do not criticize your wish to do FSBO. I was only disagreeing with your remark that the wealthy no longer use agents, I see multi million dollar homes listed every where, my guess is, they are wealthy (probably high income/high net worth). BTW, for most wealthy, their home is not their largest asset. Also, selling one's home is not always tax free, it should be remembered that some will owe taxes, many couples have much more than $500k profit in their house. I only question your strong disapproval for another person to use an agent. You tell us you did your own homework then tout the very unreliable Zillow and your friends and neighbors, not a good idea. Again, Zillow is not reliable for an average price. Maybe it worked for your, you're happy that is what counts. I hope you do well. I think it is great for you to sell your own house and save the commission, good for you. I just do not wish to deal with selling properties, I am an experienced real estate investor, have bought and sold many properties, but have chosen to use agents for selling them. To blindly tell others that their choice is foolish, is a foolish statement.

What do you mean by relo, is that a Realtor, I've seen the term used for a person being relocated by his company, but not for an agent?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 8:11PM
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I have to side with HUNTEROSX a bit. It may be advantages to go FSBO, if you have the stomach for it.

If your home is in good shape & you know what you're doing you will save money (most of the time). If your house has a big minus ie busy highway, bad location etc, you may need some help from a realtor.

Just sold my house recently & I was amazed at the amount of lookers who will not buy a house unless they go through a realtor. It's like they get this warm fuzzy feeling when they use a realtor. I don't want to bunch all realtors into the bad seed category, but I had bad experiences & exchanged stories about some real "pills." It's almost like the nice ones are not as successful as the...well never mind. Not all realtors are bad.

Unfortunately, in some cases buyers overpay because of the realtor fees.
Close to the time I had been negotiating a FSBO offer, I had a second offer come in from a buyer with a realtor ( a nice one!). I couldn't sell it to the second buyer (his offer was a little more, but similar to the FSBO offer) because I had a hefty commission to pay since he came with a realtor. He lost a house because of the realtor. I needed to clear a certain amount for the new house.

1)I wish someone would have told me that realtors boycott your listing if you go FSBO and/or use a limited MLS listing realty.
2)the market goes from a sellers to a buyers market in November, if there is such a thing as a sellers market.
3)timing is everything.
4)don't spend too much money on improvements. I didn't. Just stage it so the buyers eyes are drawn away from any under-improved spots in the house.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 8:26PM
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Hate to add to the OT, but we used a full service realtor for several reasons for my MIL's $1.022M home, and are very glad we did. They did an excellent job, provided fabulous referrals to competent people, and did the most important task that we could not be on hand to do - handholding my MIL through her trepidation at finally selling her home of 38 years.

Anyway, one of the best tips I ever got from a very good local realtor was when she was helping us appraise our home. We were in the midst of a long list of remodeling projects, and I wanted to have some advice on whether we were doing the right things, and if what we were planning made sense. She was generous with her help and we were surprised to find some things we had planned on doing as upgrades, weren't necessary from a selling standpoint. OTOH, there were a couple of things we hadn't even thought of, that she advised us to put on our list of things to do.

Her most memorable remark was that the buyers' eyes go to the cheapest point in the house or room, and price it from there. I've been to a lot of open houses, and she is completely right about that.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 10:10PM
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"I have to side with HUNTEROSX a bit. It may be advantages to go FSBO, if you have the stomach for it."

Oh, I heartily agree there may be advantages to go FSBO, it is his "my way is the only way" advice that I disagree with.
I take great offense at the agents who talk of the great legal risk of FSBO. Sure there is some risk, but not the risk that they talk of when trying to scare sellers into listing.
Right now, I 'm waiting for my housecelaner to come clean my house, of course I can clean it myself and save money, but I don't want to spend my time doing that. Last week I paid a painter $10k to paint my house, I could do, but don't want to. Same with selling RE, I don't want to do it.
I do understand the expense and am willing to pay it. Fair enough.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 1:39PM
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It is funny, last time 10 years ago I did go to a lot of FSBO out of the newspaper (no signs permitted). This time I just have no patience for dealing with owners and have not called a single FSBO and have been looking on and off for a while and I am looking in more expensive areas. Plus I have not seen too many ads FSBO in my price range, lower ranges, yes

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 1:02AM
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Great points everybody! Cmarlin, excellent! Thanks for sharing your view with me. I didn't see that side of it. I'm a doityourself kinda guy, I like to be in control of my largest assets and I have the time to do it. From my pov and the market I am in, I don't need realtors. Most that I've delt with are dolts and shouldn't be in control binding contracts.

If you do choose to use a realtor, please do your research first! I don't suggest google'n "realtor" to find one, ask for recommendations & ask your attorney. If you get a realtor, get an attorney too. Your paying someone who failed at something else alot of money to sell for you. Get your dollars worth.

A final note from me: Never trust your realtor fully, get a lawyer too.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 8:23PM
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(didn't get to read all yet)

- for Showings: remove all bathroom rugs

since bathrooms are usually small, the rugs (like next to the tub or under the vanity) would break up the flow of the floor (which is usually small already). and if you have nice tile or marble, no rugs really show off the tiles.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 9:41AM
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I want to emphasize something elginrealtor said: try your best to unhook your emotions from the house. It can be really hard, but it will serve you well. Don't get insulted by the comments people leave: if there is a common theme, address it. Put yourself in the house-hunters' shoes and think it through from that perspective. People have all kinds of reasons the your house might not work for them - don't turn it into a personal rejection. You may hear things you think are nuts - shrug them off. Selling your house is a business deal.

This is why I avoid looking at FSBOs: would rather have my agent deal with another agent than have some emotionally fragile owners trying to figure things out. And so many of them are convinced they know everything - makes too many of them very hard to work with. Not for me.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 2:57PM
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Get a bulldog agent who doesn't "need" the need someone to work for YOUR best interests, not just a paycheck.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 11:20PM
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I agree with what starmom said... your lawyer is the one person who truly has ONLY your interests in mind. Real estate agents are helpful, but (understandably) their main motivation is seeing the highest-dollar deal go through.

Be aware that negotiations will continue right up until closing day. Agreeing on a purchase price is only the beginning.

Inspection reports can trigger renegotiation of price, of course, as you haggle over who pays for the repairs.

But negotiations can continue beyond inspections. At our closing, our buyers claimed they didn't have enough money to pay for the heating oil in the tanks. They wanted us to lend them $700 (basically a $700 price reduction). I refused, and my real estate agent suggested they take the money out of their agent's commission instead. It was a pretty ugly moment, but in the end their agent agreed and wrote us a personal check to save the deal. Turns out the buyers never paid their lawyer, so I'm sure we'd never have been repaid if we'd made the loan.

Just be aware that throughout the process, every communication with the buyer is actually a price negotiation.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 9:45AM
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That you are about to go through one of the most stressful times of your life!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 12:14PM
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What do you wish someone had told you?

Watch out for the post inspection negotiation shenanigans!

Everything seems peachy after the offer has been accepted, but 'lo the inspection and re-negotiation (like pipersville carol mentioned above). Suddenly our realtor wanted us to roll over and give in to everything the buyer wanted....(by the way...the buyer was a licensed realtor and it turned out the inspection person was a friend of hers).It went on and on (example: the new carpeting should be cleaned because her dog might be traumatized by the scent of our dog). We finally put our foot down and offered a flat amount for the nit-pickety stuff the buyer wanted fixed. When the buyer persisted, we said, we'll just put it back on the market. Our realtor, who had been a champ up 'til this point whined and complained, but guess what? The buyer took our offer and we were done.

I felt that our realtor kind of abandoned us at the re-negotiation beware.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 11:01AM
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Hey Denise54,

I'm right there with you on that one!! Our agent did the same thing, all of sudden telling us we "had" to fix everything and acting like we were unreasonable for not wanting to call in a licensed contractor to replace one line of caulk in the shower and glue up a rim to a recessed light or for not giving the buyer a brand new tub. It's amazing how eager they are to spend your money. I felt like saying: if it's that important, you pay for it out of your commission!

One thing I wish I would have done is have a pre-inspection so most of things could have been taken care. Many buyers require a "licensed contractor and want a receipt/warranty". Ridiculous to pay for that on small items you can do yourself. These are things I would have found with a pre-inspection.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 8:27PM
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DO you think that if you had made these small fixes before selling they might have found other things to complain about?

Someone made the comment that in a house with an old kitchen or other older features (alreayd reflected in the price) they will look more carefully and rip apart the house more on the home inspection, is that true?

To me I would more likely do that in a house that was new or newly renovated where I was paying top dollar, any thoughts on that? If the house was built in 1950 and never renovated how can they expect perfection

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 2:33AM
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I hope to be on the market in 4 to 6 weeks. DH mentioned last night, he wouldn't be surprised by the inspection report; I OTOH would. I know there is one thing that will probably fail, besides that, I think we'd be ok. After reading here about getting an inspector out before listing, we'll be able to confirm what needs to be done.

A few weeks ago I started looking at houses and some how came upon a ReMax site associated with one agent. This agent's site is top notch, she's emailed me 3 times, the welcome, when she saw I had favorites saved and a reply to my email to her. If the family friend doesn't want our listing, I will probably give it to her due to her site. Had I not started shopping 1st, I wouldn't have known about her because her office is a little farther than one I would have used.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 7:03AM
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Saphire, I think 3 different inspector's could have come to my house and found/commented on different things.

I guess my main point on the pre-inspection was that I could have fixed some of these things and they wouldn't have been flagged. When they are flagged, the buyer may want a "certified" repair, meaning they want you to pay a "licensed contractor" to come in and fix it and provide a receipt of the work done. Their lender may require this for their final loan approval as well. (can become very expensive for really inexpensive items).

I would guess the line of thinking would be that you never know if the owner is truly repairing to a good condition, or just masking it with shoddy workmanship.

As I told my agent, I wasn't paying a "licensed contractor" to come in fix things that required maybe a $5.00 fix. It would be almost $100 to just get a contractor out there. Thankfully we worked things out, but I would have done these small fixes beforehand and then the buyer's couldn't demand a "licensed contractor" on things easily fixed by myself. I hope that makes sense?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 8:51AM
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denise54 said: "Suddenly our realtor wanted us to roll over and give in to everything the buyer wanted....(by the way...the buyer was a licensed realtor and it turned out the inspection person was a friend of hers). I felt that our realtor kind of abandoned us at the re-negotiation beware"

I've heard of this sort of collusion before. Here is an example from a newsletter I subscribe to. I don't have the link, but #2 of the following describes exactly what you are talking about.

To-do list for spring, summer home sellers-March 2007/

Tips for fixing and pricing home, selecting agent

If you plan to sell your house or condo in 2007, in most communities the peak sales months are April, May, June and July. The reason is the largest number of prospective buyers are in the market during this time of the year.

That means now is the time to get your home ready for sale. If you want to earn top dollar, careful preparation and planning are essential. The four key steps are:

1. GET YOUR HOME INTO "MODEL HOME" CONDITION. Home buyers are especially fussy this year. The reason is it's a "buyer's market." That means there are more houses and condos listed for sale in most communities than there are qualified buyers in the marketplace.

In most towns the inventory of homes for sale is up and the volume of sales is down. If you want your home to go from "for sale" to "sold," it must stand out without any serious drawbacks.

The best way to get your house or condo ready for sale is to take a critical look at it. Pretend you are a critical buyer. Ask yourself, "Would I buy this home?" If your honest answer is "no," then do your best to correct its deficiencies.

Getting your home into "model home" condition doesn't mean making major renovations, such as installing a new kitchen or new bathrooms. That is usually a waste of money because buyers might not like your tastes.

Instead, cleaning, repairing and painting are all that is usually needed. Inexpensive cosmetic improvements usually pay off handsomely.

Even if your home really doesn't need it, fresh paint is the most profitable improvement you can make. It gives that "new feeling" to even old houses. For every $1 spent painting the interior and exterior, the return in the form of a higher sales price is often 10 times its cost.

Other profitable improvements that usually return more than their modest costs include new light fixtures, new floor coverings (carpets, kitchen and bathroom tile or vinyl, refinishing wood floors, etc.) and a landscaping spruce-up with colorful flowering plants.

Pretend you are a photographer from one of the home magazines, such as House Beautiful or Sunset. Aim to make your house or condo worthy of a low-cost home makeover feature article.

2. HAVE YOUR HOME PROFESSIONALLY INSPECTED. Although you might prefer to make this your first step, it is important to have a pre-listing professional inspection of your house or condo.

Your residence might contain hidden problems of which you are not aware and which can be easily corrected before putting the home on the market for sale. Or, if a serious drawback is discovered and you either can't afford to fix it or you don't want to, then just reveal the defect in writing to prospective buyers so they can consider it when making a purchase offer.

Another alternative is to repair or replace the deficient item, such as a bad furnace, but ask the supplier to delay payment until the sale closes. Most suppliers are eager to make sales and will readily agree to delayed payment without extra cost.

The reason a pre-listing professional inspection is so vital is home sellers most of today's savvy buyers insist on these inspections. By having your own pre-listing inspection, you will already be aware of any serious drawbacks.

For example, several years ago I had a pre-listing inspection of a rental house I wanted to sell. Since I did not live in the home, I was not aware of any major problems. On his checklist, my professional inspector inspected the furnace and found it to be in good condition. However, my buyer's inspector (a retired contractor) said the furnace was defective and dangerous.

To resolve the conflict, I arranged to have a furnace repairman and a representative of the local gas company inspect the furnace. The buyer and I -- as well as the real estate agents -- attended the joint inspection. Both the repairman and the gas company employee agreed there was nothing wrong with the furnace and the sale closed without further dispute. I think the buyer was just trying to get me to pay for a new furnace.

To find a local qualified professional home inspector, I suggest members of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), which has the toughest membership standards. Local ASHI members can be found at or by phone at 1-800-743-2744.

In addition, wise home sellers have customary local inspections such as for termites, energy efficiency, radon and building code compliance. Such inspections avoid later surprises. Smart sellers have repairs made before putting their home on the market, thus thwarting buyer objections.

3. ESTIMATE YOUR HOME'S MARKET VALUE. Even the best, most experienced real estate agents have difficulty in today's "buyer's market" giving accurate estimates of the probable sales price of a house or condo.

Although a few local markets are rising, most are stagnant or on a level plateau. A few are falling, due to lack of home-buyer demand caused by declining local employment.

Home sales prices are based on the recent sales (not asking) prices of nearby similar houses and condos within the last three months. A good place to start is on the Internet to determine your home's approximate market value.

To find out the asking prices of similar homes listed for sale in your community, the best source is This Web site claims to have virtually all the local home listings. It will give you a good idea of comparable nearby houses and condos now listed for sale. Please remember these are asking, not sales, prices.

A controversial Web site offering free "zestimates" of local home values is When you enter your home's address, in many cases Zillow will show an aerial photo and even lot boundaries.

But this site doesn't include all communities, and some of the information is inaccurate because it is based on public records that might not be up to date. Zillow usually provides "comps" of recent sales prices of similar nearby homes like yours.

Other free Internet home-value-estimate Web sites include (the second most visited home sale Web site), and These sites often refer you to a local real estate agent who will be thrilled to list your home for sale and help estimate its market value.

  1. INTERVIEW AT LEAST THREE SUCCESSFUL REALTY AGENTS. After your house or condo is in near-model-home condition, you have had it professionally inspected and made necessary repairs (or at least included them on your seller disclosure statement), and checked your home's approximate fair market value at several internet sources, it's time to decide if you want to sell your home alone (called "for sale by owner" or FSBO) or if you want to hire a professional sales agent.

Before making that decision, it's best to interview at least three successful realty agents who sell homes in your vicinity. Even if you think you can sell your home without any agent, the agents you interview won't mind spending an hour or so inspecting your home and giving you their expert written opinions of its market value.

The reason the agents you interview will welcome your phone call is they know most do-it-yourself home sellers fail and, within 30 to 60 days, they contact one of the interviewed agents to list their home for sale. Only about 20 percent of home sales today are made without a realty agent.

It is critical to interview at least three successful local agents to compare their evaluations of your home. Watch out for the super-enthusiastic agent who estimates a far higher sales price for your home, without written justification, than the other interviewed agents suggest.

Also, beware of the interviewed agent who recommends a low price, probably hoping you don't already have an approximate value for your home based on the Internet and the other interviews.

Finally, don't be misled by a charismatic agent who gushes with praise for your home and lulls you into believing he or she can sell your home fast for top dollar.

To find successful local agents to interview, consider the agents who have kept you informed with periodic mailings about neighborhood home sales prices. Visit local weekend open houses to meet local agents and evaluate their home listings similar to yours.

Also, consider nearby "for sale" signs that turned into "sold" signs within 90 days. Recommendations from friends, neighbors and business associates who have used an agent's service are also important when selecting an agent to interview.

Finally, after checking each interviewed agent's references of recent home sellers, list your home for sale with the best agent. For your protection, an initial listing term of not more than 90 days gives the agent time to show what he or she can do to earn the sales commission.

But don't be misled by an agent who demands a six-month listing, often stating that's the average time on the market for similar homes. Politely reply, "I don't want just an average agent. I want a superb agent who can get my home sold in 90 days or less." However, if a truly superior agent insists on a six-month listing, with a no-cost unconditional cancellation clause after 90 days, that is acceptable just in case you made a bad decision so you don't get stuck with a lazy agent.

Next week: the key questions to ask real estate agents before listing your home for sale.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his Real Estate Center).

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 1:23PM
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Dreamgarden - wow! Thanks for adding that. I was going to make a post to inquire how to find an inspector, now I don't need to.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 7:54AM
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roselvr-"wow! Thanks for adding that."

Your welcome. Your roses are lovely!

Two more tips about inspectors. Make sure you allow yourself enough time to have the inspection done. Our inspector told us that spring and summer are the busiest times for inspectors. During the height of the home buying season, some can be so busy that it can take weeks to book one. We were fortunate to find one that could fit us in before our contract deadline. So before you make an offer on a house, its a good idea to call an inspector and make sure they will have the time to schedule you in.

When you find an inspector, make sure they are certified by ASHI. You will also want to request any and all of the tests you will need when you make the initial appointment. When we met our inspector at the house, he didn't have a radon kit with him. He said this had to be requested at the time we first called. That was an extra $160.00 to come back out and do. He also told us that he didn't test water. The house we were considering had well water and we had to round up a well driller who could do this within a certain amount of time. Our agent was supposed to know this, but didn't say anything because she hoped we would be forced to buy the house (and give her money) if we couldn't get the inspections done on time. Another thing to watch.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 10:12AM
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Thanks. I'm going to call the water guy next week, we have a well. I don't see any problems with the water as we had it serviced last year. He should be out within a day or 2 of calling, then I will call the inspector. We have a few projects going right now that need to finish up.

Hope to list in 4 to 6 weeks.

I really need to update the rose page. The garden has matured since the last entries 2 years ago.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 11:35AM
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Here are my List of questions I made up and used to interview the realtors I had over this past weekend. All of them were amazed I was so prepared. It was because I had a lazy Realtor before. Time to step it up a notch...

1) What is your commission on sale and do you have to bribe other Realtors come view the houses you sell like I have heard from other Realtors?

2) How many homes have you listed and how many homes have you sold in the last six months?

3) On average how long does it take you to sell a house after listing?

4) Do you get the maximum exposure for your listings?

5) Do you have other assisting you as in a support staff?

6) What would be the listing price you would suggest based on the market now?

7) What does the listing agreement entail, what is the length at which you list before expiration, and what fee amounts will I be paying?

8) How effective if your advertising methods? Will all the leads be followed up on by you or will you go to other agents who may have other listings inform them of the property?

9) How many open houses do you usually how and do they really help sell the property?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 2:38PM
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A warning about lawyers... they are only people too. We recently had some drama at our real estate office when a buyer's lawyer put the WRONG ADDRESS on the purchase and sales agreement. (He used the lot next door, also owned by the seller.) The seller's Realtor caught it, but they are still fighting it out.

So it doesn't hurt you to have a Realtor and a lawyer. Shop around for your real estate lawyer just like you would an agent, and make sure they check their assistants' work, too.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 4:31PM
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I agree about visiting competitors open houses, especially before you sign. I went to one because it was similar to mine. The open house I had just come from had 3 agents sitting there, a big sign in front, a sign down the block directing people

The house I visited after, I could barely find the house and there were only 10 houses on the street, the sign was hidden, there was one person and she ended up leaving an hour early because she put the wrong time down! No way would I use that agency

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 12:08AM
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While I think getting a pre-inspection for a house you're going to sell is a good idea, I'd add one small caveat- you don't want to get a super-anal one either, who's going to be able to nitpick it to death. Whatever your inspector finds you're going to have to disclose to the buyer. And, while its true that some agents play the game where they use the inspection process to negotiate a lower price, other agents are going to funnel their clients to an inspector who's not going to destroy the transaction by scaring the buyer to death. It would be a mistake to find a inspector who would raise more problems than the one the seller uses.

And, I would also be careful of selecting an agent who sells home super-fast. It could mean that this agent has a network of potential buyers and that's a good thing. Or, it could mean that the agent is pricing the homes too low.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 10:31PM
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