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By Tara-Nicholle Nelson | Broker in San Francisco, CA

6 Ways to Turn Off Your Home's Buyer (or Seller!)

In the wild world of dating, when you encounter a “turn-off,” you can just pack it in and not to go on another date with that guy or gal again. But turnoffs can be much more detrimental when they come up in the realm of your real estate goals. Indeed, turn a buyer off, dear sellers, and you risk not selling your home - period - or getting a lower price than you might have otherwise.

And, contrary to what you might assume, the same goes for buyers. Even in today’s ‘buyer’s markets,’ multiple offers do happen. And even in cases when you’re the only buyer on the scene, having a cooperative seller goes a long way toward everything from getting access to the place for inspections to getting a price reduction when the appraisal comes in low. Thus, the potential still exists for buyers to turn sellers off, and risk having their dream home slip right through their fingers.

As you proceed on your quest for drama-free real estate, factor in these frequently occurring gaffes that turn off buyers and sellers, and my tips for avoiding them.

Top 3 Ways to Turn a Buyer Off:  If you’re a seller courting buyers, here are 3 faux-pas to avoid:

1. Hanging out when buyers are viewing your home: Buyers stalk properties online and off, checking obsessively for price reductions and the like.  But buyer-side home stalking is unobtrusive to sellers. On the other hand, buyers can feel personally stalked and stifled in their ability to fully explore or verbally process their impressions of a home when you, seller, hang out inside your home while it’s being shown.

As soon as a buyer sees you in the house, it instantly becomes much more difficult for them to”
(a) envision themselves living there (it’s your house, after all),
(b) be comfortable opening up drawers, closet doors, etc., and
(c) express their thoughts about how this house might be exactly what they’re looking for, if they can knock out that wall and get rid of those cukoo murals you so lovingly painted in your children’s rooms.

Sellers: If you want to sell your home, it’s best to not be around when buyers are looking. Give them some breathing space and a chance to truly walk around and consider what they like and/or dislike about your home without lurking and looming (and, let’s be real - eavesdropping) nearby.

2. Showing a messy house: Life gets hectic, and it’s easy for things like laundry, dishes and other house cleaning tasks to fall by the wayside. It’s also difficult to keep the home in which you and your 4 kids, 3 gerbils and 2 Labrador Retrievers live perfectly spotless for months at a time, while you’re waiting for an offer. But when you decide that you’re going to sell your home, it’s imperative that you make a pact and a plan with yourself and your family that the place will be in tip-top shape when buyers come knocking.

Remember: your home is competing with dozens of others, as well as with buyer’s HGTV-infused visions of what their next home should look like, so first impressions really count.

Sellers: Stuffing the closet is not the answer. (Buyers will be opening that closet door, after all.) Pack up your personals like you were moving (best case: you are), and put all but the essentials in storage, if needed. Get the carpets cleaned, do the dishes, make the beds, mow the lawn, dust, sweep and mop. Ask your agent to give you a gut check on whether your idea of clean is clean enough (better yet - ask them for the number of a house cleaner who you can engage to get the job done to showable standards).

This might all seem obvious, but agents and buyers alike are constantly amazed at the condition of some of the homes they walk into. Take my word for it; I’ll spare you the ‘ewww’-inducing stories.

3. Overpricing your home: Buyers already have lots to do before making the largest purchase of their lives. They have to wrangle their finances into order, jump hoops to qualify for a loan, collect the cash for down payment and closing costs, and invest sometimes hundreds of hours into market research and house hunting. With all of this already on their plates, the prospect of trying to negotiate down a crazily high asking price is just too much work (and too outside their comfort zones) for most buyers to deal with. The average buyer won’t even bother looking at your home if the asking price is clearly high and off base compared with other similar, nearby homes for sale; they’d rather sit tight and wait .

Sellers: Price to sell from the beginning. Work with your agent to determine a price that is supported by the data on how much nearby homes have recently sold for. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and anguish and get a lot more legitimate bites from serious, qualified buyers.

Top 3 Ways to Turn a Seller Off:  Buyers, if you want a home’s seller to play ball, best practice is to avoid these 3 pitfalls:

1. Unjustified, extreme lowball offers: It’s no secret that buyers have the upper hand in many markets right now. (To be clear, I said ‘many’ - not ‘every’ - your agent can help you understand what the dynamics are in your market.) But let’s be realistic, here. No seller can afford to give away their home at a price far below what it’s worth on today’s market. Lowballing a seller at a price far below the recent sales prices of similar homes in the neighborhood on the ‘let’s-take-a-stab’ plan, is highly likely to turn them off.  And that, in turn, will cause the seller to view your offer - and you - as disrespectful and wasteful of their time.

Not only will they turn down your offer, but they may not even bother with a counteroffer, rendering your efforts at securing that particular home dead in the water.

Buyers: Review the recent sale prices of similar homes in the neighborhood (aka “comps”) with your agent before you make your offer. Also, ask them to help you factor in other market data, like the average list price-to-sale price ratio and the average number of days neighborhood homes stay on the market. It’s all right to come in lower than asking, if the market data supports such an offer; just be sure your offer is based on reality - and not your fantastical hallucination about scoring the bargain of the millennium.

2. Buyer-side mortgage fails: Plenty of employed buyers with decent credit and cash in the bank have been turned down for a mortgage these past few years. That means buyers can’t assume (a) that they’ll be approved for the amount of loan they need to buy the house they want, or (b) that they’ll be approved for a loan at all. Your inability to get approved for a home loan can create all sorts of problems not just for you, but also for your home’s seller. The average seller’s  worst case scenario is that  they accept your offer only to find out a few weeks, or months, later that you can’t get the loan you need to close the deal.

Buyers: It’s not overkill to start working with a mortgage professional as far as six months or a year in advance of starting your house hunt to get pre-approved for a loan. Make sure you get a clear understanding of the amount you qualify for, then work with your real estate agent from there to determine the price range you should house hunt in. And whatever you do - don’t buy a new car, open new credit cards or even change your line of work before your escrow closes, unless you consult closely with your mortgage professional before you make that move.

Tip for Sellers: Work with your agent to vet buyers before you sign a contract. Factor in their down payment and earnest money deposit, and feel free to counteroffer these items, not just the offer price. It’s not overkill to have your agent contact the buyer’s mortgage broker to see how reliable the buyer’s pre-approval really is.

3. Bashing the seller’s home: Home bashing happens when buyers start bad-mouthing (aka “trash talking”) the place and/or the neighborhood in hopes of getting a lower asking price. Examples: pointing out all the foreclosures in the area, saying the house down the street just sold for much lower than the asking price on this house, saying you’ll need to rip out the entire kitchen before you even consider moving in - saying any of these things to a seller who happens to be at home during the showing or the inspection is probably one of the fastest ways to turn them all the way off.

Buyers: Bad-mouthing a house or neighborhood won’t work to get you a lower price. Instead, it only serves to irritate the seller and motivate them to come up with all sorts of reasons why they shouldn’t sell their home to you! Remember: homes hold incredible emotional experiences for owners. Make an offer you’re comfortable with and keep the negative comments to yourself.

If there are legitimate, factual reasons underlying your decision to make an offer at a price the seller might see as a lowball, ask your agent to respectfully communicate those facts to the seller’s agent.

Buyers, sellers, agents: What are the biggest turnoffs you’ve encountered during home buying or selling? P.S. - You should follow Trulia and Tara on Facebook!

Comments

By Dearmandy1,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 08:55
As someone who has been researching homes online and in person for months, I think you are right on the mark on your advice for buyers and sellers. Another huge turn off for me as a buyer is when houses are listed as immaculate and better than new, and then when you look at them, they need lots of work. Also, pictures in a listing really are super important. I won't look at a house when the pictures make it look less than appealing. I also see a lot of pics where only a small portion of a room is photographed. Please don't waste a buyer's time that way. Sellers should be honest about their home and take lots of pictures that can help a buyer decide whether or not to look at it. If you are ashamed about something in your home, not taking a picture of it isn't going to help the home get sold faster. Fix what will keep buyers from buying. If you wouldn't want to live in the house, would someone else?
By Mark Finchem, Associate Broker,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 09:17
Great article. I hope this gets to every buyer and seller. You've captured the true attitude in the market today for both.
By Shore1709,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 09:22
I had a buyer who looked at my home for 3 hours, loved it... was told this is an "as is" sale (not a short sale by any means) they LOVED the home. .It was an FHA, they reallized they had to pay PMI. Next thing you know its A Conventional Mort. So they had to come up with $40K more, and they did. Thats where the trouble started. The inspection report stated all items acceptable, but they came up with $10K worth of problems, but were willing to take $5,000.00 cash. One of the items was to put in a new driveway! This was nothing short of extortion from a buyer who wanted to recoup some funds @ closing!! I CANCELLED the contract.. A lot of scumbags out there, thats for sure ...
By Katie Daire,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 09:22
Cannot agree with #1 more. When we were looking to buy, visited one home where most of the family was watching TV downstairs, one woman was sleeping upstairs, and an 8 year old (or so) gave us a tour of his room. We couldn't get out of there fast enough. It was a nice house, but such an uncomfortable experience. Ended up buying a very lovely, and very unoccupied, place across town.
By Chanlyn,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 09:40
Having the sellers (or renters) present when looking at a home is definitely a huge turn off. I know it is an imposition to have a possible buyers come see your home, but come on, if you really want to sell your home, get out of it while we look. I don't mind the seller coming in the last 5 or 10 minutes of our looking through the home, as it actually gave us a chance to ask questions about the home, but to have them present the entire time while we are walking through and inspecting the home is awkward.
By Sharon Tryon,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 09:40
I didn't see mention of barking dogs left in crates or worse yet, running loose in the fenced yard while showings are taking place. Pets are family, but it's a huge liability when they're left on-site during showings. I also remind dog owners to pick up pet waste in their yard so it doesn't get tracked inside...UGH!
By Nicole Steel,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 09:42
And as an agent, I have one more to add. When you are the seller, insisting that your agent attends each showing along with the buyer's agent. Its the same concept of letting the buyer breath and not having the homeowners present. An agent an extension of a buyer or seller.

These are so true!
By Matt Henderson,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 09:45
These point are really valid ones. More sellers think that they will be of assistance by hanging out during the buyer's visit to the home. Not realizing what a mood killer it is for the buyers The buyer wants to envision the home THEY will have, not the one you are currently owning. Go and let the Realtor do their job! Excellent article.
By Jennifer Schneider,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 09:46
You hit the nail right on the head! I even posted this to Facebook. Great Article.
By ohmaud,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 09:47
I will never understand why someone would put their house on the market without photos. I mean, what is that? How BAD is the place? I won't even read the specs. My feeling is this: come back when you seriously want to sell your house. I am with DearMandy...give me detailed pictures.
By Andrew Veale,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 09:56
Great article... wish there was something that also explains that using pushy Realtors turns buyers way, way off. Had a Realtor refuse to meet with me because I wouldn't disclose to him whether or not I'd been approved for a loan (I had, I just didn't want to be hounded).
By ELB,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 09:57
This was a good article....I think a lot of real estate agents need to send this to both their buyers and sellers.
By Dianne Rombke,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:00
WE HAVE OUR HOME ON THE MARKET AND ONLY WANT BUYERS WHO ARE INTERESTED IN OUR TYPE OF HOME AND OUR TYPE OF PROPERTY. WE WILL NOT SHOW OTHERS THE HOME. IT TAKES A LOT OF TIME TO PREPARE A HOME FOR SHOWINGS AND GET THE PETS OUT OF THE HOME. WE DON'T WANT BUYERS NOT INTERESTED IN OUR STYLE OF HOME FOR SHOWINGS. IT SEEMS LIKE WE STILL GET THOSE WHO SAY THEY DIDN'T LIKE THE LAYOUT OF THE HOME. EVEN THOUGH THEY SUPPOSEDLY SEEN THE PICS. I DON'T UNDERSTAND THAT.
By Steve McEwen,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:00
Buyers also have to realize that just because it's a "buyers market", not every seller is as desperate as you want them to be. Everyone has a bottom line. For many buyers who continue to make low ball offers and wonder why they're missing the best opportunities, it's because someone with realistic expectations just out-bid you. What is market value? It's what the buyer is willing to pay. In Chicago recently, I've seen buyers miss out on great opportuntiies because they think something better is going to come along. When it's a golden opportunity or a diamond in the rough, these properties will go...quickly. Don't procrastinate! There is a "postiive vibe and energy" in 2012 that many agents see: buyers are ready to rock and roll. Don't stand alone on the sidelines. Get in the game. http://www.MakingChicagoMove.com
By Pete,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:01
Pictures on the internet of a possession- a painting, quilt, or centerpiece. Who cares? And darker painted rooms. A turn-off and more work to change.
By Wait_for_daylight,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:01
Wow! Can't agree more with #1. We went to see a house we were REALLY excited about seeing, but when we got there we found out it was an adult foster home and there was someone sleeping in all of the five bedrooms, caretakers hanging out in the kitchen etc. Very understandable situation but made the whole visit VERY uncomfortable, we didn't stick around. The next house we went to, the mom and daughter were home with the dog, gorgeous house, nice family, but still made it hard to look around, I still don't know what the closets look like :P
By Marc Edwards,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:04
@Dearmandy1: Couldn't agree more with your comments.. and to add to them, the biggest irritation I have had with searching for a new home is the online pictures make the house look outstanding, in some cases the rooms look huge, but then on the home visit it's the exact opposite. Sellers posting pictures using odd-ball camera angles and lenses to give the home better curb appeal, but then you walk in and the home is horrible. My other big irritation has been the complete lack of willingness to work with a buyer.. In our case we were selling a home that we owned outright, no mortgage and looking to buy a bigger home square footage wise. Not one of the homes we looked at would the sellers agree to a contingency sale (cross closing escrow's for our sell and the buying of theirs) so we have ended up being homeless for nearly 6 weeks because we had to close our sale (or risk losing our buyer) before we could open escrow on the purchase, even with proof of funds already in hand.. This is not a good way to sell a home, we walked aways from several because of the sellers inability to work with us. We are now closing escrow in 2 weeks and have been displaced with all our possession in storage and living in a motel for nearly 6 weeks, and I have regularly checked the ones that refused to work with us and they are still for sale, and now at a lower price. We chose to work with our buyer and as a result our home sold for full asking price within 2 weeks of listing..
By Elizabeth Kellner,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:07
I am total gut renovating a city brownstone next to the one I've lived in for 35 years. I plan to try to sell without a broker so I'll be showing the house, and while I've made all the renovation decisions, it's not "my" house, it's never been lived in, and will be pristine new inside and out. Is it a mistake for me to be around -- I can hang out on the stoop while buyers wander around, and then be available for questions.
By Jacquie Byron,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:12
My broker was showing potential buyers my home when they were really interested in the house down the block which was listed at a much lower price (smaller house). Nice to get some feedback, but a lot of trouble to get the cats packed up, make litter boxes and everything else disappear. At first I thought, well, you never know. But in this market, there is no way. Only have serious buyers look at your home. It does take a lot of work to get it in viewing condition, especially if you have pets or children (or a husband, for that matter). Great article. I am thinking of doing a For Sale by Owner, in which case I have taken note. I will show buyers the house and then step outside for them to look and talk freely. Any pointers for those who want to list it themselves?
By Veski40,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:12
Either you like the property or you don't. No need for the buyer to leave "trashy" comments. I had a buyer that said "nice place" but in the wrong neighborhood for the asking price. They knew what the neighborhood was like before the visit but used it as a basis to submit an insultingly low bid. Well, it was a diamond in the ruff in my opinion, and the people who bought it realized as such and presented an offer close to the asking price.
By Chantel Covino,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:16
I am laughing SO hard! She nailed this...I went and looked at a home a few months ago, and the lady was there and made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. And guess what? She had painted cukoo murals in the kids rooms and she followed us, explaining why she painted them, etc. It was so uncomfortable! I couldn't wait to get out of there!
P.S. The house wasn't that bad, but it's still on the market!!!!
By Greg,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:21
Excellent Recap...the only things I would add:

1. to be cautious as a Listing Agent to not insult the Seller over things like those gross and dusty and cob-webbed velveteen swags and drapes that they paid $500 for in 1981 and that are highly valued by them because they are in every Christmas and Thanksgiving family photo since that year, though the mangy dogs and flea-infested cats have long died off and their currently-in-rehab children's husbands and wives have long ago left them behind in divorce court. And we are left with trying to explain (delicately) that the drapes and photos are not exactly adding the the sell-ability of the property and neither is the decades-flattened and tick-infested orange shag carpeting.

2. to be cautious to not insult a Buyer with the inconvenient and totally "un-kewl" reality that unlike on HGTV, they just might have to devote more than 30 minutes to view a lot more than 3 properties before they decide which place will accommodate their 10 geriatric cats, their pot plants, their 3 disembowled SUVs, their 12 surfboards, their tanning bed, their sex dungeon and their tattered poster collection of dead Hip-Hop "artists". And then trying to further convince them that their care-free life-style might have to include an occasional dance with a vacuum cleaner or even going outside to water the plants or pick-up the 2-week old newspapers in the driveway because that is prohibited in the H/O dox.

Other than that...the article was right on target!
By Harvey Heit,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:22
Great article. You sound like a very seasoned veteran of the Real Estate Wars in both buyers and sellers markets.

Keep those cards and letters from the front line coming.
By Jan Baer,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:22
Being both a Registered Nurse and a Full time Realtor, it is so important to be honest about homes being "Pet Free" for our buyers with Asthma and Allergies. Please be completely truthful, even if the home no longer has a living pet. Pet dander get's into drapes, carpet and popcorn ceilings. It is difficult to remove and can cause respiratory distress to buyers with allergies. Thanks for your consideration and it is so important to disclose all material facts about a home.
By Judy Chauvin,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:34
I totally agree with almost all of these comments but as for being there as the listing agent. I have never sold a home by being there..and in this kind of market where I am taking buyers out to look at many many homes in one day it actually makes it hard when I have to wait for a broker to show up. Sometimes a buyer will walk though the door and know right away the house isnt for them..(almost always) and if I have a listing broker going on and on and taking the buyers time up when they really just want to move on to look at the next house on the list...To all listing agents that accompany a showing Please just let us go though the property without your need to tell us we are in the kitchen or a bedroom...thank you : )) Happy Selling !!
By Carol Presutti,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:37
Great points, but understand that in CT, a buyer's lender cannot share information about the buyer to a seller's agent.
By Tracy Bodvake,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:48
They only comment I would add about posting lots of quality pictures is that I highly recommend also posting the floor plan, if possible. It gives potential buyers a feel for not only the flow of the home but also sets their minds to where they can put their things in the new place and shows where windows and blank walls are, etc. They are already visualizing living there!
By Kent.david,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:50
Unrealistic prices. it's what's holding us up from buying a lake home in hot springs. Good article.
By lolo,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:54
We've been trying to sell and have had 85 walk throughs. Comments are "beautiful house", "shows wonderfully", "lovely, clean, well kept". And these are remarks from realtors. Out of these 85 window shoppers, one low ball offer that we laughed at. They say they cant think of any reason our house hasnt sold. I wish realtors would only take on serious buyers and not tire kickers. They are wasting my time. Or they are thinking they can get our price lowered when it is already priced to sell. They are really making it a BS market. Many people i know have pulled their houses off the market because of nonsense like this. Realtors, get some serious buyers. You are wasting everyones time!!
By Marie J. Obert,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:55
Tara, Your advice in #2 Tips for sellers -- To check with the buyers mortgage company. If my buyers mortgage company gave info to the sellers agent it would be the last time I used that mortgage company. I want the transaction to go smoothly but in no way do I want them to be privy to personal information. The mortgage company should not have given pre-approval to start with if they have something they are hiding. Marie
By Debbie Shickel,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:57
For the person who posted that a Realtor refused to show him because he would not disclose whether he was pre-approved or pre-qualified before showing him a home--the agent did the right thing. Why show someone who is not pre-qualified for a loan or who has not seen or talked to a lender? It is a waste of everyone's time the prospective buyer (if it is out of his price range), the seller who has to be prepared and leave while it is being shown and the Realtor who ended up showing a property outside of the price range or worse yet to someone who cannot get a loan. In our area, most of us put a pre-qual letter with our offers for the seller and listing agent to show that we have a serious buyer who is ready, willing and able to buy. A buyer who honestly wants to buy and not waste anyone's time will get pre-qualified or pre-approved prior to lookng at properties and it will save the prospective buyer from being disappointed to find a home that he/she loves but finds out from a lender later that they can't afford the home. Tara, I do enjoy your articles.
By Stgcret,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:57
What I find exaspering is the lack of uniformity/expertise between Appraisers.

Oct 2010 I had an appraisal performed by Company A for Lender A. The lady was "very" thorough and knowledgable. She came up with $135,000. 3 weeks later Appraise #2 is performed by a different Company, Appraisel for a different Lender. That idiot was at my home for 1/3 the time and kept telling me how bad he felt. His appraisel was $130K.

Of course my refi was denied in both cases because the LTV was to high. 105% then 99%. This was a HARP 125 loan app, so I should have been able to get. "The Banks" had their own "overlays" of 95% LTV. Bottom line is they just didn't want to make the loan...

in Oct 2011 another attempt at the HARP 125 was successful. Home valued at $125K and was 102% LTV. Got 30 years @ 4.875 vice my old loan @ 6.875. For those interested, the company was Goldstar Mortgage Finance out of Ft Lauderdale FL
By Robyn.nussbaum,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:58
I totally agree with Jacquie Byron. We have had our house on the market for three months now. I don't know if it's the time of year or our location on the corner, but we haven't had any offers and only four showings and two open houses. We get great feedback after every showing, so I don't understand what the deal is. I am expecting a baby this summer and we are about to take the house off the market if we don't get an offer in a few more weeks. That being said, it is really hard for me to keep our house in "showing condition". My husband and I both have full time jobs, he travels for work a lot, and we have a German Shepherd to clean up after too. We are going to consider selling again in a couple more years, but next time around, we will do things differently, as in having showings only for people who are serious. Last week, I had to take an hour and a half off work to go home, put the dishes away, pick up the dog poopy, and get me and the dog out of the house. Doing all of that while pregnant isn't easy. We also might consider "for sale by owner" or Assist to Sell.

On the other hand, I helped my parents sell their house eight years ago when they were getting divorced. We did for sale by owner, I made flyers and an info tube, etc. I did showings while my parents were at work, but I was living in the house at the time. Looking back, it was definately an akward situation. I told the perspective buyers the situation and made them feel welcome to open any drawers and cabinets they wanted. In the end, I was successful in getting the house sold.
By Fazz,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 10:58
FSBO story: The highest sale in our neighborhood was $475K and it was a house right next door to ours. They had problems with cat odor and didn't fix it up at all. We fixed up our 14 year old house doing little cosmetic things like replacing some carpets, door knobs/latches etc. We also fixed anything that would come up in inspection. We spent $10K doing this. I figured we'd list it for $550K since it was a bigger model than the house next door. But my wife wanted $739K and wanted to sell without a realtor. OK, we were waiting for a new house to be built and had to move to an apartment anyway so we were in no hurry. I own a media company so we built a web site with lots of pictures of the house and community, floor plans—far better than what any real estate firm does. Instead of the tacky FSBO signs we had a full size For Sale sign made, with the colors of the largest broker in our area and we placed some display newspaper ads. And it was kinda funny that Realtors would contact us to tell us we were crazy to ask so much. We showed the house ourselves but were very hands off during the showings. A couple in Boston found our house on Google (we did our own SEO) and were relocating to our area in Annapolis, MD. We negotiated directly with the buyer and sold the house in 45 days for $707K, and we didn’t pay half the points—which is customary in Maryland for resales. We had my family lawyer handle the close and it was a breeze. BTW: Love the Trulia web site!!
By Jhilburn,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 11:02
After living in New England 6 years my daughter took the plunge and bought a home several months ago and moved in the home in mid-December. The sellers were licensed New Hampshire real estate agents and from the look of the property it appeared the ideal home for a young single professional. The home seemed in pristine condition inside and out. There were no major issues with the building inspector so the transaction was completed in late November. Here's the kicker. A few nights ago my daughter woke up with no heat. For two days, and the repairs are still not complete, an oil furnace expert and an electrician worked to repair her furnace. What they discovered was that the owner, a self-proclaimed "engineer", had obviously done the maintenance on the furnace himself (14 years worth) - had rewired a second thermostat which had resulted in wires going in all directions and had essentially made a mess of things and put my daughter's safety at risk. The home warrenty she purchased is invalid because the problems are the result of the former owner's negligence and stupidity and not normal wear so she will have a hugh expense. There are other issues as well but time does not permit. She is now wondering what else this man did that may cause her more problems in the future. In the meantime, my advice to anyone purchasing a home is 1. Look beyond the staging and pay attention to the bones of the house - heating and cooling, electrical wiring, plumbing, etc. 2. Instead of a building inspector you might be better off hiring heating, electrical, and plumbing experts who are qualified to look beyond the surface issues and give you a more complete picture of the home. 3. If someone indicates that they've done a lot of DIY let that be a red-flag. You might want to question whether or not the person knew what they were doing. Last, and sadly, just because someone who has "credentials" is selling a home, doesn't mean they're beyond deceit. I believe there are "disclosure" laws on the books.
By Dreamon,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 11:04
My house has been on the market for a few months now with one offer falling through just 10 days after the house was listed. I have moved excess items to storage and staged the house like a model. I have repainted several rooms, cleaned the carpet and removed all personal items. I have replaced items, made repairs and pay to have the lawn mowed and the pool keep clean. My issue is with uneducated first time home buyers. My home is a nice older home with lots of nice upgrades but it is not pristine and is priced 20% less than the comps because I need to sell due to a job change. First time buyers expect this 30 year old home to be like new. It is not and is not promoted as new. In fact the listing even states that the HVAC needs replacement and I am allowing several thousand dollars to do so. First time buyers need to take a chill pill and get educated on what to look for in an older home. They will no longer be living in an appartment where they can call the management for a drippy faucet. The price of my home reflects some needed repairs, as I am willing to work with those repairs, I am not able to remodel to their liking. My house has shown 2-7 times per week since listing. However, the buyers always find something that they don't like about it or they want to LOW BALL me even when the price is so much lower than comps. What to do? Well... I have leased an appartment and will be vacating the house so the showings will not be so disruptive. I'll replace the carpet and finish some needed repairs, including the HVAC and then hope for the best!
By Wifw,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 11:04
I agree as homeowners in this hostile economic time we are priced well below market value have our home spotless and even put out treats for our prospects. Buyers should do their homework. Read the things my agent had taken the time to list. Yes. I have a fully finished basement in 5000 sq feet. Please don't waste my time and yours viewing a 6/4.5 home and tell me its too big. Which part if three stories 5000sqft sounded like a bungalow. It works both ways. As a seller. I know its tough to sell.we get that -most of us anyway. Awesome article. I am forwarding it to my agent. Thanks
By jamiedee58,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 11:09
When we were home hunting once we looked at a great house that was being rented, the renter was upset that the house was being sold and that they would have to move. During the showing they turned up opera music so loud the walls were shaking, then she began frying food in the kitchen. The realtor asked her to turn down the music because it was deafening (only plus we got to hear the built in sound system), she refused saying "I am required to let you in but I am not required to change my life" - it was horrible, we left, (she got her way but the realtor was going to call the owners to tell them what happened.) If you are a seller and have a renter on property, be sure they are not sabotaging your sale.
By Roberta.auwema,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 11:10
Great article and good points. Truely see both sides as a seller and a buyer. Our house has been for sale over a year. Sometimes pictures don't do a house justice. As in our house, it is much larger than it appears. We usually are not home for viewings. One time I was on my way out when the party arrived. I was waiting in my car and they asked me to come in to answer questions. I had no problem with that. We have nothing to hide.
By Manisha Jain, Broker, Realtor,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 11:13
Great Article,will definitely share!
By cbsimpsonaz59,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 11:33
There is a market where I am looking and the sellers are over pricing their places. Is that typical when there are not alot of choices in an area? It just doesn't seem right when the appraisal value probably wouldn't come close to what they are asking.
By Roz Abellera,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 11:35
Great article. A lot of people need to learn proper etiquette when dealing with other people's homes.
By Mhillpm,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 11:36
wHERE DO i START?? I have a very nice 3 bedrm, 3 bth, oversized 2 car gar., lovely finished family rm. , in a small subdivsion.. a wonderful place to raise a family, have a pet, nice neighbors,Location is fantastic, for the local work market...I was told by many, my home was a show piece, as I am a decorator, and very fussy about keeping my home nice.. for a home that is 30 yrs old , it has been updated & looks like a new home .. I am not a believer of these dark walls, If you want color , put it in your drapes or furniture I had the house on the market last June w/ a realotor, they agreed on the price, when I signed the contract, but shortly after, started asking , me to reduce the price of the house...Never did they say, we will reduce the $10,000.00 we will be charging for the few ads we have placed,, The price of houses does reflect the fact , all the red tape has made it hard to sell your own home, anymore... but,come on, the realtors have made a killing in the past and continue to do so... with out much effort...( Name me one that isn't crying , because they did loose alot of money in the stock market..just proves they had the money to invest.) If we all keep lowering the price of our homes, none of them will have any value... and than the realators will have a reason to cry....I will be putting my home on the market again this spring ,myself.... I just hope I can do it without some buyer wanting to take advantage of me ... Thank you very much for reading my opinion... and lets all try to convince these real estate companies, if they want to sell for less, than they take less too.. after-all we are in this together..., because , ( I forgot to mention , I am getting older and , I need to sell, the grass n snow and home owner ship is becoming harder ea. yr. for me.) To someone else they could have all the joy of owning this beautiful home that I have had and love it ,in a awesome location,,BUT , I CAN NOT GIVE IT AWAY, I HAVE PUT ALOT OF HARD WORK INTO THIS HOME , HOPING IT WILL CONTINUE TO BE A JOY TO THE NEXT BUYER....
,,
By Lloydeshipley,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 11:42
As a realtor, I agree totally with what has been said, But one must remember, weather someone is a buyer or seller, a realtor can only make suggestions as to what is right and what is wrong. If I am working with a buyer, I explain to them up front what is out there in their price range. I will not show clients a property with the hopes that the seller will drop the price 50, maybe 100 K. it's just not going to happen. I think when you communicate with your buyer and explain everything. They are more at ease taking your suggestions under consideration more easily . If I am working with a seller, I explain to them the same exact thing as what they should expect. Without having them tell me the price, I explain to them that they should think of a price of what they would like to get for the purchase of there home. If an offer comes in close to that price, I explain to them they in this economy that hey should accept the offer.
By Lloydeshipley,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 11:42
As a realtor, I agree totally with what has been said, But one must remember, weather someone is a buyer or seller, a realtor can only make suggestions as to what is right and what is wrong. If I am working with a buyer, I explain to them up front what is out there in their price range. I will not show clients a property with the hopes that the seller will drop the price 50, maybe 100 K. it's just not going to happen. I think when you communicate with your buyer and explain everything. They are more at ease taking your suggestions under consideration more easily . If I am working with a seller, I explain to them the same exact thing as what they should expect. Without having them tell me the price, I explain to them that they should think of a price of what they would like to get for the purchase of there home. If an offer comes in close to that price, I explain to them they in this economy that hey should accept the offer.
By Gloria Duy,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 11:46
We sold two houses in this bad economy, both in less than a month. One was our home and one was my deceased MIL's house. We put all of our extra stuff in storage and removed a couple pieces of furniture from each room. We scrubbed, painted and neutralized. We even had new counters installed. In my MIL's house we completly emptied it. and painted. Nothing worse than looking at a dead persons possessions for killing a deal. I once looked at a house that had a rose on the dead persons bed. Creepy and sad. In this market you need to have a perfect house or a dirt cheap house. Nothing in between will sell.
By Mringle3,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 11:49
I think some of the responsibility falls on the agents. Buyer's agents do not need to repeat negative remarks about a home that the potential buyer is not interested in purchasing and don't bring "bottom feeders" to view a home that is not a distress sale. Likewise, Seller's agents need to advise potential buyers up front what to expect from the property by pre-viewing it and advise why the home is being sold.
By Mhillpm,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 11:55
I would like to add, for those looking to buy a home... when the apraisels are done,,, this is the kicker---- be sure this stick built house w/ a steel beam, ( safer in inclement weather , takes less upkeep etc..)) are not being compared to a modular built home , that gets built and than set in..... There is a tremendous difference, but often with apraisels in todays market, will be compared to a cracker box, because it is of size and location , they go by... which is hard to digest... we still have to educated the educated... regarding what would be the best buy, not to mention... the realator, needs to know all about the local area in which the house is for sale.. when the owner is not to be present to answer those questions... I may have lost a potential good buyer because, the realotor didn't have those answers at the correct momet..when the buyer was HOT to buy...
By Bonnie Kelly,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 11:58
Great article. Buyers want to walk into a clean house that they can envision as their home from day 1. If it is priced right, clean, and uncluttered, the seller won't have the inconvenience of having the house on the market indefinitely. It will sell quickly.
By Gluchus1,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 12:02
If a property is priced correctly to begin with, say, 15,000 dollars below the comps, is there a rule of thumb on how low a seller should reasonably reduce the price to NOT be taken advantage of? I wouldn't blame a borrow for trying a 'hail mary' pass and giving a low-ball offer, but which is better? Price exactly where the comps are for other houses, OR, price below the comps to elicit interest? The problem I see is twofold-if you don't price it well below other comps you won't get viewer traffic, BUT, if you price it below the comps, buyers will STILL give low offers, so how do you then make a counter offer that is small since you've already reduced the price when you originally listed it? In other words, does making it lower at the initial pricing cause you to lose money in the end?
By Carolyn Lewis,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 12:11
I have also looked at hundreds of homes over the past 10-15 years with no luck. One thing older people have to think about is not having STEPS inside their home, and being close to the bathroom and kitchen. Aging population (over 50) need to be conscious if you have a real sickness, the rooms mentioned need to be close together. We renovated our ranch style house and put the bedroom to walk into the DR and KIT. I had surgery this year and it was fabulous to be able to NOT WALK DOWN A LONG HALLWAY TO GET THERE! Many times people can renovate cheaper (if they like their neighborhood and location) than they can buy another home.
By Read,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 12:13
Frankie@hotmail.com
I looked at a house that the sellers did not disclose there were issues with the roof and flood on the wood floor. Why did this not get put on the disclosure form. I wasted my time and the time of the realtor I was using.
By Ron Aguilar,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 12:13
pay close attention to #2. As a lender many of my buyers are getting prepared to get approved...
By Sue,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 12:14
I have the largest home in town with a indoor basketball court. After 7 months of no action, I am giving the home back to the bank because I owe much less than they need to unload. My realtor says that people only want cheap safe homes now. I need to move on with my life. Bought a farm with the little cash left.
By Read,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 12:14
Frankie@hotmail.com
I looked at a house that the sellers did not disclose there were issues with the roof and flood on the wood floor. Why were these issues not put on the disclosure form? I wasted my time and the time of the realtor I was using.
By Helen Oliveri,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 12:17
All great tips Tara!
By Demos Papadopoulos,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 12:24
Another great article! Thanks Tara
By John Crowe,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 12:30
Photos do not always tell the truth - sometimes good, sometimes bad. Professional photography is relatively inexpensive, makes sense to invest in the sale of the home.

Good points.
By Randy Calloway,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 12:40
I love hearing these "for sale by owners", sellers and buyers bashing Realtors. Good for you if you got a higher price. I hope that you disclosed everything and nothing goes wrong with your home. Most buyers will take the 5% or 6% that you would be paying to a Realtor off of their price offered. How will you know if they are a serious buyer and qualify? There is a reason that most people( even Doctors and Lawyers) use a Real Estate Proffessional. It is not just putting a couple adds in the paper. For every Feel Good For Sale By Owner Story, there are 5 bad stories. Almost 90% in my area of California do list eventually with a Realtor. If something does go wrong with the finacing,inspection,or 100 other things that go wrong, you will not be worried about the 6%. If afterwards you get sued for playing Realtor they are not going to take it eBuyerasy on you, and I can guarantee it will cost you well over the commission you were trying to save.I suggest you hire an honest Realtor and not the one who tells you the highest price at the listing presentation. Buyers, if an agent asks you if you are pre- approved, he or she is doing their job. If you coope rate, you will probably get a better interest rate,terms because of the agents expertise and contacts.If your house has not sold, it probably is overpriced.Agents do not set the prices, the buyers who see your house do.
By Nikky,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 12:58
I would also like to add for sellers,,don't leave the home after we get there, and leave a child up in their room,,we were going thru a house, (after the owners finished getting ready to leave)went upstairs opened a door and SURPRISE, there was a 12 year old changing in her room,,needless to say, we aren't even going to consider the house. They could have at least let us know after the 15 minutes they were still there, that a child was staying home.
By Stephanie Lang,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 12:59
All great points Tara! Your posts always have such good information!
By Rooms In Bloom,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 13:04
In this day and age it takes 3 things to sell a home:

Price + Condition/Appearance + Location = Sold Home

Sellers have total control over the condition/appearance of the home so as a professional stager I tell them to take advantage of that! Do what has to be done in order to sell. This means consulting with a professional stager so he/she will customize a PLAN for your property. The stager will tell you objectively what needs to be done to both prepare and showcase the home for sale. No more guesswork. No more wondering why the house isn't selling. Even if the seller does all the work themselves, having a pro stager guide you through what needs to be done and how the house should be set up is priceless.

Price is out of a seller's control as it depends on what the market will dictate for a home of that size and location. If you price it too high, even if the home is professionally staged, it's not going to sell. Price it to sell from the start!

Location cannot be changed HOWEVER buyers who fall in love with the property because of its appearance/condition will consider being flexible on either the price and location of the home.

Its very difficult for sellers to be objective about the appearance/condition of their home. Its a common theme throughout all of these responses that sellers don't understand what the problem is or where the objections are coming from about their homes. So find out. Get a staging consultation done so you know what to do, what the issues are and form a PLAN to make your house the best looking home in your area!

http://www.homestagingdesign.ca
By Carol Murray,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 13:22
As an agent, one of my biggest "peeves" is when listing agent's do not put a picture of the property on the MLS when they first list it. Photos should be the first thing they do before listing the property. The other "peeve" is when agent's only put one photo on the listing or only exterior photos. This sends a HUGE RED FLAG to buyers....and so it should! Thanks for the great article....keep 'em coming!
By Peggys,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 13:35
Wow, your #1 to buyer, Unjustified, extreme lowball offers, really hits the spot for me. Back in 1981 the market was bad like today, but for different reasons - I remember that mortgage rates were as high as 16%! We got an offer that was only 1/3 of the listing price. We told our agent that we would not counteroffer because this was an insult. Next, the biggest faux pas occurred. Our agent told their agent why (insult) who shared it with her clients. Later that night, the buyer woman telephoned me to say they didn't mean to insult us, this was just the way it is done in their home country.!!!!! Well I informed her that they lived here now and the home country methods mean nothing. We had no further dealings with them and we sold the house 1 month later for 95% of the listing price.
By George Everett, Snapshotamerica.com,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 13:37
Since almost everyone shops online first, The number 1 thing people look for are good professional photos and virtual tour. That is the FIRST IMPRESSION that determines if your property makes the cut with potential buyers. Agents who regularly use a true professional photographer know the results. The opportunity for better leads, more quality showings, quick sales and less price reductions.
By Briana,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 13:54
how about when a house is listed (we made an offer slightly over asking price...) only to see the house relisted a week later, $22k MORE than the original asking price... can anyone explain this to me? I understand that it is a short sale, and the price has to be approved by the lender, but why would they list it for that price if the bank wasn't willing to accept that price!? I read somewhere it is called a "COME ON" offer.. like to get a buyer hooked on the house, they they may not have otherwise looked at? Just seems unethical to me!
By Michael Vrielink,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 13:54
What a fantastic well written post. Thank-you for this, your points are right on the money!
By jac.coop,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 13:57
When we sold our last house, we were both working night shift and sleeping during the day. We had three cats and three litter boxes. Having no idea how our house could be shown given our circumstances, we found ourselves a six month furnished rental that allowed our cats, moved in, then "staged" our house before putting it on the market. It looked so clean and beautiful I wanted to buy it myself...long story short, it sold the first weekend it was listed, and we had a place rented for six months which gave us a lot of time to find the house we really wanted. If you can, as a buyer, possibly afford to do this, it saves you a lot of hassle.
By Sonia Fagg,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 14:08
Having watched HGTV for the good hints I cleaned out my 1961 bi-level house (4 bedrooms, 1 1/2 bath, rec room with gas fireplace, pool and cedar shed, fenced yard, nicely landscaped, patio and two tier deck) and put lots of stuff in storage, painted rooms in pastels or white, replaced all carpeting, replaced old lighting fixtures and the cabinet pulls on the customized kitchen cabinets, had the chimney overhauled and replaced steel liner, replaced pool liner, restained the decks, removed large furniture to make it look spacious and organized all the closets and cabinets. I kept it clean and smoke free (my husband was relegated to the backyard to smoke) and I took pictures of each room plus the hallways, the stairway, the yard, the outside of the house and the bathrooms. When I was ready I called two realtors to come in so that we could get it on the market. Our development was not the best but we lived in the best part of it. The first realtor asked what we wanted for it. I had looked for months over sales in the area and what was for sale at that time and what hadn't sold. There were at least 5 other homes like ours on the market but they were either not impressive in their photos or presentation, or they had none of the extras we had added over the years. When I told her we would like to get $279,000 she laughed at me and said nothing in that area was going for that price and that we should go much lower like the other houses in the area were selling for. I asked if they had all the upgrades and looked as good as ours and she said no, but it didn't make a difference. The second realtor came and looked over everything, asked questions and seemed very impressed with the house. She asked what our price was and when I told her she nodded her head and said that was a good price. Naturally I used her and I gave her the photos I took which she used in the ads. Two people came to look at it and the second couple bought it within two weeks. We negotiated and they bought it for $270,000. My realtor was happy and so were we......and the family that bought it were thrilled. I wouldn't sell a house without a realtor because I don't want to deal with the hassle of paperwork and it was well worth the commission. But I will be sure the realtor has my interests at heart too. If the second one had said the price was too high I would have asked for her suggestion and gone on from there. Also, if looking for a house, I want to see photos of the kitchen and bathrooms, living room, rec room and utility room. Photos of a bedroom are all pretty much alike unless it has some architectural interest. If there is only a picture or two or they don't show the best part of a house I won't bother to go see it. If the owner can't provide enough pictures....and it only has to be one strategic photo of each room, the exterior of the house and one or two of the yard and outbuildings.....then I don't feel they are interested enough in selling it and I won't waste my gas to go to look at it.
By Lorraine Anastasio,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 14:15
Thank you for this well written article. I will be sharing this with my buyers & sellers!
By Andie,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 14:23
Be respectful of the home you are viewing. We had potential buyers not only use our bathroom, but not flush. Yuck! This was an upper bracket home that I tried to bend over backwards to have spotless and return to wrappers and trash on the counter- let alone the bathroom situation several times. Also for agents if you want the seller gone, don't pull up in front and call and demand to come right in. A two hour minimum would bode both parties well. Give the seller a bit of time to pick up and leave.
By rvolkening,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 14:27
I just refused to look at a short sale yesterday because the family was home, all the kids, dogs, etc. They also refused to let me see it last week due to a snow. Obviously they want to be foreclosed on. I will wait until the bank has it, maybe they will want to sell it. I also agree that a place needs to have a ton of photos of every single room AND THE YARD, this keeps everyone from wasting time. In addition, if a house lists or clearly pictures closeups of outbuildings, dog runs, etc, make sure that they are still there. I looked at a horse property which clearly listed "horse facilities" only to find out that the sheds, fencing, and ALL THE HORSE FACILITIES were excluded from the sale (excess of $8-10k worth).
By Sb413,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 14:27
I am selling a house and buying one after I sell. I always stay in the house when the house is being shown. It is a rather large house and I really cannot hear everything that is being said by the potential buyer. I have a crazy beagle who is very sweet but would no doubt run out of the house if she had the opportunity. I am also concerned that she could have an "accident" before someone comes into the house for a showing. Some people are very afraid of dogs, even beagles, and I have to keep an eye out. So I am there and I cannot help if someone is not happy about that.

I have advised my agent that I have a problem with someone going into my drawers. I am not selling furniture and so there is no reason to go into drawers at all. I also do not like it if an agent leaves me alone when I am looking at a house and allows me to wander around. They do not know who I am and it means that they would allow that in my home too. We have some really bad people out there and money is not the only thing they steal. It would never occur to me to look in someones drawer and so I do not do it but I will look in a closet. If the owner is there I will ask permission. I will never bad mouth a house in the presence of the owner but will tell them they have a lovely home as I leave. No one has bad mouthed my home to me yet but I think I would show them the door if they did. It is simply bad manners. It also does not work to do that to reduce the pricer of the home. It does not work well. I do not feel sorry for someone who would have to redo the kitchen because it is not their taste.

I find the home selling part to be difficult after 37 years and if someone does not like my taste then they know what they can do about it. Change the house if they buy or look elsewhere.
By Shanna Brown,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 14:32
My biggest Pet peeve also involves the photos posted online. Some of them HAD to have been taken years before. In some cases, the houses looked to be in excellent condition, yet when I see them in person, I wonder if it would even be legal for someone to live in it! Yes, buyers should beware of listings with only one picture. I have also found they like to omit pictures of rooms that are either undesirable or need a lot of work. One house had pictures of every room except the kitchen and bathrooms. Went to look at it- the kitchen and bathrooms had been gutted :(
By Nmcphersonjames,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 14:34
Worst ever: When the current tenants have no idea the home is being sold. We have been in this situation not once but TWICE. In the last situation the tenants were so upset they almost let their dog go attack mode on our agent. We high tailed it out of there before we were next. In both situations the our agent contacted the sellers agent and the sellers agent contacted the owner. No one contacted the residents actually living in the home. In the situation with the dog the residents hadn't heard from the owner in over a year and the home was in foreclosure. :(
By Melissa Shriver,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 14:40
Stay away from tenant occupied homes in foreclosure. Its your job to evict them and a lot of time you can't see the property.
By Vicki Begley,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 14:41
Great article! I am posting it to my facebook page!
By Kim Nwachukwu, Texas Realtor,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 14:43
"Great article... wish there was something that also explains that using pushy Realtors turns buyers way, way off. Had a Realtor refuse to meet with me because I wouldn't disclose to him whether or not I'd been approved for a loan (I had, I just didn't want to be hounded). "

Good agents always qualify buyers. If a buyer didn't want to share that information with me I wouldn't show him the property either. It's a 2 way relationship - and if you don't want to share your situation with me, then I don't have time to work with you - there are too many other buyers out there that value my services and understand the need for the information, and sellers that have no desire for unqualified buyers to enter their properties. Your failure to share information about an important part of the process prevents good agents from doing their jobs.
By Sb413,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 14:44
When I first put my house up I interviewed a number of agents to see who the work and what their suggestions were about my house. Most were very nice but all had selling prices all over the place which was a surprise to me. One agent walked in and criticized everything in the house including stating that the ceiling was low when it was a standard ceiling of 8 feet. I think she wanted to me to put the house up for a low price so that it would sell faster. Naturally she did not get the house. I am not stupid and I know what is new and nice in the house and what needs work. But that is true for every house. No house is perfect and it is a matter of liking the house generally and fixing it up to your liking. If a house has not been fixed up in 40 years and there are many that are simply museums, they need a lot of money to restore it to something nice.
By Lillian Bissing,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 14:49
This one's for Buyers. Please show up when you make an appointment to see a house.
By Sid,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 14:50
Sometimes the problem is the listing agent. We viewed a home on the market for 550,000 and the assessment was 310,000. The home was built in the 1800's and had a ton of problems. Upon our first inspection we pointed out the water stains on the upstair ceilings and the damp basement. Because of the age of the home we brought in an inspector specializing in older homes who identified a bug infestation that was destroying the beams holding up the home, many windows were original single pane, some original electrical work that posed an immediate fire danger, a leaky roof, and inoperable fireplace, and plank flooring that was heaving but covered by wall to wall carpet, and two porches that needed to be jacked back up. These were some of the major problems. We offered the report for half of what we paid to the seller who wasn't interested. We placed a good faith offer for 50 grand more than the assessed value which was current, with a 5000 deposit down. This was back in early 2010 with a very depressed market. The seller did not respond. She sat on this house for a year and a half and eventually sold it for less than we offered. We were contacted by the agent who told us our original offer would be accepted but we were no longer interested.

This house was extremely overpriced by the sellers agent. Maybe the seller insisted on the selling price ...I don't know, but I would think any any respectable agent would refuse to list a house that was so outrageously overpriced.
By eddiebreen,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 14:53
When it comes to professional pictures, please don't use the "magic" lenses that make the space look far larger than it is. I think that's deceiving. As to the occupants at home at the time of the showing, not only should you leave, you should make sure that the potential buyers don't see you parked at the curb, engine on, waiting for them to leave.
By marie combs,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 14:56
Great advice,but include the square footage of the rooms, thats what I look for.MC
By Susan Thiess,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 15:08
As a realtor, I caution my sellers to make sure that buyers are not greeted with any strong odors when they walk in the door. That includes heavily scented air fresheners! It's often difficult for sellers who are used to the odors in their home to realize how their home smells to others who don't live there. Avoid strong cooking odors (curries, broccoli, fried foods, burned toast, etc); cooking odors can linger for more than a day. Buy a cooking jar candle designed to help neutralize cooking odors. Empty the garbage, especially in the kitchen, frequently. Get rid of musty-smelling furniture, rugs, etc. Don't smoke in the house! Wash pet bedding regularly and clean a litterbox at least twice a day. Clean the carpeting to get rid of stains AND odors. And don't try to cover up home odors with a lot of air fragrance! Some buyers are sensitive to perfumed scents and may not be willing to see a home that has strong fragrances, and other buyers are likely to wonder what you're trying to cover up.
By Jack Fleming,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 15:24
Here's a bulletin for the FSBO sellers. You on average get 10-15% less than by using a licensed realtor.
85% of the FSBO's wind up listing with a realtor.
The majority of lawsuits regarding real estate transactions are filed by buyers against sellers.
By Jeremy Arnold,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 15:30
As someone that just sold 20k higher than I bought for in 2008, staging is ultimately important for the sale. We paid a guy 2k to do it and it looks beautiful. It helped that he was able to reuse our furniture we had(Ikea). My only complaint was when one family did a walk-through, I came back and my basement stunk to high heaven from someone using the restroom. Even my dogs were disturbed by the odor, it was that bad.

As someone looking to buy.

1. If your condo isn't FHA approved, you're going to sit on the market for quite a while. HUD is no longer allowing spot approvals for loans, the whole neighborhood has to be approved and that's a 3-6 month process, possibly going to cost a couple thousand if there's a management company involved because they'll charge for the documents and processing. I've yet to find a lender willing to do a DELRAP.

2. We can see your sales history, if you bought your house in 06 and you're now listing it for 50k more than you paid, I'm going to bid on your buying price, not your listing price. The market hasn't recovered from the crash and I'm not really interested in the money you've spent decorating, I'll probably change it anyways.

3. Your HOA is killing you. With rules like "can't wash car in the driveway" or "any more than one pet has to be approved by the council" its really off-putting to enter a 30 year contract to be constantly hounded by busy-bodies.

4. I once did a walk through of a house where the 8 year old child was following me around yelling "you can't have my house." It worked, I didn't buy it.

5. Pictures are very important, I don't plan on driving to any house unless I have good photos of the front, back, front view, back view, and multiple photos of each room. I don't care if a toilet is in the photo, but I will giggle since the staging websites advise against it.

6. Reduce your furniture, you probably have rooms set up to be very comfortable for you, but if I feel I'm squeezing around things to move around your house, I'm going to feel claustrophobic and that is the death knell for a house for me.

7. You're probably going to pay closing costs, people don't have 8k sitting around to pay towards closing that doesn't reduce their principal. With how overpriced homes are currently, its a pain for some people to even get 5% for the down-payment. If it makes you feel any better, the buyer will have PMI to deal with for the next 5-7 years as punishment.

8. The more car salesman like your realtor is, the less likely I am to buy. If I feel that I'm getting a sales pitch at all I'm out, I know what I'm looking for, and what I'm looking at (Hint: I'm doing a home inspection when I walk through) I will check the age of the furnace, the type of windows, vinyl vs aluminum, I'll look for cracks in the foundation, I'll check for water intrusion, type of plywood on the roof, etc...

9. Most of all, you're pricing way too high. If you aren't in a very select market, you won't get it.
By thechemwife,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 15:32
Pictures of the yard are a must... We are just starting the looking process b/c we are about ready to put our home on the market after lots of upgrades.... I don't even consider looking at houses if they don't have yard pics because my family and I consider the back yard an extension of the home and we spend lots of time outside spring through fall!
By Paula Evans,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 15:34
As a Realtor, I applaud the comments in the article. I try to reason with my clients, both sellers and buyers, to realize that a home sale should be a win-win situation. Sellers, don't hide problems; Buyers, don't expect the home to be given away. The properties are just that, someone's home and should be respected as such. In this day and age, comps can be calculated fairly accurately. Before my buyers make an offer, I show them the comps. If my calculation differs greatly from the listing price, I contact the listing agent and ask what comps were used. And for my sellers, I provide the comps and explain the value of their home relative to these - i.e. new kitchens, baths, etc. I believe an educated client, whether seller or buyer, will be a much more realistic, and ultimately, happier, client.
By Diane Smith,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 15:50
The advice saying owner should be absent so prospective buyer will feel free to open drawers and cabinets, was stunning. I am astonished that a buyer is in any way more informed as to the condition, dimension or anything else about the house by opening drawers and cabinets. You look at the door or drawer and you pretty much know the inside dimension. Closets seem reasonable. But just rifling the house seems more like "casing the joint" to me. Of course, with the rabble that go to Open Houses and the compliant agent "sitting" the house, that is about what it is reduced to. I had a small curio cabinet opened and 3 Battersea boxes ($195 - $350 each) stolen on an Open House. I did not consider them "out" as they were behind a closed glass cabinet door. I guess that was a cabinet they felt free to open.

In my lifetime, I have sold six nice looking homes, furnished tastefully - albeit to my taste. To me, "staging", a recent tool invented to assist the agent/broker is an unnecessarily expensive add-on. My Ethan Allen furniture is not going to be moved out in favor of some stager's rented junk with champagne glasses on a cheap table! If a buyer cannot envision the house without the furniture he probably ought to working on his imagining skills. In my opinion, "stagers" are singularly lacking in interior decorating talent. I suppose next it will be,the buyer saying, "Let me move my furniture in here on a trial basis to get the feel of it while you store your furniture and go stay in a hotel. Oh, and seller pays my expenses if I don't like the arrangement or my loan doesn't go through.
By Diane Smith,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 15:53
The "errors" are probably my criticism of the way real estate business is being conducted now. Skip it.
By chickletrules,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 16:10
I'm looking to buy a house and was amazed when I walked into a house where the buyer was not only there but eating a very pungent smelling lunch with her huge family. The house was also packed to the brim with stuff and dirty.
ugh..I didn't even want to come in!
By Karenc2410,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 16:19
All great advice but there is exceptions, I have been trying to sell my home for 2 years, and had listed with 3 different agents, just signed up with the third one. Every time I have asked the agents what I need to do to help sell my home, and still no luck.
House was appraised 8/09 and that started the price now 2 yrs. later and down $220,000 still no buyer. Its located in the mountains of NC 15 mins. from GA with acreage and a second home on property that could be rental income or guest home or grounds keeper, home is in good shape. What can I do or Who can I contact for help. And another thing I have had showing but my agents won't call and get any feedback.....HELP!!
By Ana Roche,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 16:24
I want to add that sellers should be upfront on all the problems that a house has. I hate it that we wasted time to find out that the repairs noted are unfixable and now we are back to home searching.
By Annmail1,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 16:29
Well, as a potential buyer, I've checked out all sorts of homes, in the past few months. A few showings have involved the sellers (or kids of the sellers) being home. I wasn't really bothered by them. In fact, one couple was extremely helpful in telling me what the HOA fees did and did not cover (and helped me to make a decision NOT to buy in that community....!) I've been in immaculate homes, and in very, very scary/dirty/falling down homes. The most heartbraking experience was when I decided to pursue a short sale (after failing to qualify for a mortgage to buy the house that I was under contract with - even after preapproval for a higher amount...) The short sale was seemingly beautiful. I visited it about 5 times, total, and finally decided to have it inspected. The realtor described it as "impeccably maintained". After having it inspected, it was revealed that the house would need between $200,000 and $250,000 worth of work (the house was listed at $209,000). All in all, the most disappointing part, so far, has been dealing with bad mortgage companies and real estate lawyers. The actual sellers and realtors that I interact with are pretty cool. It's the "other" people you have to deal with that suck.
By Annie,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 16:39
As a seller, I would like to add a few items, which should be included in the article. I am tired of people coming, who aren't even approved for the amount in which we are looking to reasonably sell our home for. Also, when bringing your children, please keep your child with you at all times instead of letting them roam in the sellers home, like it's their home. I totally agree with the article as well, but just tired of the "buyers market" attitude and the mindset of buyers, who believe they can dictate what you will get for your home. If you are not a serious buyer, please don't waste any sellers time.
By Jeffrey Molloy,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 16:51
Not only does a messy or poorly maintained home turn off the buyers....as an Inspector it makes me put everything in question ... if the inside of your oven is filthy, I just cant wait to see the inside of you air handler!
By Jeffrey Molloy,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 16:54
As to Annie's comments above I agree. Keep your children by your side. One day I was up in an attic with all kinds of hazards, electrical, asbestos, insects....I hear something behind me and I see the buyers child "playing" in the insulation! You know if something happened they would have blamed it on me.
By Joanne Bernardini,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 17:04
This is a fantastic article to share with both buyers and sellers! It is to the point and oh so accurate! Thanks for sharing!
By Bbkessel,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 17:27
We were advised by our agent to remove personal items such as photos. It helps to declutter and clean clean clean!
By Mandy Wise,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 17:46
To the sellers:

1. No pets or homeowners in the home for showings.
2. Clean, clean, clean. EVERYTHING.
3. Your are selling a commodity now. This no longer your home it is a house that needs to sell. Start removing yourself emotionally from it.
4. Compromise. Instead a room painted all red, leave a focal wall red and paint the remaining walls off white or beige.
5. NEUTRALIZE it. Remove as many "Themes" meaning "roosters" or "golf" etc.
6. No more than 1 or two family photos should be displayed.
6. Painting is the cheapest fix.
7. Remind yourself that you will be a buyer soon and ask yourself what are the things you would expect to see when viewing a home.
8. Yes, it does take hard work and time to sell a home. Get over it!

To the buyers:
1. Don't look a home if it is not your style. If it isn't your style based on pictures then it just isn't your style. It takes hours to prepare a home for a showing..
2. Read the listing carefully before scheduling a showing.
3. Remind your agent to provide CONSTRUCTIVE, PRO ACTIVE feedback to the homeowners of each house you visit. This is only fair to the seller. Negative feedback, or comments stating the obvious "Doesn't have a pool", "Only has X amount of rooms" or, my all time favorite "Not my style" (!!?) are NOT CONSTRUCTIVE or HELPFUL.
4. Be educated about the home you are viewing. Do your homework.
5. Low balling is NOT clever.
6. Looking into closets and built in cabinetry is acceptable. Looking into homeowner's personal furniture IS NOT.

Finally, good luck to the sellers and the buyers in this market.....it's a jungle out there!!!!
By Nbf,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 17:53
I totally agree with Dianne, my house for sale is a 100 year old home. The real estate agents are bringing in everyone. Even with many pics. On the web. The prospective buyers give feedback with their dislike of the smaller rooms and no open floor plan. The house is not going to change in person from what the see on the web. It is very difficult working 12 hour days and keeping up the house in viewing shape. But I'm afraid if I tell the agent to screen better, we may not have any showings.
By Ana,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 18:10
Thanks for this series. I rent out my country home and in turn I rent in town. Someday I would like to sell and buy and I get good tips from these posts. The bit about criticising properties hit home. Before the market went bad I considered selling my country house. There were 2 neighbors that were possibly interested. One claimed the house was a dump. Yes it could use some updating, but I had tried to maintain it: replaced the roof and heat pump; taken care of plumbing and sewer issues; fixed the balcony. The other neighbor simply said it was out of his price range. To this day I would rather lower the price and sell to the kinder honest neighbor. Yet I still had something to learn from today's tips. I have gotten attached to my rental in town and would consider buying it. I know the owner had it listed it for 134,000; paid 128,000, tax assessments have been lowered to 118,000 and the bank owned house down the street of similar size, but better landscaping sold for 89,000. I know better now that to bring all this up if I should decide I want this house.
By Elise Timpe,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 19:02
All these comments remind me of the necessity of educating buyers and sellers on the entire process. It also demonstrates the difficulties that agents sometimes face.

For instance, Andrew Veale complained that an agent wouldn't show him homes because he wouldn't say upfront that he was prequalified (and probably insisted on seeing homes before discussing qualifications). He probably doesn't realize that what most buyers "assume" they can get a loan for turns out to be incorrect. He is also most likely unaware that agents aren't paid a salary to show them homes. The agent, no doubt experienced, saved themself and local sellers a lot of wasted time not to mention gasoline. Serious buyers will take the necessary steps to purchase a home.

To Marie J. Obert and others who take offense at the idea of a listing agent speaking to the buyers lender before accepting an offer....the primary reason homes fail to sale, once an offer has been accepted, is that the buyer fails to get the loan. A listing agent doesn't necessarily get all the details of a buyer's private finances. Rather, they size up the lender's experience and expertise as well as verify that the buyer & lender have completed all the necessary steps to ensure the best chance of completing the sale. Chances are that the buyers agent and lender are unknown to the listing agent. Experienced agents have met many lenders who promise the world and don't deliver. This is something that a good listing agent should do and prevents thier clients from the stress of having the sale fall apart after they've scheduled the movers and signed an offer on their next home.

Many mention pictures. Pictures go a long way towards selling a home. They can relieve a seller from having to get everything ready for a buyer that could have eliminated the home by looking at a few pictures. They ensure that the many buyers who search only listings with pictures see their property. If a listing lacks pictures, ask the listing agent why this is. The listing agent is the one responsible for putting pictures in the listing. That's one of my pet peeves....description says "gorgeous panoramic view".....then there is a picture of the back of the house.....

Lastly, for the poor sellers who struggle to keep everything picture perfect..I feel for you. That is the hardest part of finding a buyer. You have to entertain a lot of frogs before you find your true Buyer.
By CAROL ONDER,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 19:16
Good post! Seller's hire us to market their homes. We try to make sure each perspective buyer is qualified prior to showing. My seller's work really hard to make sure their house is immaculate. Who can blame them when a buyer finds fault with the house and they couldn't purchase it to begin with.

Another issue that will come up is the buyer who wants to present the contract to the seller. I have had a few buyer's who have tried and each time they have failed. By the way, all of them were lawyers.

Sellers should never be home for a showing. Buyer's will in many cases ask questions directly to the seller to determine their motivation for selling. This will impact your sales price. The seller hires a real estate agent to sell their home...for them to be there for the showing is called service.
By Ellen Derby,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 19:21
We are looking to sell our home- it's the first home we've ever owned, and the first time we've ever sold one. It's an older home in a small town. We've done a lot to it, putting it in much better shape than when we bought it, both aestheticly and and functionally. But it is a house built in 1853. We have lived here for 10 years and were busy raising children... which means that we could not afford or have the time to gut the place. I've been given the impression that buyers are going to be looking for a place in pristine condition... to me looking at old homes and expecting that is rather outrageous. We looked at maybe 50 houses when we wanted to buy... almost all of them old homes... and there are old houses that need a lot of work to make them safe and functional ( and pretty) and a few that have been gutted, and rebuilt, and are what some call "restored". But most are a combination of soundly built but needing some new paint and perhaps there might be an area or two that need some repair- a lot depends on if you are buying it from an 87 year old lady or someone else. Honestly, I'm a little worried even though I think the house is in great shape. It's a cool house with unique features you can't find in newer homes- if I gutted it, they'd be gone- thus the appeal of a house older than 100 years of age.

Around here, I'm told, buyers want a lot of monetary concessions from the seller. I don't really think I should give you $5,000 at closing because you didn't prepare for or expect to pay the fees involved with the actual deal.. The reality is that there are fees involved in buying a house- like for lawyers ( who you will need) and other professionals (like the appraiser who the bank hires for you and to cover their butts) who should be paid for their work. That's what closing costs cover. I'm buying another house to finish raising my family in and need the profits of the sale for down-payment and closing on the new house, and I'm saving up for those fees right now.

Like many mid-life home owners I don't own my house outright, haven't lived here 40 years and am not getting $100,000 more for it than I paid.. And like most home owners who fix up a home- who take care of maintenance- and put their muscle into the place: I'm not getting all the money I put into it, out of the sale. I understand this and accept it. The value in a house includes many things that a price tag cannot hang from.

That's not to say I won't work with a buyer- Just that we all need to be realistic. I think this article will help us be realistic both in the sale of our house and in buying the new one.
By Voices Member,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 19:26
Great post, Tara! Thank you for spawning this discussion. Buyers and sellers are going through a major metamorphosis that is not like any other depending on their perspective and experience in a home buying life cycle. Suffice it to say, most real estate is "on sale" today vis a vis the price of construction. Loans are on sale, too. The challenge is that many who once could easily qualify for a loan cannot today. This makes the purchase and sale a much more precarious dance than in any other time in many of our lives. The existence of short sales and foreclosures is a drag on surrounding properties. That is a market issue, not a problem caused by the homeowners. We would all be wise to have empathy, be understanding and do our own due diligence. Your experienced realtor can help with this. "Low balling," over-pricing, staging or not, are all things that are relative to the particulars of a situation. Allow your real estate professional to assist you in determining what is needed given your unique situation and your micro market. In the end, the homes on the market around you are your competition at any given point in time. You want to steal the attention of your market at the right time. Be strategic and be open-minded. Our market is healing. Things will improve!
By lhadden,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 20:08
Our home will be on the market in a few days. We too are first time sellers and don't really know what to expect from buyers. We will need to live in the home while buyers stop by and we are willing to show the property but all buyers must make an appointment and bring their agent. We're not too worried about buyers wanting to low ball the selling price because it will be a short sale and the bank ultimately has the final word on the selling price. The home is maintained and will show well. Maybe we should be concerned but we're not...whatever happens in this process we will live and move on!!!
By Dave Dahlgren,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 20:16
Realtors plainly stating condition of a property and if a short sale or not or an approved one is a real big plus. I have offers on my house that I am working on and downsizing for retirement , found online what looks like a nice place in the country only to find out that is has been empty for 5 years all the copper stolen so has no water no sewer and no heat. Why am I wasting 2 hours of my time to drive there take time off work only to find a gutted shell that bears no resemblence to the online photos? Even worse selling at no discount from other houses nearby with no issues. I guess the realtor must think a buyer is blind or has no concept of what it costs to replace all the plumbing in a house.. The whole situation also says a lot about an area and have to hope the first investment is not a shotgun toward off home invaders... How do you advertize what type of heat when there are no pipes to connect anything to the heat source? Dave
By Dave Dahlgren,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 20:28
Just to add the house mentioned if advertized honestly should have said heat none, water and sewer unknown or none, bathrooms fixtures for 1 1/2 not connected to water or sewer I am sure everyone gets the drift. the asking price modest but so are comparables. At the end ofthe day sellers and their agents need to respect the buyers to some degree buy honest ads a reality check of sorts is the best way to put it i think. Open communication of problems goes a long way in trust and faith as to what you are looking at is what you get with zero surprizes. Dave rant over.. lol
By Deckthehalls,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 20:45
To buyers:

Here are a few things that have turned me off when selling my house:

I. Don't smoke in my home! ...or any where near it. I came home after a showing and my house smelled STRONGLY of cigarette smoke...the prospective buyer apparently thought smoking at our back door was OK...ummmm NO!

2. When you know that multiple offers are coming in...don't add my personal property to your offer...no you can't have my treadmill AND all of our AV equipment AND ...

3. Yes I am happy to leave and let you have a look at my home when you have the courtesy to 1) make an appointment and 2) come with your agent. If you think my home is unoccupied, ring the doorbell BEFORE looking in my windows or entering my backyard...it will save both of us embarrassment!

Thank you!
By Richard Ray,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 20:45
A big turnoff for my wife and I was unreasonable seller demands and an attitude that "you must buy this house on our terms, no matter how unreasonable". Like living in the house rent free for ten days after closing, not even allowing us to park our RV on the property after we owned it until THEY moved out. Refusal to make lender mandated repairs, and their answer to us was "change lenders"! Lots of problems with an "immaculate" house that were discovered during a home inspection...the final outcome is that we invoked the escape clause in our contract and we walked away, we found a much better and newer home only ten miles away and for only a few thousand more. THIS seller was night and day different from the previous one. If everyone works together houses can be bought and sold with a minimum of hassle, attach too much emotion to the sale and it is doomed.
By Karen Steed,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 21:00
Great tips for buyers and sellers. As an agent, I have worked with difficult sellers and difficult buyers. But I have also worked with buyers and sellers who understand the importance of realistic pricing. I love those people!
By Dzlegac,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 21:09
My first turn off was the realtor who we had planned on listing our 33 year old house with. This is the house we had lived in from nearly the beginning of our marriage, raised our kids in, had pets come and go from, (with some buried in the back yard) and in which we hosted many gatherings of family and/or friends for holidays and other events. In other words, we had an emotional attachment to the house. She started TELLING us to sell it "as is" and how much to sell it for. It needed paint, carpet and plumbing repairs, and not much was updated. Unfortunately, she left no room for my instinct or feelings, right or wrong.

In retail - any kind of retail, when you want to get ahead you need to let the customer be right. "Being right" does not mean that the realtor moves over to allow the customer makes to make poor decisions. He/she should be there to advise and assist in decision making in all aspects of the sale. But the bottom line is that the seller, being the realtor's customer has to be made to feel that the realtor can be trusted and that the he (or she) is respected by the realtor. THAT is where the groundwork is laid for a mutually workable situation that will hopefully bring about a great sale. A great sales person, realtor or other should be able to discuss, explain and reason to the point that the seller thinks they came up with the idea themselves. It's hard to do, but it should be a goal.

We ended up doing minimal repairs, enough to increase the appearance to a more appealing state than a house of 33 years might show. We did not remodel the kitchen or make other massive changes. We did not invest in repairs thinking we would increase the value of the house beyond what the comps would allow, but only enough to mitigate the value we might have lost if we hadn't have had the option of deciding to do it, pricing according to the advice of our new realtor. In the long run, the pay off was great and financially a good decision, bringing much more than it would have if sold "as is," and definitely less than we spent on repairs. And of course, we used another realtor.
By Amsotin,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 21:46
When we looked at a house there was actually their dog hidden in the hallway closet during the open house! It was quite the surprise. So my advice to sellers are don't have your animals home either, and remove all evidence of them when you have your open house which includes bedding, dishes, and litter boxes and SMELLS!!!
By dickson_charles,  Thu Feb 9 2012, 21:47
My wife and i bought another home. We are planning to just wait until we move into our new home before we put our home up for sale. that way we can clean it up good with every thing out before we put it up for sale. We aren't planning a lot of upgrading, but will offer discounts for items that we feel like the buyer would want to change
My wife wanted to change the carpet but my thoughts are the buyer may not like it even if it is new. Just give the buyer a discount for the flooring. That way they can put in the type and color they like.
By Dzlegac,  Fri Feb 10 2012, 00:34
Re: changing the carpet, I am not a real estate professional, just a person who finally got their house sold. We replaced the carpet but because it was 17+ years old and had spills and animal urine on it. It looked and I assume smelled terrible. (After living with a smell for awhile you don't smell it). Although it cost more than I would like to have paid, it was a good move. I personally believe that carpet can make a big difference in how a home looks and sells. Again, odors you are not aware of may be in the carpet, and from looking at houses recently, I can tell you that the first thing I notice is a house with a bad odor, usually I would assume coming from the carpet or uncleaned grease in the kitchen. I turn around and walk out no matter how the house seems to appear from the doorway. It also gives the house a "new home" smell, as does paint. We didn't paint although with hindsight, I believe it wouldn't have hurt and couldn't have been that expensive if we'd done it ourselves, at our leisure and in our own timing. It is true that the buyer may not like your choice in carpet or wall color, but if they aren't impressed enough to strongly consider buying your house, it's a real loss to have not done it.
By Billkp2,  Fri Feb 10 2012, 02:43
Great points Tara. Keep up the good work!
By Deborah Griffin,  Fri Feb 10 2012, 05:04
The worst is having the seller hanging around and the homes is in a mess. It's embarrassing as an agent when the odors are so bad it takes your breath away and you have the entire family hanging out in the home. Buyers typically, can't wait to get out of there.
By Stokes1941,  Fri Feb 10 2012, 05:31
how about the buyers who turn up w/realtor and wild kids who ransack your house and run thru like its a playground. the stupid realtor says nothing so asnot to offend the prospective buyer. this happens more often than realtors will admit. my house is for sale and i dont ever leave it to strangers again.
By Liz Erickson,  Fri Feb 10 2012, 07:30
This is yet another reason why FSBO's are at a disadvantage. There isn't much else that's as uncomfortable as having the owners present when you have serious Buyers. Buyers will open cabinets, closets, appliances, etc & aside from seeing if they're clean & orderly, they want to have the time & privacy from the seller to really see if the house is right for them. If the seller is hovering like a helicopter the Buyer is MUCH less likely to fully investigate the home & in turn, less likely to pursue it further.
By Stephen R. Higley,  Fri Feb 10 2012, 07:56
I had a buyer that not only low-balled me with the price, but insisted that they be able to move-in in15 days. I told my agent to emphasize that I am older, I'm moving cross country and I have two dogs and two cats. The idiot buyers told my realtor that the 15 days was "non-negotiable". Sure, I'll become homeless with my animals to accommodate their schedule. I found these buyers expectations insulting and told me realtor to tell their realtor that he needed to grow some cojones and tell his clients that an offer such as this is a waste of everyone's time.
By New York Cat,  Fri Feb 10 2012, 08:09
I recently bought a lovely little house and a week after I moved in, the seller came a-knockin'. It was really great to meet him and I got a chance to ask all kinds of questions about the various alarms, how to work the stove, where he stored the wood for the winter, etc. I think every buyer/seller should meet at some point, after the sale is made. He gave me first-hand, invaluable advice and insight into all kinds of details that only he could know. We traded phone numbers just in case I need him in the future!
By Skimmer,  Fri Feb 10 2012, 08:09
We have just had Realtors in the Dallas area tell us they are too busy to work with us. We are from another state, and it gets expensive to eat out and stay in hotels while they are putting us off, day after day. When we said we were cash buyers, they didn't want to work with us. Go figure. We had proof of funds, but they would never meet with us. I have friends who are realtors, and in this state Relocations come first. What does the agent do besides show properties and write a contract? The title company does all the work. I will be selling the next one For Sale By Owner (FSBO) and let the title company do the work. Good luck you lazy Dallas realtors. With computers, a car, a building inspection, and a title company, realtors will be a thing of the past.
By Diane Concialdi,  Fri Feb 10 2012, 10:10
Love this post Tara, Thanks.
By Mike,  Fri Feb 10 2012, 10:11
You know I do have to agree with the article. My problems stem from not ever purchasing a home in the past or being a part of the process which to me is utter lunacy. I have used Trulia to find homes for sale which works some of the time. Like realtors that will let you walk through a home that is under contract. The realtor who might have been able to do more to find out that the home was under contract. Trulia verifying there listings which they don't. Then sellers are starting to annoy me as well. Walk through a home, make an offer and the seller says no with no chance of a counter offer. Then wlak another home and the owner will not take an offer until after they have an open house. So my question is who watches the watchers and the answer is no one. Trulia pulls from ads from a system and relies on the realtor to do his job and in most cases they do not even know the home is listed on Trulia. Trulia does nothing to verify the listing is even good. The real estate agents who do not do enough to secure a home for a serious buyer. Lastly the sellers who think its OK to toy with potential buyers. I AM HAPPY TO CONTINUE TO RENT BECAUSE NO ONE WANTS TO FIX THIS BIZARRE SYSTEM!! Is the economy that good??
By Tracer B,  Fri Feb 10 2012, 10:28
SELLERS: if you house has not sold it because it OVERPRICED. There are buyers out there, but you need to sell for a REAL price in this market. So quite complaining, look at whats selling and why. We had to go down 45k, to sell but we did.
By Tracer B,  Fri Feb 10 2012, 10:41
CARPET - if your replacing the carpet before selling, dont go with the cheapest you can find. We found a home we love, but the seller replaced all the carpet with the cheap burb and cheap pad. Its so hard, I wouldnt even think of keeping any of it. Lost the money, and the offer.
By Patricia "Patty" Gillespie,  Fri Feb 10 2012, 15:35
Great post, Tara!
By David Riley,  Fri Feb 10 2012, 18:48
Thanks! As someone who is going through the purchasing process (we're just about to settle on the first house we looked at, but boy do we have some stories about when we were looking for rentals), I'll gladly back all of those up! Some specifics:

- Cigarette smoke obviously won't offend everyone, but it will bother enough people that you should really consider not smoking in your house (or not allowing your tenants to, and actually AUDITING THIS) if you're trying to get other people to buy/rent. My wife is allergic and has asthmatic reactions to smoke; we couldn't even consider one of the houses we were looking at, no matter how nice it was.

- Not everyone likes carpet. It's a pain to maintain and it retains odors (pet and otherwise). If you have doubts about the condition of the carpet you have, consider getting rid of it and putting down even a low-medium cost laminate instead. Worst case, it can always be carpeted over. As cat owners, I can say that we'll be ripping out the carpet in our new place as soon as we can afford to.

- Don't be present. I was actually a renter at one point when the landlord was trying to sell her house. The listing agent was very courteous to me and gave as much notice as she could so that I could vacate when possible (usually at least half an hour, but more often about an hour or two). I was stuck working at home one day when viewers came in, and it was one of the most awkward experiences of my life. Why would you want that? Just go to the park or a coffee shop and read for a bit if you possibly can. Of course, you have to assume no one will steal your stuff to be comfortable with that (I didn't really have anything worth stealing, but your mileage may vary).

Listing agents: Check on your properties once in a while. The second house we looked at this round was in a deplorable state; the whole place smelled like mold, the brand-new appliances still had the protective film on them (both the film and labels were peeling, probably due to moisture), and there was significant, visible water damage around the windows and on the top floor ceiling. There was even paint flaking from the ceiling near one of the leaks, and it looked like it had been so for months. With a condition like that, it's no wonder the property had been on the market over 700 days.

Anyway, I'm glad we found a realtor and a mortgage broker we really like. They've made all the difference in this process! A great inspector made a huge difference too. Use Angie's List or Yelp to find your providers if you can; having the opinions of other people is so much better than taking a shot in the dark!
By Elizabeth,  Fri Feb 10 2012, 18:57
I'll add two more to your list.
1) Don't strong arm a potential buyer. Listing agent that not only insists on being there but, also told my agent if I wanted to see the house, I had to come with an offer in hand of at least $15,000 more than list price as she had multiple offers that came in the day before. I had watched this house for 11 months dropping by $200K over the year. Did my own background check on the property owner and the situation. Drove 8 hours just to see this one house and that was the message my agent called our hotel with that morning. That was 3 months ago and the house is still listed and even cheaper but, as much as I loved the house from the outside, the agent was trying to bully us into an offer on a house we had never been inside. We called the listing office anonymously the other day and were told the price had just been lowered AGAIN and there had never been a contract pending on it. Considering reporting her to state board.

2) Smells. Neutral...no florals, no tropicals, no pine...just clean...Drives me bats when I am knocked over by an overwhelming airfreshener smell in a house.

3) one more..had an agent call wanting to show our house to a "potential buyer" when we were considering a transfer. It was Christmas and I had just had surgery two days before and though we had not listed it yet, she knew we were thinking about it. We took two days preparing for a showing during our vacation time "just in case." We decided to stay put and a year and a half later while walking one morning, a woman introduced herself as the person that the agent showed our home to at Christmas....AS A MODEL HOME! She and her husband built our exact floor plan around the corner! She told me the agent had told her we knew they were just looking at model homes and they had already purchased their lot when they saw our house. Needless to say when I called the agent and told her I had met the woman and what she told me she denied all of it. She cost herself the listing and our friendship which had included numerous referrals over the last 20 years! The same agent sent over a $8 bottle of cheap sparkling wine as a thank you gift when we closed on the new house we had built. THAT from a woman that was the listing agent that sold both mine and my husband's previous homes as well as sold us our new home....all totaled around $1.5M making her commission on all three pretty high.
By Davidm,  Fri Feb 10 2012, 19:09
My sister said she sold her house only when she had moved out and it was empty.
By Mike,  Sat Feb 11 2012, 01:00
Most agents operate with deceptive selling practices that should be illegal and they should serve jail time. I have lots of horror stories. Please-don't want to relive them. I have bought and sold my own properties using my best judgement -most in days after dumping agents after telling me to drop the price 100k just so they can get a quick sales commission. Hint--make sure to measure the square footage before you buy what the realtor is selling. Believe me the home owner is one thousand times more knowledgeable and honest, potential buyers feel that. Ask $ what you want - minis what a realtor would charge and sell yourself in days.
By Missa_butterfly,  Sat Feb 11 2012, 07:21
Great article. I had been looking for a larger place (really like the double-wide moduler homes) and one I really loved had a family living in it from out of state due to the death of their father. I understood why they lived there but it was hard to invision myself in the home alone. I could have paid cash but their would be lot rent and the court was not the best although the lot itself was roomy with trees. The family finally left it in the hands of an agent and I called to see if they still lived in the house as I was serious about taking another look. Unfortunately the sold it but I was disappointed as I would have loved to have time in the house alone. I viewed other homes that were very nice but many of the rooms had been painted dark colors or the wallpaper was very floral and would have had to be redone. For myself, I stay away from wallpapering or painting walls that might convince someone that it would be too expensive to get rid of. We may think we will stay in a home forever but you never know when you may leave and that house might be on the market. The first place had neutrel decorated walls which I would have had to do nothing to and I still kick myself sometimes for not taking it. If only it wasn't filled with people.
By Pat and Steve Pribisko,  Sat Feb 11 2012, 07:58
Great blog, as usual. You covered well the Buyer and Seller "turn-offs"
By Seemnm,  Sat Feb 11 2012, 08:41
A scan of these posts makes it obvious that comments left by buyers agents ( "love this house", "shows great", etc.) are meaningless. ADVICE TO SELLERS: Make your agent call the buyer's agent and get the true response from the potential buyers.
By Michele Allison-Elwell CBR,  Sat Feb 11 2012, 12:10
Tara - another good article to get people talking. Love it.
Yes, I am a Realtor of almost 8 years. Representing buyers and sellers. No , I didn't make a boat load of money to lose in the stock market. . Not every Realtor is dishonest and rolling in the dough from the good ole days. Sellers set the price- Agents don't have to take the listing if it is. Ask for a marketing plan and a price adjustment or work schedule outline when you list.Tell the agent what your expectations are. Please pack up and put away all your things you are not using in the next few months. Bigger space, clean counters, clean floors and bathrooms should be common sense. Buyers we would love to show you a home in person after your online preview .Just make sure you have your are preapproved form ready to show me. And no ,I will not show you a home for $25,000 + more than you can afford. My time and gas are important too. Agents are not home inspectors or construction workers. So exercise your right to a 10 day home inspection and get all the professionals in there at the buyers cost to check everything out before moving forward in the deal. Buyers please don't get mad at me if the lazy listing agent takes 1 photo of the house. I can not control that.
By Voices Member,  Sat Feb 11 2012, 14:20
Tara, you always hit the hot topics and bring it home for application.
By Tony Mac,  Sat Feb 11 2012, 14:49
Tara,

This is a fabulous, realistic desciption of everyday problems........... WITH SOLUTIONS!!!

May I have permission to reprint this as a handout?
By Cheryl Adams,  Sat Feb 11 2012, 15:36
Murals on walls or crazy paint schemes really turns me off, not everyone still has kids and wants the green room with the dinosaurs. When photographing the house, show me the house....not your furniture, I don't care about your furniture unless it is coming with the house. Declutter...sometimes it is hard to see the interior for the stuff that is everywhere.
By Rose,  Sat Feb 11 2012, 21:02
Whenever I have been a buyer I always get pre-approved and submit that with any offer, I also expect the sellers agent to call to confirm the pre-approval, the bank cannot legally reveal confidential information, but they can express their confidence in your ability to close a loan. Likewise as a seller I expect the buyer to have gotten pre-approved and expect to be checked before I would sign a contract tying up my house with them. I would never allow my house to be shown to someone who has not been pre-approved and provided a copy of that pre-approval to the agent.
I must say I am different from most here is your comments on the condition. I love older homes and prefer places that have not been touched, as I do not want to pay for someone elses taste in upgrades, likewise I want to make sure that things get fixed right and know that they weren't just cosmetically touched up while the underlying mechanicals are moldering away.
Carpeting is for ripping up, likewise laminate, old knob and tube wiring and huge old asbestos covered oil fired boilers. I would never be interested in a house that wasn't at least 100 years old. Live in a circa 1874 house for 10 years now and just bought another, a little larger, better neighborhood, also circa 1874, untouched, with 30 amp fuses, some gas lights still in place, hideous circa 1950 'updates of dropped ceilings, and frightening kitchens and baths - it's perfect! all the original crown mouldings and 10' ceilings, center medallions - irrecplaceable! I do not want some stupid stager to try to make a place look different than what it is, I want to know just what I'm getting so I know if this is a project I'm willing to tackle or not.
I also bought a house for $75K about 10 months ago and put another $200K into a complete luxury renovation, basing your offer on my purchase price, whoever said that, is the comment of a complete moron. I took a completely old neglected place and turned it into a luxury palace including opening up ceilings to expose beams, refinish original hardwoods and create 20' tall penthouse with skylights, jacuzzi baths and granite and stainless for miles.
The rental units would allow the new buyer to be paid to live in all this luxury to the tune of about $1000/month.
You get what you pay for, if the place has the right square feet and the right bones and is in your price go for it, if it looks pretty and immaculate, but it's too small or cheaply built (read newer) then it will never be a smart purchase.
Look beyond the cuckoo murals, tired old wallpaper and ancient kitchens and baths - that stuff is easy to change; tall ceilings, square feet, original details, hardwoods and location are not so easy to change....
By Househunter123,  Sat Feb 11 2012, 21:15
I would never buy a house owned and being sold by a realtor unless there was an escrow account set aside for at least 10 percent of the sale price for a year with my attorney! The escrow would represent future monies to be used for repairs, etc.

As for sellers leaving a property, I have mixed feelings on that subject. Given our experience, I think if realtors or even buyers want the sellers gone there should be security cameras running in the house while they are showing and a waiver signed that says if they are caught going through personal items they can be charged with burglary. We had a couple looking for drugs because they believed that senior adults always have some kind of drugs available for easy stealing. All of this crap about opening drawers and medicine cabinets is pure and simple garbage. Once they decide on "the" house to buy, they have plenty of time BEFORE they make an offer to go back and tell the sellers we want a closer look. From now on, we will always have security cameras running and watching from a secure location. I also suggest that your contract stipulate that the seller must be given the names of every adult entering the property with a copy of their driver's license. During the real estate boom, realtors were showing properties to anyone who could breathe or walk with no regard to either their safety or the security of the properties that they were showing.
By Patricia Assanowicz,  Sun Feb 12 2012, 04:36
while heading to look at a home for sale we were told no one was there, WRONG, when we entered, tv blaring, music upstairs, mom in kitchen making dinner, dad drinking a beer in living room watching a sports show, talk about totally uncomfortable, i felt like i was intruding. the wife yells from the kitchen, "Dont mind us"?? WHAT?? i think the tour was the fastest on record, as we were leaving i had to go back in and ask the wife a question, "who wanted to move, you or your husband? she said my husband got an idea one night we were all going to move to flordia he was tired of cold weather, so i asked her, honestly tell me, the real reason you are here is because you do not want to sell and move so staying will deter buyers, right?? she just laughed and looked at me and said, you got it honey. i had that feeling as soon as we went in, i drove by there a year later, the for sale sign GONE, the family is still there so i guess the wife won, total waste of everyones time, if you want to move make sure the ENTIRE family is in agreement, granted her plan worked but why pull everyone in to your vindictive ideas.
By Michael Benavides,  Sun Feb 12 2012, 06:32
Try showing a house with 3 dogs in their cages in the middle of the living area. The barking was so intense, the buyer's just wanted to leave for the sake of sanity. Even worse, the home was lovely and priced well, but the buyers could not take emotional possession of the home because of the caged pets. By the end of the day, the buyer's had found a home that had all the similar qualities and made an offer. Sight and sound both play a role in finding the perfect home.
By Icanseeyou,  Sun Feb 12 2012, 19:19
I am a seller. I bought wireless Internet cameras after 35 showings, feedback that said: "shows like a model" and no offers. Just because a seller is not home does not mean they are not watching and/or recording you and collecting their own feedback. Cameras cost very little and are easy to install and small enough to hide them where you can't see them. I've had realtors show up to "preview" the property, realtors show up with their own husband and child claiming to be a potential buyer, a realtor in my neighborhood brought in one of my neighbors who was getting ready to list their property and wanted to compare their home to mine - all of these showings took my time to clean and prepare. I recommend Internet cameras. They are both motion and voice activated and can be controlled from an iPhone or iPad or computer inside or outside the house. That said, it is difficult to watch potential buyers going through your things - not just your closet - and the realtor being in the other room or standing by and saying nothing.
By Me,  Mon Feb 13 2012, 11:11
Well I've had the pleasure of experiencing most the complaints listed : Such as Home owners who followed & gave tours of their home...outcome = annoyed me, let me look at my own pace, I'm sure some do this to steer you away from faulty areas & others meant well. But how about the agents who lie?? Isn't it their job to know the listing info. or at least try to provide accurate info. when asked? Taxes listed were NEVER truly the taxes you were going to pay, very out dated, They'll tell you everything & anything you want to hear. I looked way over a 100 homes, my first agent continued showing me dumps I wouldn't leave a stray cat in, when I finally had enough I asked here would YOU live in these homes? I waited 3 months later & found another realtor this one I thought was much better, oh she was at lying!! They pretend they're working for you, get to know your likes,dislikes the walls you built start to come down & you feel some what comfortable with the person. Many homes viewed were just something not right for me, there was 2 that could of worked but when I sat down to weigh out the good & bad they weren't right either, when there was a low in homes to look at she would suggest "why not go with *****, the one you kind of liked?" Really? I was a bit annoyed & taken back at one point I almost considered it but thank god I had enough sense to say no! Finally after about 20 more homes I find a home renovated asked tons of questions, the place outside was really nice, the inside the place was wall to wall clothing,toys, boxes etc.. clearly the person living there was making a statement I'm not moving.. but I looked past the garbage thrown around & looked at the condition of the walls,the bathrooms they were clean,new. the listing said new AC/New Furnace, I looked outside & saw the unit & didnt think it was new I asked questions after questions, was told will find out if interested in the home. OK, I still had another appointment w/ another home so I kept it..I went on to look at a few more homes but came back to look again & decided this would be the home for my daughter & I. Again I ask questions about the units & the age no way possible its new, I'm told "wait until inspection" ??? The tenant & owner were relatives werent friendly had to wait til tenant was out 2 months go by, i'm still asking questions.. I finally get the LISTING AGENT made an error he "assumed" it was new when his client told him home was renovated & refused do a thing about it!! Listing Agent clearly misled many others as I now come to find out. I placed my bid soley relying on the listing due to the tenant's mess making it impossible & unavailable to safely view entire units inside & out & owner promising don't worry. I was told the school behind me used to be a school but now used as offices only...lie..its a school. I find out the school owns part of my lawn(corner property, I find out my neighbor's fence is over property line-this I found out at closing(3months later) I love my house, but the lies, the stress is uncalled for. She also showed me homes you clearly would say no to, had me go up in price levels to see better homes... in this market you can find some pretty nice homes if the realtor is willing to show them to you, they are out for every penny they can drain you of. NEVER use their inside inspectors or closing attorneys will say everything good & peachy more lies!!! I was easy to deal with,never missed appointments, had 3 close earlier buys but seller issues.. I was approved early & had the cash ready... Just show me the right home, the photos on these sites are ALL photo shopped!! NO home I looked at looked like the photos it was horrible most I walked out quickly, if noone was home I didnt waste my time. My closing gift was a gift card-non activated, BUYERS BEWARE, don't believe a word these realtors say they ARE NOT your friends, its your $$$$$ they want. The listing agent was the worse very deceitful & arrogant - Sayreville /Old Bridge shoppers beware!!!
By Mario Toledo,  Mon Feb 13 2012, 16:47
Great article, as always Trulia talks about the most important points that we encountere when working with a buyer or a seller. I always say buyers/ sellers need to work with agents as their partners and review together the information, but also consider the agents recommendations before they make an offer or counter offer.
By Diane Misina,  Mon Feb 13 2012, 19:52
Dating sure is an accurate analogy! Both parties need to consider how their words and actions affect the process. It's an emotional time for buyers and sellers as they contemplate a major real estate transaction so think before you take that next step. Your agent will have valuable tips for each situation that you'd be wise to consider. - Eliason Realty, northern Wisconsin.
By Lvnbyfaith2,  Mon Feb 13 2012, 23:30
I'm in the process of buying my first home. Its been 6 months now. Its been an aweful experience to say the least. I've looked at so many houses that I should be able to claim the time, gas money, copy paper and ink on my taxes. I've looked at houses that sated."full master bath", I get there and its a 3/4 master bath. I also think that Realtors need to take a photograpy class. They post pictures that are not reality. I'm assuming its to draw you in to see the property when in all essence, you've done nothing but waste your time and gas. I also think sellers should think about painting their walls a neutral color because not all buyers have children. I don't want a pink or blue room. Frankly all I'm thinking is how much its going to cost me to paint these room that were sponsored by crayola.
By Finebuilder,  Tue Feb 14 2012, 08:20
I would not post floor plans. Let pictures and their imagination bring them to the property. Floor plans can serve to confuse and disappoint more than help. As a seller you do not want to give a buyer any excuse to pass on a property. On the other hand as a builder myself, I have posted plans for specs in certain areas, but only for specs. BTW #1 is huge, get out of the way, if they are interested there will be time for questions later. Hanging around will only make you appear to be desperate.
By Tina Hager,  Tue Feb 14 2012, 13:09
Great Tips and useful info!!!! Thank you!!
By Becky Morris,  Tue Feb 14 2012, 15:08
Excellent post! I couldn't agree more!
By Tara-Nicholle Nelson,  Tue Feb 14 2012, 21:27
You guys rock - these stories are amazing. So honored to be able to provide the kickstart to these conversations; your comments help each other out so much - and I learn things from them, too!
By Carrie Anne Wilson,  Wed Feb 15 2012, 14:51
Great tips, and I might even post to my business facebook page!
By Bennettreporting,  Thu Feb 16 2012, 20:33
Clean, clean, clean. I am downsizing from a large house to one in the 3500 to 4200 sf range. If your walls, carpet, ovens, etc are dirty, I won't even consider your home. If the most visible things are dirty, torn, stained or have huge nail holes exposed, I can only imagine what else there is lurking that I can't see. For your photos there's no need for 5 shots of the back yard and close-ups of furniture. Show baths, all bedrooms, and kitchen first. For folks coming into my home, look through all the kitchen drawers you want, but do not snoop through chest of drawers. Agents - stay with your clients. No children left unattended at any point. When my son's iPod was stolen, all we had to do was get the agent's name from the door code, insist on the name of his client, have a police officer talk to them and their little thief- in- making finally gave it back
By Julie Falen,  Thu Feb 16 2012, 20:56
Excellent post Tara, and all of the comments are right on the mark too. I am surprised however, tat more people do not consider selling their home on a rent-to-own basis or a lease option. Sellers will ALWAYS get higher price for those kind of terms than for a straight cash sale, or even sometimes for a regular sale. That being said, to all the sellers who are having a hard time selling or whose listings are remaining active for 1 year or more - even 7 months or more - the fact is that it truly IS a buyer's market. There are 1000's more homes out there to chose from than there were a few years ago and buyers can be pickier about everything - and they are.

If a home or house is price properly, even at 10-20% below market, you will likely get more activity and maybe even sell over asking. Beware of and stay clear of the agents who tell you their "strategy" is to list high and then drop the price ever 3 weeks until you get a buyer. All it does it turn the buyers off and keep your house languishing on the market.while yet another foreclosure in your neighborhood drags the value of your property down even farther.

The fact is - the market determines the value of your property: not the hours you spend lovingly tending the garden or putting up the wallpaper, or drapes. Sadly the values are going down still in many places as each n new foreclosure or bank-owned property that sells drops the comparables a little bit more. (And yes! Do like the banks nd paint your hose, empty it, and freshen the floors - wood or carpeted). But this is what a free-market economy stands for - what the market will bear. My grandfather was fond of saying that something is wroth only what someone else is willing to pay you for it. Cars, jewelry, and yes, even homes. So sellers, either be realistic, or rent if you can, or get creative in the sale wiht a lease-option, or wait it out if you can until the market swings up again - and it will.
By Side Kick Property Finders, LLC.,  Sat Feb 18 2012, 10:49
Great post! This couldn't be more true especially about points #1 & 2. Some Sellers who Linger around don't do it with bad intention, but with others it's like they're hovering, waiting for a potential buyer to "say the wrong thing" so that they can "defend" their home, so to speak.

Being a contractor & give pre-purchase repair estimates, I'm often asked to go along during the walk-through when a buyer is *serious* about a property and I've seen my fair share of how standoffish & rude sellers can be. But on the flip side, buyers Can (un-intentionally, of course;) say their negative thoughts aloud w/out realizing they may sound offensive....this can equal bad business.

A little trick I use to avoid unnecessary confrontations is, if the Seller is present during a viewing I always have the buyer *write down/take notes* as we're going through it. If they need my input right then, then I'll write the answer for them, otherwise I elaborate later. Sounds like a bit of headache but it's FAR less troublesome than dealing with defensive sellers.

As for showing "messy" homes...I just don't get it. I understand sellers not being able to afford (or want to do) minor repairs, but not having the place clean is something else. Cleaning IS hard work, but having someone professionally clean (not a friends & family type spruce-up) is in order & definitely worth its weight!

Buyers always remember the dirtiest & the cleanest places that they look at, especially if it'll be a primary residence for themselves and their family (as opposed to an investment property). Some sellers take offense to being told that they need to "clean up" before their property's shown, because they think they're being judged when in actuality it's all about putting the home's best foot forward.

Although some believe that these types of clean-ups are costly, there are companies, such as mine who specialize in getting homes Market-Ready at rates that are both Realtor and Seller friendly.
By Heather C Martinez,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 12:38
Great article! As a home stager, I absolutely and completely agree! Pictures online are the reason a buyer will show up to an openhouse or make an appointment to view a home! First impressions are so important,because when a new potential home buyer comes into a home... they automatically create an attitude towards the home online first, then another one the second they drive up to it & if by this point they've decided to enter the home, when they finally do, it's a matter of was I "right or wrong" about this place? Since buying a home is a highly personal decision, most buyers are looking for a home that is not only priced right, but a space that they desire and aspire to live in! They must be able to envision themselves living there, and the home must be able to speak to the heart of buyer... not distract them!

- HCMdesigns.com
By RDMBound,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 17:05
We are sellers who have had disrespectful buyers damage our home: plumbing, walls, floors, window blinds and door knobs. We decided we will be present for showings from now on. We won't be following buyers around and we will be out of their way. However we will hear if someone is using too much force to test things and we will ask them to stop. Buyers, and buyers agents, PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL OF A SELLER'S PROPERTY! You are guests in our home - please treat it as such.
By Reggie,  Thu Feb 23 2012, 22:49
Message to those annoyed sellers: I am a cash paying buyer. I am able to make a clean offer with no contingencies. If you REALLY want to sell a house...you can do it in ONE DAY! Simple advice-- LOWER THE PRICE EARLY and OFTEN. If it hasn't sold within 2 weeks - 30 days your asking too much. Ask ANY appraiser. THIS IS THE MARKET---if you prefer the house to money--- keep asking high prices. If you want cash---lower the price and move on...and let the buyer be the new debtor and "LAST FOOL". Prices are still dropping and I expect a 10% drop per year for at least two more years.. FYI BROKERS and their agents HAVE FIRST SHOT AT EVERY LISTING. If the price is Fair ---THEY WILL BUY IT...if its overpriced---they show it to prospective buyers... BUYERS ALL KNOW the scam---hoping that they will get ripped of less than the agents rip themselves off. Many agents I have met are going through their own foreclosures....and ready to do it again. Not too smart. DROP your prices and they will sell...NO STAGING IS REQUIRED.

I have seen buyers REFUSE to show the interior of the house--photos or walk through - WITHOUT AN OFFER PRESENTED FIRST. Guess what? When I see the cat funk in the kitchen and smell rotten food in the pantry---who will pay me for MY TROUBLE and WASTE OF TIME ...Most houses I have seen STINK inside....agents don't care but list these dumps anyway. These are not palaces folks ....most are made of ticky tacky sticks nails and TERMITES.
By Robert M,  Fri Feb 24 2012, 08:01
Kids, leave the kids home! Its so difficult to have kids running around your home.This normally occurs after the buyers shows up later than scheduled and we had decided to return home ,or when they ask for a late viewing at about 7:30pm or so. Then, there they are at your door with about 3 or more kids in tow! I love kids, don't get me wrong, but I can't bear to have them running around the house looking into everything and disrupting our evening.
By Robert M,  Fri Feb 24 2012, 08:11
Another thing, as sellers we have put investments into the home. We've purchased certain items within our budgets and have them installed in the home. Some of them we DO like to take to our next home and we've attached an addendum to the contact stating such! But some buyers either cannot read or cannot fathom the idea that certain things are not for sale! If it looks nice in the home and you like it GOOD! But if it's not part of the deal, go and buy another such item or conceive to the idea nothing is for free!
By Tracy Santrock,  Tue Feb 28 2012, 04:23
It's really nice to see your forthrightness. We all know that being home when a buyer is looking is a huge turnoff but sometimes sellers just don't want to hear it. This is a terrific justification on what buyers and sellers don't want!
By Lina Sarkissians,  Thu Mar 1 2012, 12:57
Good post Tara! You brought up so many good points that I have always counseled my clients on. I help my Sellers with the cleaning and clearing the clutter into a storage room. I work with a great staging company, they turn the house into a display home. This helps me out during the Open Houses and it helps the Seller get maximum returns on his investment. I also offer to stay in the house during a showing and have the Seller step out so the visitors are more comfortable.
As far as Buyers, I try to preview the properties before driving them there. This way, I can prepare them for what to expect.
As Realtors, it is our job to stay connected with our Sellers and Buyers. Apart from making sure that they receive the deserved respect and attention, as well as the best possible price for their home, we need to guide them.
Lina Sarkissians
Re/Max Optima
http://www.helpushortsell.com
By Edward.mistick,  Mon Mar 5 2012, 08:49
A big turn-off to my wife and I during our recent sale was following a realatively uneventful home inspcetion where the inspector told the potential buyer the items he was bringing up were mostly fo information and were not major concerns, but should be considered when they moved in. These buyers, after our offer to provide $5K in closing cost came back and asked us to do a minor repair costing less than $400. We were so taken back we almost ended the sale on principle. We didn't and they backed off, but come on; a like new house (14 years old with many handyman upgrades) and you want to try and get me for another $400! They should be glad they backed off because we really do not need to sale, but are willing to do it now so we can begin the building our our retirement home... Word to the wise for buyers: If you are getting a good deal, don't cry over minor repairs you may need to "consider" after moving in! Anything under $1,000 you can probably handle!
By Nannygoat,  Mon Mar 5 2012, 18:01
We have mostly "lookers" coming and it is beyond irritating. You can quickly tell by what they say when they leave--usually "you have a beautiful home." They must think the sellers are dumb, agents are dumber, but they are truly the dumbest if they think they're getting away with something, ie) wasting everyone's time. I'm hoping there is a browser's karma for people like this.When they go to sell, they will hopefully get 100 lookers before they sell.And, irritating, annoying ones at that.
By Jen Allen,  Wed Mar 14 2012, 11:39
All buyers should read the disclosurer before they make an offer. Don't act all shocked at the inspection that the porch is settling when it is written in the diclosure that the porch is settling. Also, if your adult enough to buy a home do so without your Mommy and Daddy pulling all the strings behind the scenes. My last thing for buyers is not to go into the repair negotiation having hammered the sellers for a week about occupancy. It makes you really not want to do anything for your uncompromising selves. Not all sellers NEED to sell, just want to upgrade and we can wait for more reasonable people to come along.
By Jason White,  Mon Apr 2 2012, 07:29
"We are priced at market value" I keep seeing this come up in these comments from sellers. Do you know what market value it? It is the price someone is willing to pay for it, so if your house is unsold, or you have to take it off the market..... it isn't priced at market value.
By andreakjaeger,  Tue Apr 3 2012, 06:55
Thank you Jason. We have been looking to purchase for a couple of months now. If homes in your neighborhood are selling for 20% less than your listed price, then you should reevaluate your asking price. That simple. Also, why is the appraisal value ignored by sellers? The banks do not ignore it, when making a loan approval decision. Many valuable and perhaps nit picky comments....but the bottom line is often the price. That simple. Price to sell. ----potential buyer
By alexdevlin,  Mon Apr 16 2012, 08:15
One of my biggest turn offs for home shopping is small photos on the listing sites. There's no need to put on tiny images. Shoot them at a higher resolution please. I've passed by several houses that may have been perfect for what I was looking for, but I couldn't see anything in the tiny images.
By A.vagabond1,  Mon Apr 16 2012, 19:03
I am hoping to buy a house within the next two months. I am truly shocked by the hostility from sellers here about 'browsers'. Seriously? You're ticked off that someone came to look???!! Statistically speaking, it's likely that 100% of the people who don't look won't buy your home. This is my third time buying a house. I do weigh neighborhoods and styles into consideration - but ultimately buy a particular home on feel and affordability. Do I feel good when I walk in the door? Are the heat/cooling/taxes affordable? I like to go upstairs and look in the neighbors' backyards - do I want to live next to these folks? For our first house, we looked for a two story/3bdrm. We bought a 2 bdrm ranch - because we loved it. Second time, looked for another ranch, and bought a two story.
I was so psyched to look at one house last month, practically drooling, the online photos were completely beautiful, pushed to get there soon after it went on the market. It reeked of animal dander. We didn't bother to look at the upstairs.
Just made an offer on a house in a neighborhood that I thought that I didn't want to live in - went to look at a different listing with my realtor and another buyer was coming out of the home with his realtor. The other buyer said he liked another house better and showed me a data sheet on another home. Realtor and I went over to said house, and was immediately struck by that 'home' feeling. We 'browsed' because it was within a half mile and it turned out to be perfect.
Currently renting and my landlord is showing the place. It's a pain in the neck to clean up after myself daily, but LL's been good to me. In complete agreement about the comments on 'market price'. If that's based on 2006 prices - you had to sell in 2006 to realize those gains. Yes, home prices will come up again...right after unemployment goes down and incomes are up and college graduates can find jobs that are not in the service sector.
By rmagill2417,  Mon Apr 30 2012, 13:20
This is obviously a site full of of realtors. The current market for homes and condos now is horrible. There are millions of people out there who are hurting bad and have to sell. No one is paying anywhere near asking price for there homes. If you look hard enough you will find a killer deal out there. Realtors work on comission therefore, the more they sell a home for , the more they make. Dont fall for the pitch...
By Bill Stevens,  Mon May 21 2012, 08:40
As an ongoing home buyer and seller I am frankly sick of all these shenanigans foisted upon us by the Real Estate Industry. Plus, the added expense of having to 'stage a home', really! A few of us hoped that with the housing debacle and subsequent crash it would have swept the industry aside but no they merely mutated into another virus.
By jojamesjohnston,  Mon May 21 2012, 12:02
When selling my last home, a couple of years ago, I left prior to a showing..., parked on the street facing my house, several car lengths away. Settled in with a book to wait (&, no, they had no idea I was nearby as there were two autos in front of mine). Imagine my shock when the "buyers" waltzed into my home with two (2) dogs! I was furious! I am terribly alergic. I understand the buyers might be ignorant, but what was the agent thinking? I lodged a stringent complain immediately!
By maplest222,  Mon Jun 11 2012, 09:22
I love all the different views from both buyers and sellers and would like to add my own recent experience to the mix. First I must say that I have bought 6 houses, so far, in my lifetime and sold 5 and know what I am doing and consider myself very courteous and professional. I also must state here that I own my own business and answer every call or email personally that comes to me.
My situation...my daughter, husband and grandkids are moving to Lakeland, FL and will probably purchase a home between 250,000 and 400,00 but I wanted to find someplace cheap, and fast, that I could do a cash deal on so I could have a base there and park my RV while they and I looked for property. There was a property with a 1 bedroom, 1 bath, 3/4 acre and only a couple of very blurry photos and not much bio. I first contacted the selling agent and asked for more info and a couple of photos of the property to see if it was something I could either improve or at least put up an enclosure for my motorhome and I got zero response. I then went to Tulia and clicked the more info button and left my phone number and asked the agent that did call me for more photos. He called me back the next day and said he had photos and would email them to me as soon as he got back to his computer. Well, poor man, has evidently had a fatal accident or his computer was stolen, due the very high crime rate in his location, as he has not sent photos in the two weeks I've been waiting.
So, now I'm back to the Tulia site and click on the more questions button and request that anyone might: 1. Send me some decent photos of the property from front to back so I can see how it is laid and 2. Let me know if the zoning laws would allow me to fence the entire property and put up my RV shed. I had about 3 or 4 replies but the absolute worst was a very eloquent letter from a 'VIP' realtor telling me exactly why I was doing everything wrong and itemizing why she didn't have the time, or inclination, to take photos of such an inexpensive property for me.
Hallmark couldn't have written a better 'F#&k You...Idiot', letter.
I am seriously disappointed in the realtors today who won't even answer an email, or follow up on a phone conversation and who tell you right out that you are not worth their time.
This woman and the other four realtors and their offices will not be getting my business, or that of my daughter and son-in-law, when we find and purchase our respective properties in their location.
Just because this time I was looking at a very inexpensive RV parking spot doesn't mean that in the next year or two I wouldn't be selling my main residence and moving everything to FL and now I know who I won't be working with.
In my many and varied experiences, both buying and selling, I have found that the people who are too busy and self important to take on the small sells are also the ones who leave you hanging when you are out of state and need a photo, or address, or referral, etc no matter what the price you pay for a property.
Shame on you Lakeland, FL realtors and you know who you are!
I'm also sure there are some good ones there and I intend to search for these fine individuals when I do business in this location.
By SundayRiver,  Mon Jul 2 2012, 08:35
I'm trying to buy a house where the seller has violated #2 and #3 of your tips and it's a nightmare. The house was overpriced by $100,000 or more. The place has been a mess each time I went to see it. They accepted my offer but the inspection revealed $80,000 worth of repairs, deferred maintenance, code violations, permits, safety, and other issues. I've shared the inspection report and two contractor estimates with the seller. I've asked them to come down $25,000 since my initial offer was fairly low but they have only come down $20,000. They have mislead me 3 separate times, saying they would do certain repairs. My attorney has prepared 3 separate contracts and riders as a result but they have reneged each time. Now, we are at an "as is" state and it amazes me that they won't budge another $5,000. Ironically, if they hadn't reneged on the contracts, I'd be much more likely to come up another $5,000 but they've wasted so much of my time, money and energy jerking me around.
I still want the house, unbelievably, but I'm THISCLOSE to walking away because their broker (an insult to Realtors) and the seller have combined to be a completely unreasonable pairing.
By Suzy Frame,  Fri Jul 20 2012, 07:23
Thanks so much for sharing these tips. It can often become hard work and strenuous when you are beginning to buy or sell homes. So this information is very helpful of how to save time and get rid of those who may be taking from that time. Can you tell me where I can find tips of how I can learn to not be one of those difficult buyers? In regards: arizona1sthomesforsale.com
By Petra Casey,  Fri Aug 3 2012, 18:52
I have been looking at buying a home with acreage for over 3 years. Many stories echo prior posts including a child in a parked car in the garage during the showing while dad mowed the lawn...awkward! I have been asked for preapproval before a first showing was scheduled for a home listed in the $400k. I thought that was offensive since I am preappoved for $1m.
Lister also called to say that unless I am willing to pay x amount, a second showing won't be scheduled, pretty gutsy in a buyers market! As is the comment by a seller that the mold in their house discovered at the home inspection has been adequately remedied by the seller since they own a large cleaning company....really???
I hope I eventually find the land and home of my dreams but the whole process is disheartening. At least we currently live in a beautiful home(paid for in full) just not the acreage I would like.
By mary,  Mon Aug 6 2012, 14:07
I saw a small house recently during an Open House. Not only were the owners there and watching TV (so awkward!), but the front room was cluttered with way too much furniture, it had taste-specific decor and the drapes were pulled shut, letting in very little sunlight. The next room was the kitchen which was tiny and had dirty dishes on the counters and in the sink and clean dishes (I hope!) in the drainer. That was enough to turn me off and I left right away. I knew that it was a small house, which I was fine with, but to keep it cluttered and dark made it look so much smaller. I really felt sorry for the realtor having to deal with these clients!
By Alisdiar Allied,  Tue Aug 7 2012, 06:45
Great post, thanks for sharing this valuable post. To make a impress on buyers these tips are more important and also make a Homebuyers Reports to do that.
By donhigdon12,  Tue Aug 28 2012, 16:54
I have two comments. First, low balling an offer is encouraged IF the property has been empty for awhile. I invest in properties all over the country and have closed some fantastic deals. A property in Ky appraised for $79K, I make a "drive by" offer of $35K. Seller countered with $37K. I grabbed it!!!!! Second, Why do even cash deals take so long. I had a pocket full of money eager to invest in Tucson and couldn't get ANYONE to return my calls !!!!
By 3threecs,  Wed Sep 12 2012, 18:42
Be sure you have an agent who is honest. My husband and I were selling our home and we spoke with our agent and we all agreed on a price. But when the listing came out, it was $4,000 less than what we had agreed. Telling him that she ok'd that with me and then telling me that he ok'd it. She also told me that we needed all of these upgrades, after we just gutted this house and added new everything from roof to the floors, come to find out the person that she called in to help make these changes were her sister, who happened to have her own designing business. Needless to say we didn't do that and I made calls around and my house sold in 5 days. Don't forget that those agents work for you and if they are being difficult and dishonest you can find another one that you can trust. Lesson learned!
By Seniorseller,  Thu Sep 20 2012, 15:10
I have read all these comments and find them helpful, BUT almost all are for stand-alone homes. I would like to see some advice specifically on SELLING APARTMENT CONDOS. There are a lot of us out here who could use it,
By Angel Jones,  Fri Sep 21 2012, 00:40
"FYI BROKERS and their agents HAVE FIRST SHOT AT EVERY LISTING. If the price is Fair ---THEY WILL BUY IT...if its overpriced---they show it to prospective buyers... " Excellent point -- Agents/Brokers often snag the best deals among themselves. But, for buyers & sellers alike, those professionals remain the best source for marketing/marketed properties.
By Jeff Stein,  Mon Oct 22 2012, 08:35
Black mold in the basement of a beautiful house! Surface stuff easily treated then painted but the seller/agent not bothering to make a small dollar/time investment made you wonder about what else might be wrong.
By laurahorton,  Thu Nov 8 2012, 08:03
For brochure and online sales, a messy house usually makes me pass right over it. Some houses may be clean but they have so much "stuff" on every available surface that it is impossible to see the house. Impossible to imagine living there.
Obvious lack of maintenance, such as black mold, plumbing leaks, evidence of previous damage (water, fire) that is trying to be hidden. Turn offs and I won't look further. At least be honest about the home's problems and I might be willing to take on the rehab.
By prple956,  Thu Dec 27 2012, 14:49
To ALL you Real Estate Agents showing homes, as soon as your buyers cancel the showing call the homeowners IMMEDIATELY. I've had 5 out of 8 appointments not show up and only one called to do so after the time had passed. The Treasure Coast Realtors are so unprofessional it sickens me.
By prple956,  Thu Dec 27 2012, 14:49
To ALL you Real Estate Agents showing homes, as soon as your buyers cancel the showing call the homeowners IMMEDIATELY. I've had 5 out of 8 appointments not show up and only one called to do so after the time had passed. The Treasure Coast Realtors are so unprofessional it sickens me.
By Candice Defore,  Fri Dec 28 2012, 09:08
A couple listings we have here in our network state to beware of letting cat out, and one even has to be watchful so you don't run one over when you leave as he likes to sit behind cars and is apparently deaf. I agree with above, take pets away for a showing. It is also sometimes difficult to show to people with allergies to said animals.
By n4c4c4,  Mon Feb 4 2013, 09:01
Great article. I'm a seller and have had about 10 viewings in almost two weeks. All but one was positive. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything. This last viewing I was parked down the street. They were in my house almost 45 minutes and their realtor's comment was a list of things wrong with the house. Then why spend 45 minutes in there, if you didn't like the location, the landscaping, and "the way it was staged." etc. He's not scoring any points with remarks like that.
By June Constable,  Thu Feb 14 2013, 13:53
To all the Sellers who have complained their property has been shown numerous times with no offers: Remember it is Location, Condition and Price. If anything in the location or condition is out of line with buyers, it affects the price. The bad news is: if your home has been shown more than 6 times to QUALIFIED buyers, with no offers, your home is probably overpriced. I caution my sellers who want me to take out ads on a certain web site, or that newspaper... " I can advertise your home on the cover of Time magazine and if it is overpriced it will not sell". Some Sellers need to come out of denial about the real market value of their home. Regardless of how many new hot water tanks and HVACs they've replaced, market value is market value.
By RM,  Mon Feb 18 2013, 07:06
The most wearisome issues: No photos posted (in the year 2013, ads with no photos); ad doesn't say what the square footage is; ad doesn't say what the HOA or property tax is; ad doesn't say what the pet policy is; etc. Other need-to-know facts that help buyers pre-qualify a place and save the time of all parties involved.
By Billvojtech,  Mon Feb 18 2013, 11:49
I went to an open house at a co-op that was for sale. They were asking $219,000. It had been freshly painted a boring off-white, the floors were sanded and polyurethaned. It was a neat clean paint job.

The toilet and sink in the bathroom were replaced. Tub was original and was looking very worn. Broker said it could be reglazed. Tile was original but in good shape.

Kitchen was missing appliances. Owner would provide new or make allowance for buyer to provide. The put a new cheap formica counter and lower cabinets in, but upper cabinets were original painted white with a zillion coats of paint on them. Wood floor in kitchen looked like it had been covered with tile but was sanded and polyed along with the rest.

I saw previous listings for the apartment before the sprucing up and appliance removal. the price was $149,000. But it didn't sell, so the made the "improvements."

I understand fixing it up to try to sell it, but jacking the price $70,000 for a paint job? I've helped a friend renovate a house. A generous estimate of what the put in is $5,000.

The day after the open house the broker called to let me know they were dropping the price by $15,000.

A week later I emailed the broker pointing out the above and offering $149,000. That was yesterday. I have not yet checked my email. I'd expect a counter offer and we'd meet somewhere around $154,000.
By ak4love09,  Sat Apr 6 2013, 17:10
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By hinder90,  Thu May 16 2013, 12:32
My husband and I shopped for our mortgage and got it before we even started to look for a house. We are closing on a house that our offer was accepted and also the repairs we want done per the home inspection have been agreed to be completed by closing. What is making us want to run away from this house is our Buying Agent. He wrote up the form 35 and 35R in vague terms and "attached" the proposal for repairs with another "attached" document showing the inspection report. We had worked with a different agent previous to this, that wrote all requested repairs and why they needed to be repaired in the language from the inspection report, directly onto the Form 35 and 35R. So, there was no trying to guess what we wanted repaired, how we want it repaired and by whom (we regret losing that agent and it was our fault because we let emotional sellers get under our skin). Our lender is reassuring us that the items will be fixed and if necessary, our VA inspector/appraiser will write up work orders that will require them to do it by a licensed contractor. Shop for your Buying Agent. Read reviews and interview them in person before you look at that first listing. If you are a first time buyer (like us), have the agent go over a PAS contract, Form 35 and Form 35R with you BEFORE looking at that first listing. If that agent isn't willing to do that; walk away and find one that will. This is a major life altering step and you need a Buying Agent and Mortgage Broker that have your best interests in mind.
By tommamay,  Mon Jun 3 2013, 16:30
My broker was almost an hour late getting in the counter offer to a cash sale on my house...There was an exact time and date. We never heard back from them. Could this have damaged the possibility of this sale?
By aspencer,  Wed Jun 26 2013, 10:17
As a buyer I want the seller there, because I may have questions that need a seller's answer in order to consider making an offer and not waste time waiting for an inspector. I like to ask about the life of the roof and other utilities, the neighborhood, what improvements they have done. An earnest seller would like to share his good experiences and things he has done for the property. As a seller, I can relay important info to the buyers and realtors that otherwise will be overlooked, new home: energy efficiency, tankless water heater, high efficiency dryer, concrete composite lapboard which won't mold, be eaten by pests and has high fire resistance and damage resistance. The house has the thick R-15 insulation on every exterior wall and up to the point of the 26 foot ceilings, plus a wrap. Many houses do not have adequate insulation at all. I can answer questions on utilitiy bills, HOA maintenance and many other things. And to buyers I say, if you pay for a jalopy, you don't get a Porsche. Foundation issues? Ask everything and tell everything. Only then can you make an informed offer on a house and not get into escrow and then be surprised after paying an inspector. And say to a seller, what you would like me to know about this house? You may be happily surprised with any special information that only the Seller can share with you. Earnest Communication, not chit chat. Thanks!
By lcs1958,  Fri Aug 9 2013, 07:54
We had our home appraised by a professional licensed appraiser. Our realtor priced the home to sell! We purchased another home so we were able to move out. We have the house & pool cleaned weekly! The lawn is taken care of weekly too. What gripes me is realtors showing the house to people who can't afford a home in the price range listed! The last home we sold (it was a rental we had as an investment) last year was immaculate. We had it painted inside & out. We had a new roof & a new heat pump unit installed. We had the kitchen cabinets sanded & varnished. The young buyers needed "cost help" so we agreed to help them with down payment and closing costs, which wasn't cheap. Two weeks after the closing, the couple had the kitchen gutted and updated while they went on a two week vacation! Somehow money must've been growing on the tree in the back yard & we missed it!
By Akil Walker,  Mon Aug 26 2013, 18:27
There is nothing like someone over your shoulder! :)
By resurrectingre01,  Thu Aug 29 2013, 04:42
Wow, thanks a lot for your article, this shows a great dimension in a 2 different perspective . It's not easy to play mind games as a buyer, but I do not want to be a lousy seller too... and I think it is better to pause a bit... count the cost... and I hope someday I don't have to sell my home anymore... but reality bite as hard as it is... but thank yo anyways =)
By 1ricoone,  Sat Oct 19 2013, 05:56
Home sellers where home buyers once. We can relate and we can help if buyers show some respect.
By Dpoker1111,  Wed Oct 23 2013, 20:12
I've been a seller and buyer 12 times so know both sides well, and sold real estate for a few years. First, it doesn't matter what you think the home is worth....the comment "i'm not giving it away" usually comes from someone that assigns value to parts of the home that others won't see value in. the comparables, supply and demand determine price so get REAL.
2nd, I think anyone listing a home with a realtor that doesn't take the time to put plenty of pictures on line should be fired immediately......and by the way, fire the ones that post poorly staged pictures. I've seen pictures of laundry rooms with clothes laying on floor....for god sake, pick up the clothes before you snap the picture. Only think i can figure from the lack of pictures or poor pictures is a lazy realtor. Why do sellers put up with them?????????
and think you shoudl do some checking on how well your listing agent returns calls from prospective buyers or buyers agents. can't tell you how many times, i've asked my realtor a question on a home. he calls listing agent and either never gets a return call or it take the lazy azz realtor 3 days to return a call. Find another profession .........PLEASE.
By Dpoker1111,  Wed Oct 23 2013, 20:19
Another pet peeve with agents. educate you buyers on what's to be expected in used homes.....I almost had a deal fall thru because they thought all the nails holes should have been fixed which would have meant repainting the entire 5000 sq. foot house as all walls were colors other then white. what did they think was behind the pictures when they agreed to buy the house? If that was important to buyer, they should have made it a condition of the sale. PLEASE educate your picky buyers.
By Dpoker1111,  Wed Oct 23 2013, 20:46
biggest of all pet peeves. buyer finds perfect home after seaching for a year....house is priced very well, but they make low ball offer and then get offended when seller doesn't come down enough. they need a discount to feel good. some people are just too use to retail and needing to get a discount for them to pull the trigger. would it be better if they priced this perfect home higher so they could come down and thus making you feel good about the deal? . getting a discount off an over priced home is not better then paying full price for home that's on the market underpriced.
ok,last thing.....you are looking at a $300,000 house and other then the missing refriderator, the house is a great value....but wife says, but now we'll have to buy a refriderator......ugh!!!! if house was listed at $301,000 and had a nice new side by side, she would love it and it would still be price to sell. when you are looking at houses over a quarter of million bucks don't get hung up on paint color, etc. I actually look for homes where the condition is priced into the home and it allows me to pick my finishes.
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By Mary Stevens,  Thu Jan 23 2014, 18:22
I currently have my house for sale as a FSBO. I have it priced low for this reason yet buyers try to talk me down on the price since I don't have an agent.. It's already priced low. I have had two offers. Both were 20K or more than the asking price. If someone can't afford close to the asking price, why are they making an offer?
By Meredithmarshall,  Thu Feb 13 2014, 06:24
I can't tell you how embarrassed /I/ was to be there when the buyers came to see the house. I work as a nanny in the home of a family that was moving a few months back. They said I had to be present when their were people in the house and even collect business cards from the realtors. I gladly would have taken the baby for a walk then, but no. I had to ask them to be quiet and not wake her while I sat in the living room. It was a short sale, but still awkward for me.
By Dawn Stefek,  Thu May 1 2014, 21:41
Agents, You need to manage your sellers. There is price, condition and location. Then there is the buyers decorating issues and I do mean your decorating issues. We were pre-inspected, professionally appraised, in a desirable location and professionally staged. Then there are the buyers decorating issues. There is some cost to moving. You need to plan for it. There is some cost for your taste plan for it. I can make sure the physical plant and the appliances are new and we are about 3 block from the water park in a good school district. Our real estate agent told us the purple bedroom in the new house we bought was just paint, The house we are selling is immaculate. If you don;t want it don;t waste my time and your time and the real estate agents time. I am tired of the weird, rude selfiish comments. If you act like this at a showing how are you going to treat the neighbors. BTB I greeted the new neighbors down the block with a $59 bottle of wine and a invite to join the neighborhood activities. He thanked me by saying great another cheap bottle of rot gut. I smiled and replied it was the white wine they served at most of the State of Illinois Official functions
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By abrazo_home_owner,  Thu Jul 31 2014, 11:33
To say being around is a turn off to buyers is an oversimplification. I have sold two homes in the past three years without a Realtor. I was our agent. I was, of course, around every time someone looked at our homes. Now, I was not hanging out watching TV or snooping on the prospective buyers. But I was there to answer any questions they had. If a Realtor were conducting the showing, he'd just have to call me and ask the questions anyway.

Owners live in their home, therefor, don't believe Realtors who claim they are better at selling your home than you are. Can they tell prospective buyers how you enjoy the sunsets from your back yard on every night? Can they convey how you feel about the home?

We saved $29,000 when we sold our home near Seattle in Oct of 2011, the bottom of the housing market. Realtors told us we were asking $20,000 too much. We sold for $1,000 less than asking price. so we saved $19,000 off the top plus another 3% for not having to pay a lazy listing agent and another 2% as we told the buyers they had to pay for their own Realtor and we ended up agreeing on us paying 1% to him for completion of paperwork. Which is about all Realtors do for the seller anyway. BTW, we had one open house and sold this home. We didn't even have a yard sign, put one $100 ad in the paper and sold it.

We sold our second home in 72 days, with 60 being the average in the city in which we currently reside. Again, received more for the home than three Realtors told us we could get.

Remember one thing, there is no such thing as a "sellers broker" - They ALL work for the buyers! That is how they earn a living, by selling. It is much easier for your Realtor to tell you you need to reduce the price of your home than to convince the buyer you've listed it properly. And since most sellers have a finite amount of time to sell, they take less money and the Realtor gets to claim another home sold by XYZ Realty.

The seller has to do all the hard work by staging their home, cleaning it, keeping it up to show at a moments notice, keeping landscaping looking like it's just been taken care of by a gardener, etc. And then, they turn around and give the easy money to the listing agent for posting it in the MLS?

Be self-sufficient. 9 of 10 buyers find their home on line. They call their Realtor and ask to see it. if it sells, your listing agent gets 3% for simply entering it in the MLS. Your Title Company will make sure the title is free and clear to transfer. Your listing agent takes 3% for basically being lucky.
By Kelly Ramey-monnig,  Fri Aug 8 2014, 12:32
Question. We found a house listed as a short sale of 60000.00. We offered 55. The seller accepted. The agent working the short sale came back and said the bank (where seller got her loan) said what is you best and highest price. So we went ahead and offered full asking price. Earnest money given at the very beggining of this process. All paperwork signed by buyer/seller. The short sale guy was very rude and said "your never gonna get it anyway". He is also a real estate agent by the way. So the realtor (the one the house is actualy listed through) calls and says they didnt accept the full listing price of 60 but countered back at 66. Is that even legal? We found the house on Trulia in Ash Grove, Mo. Just trying to understand this.
By karablader,  Fri Aug 8 2014, 12:51
I looked at a house that needed a full on roof restoration. That is not something a buyer wants to have to deal with after buying a house! The seller should have taken care of that before putting the house on the market. That was a big deal breaker for me.
http://www.jmz.net.au
By Pedro Cintas,  Tue Aug 12 2014, 11:46
My parents sold their home just a few months ago. My mom knew she wanted to buy new bedding for the new house so she got it early. She ended up replacing the old bedding with the new, fresh ones when they were showing the house to buyers. She said that just changing out the bedding made a huge difference in the rooms. Small things like that can help a buyer feel better about the house.
http://www.furniturenmore.com.au/bedding
By frelynne,  Mon Aug 25 2014, 20:12
Is it normal for a buyer to want to come and measure things before the closing or the final walk through
By Sydney Ethan,  Tue Oct 7 2014, 00:47
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