I am getting ready to sell my mother's main line estate home. It is a lovely 5000 sf georgian colonial,

Asked by Tom, New York, NY Thu Dec 6, 2007

however the property does need work (i.e. new kitchen, there is wallpaper everywhere, etc.). It is in good shape but needs a lot of cosmetics. The neighborhood generally fetches around 2.2 -3.3 million. My main question is: should I wait for the spring to put the home on the market, put it up now as is, do repairs, etc. I am really torn as to the best way to sell the property. Also, I do not live in the area, but I was searching prices of available homes. How do I pick a good agent on the main line? The sale is complicated by the fact that there are privacy concerns. My mother is very cautious and does not want to publicize that the home is on the market. Additionally, she is worried about people coming through the property while she is not there. For what it's worth, she is moving to Palm Beach year round. She already has her property house their and can comfortably afford maintaining both properties, so it is not like we have to get the Haverford sold immediately.

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Gwen Janicki, Agent, Bryn Mawr, PA
Thu Jul 28, 2011
Congratulations! Main Line real estate has great georgian colonial homes. Haverford is such a great place. I bet you are happy you sold it then. The real estate market in haverford is great today as it was then as more people are falling in love with this area's lifestyles and architecture. Hope she is enjoying Palm Beach!
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Tom, , New York, NY
Sun Oct 4, 2009
Great news everyone:

The home is under contract and scheduled to close at the end of December.

Because we had some relatives in town the home was listed as "Active No Showings" for some time. We then withdrew it from the market. We put it back on the market a few months later at 2,795,000. We did one price reduction to 2,699,000 after being on the market for one month. We accepted an offer of 2,500,000 with only 50% financing and only a home inspection contingency. The inspection went fine and we are now scheduled to close in December.

Mom is very excited to no longer have to preoccupy herself with the maintenance of this home although it is bittersweet since it was such an elegant property and the home we grew up in.
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Ralph Bredahl, Agent, Sedona, AZ
Sat Dec 6, 2008
Most , if not all your questions, should be addressed with a good real estate agent. That is the first step to take. Interview several until you find someone you are comfortable with. Why pay someone a commission if you feel that you have do all the leg work
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Tom, , New York, NY
Sat Dec 6, 2008
Hi everyone,

My apologies. I could not remeber my password to get onto here so I had to create a new account. We decided to have some work performed on the property: a new slate roof was installed, the heater and AC were fixed, and we did some light cosmetic work (painted, removed wallpaper, exposed some of the hardwoods which were beneath the carpets.) We did put the home on the market 2.795 last summer. We received an offer of 2.55 which contained significant contingencies. We took the offer and left the home active; the buyer walked about 6 days later. We had some relatives from another country come in for about three weeks so mom instructed us to put the home at the active no showings category while they were in town. Needless to say, I think having the home off the market for that time really hurt us. We eventually withdrew it from the market last July (it was only on for about 60 days).
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Cheryl R. Su…, , Schwenksville, PA
Fri Dec 5, 2008
Hi Tom, the rates are low for the buyers in the market, yesterday the rates were 4.87% which enables more buyers for this home. I would highly suggest putting your mother's home on the market now for 30 days to see what activity you get. If you are not getting activity, it may be the price or condition of the home. I feel the rates will stay low until the supply is lower than demand. The supply of homes available is causing the house prices to continually drop. If you decide to put your mother's home on the market in the spring, there will also be an increase of other homes coming on the market. Many people take their home off the market in the winter which leaves you with less competition. Let me know if that helps.

-Cheryl Supplee
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Gabriella Pe…, Agent, Devon, PA
Fri Dec 5, 2008
Hi Tom,
It sounds like there are several scenarios that could work for you and that's a good position to be in with today's market. The beautiful thing is that you do not pay a dime until settlement. The current Real Estate Market is definitely suffering, but - our Mainline real estate market is holding up incredibly well compared to the nation. Contact an expert - with the TOP company. You are smart to do your research. I would love the opportunity for an interview. Best to you.
Gabriella Peracchia
Prudential Fox and Roach Realtors
Devon Home Marketing
431 W. Lancaster Avenue
Devon, PA 19333
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Ariel Monzon, , 19446
Thu Aug 14, 2008
I'm gonna sound weird for this one, but George Raleigh sold me. I would pick him. Gave you facts. As far as the price range, someone said be careful with the agents who haven't sold in the price range. It's the same PAR contract with more numbers on it. Sure staging and marketing would be different. Staying away from one might be harsh, he/she might have more drive to get the home sold. IMHO.
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____________…, Home Buyer, Texas
Tue Jun 10, 2008
With the way the market is, there is so much main line inventory right now that it is probably not worth putting it on. If you can afford it, wait another year or so. Right now there are so many 1.5 million + listings that are active. Of course, as my other thread notes, many of those homes seem new on the market, but I can name several agents that continuously withdraw and relist their listings to make them "fresh." Anyway, keep the home off if your family can afford to keep the property.
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George Ralei…, , Malvern, PA
Tue Jun 10, 2008
Dear Georgian Seller,

I would be happy to guide you through this process. I am Long & Foster's #1 agent for the Main Line and Philadelphia the past 2 years. I am also a real estate and contract attorney with over 10 years of legal experience. I am entirely unique in the market and I specialize in Million-plus sales.

My partner, Natalie Paone, and I would love to help guide you, without any obligation. We can answer all of your questions and you do not have to commit to us to learn all there is to know about what to do and when. We offer the best marketing that the region has ever seen on the internet and in print. Please visit http://www.GeorgeRaleigh.com and http://www.NataliePaone.com to learn more about my abilities as well as Natalie's abilities. It would definitely benefit you to speak with us. We can make your decision making process a lot sharper. We pride ourselves on being well above our competitors in every respect, particularly service.

Please feel free to call me at any time on my cell: 610-304-7207

Thank you, George

George Raleigh, Esquire
Web Reference:  http://www.GeorgeRaleigh.com
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Linda, , Berwyn, PA
Sun Jan 13, 2008
I would recommend that you take care of as many of the cosmetic issues as is feasible before listing the property (removing wallpaper, painting, etc.) There will be a minority of buyers that are willing to take that on. With regard to staging, I have worked with realtors that paid for a staging consultation on an occupied property. This is a detailed evaluation and report outlining what the seller can do to improve the appearance of the home and make it appeal to the most potential buyers. Most professional stagers (myself included) provide services that include rental furniture and accessories. These are rented on a monthly basis and can run into hundreds of dollars, depending on the amount of furniture and accessories needed for a given house. Costs could be minimized by using some of your mother's existing furniture and accessories. I have never had a realtor pay for that service due to the associated cost and uncertainty of the rental period it will be needed. You are certainly smart to consider addressing these cosmetic issues now. In the current market, it is critical that your house stand out from the competition. Buyers are more likely to choose a house that is updated and move in ready.
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John Badalam…, Agent, Wayne, PA
Sun Jan 13, 2008
Hi Tom:

These homes knock my socks off! My oldest son graduated from the Haverford School on Lancaster Ave and some of the alumni and parent gatherings where held at homes similar to what you just described. I get chills just thinking about what your mom’s home must look like. The prayer doors, the ornate woodwork, the flow of the rooms. Just wonderful. These homes are truly treasures.

To answer your questions:
1-If you are not in a major rush to sell now, I would suggest that you take the time and do as many repairs as possible and then put the home on the market in the spring. Bring out the best of this remarkable property! Buyers are very picky these days. On Dec 23rd, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Alan Heavens ran a very good article (not just because I was quoted in it), but because he raises some very good points about adding value to your home at resale time (I have provided the link for reference, below). There are many good opinions in the article by my worthy constituents; I provide my humble opinion as quoted in the article:

"I think the biggest thing I'm seeing with buyers in this market is the less 'pain' they have to deal with when purchasing a home, the better," "Chance favors the ready-to-move-in home.

"I honestly believe many sellers would help their situation if they work on the basic stuff: removing any and all wallpaper, painting the home in neutral tones, refinishing existing hardwood flooring, replacing wall-to-wall carpeting with neutral carpet, and moderate landscaping," he said.

"If a buyer walks into a home in this market and feels they have to do a major overhaul to the kitchen and/or bathrooms, they usually utter one word," "Next!"

2-As far as choosing the right Main Line agent based on the concerns that you state, it’s a matter of personal preference, who you will feel comfortable with to do the job that you need done. I suggest that you interview at least 4 agents (my best listings where Sellers that interviewed me along with several other agents - we hit it off and this is key - where both on the same page as what needed to be done to get the home sold at the right price and terms for the Seller).

3-Your mother’s concern about publicizing the home on the market can be handled a few ways. One approach is to simply not put any yard signs on the property. You would still have the home listed on the MLS and all the other syndications - so I don't know if that would work,. Obviouusly you need to advertise the home to bring in a pool of ready, willing and able Buyers in your price range. The other way, in addition to not having a sign on the lawn is to do what is known as a “quiet listing”. There are different approaches to this and your agent may offer his/her advice as to the best approach.

4-Your mother’s concern about having people in the home while she’s not there is a normal one. Only licensed agents are permitted to show properties in Pennsylvania In other words, any potential Buyers must be accompanied by a licensed PA agent, which should be scheduled in advance with you and your mother’s permission. Also, you may ask the your agent accompany all showings (the Seller’s agent normally doesn’t accompany the Buyer’s agent and the Buyers on showing unless the Seller requests this). Again, this is a discussion you should have with your agent for the best approach.

I wish you and your mother all the best for the New Year and good luck in the sale of this wonderful property!

John B.
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Kathy Molloy, Agent, Havertown, PA
Wed Dec 12, 2007
Hi Tom,

Selling a home can be difficult, especially as the market shifts from a seller's market more towards a buyers market. That is why it is essential to have a professional, dedicated realtor working for you. As many people have said so far, it is a great idea to interview at least three different realtors. Make sure that selling is a full time situation for them. I would say in this area, well over 50% of realtors are parttime agents. Once you feel confident in the agent you decide on, have them guide you in the cost vs. return value of the repairs / work you are thinking about. One of the easiest and least costly improvement a seller can do is minimize what is in the house and simply to make sure the home shows sparkling clean.
To answer your concern on security...it is completely reasonable to request that the selling agent accompany all buyers agents on showings and previewing. That way they are there to open and close the house and also point out any unique characteristics of the home. They should also know to then allow the buyers agent to show the house but to be there to answer any questions and lock up, reset the alarm, etc. I can't tell you how many stories I have heard from agents that have set off alarms, had police arrive, etc. on homes they are not familiar with and therefore had a mishap. The listing agent sould be completely familiar with the procedures of opening and closing up the house. Also, there is no need for a sign to be posted on the property. If the property is professionally marketed, a sign is not necessary.
Good Luck!!!
Web Reference:  http://www.kathymolloy.com
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____________…, Home Buyer, Texas
Wed Dec 12, 2007
Tom, what a great topic. You should definitely seek a realtor out soon. Even before listing the property on the open market, the realtor and you can agree that she "quitely list" the property. This generally means that the house is kept out of the mls, there are no signs on the property, etc. A more directed marketing campaign is used...generally by emailing other agents that deal with similar homes or buyers looking at those kind of homes, announcing the listing on the office voicemail, by "spreading the word", etc. Sometimes an agent that has her own proprietary website, rather than just an MLS feed, will put the listing on her website. For that reason, it is important to discuss your prospective agent's marketing plans and look at the presentation of some of their current listings: is she using a profession photographer for the MLS pictures or is it her just snapping them, how does the mls description read, is her website more than just an mls feed, what kind of information packets are given at the other listings of hers (is it just a fact sheet or does it contain high gloss photos or maybe even a CD). There are some great agents in Philadelphia and on the Main Line. Be careful of some "mega agents"--- those that have a huge inventory of properties that they are representing. WHile this is not necessarily a bad thing, make sure the agent has the resources to provide you with individualized service (i.e. does she have assistants, etc.). But also be careful of agents that have little or no experience in that price range. Also, if your prospective agent has had say only two listings in the past year....does the real estate community even know who she is? The rapport of the agent with other agents is often very important.
Another thing I left out, see if the brokerage offers some kind of "fine homes" package. Extraordinary homes deserve extraordinary marketing! Good luck...it is a fun journey.
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Pete Simonet…, Agent, Wayne, PA
Mon Dec 10, 2007

I would second a lot of the replies that you've received so far. Interview several agents, tell them the concerns that you and your mother have, then let them give you their expert opinions on your best course of action. This business is all about trust and integrity - find someone you are comfortable with, that has Main Line experience, is a full time agent, and as Nancy said, will go the extra mile to satisfy you and sell the property.

Certainly waiting until Spring is the best option given the overhang of properties currently on the market (In Haverford and Lower Merion there are 39 properties on the market in the 2-3M range selling an average of 3/mo over the last year). In order to beat the average your property must offer an outstanding price/value solution.

I see that you'll be in town this weekend. My business partner and I would be amenable to meeting with you at the property to discuss the options. Please feel free to get in touch via email at mainlineagent@gmail.com or through one of the numbers below.


Pete Simonetti MBA, ABR & Rosie Foster, ABR
Weichert Realtors
111 N. Wayne Ave.
Wayne, PA 19087
610-662-9695 cell

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Nancy Herbke…, Agent, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Mon Dec 10, 2007
Hello again, Tom! Having a realtor suggest possible improvements and then getting a few quotes from contractors is a great way to approach the issue. Right now, your thoughts contain a lot of different approaches to selling your mom's house. If you can get some factual information (specific ideas with specific costs attached), it will help you to make some order out of the chaos of ideas currently swirling around in your head. At the same time as quotes from contractors are being obtained, I would recommend that your realtor visit all the homes in the area currently for sale in your price range. Then I suggest that your realtor prepare a report for you, your siblings, and your mom to review. This report should contain the features that the "competition" has and also the information that the various contractors have provided. Now you'll all have a factual basis on which to determine the cost-benefit of renovations. Also, your realtor will (or should) be able to go over the report with you and your family - if you all can't do it in person, then perhaps on a conference call, or by whatever method would work for you. Regarding staging, that's a wonderful idea - staged homes typically sell for more money than non-staged homes. I have my realtor's staging certification and what I find - particularly in homes where someone has lived for a number of years - is that seller often has too much furniture. Less furniture artfully arranged makes rooms look more spacious. Is you mother planning to take some of her furniture to Palm Beach? If not, what are her plans for the furniture? To answer your specific question, a very accomplished stager that I know (and who works primarily on the Main Line), often can stage a house by using the owner's furniture and accessories. However, she has furniture and accessories that she can bring to a home if needed, either instead of using the seller's items, or to supplement what the seller has. As far as the cost for a professional stager, this is usually paid for by the seller who will get a good return on this investment in a higher sales price for the home. As they say, everything is negotiable, but this is how it typically works. Let me know if you have more questions! Take care - Nancy
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Tom, Home Seller, New York, NY
Sun Dec 9, 2007
thanks this is all very reassuring. I will probably be on the Main Line this weekend and plan to sit down with mom and my siblings to determine how to best approach the fix ups. As I mentioned, I think we will have someone do the smaller items such as painting, cleaning things out, etc. but the rest we will have to consult contractors and realtors to determine the cost-benefit of the renovations. ALso, some of the furniture is very "dated." Don't get me wrong, it is very high quality but it is certainly not what most of today's buyers would furnish. If we were to have the house "staged", is this something the agent pays for or the seller? I would imagine there are situations where the stager uses the owner's items and situations where the stager brings in their own items, no?
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Nancy Herbke…, Agent, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Sat Dec 8, 2007
Hi Tom -
I'm glad you posted some more of your concerns. Let me try to address some of them for you. It is absolutely not an issue to sign the listing paperwork, the Agreement of Sale, etc. even if you and your mom are out of state. If the house is owned by your mom, only she will need to sign the paperwork. However, as a concerned son, I'm sure you would want to review everything. That's where your realtor comes in. Allow her to do the paperwork, then FedEx, fax or email copies to you. You can review it over the phone. Once you're satisfied, your realtor can FedEx the copies to your mom for her signature. Most of the forms are standard Pennsylvania Association of Realtor forms and your realtor will be able to explain all of the terms and conditions to your satisfaction and complete understanding. As far as showings, if I was fortunate to be your realtor, I would be present at every single showing - again, for security reasons but also for sales reasons to highlight to the potential buyer all the wonderful features of your mom's home. Regarding the MLS, it is the seller's choice whether to have your home in the MLS or not. You don't need to have it there. Your realtor will need to somehow let people know the house is for sale. I have several marketing plans for homes that are in the MLS and homes that are not in the MLS. With your mom's concerns, I would suggest that you try it for awhile not in the MLS and see what response you get. If the response is not what you had hoped, then you can consider putting it in the MLS (or continuing as you've been doing). With the repairs you've described, it will be helpful if you have a realtor who can get you quotes for having the work done and who agrees to oversee the work. With you and your mom out of state, you'll need to select a realtor who is willing to go the extra mile to provide superior service to both of you.
If you have more questions of would like to discuss this directly with me, please feel free to call or email me. My cell phone is 484.645.2887 and my email is HomesFromNancy@aol.com. My office is on the Main Line and I would be delighted to help you any way I can! Thanks, Tom!
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Tom, Home Seller, New York, NY
Fri Dec 7, 2007
Ok, I am thinking that some of the cosmetics be attended do: i.e. painting, removing the wallpaper, changing the carpets. However the more major items like the kitchen I would just rather leave to the next buyer to attend to and price the home lower. As for security, do you mean that the listing agent will be present at every showing? The house has a burglar alarm and it is gated and my mom has concerns about that information being publicized. What is the policy of putting homes in the MLS: do they have to go in, etc? Furthermore, I am in NY and my mom will be in FL. SInce there is a huge inventory of high end homes on the market we are not expecting a fast sale. How does the signing of agreements work when noone is in PA?
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Keith Sorem, Agent, Glendale, CA
Fri Dec 7, 2007
Thank you for your very informative post. It's great to have some background. Studies by NAR have shown that most buyers prefer a home that is well-maintained.

Homes in your price point have special characteristics, one of the most significant is the expectations of buyers. Buyers expect a home like you mother's to be in tip top shape. In addition to the deferred maintenance, it sounds as though updating would be in order.

You have three options:
Sell as it as is. Price it below market, and try to find a couple of ambitious buyers who might compete to bid up the price.
Fix it up a little. Paint, cleaning, and necessary repairs. I would still price it aggressively, but more than the first option.
Fix it up. This option will require the most time, effort, and money. The issues that will probably be the most challenging is where to stop.

Let's take the kitchen If someone is purchasing a home like your mother's, they would probably either prefer to have the kitchen perfect (meaning contemporary design, newer appliances) or if as you described, they would prefer to rip it out and re-do it to their taste.

One suggestion is to compile an estimate of the cost to refurbish/remodel, then offer the buyer an allowance with the sale.

IMHO consulting with a local Realtor would really be the best way to determine your course of action.
Web Reference:  http://www.glencrestteam.com
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Gregory Park…, Agent, Blue Bell, PA
Fri Dec 7, 2007
Currently, there is a 2 year supply of homes on the market in the 2 million dollar and up price range in your mom’s area. In order to best answer your question I would have to see the home. In order for your mom to get top dollar for the property it would need to be perfect. There may be too much work that needs to be done and your best bet would be market the property now at a price reflecting the work that needs to be done. Please feel free to call and we can set up a time to look at the property.
Thank You

Gregory S. Parker, Realtor
Coldwell Banker Realty Professionals
2924 Swede Road
East Norriton, PA 19401
Office 610-277-5000 Ext. 249
Direct 610-994-1147
Fax 610-277-1556
E-Mail greg.parker@coldwellbanker.com
Website http://www.phillyareahomehunter.com
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Nancy Herbke…, Agent, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Fri Dec 7, 2007
My suggestion is that you take the time in the first two or three months of the year to do the repairs and then put your mother's home on the market in early spring. Potential buyers of homes in that price range expect homes to look updated and well maintained. The money that you will spend on the repairs will be reflected in the additional profit you will make on the home. A good realtor can help you in determining what needs to be done to the house to get it ready to sell. There is currently a fair amount of inventory of homes in that price range, particularly on the Main Line, so you'll want your mother's home to be a "shiny penny" among the others. A realtor familiar with that area will be able to let you know what the competition is like in terms of home features, condition, and price which will be important to you as you consider your repairs and the pricing of your mother's home. As far as security goes, in homes of that price range, I always meet potential buyers at the house even if they have their realtor with them. I find this is important in terms of security for the home owner and it also allows me to point out the wonderful features of the house. The more trust your mother has in the agent and the more respect the agent has for your mother's privacy and security concerns should help to reduce her fears. Since you don't live in the area, it's important that you chose a realtor that you trust, too, and who is hard-working but also easy to work with. He or she will be doing a lot of work on your behalf and you'll want to make this process as stress-free as possible. Good luck!
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Beth Moran, Agent, Citrus Heights, CA
Thu Dec 6, 2007
Wait until spring! You obviously have much to do to get the home ready and most people put their purchases on hold until after the holidays. Get three good referrals for agents and follow through on EVERY one ot them ! You'll be surprised how much you will learn from each agent which gives you the edge when pricing your home. Privacy is always a concern...since Mom spends her time with the snow birds let her go and find an agent who is committed and will do the necessary work to keep your home looking occupied in her absence. Take advantage of the usual cycles and make sure the place is pristine for your first open house...good luck!
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