Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Q. The house next door has been empty and on the market for almost a year now.

We really hate having an empty house in the neighborhood. We haven’t ever had anyone break into a house in our area, but empty houses do attract problems and it just doesn’t look good. It really is a great neighborhood.

A: It’s nice that you’re watching out for that house. Yes, it’s been on the market a long time. It needs a price drop but I don’t think that’s been the problem. The price has been dropped a couple of times already. What’s needed is some time and care from the listing agent. Our best listing agents stage houses that are vacant. They regularly check up on them and make sure the house is kept clean and the yard is maintained.

In the case of this house the listing agent doesn’t seem to be concerned about the property. The weeds are growing, the house is dirty and since all of the drapes are drawn, it always looks dark inside. That look won’t sell a house. The photos should be updated to show the home in different seasons. A photo with fall leaves when its spring or snow when it’s summer is a giveaway that the house has been on the market awhile.

I’ll admit that when staging first came to Vashon I was among those who ridiculed the “Bellevue” look of it. Now I’m a believer. Well staged homes sell faster and for more money than homes that are simply vacant. Vacant homes feel abandoned when you walk in to them and if they are also dirty and dark, there is little chance that they will sell until the price is really lower than it should have to be.

On the other side of that coin, homes that are overstuffed with the seller’s furnishings and messy don’t show well either. I always recommend that when you decide to sell your home, you start packing and storing everything you don’t need for daily living. You’re going to be moving anyway, so cut the clutter.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Q: We did as you suggested and interviewed several potential listing agents, the one we really like is insisting that we get a pre-inspection done.

She said that way we can fix what’s wrong and have everything in good shape. We really don’t want to spend the money to do that if the buyer is going to do it anyway. Do you think it’s really a big deal?

A: I agree with that listing agent. There are three really good reasons to do the inspection before you put the house on the market. The first is that you do, indeed, find out what needs repair. Fixing obvious flaws will make the house show better and will give buyers the confidence that the house has been well maintained.

A second reason is that you will be able to disclose any major problems up front in the seller’s disclosure that you have to fill out. Better to disclose major defects and deal with the problem than have the buyer believe you are hiding something.

The third reason is that having a copy of that inspection for buyers to see, probably laying out on a table, is a great way to show your honesty and willingness to fix what’s wrong and disclose any defects.

The buyers may have their own inspection but because you had one first, you know what to expect and, hopefully, have repaired anything they will find. The inspection period can be very stressful for both buyer and seller. Negotiating work orders and repairs can add to that stress and slow down the transaction.

Why not deal with all that before you put the house on the market? I would also recommend that you have the house professionally cleaned inside and out until it sparkles. It is absolutely worth money in your pocket to do so. A bright, clean house that looks well maintained will sell much faster and for more money than one that’s dirty, tired looking or in need of obvious repair. It’s a little more work for you now, but you’ll be smiling all the way to the bank!