As a Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), and Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE), it is always my pleasure to answer any questions from friends, referrals or neighbors with regard to the value of their respective homes. While many accept the information I give to them with regard to current price per square foot, how similar/dissimilar their home is in comparison, and proposed selling range, there are times when a seller will consider his/her house to be perfect, and when it comes to pricing or listing that home, the process can be a tad overwhelming for them. There are also many questions that the seller might ask, and I have tried to address some of those (indignant but very important) questions as follows – after all selling is a process – and I want the seller to ask all questions so they feel comfortable:
1) “I bought my house at the height of the market, and I am NOT going to give my house away. I ‘need’ X amount to sell…” Or, “I took out an equity loan last year, and I now owe more than the house might be worth…”
Answer: Unfortunately, the potential buyer and his/her agent will always check the current market conditions, and what other similar properties have sold for… If the house down the street is similar and sold for $100,000 less, then you have to take that into consideration…
2) “The owners needed to sell their home down the street – we don’t and so we will wait to get ‘our’ price.”
Answer: Unfortunately, even though your neighbors needed to move quickly, and perhaps accepted less for their home than they/you would have liked, that property will still be considered by the appraiser as a comparative sale and will affect the appraisal of your house.
3) “We do not ‘need’ to sell, and if we do not get X amount – we won’t.”
Answer: Your property will probably sell based on current market conditions in the range of X – X amount. If you feel NOW that you would not accept a bid in that range, then let us save ourselves valuable time and not ‘try’ to sell it higher when the market is dictating otherwise. I would rather you respect me now than hate me later for wasting your time!
4) “We have the nicest house on the street and it should sell for at least $50,000 MORE than the other homes.”
Answer: Your house is lovely, but at the end of the day – it must appraise and if the homes are selling in the X range – say between $700,000 and $800,000 in your area, and your improvements would reflect (for you) a $900,000 sale then it could be that you have over-improved your home, and you will not realize those improvements in a sale at this time. It might be to your advantage to just stay in your home and not sell, but if you decide to sell, then you must price according to what the current sales are reflecting. Obviously in the higher range.
5) “My house has 5 bedrooms, a finished basement and the square footage is 3000 square feet – my appraiser measured it, and so I WANT the listing to reflect those details.”
Answer: Unfortunately, your home was assessed by the city for 3 bedrooms, and 2 of the bedrooms you would like listed or reflected in the listing are rooms in the basement/attic – which has no certificate of occupancy. Further, the square footage reflected at city hall is for 2000 square feet, and ethically and legally, we must reflect the square footage you have legally listed at city hall, that is considered habitable space, and are paying taxes for. If you would like to obtain a C/O for the basement/attic, then we can list/include that additional square footage, but also remember that in order to call a bedroom a bedroom, it must have both closet space and a window (or closet space directly outside of the room).
6) “My deck is illegal, so let the buyers take care of it after they move in.”
Answer: Unfortunately, if there is no Certificate of Occupancy, the property will not reflect a clear Title (if it reaches that point as the buyer’s agent will detect the issue prior to placing a bid, and being ethical I would have to disclose the lack of a C/O to that agent). With no clear Title, the bank will not approve the buyer’s mortgage. The deck either needs to be taken down prior to listing it, or a C/O obtained.
7) ”I have 3 children, I am very messy, and so the house is what it is…”
Answer: I totally understand but if you want to SELL your house, then the house should be decluttered, and neat. Buyers accept the fact there are children, but remember that their first impression will be the lasting one, and if they cannot see the finer points of your home through that clutter then your home might not get sold. I can find ways to assist you and help you so you do not feel overwhelmed by the process. I am here to help.
8) “I do not have the money to replace the older hot water heater or upgrade the old furnace but they are working perfectly.”
Answer: The inspector will detect any imperfection, and the buyers could possibly renegotiate accordingly. If we state in the listing that the hot water heater and furnace are “As Is” it could be a deterrent to potential buyers. There is a home warranty that is payable at the closing table that will both cover your furnace and hot water heater now, in the event they break down, and will also cover the buyer for the first year of occupancy. Or, if the inspector finds a problem, you can always offer a credit of some kind.
9) “I would like to list my house in May or June when the weather is nice.”
Answer: While there didn’t seem to be a spring market in 2009 and evolved into a hectic summer market, in 2010 there was a very brisk market in a certain price point ($4-700,000 range in New Rochelle and $800- $1.1M range in Larchmont). The spring market traditionally starts in January and February, and if you list your home in May or June, many of the buyers who have been seeking a home will already either be in contract to buy a house, or have already purchased one, and you will miss out on selling your home to one of those buyers. Families with children many times like the comfort of knowing they will have a home for the ensuing school year, and so seek a home earlier in the year… It is best to be on the market as early as possible so you do not miss out on any of those buyers.
10) “I would like to list higher as the buyers always negotiate much lower.”
Answer: Yes and No! If there are 10 homes that are similar to yours, and are priced say at $800,000, with the last sale showing prices in the $750,000 range – and your home is well priced in a stabilized market – based on your renovations, at $775,000 – which home will the buyers wish to view first? If you price your home at $850,000 and the other homes are listed in the $800,000 range – will you get any showings? It is a common fact that most homes that are overpriced to begin with sell for far less than the homes that were well priced. If the market is still declining, then your home must be priced accordingly to reflect that declining market. It is very true that a home that is priced well, will not only bring in more buyers but could also bring forth multiple bids.
If you are overpriced, you will only help sell the competition. So simple but so true.
11) ”I do not want a “For Sale” sign in my yard…”
Answer: That is your prerogative, and I would always want you to feel comfortable in the entire process, but just remember that when I market your house, I am endeavoring to reach as many potential buyers as possible, and many times your neighbors have friends or family who are looking in the neighborhood, and you could miss out on those potential buyers in not having a sign.
12) “My friend’s friend is a Realtor, and she will list my house at a reduced commission. What is yours?”
Answer: I would suggest you interview your friend’s friend, and ask her what she will offer to you the seller by way of a marketing plan. I do not discuss the commission of other agents, only my own, and I will give you a written marketing plan detailing everything I will do on your behalf to produce the highest possible sales price for you. Once you have both marketing plans, you can then make an informed, intelligent decision.
13) “All agents are alike. It is just a matter of choosing the company.”
Answer: That is most definitely not true, and while each company has many wonderful marketing and sometimes similar marketing strategies to offer (although I sincerely feel that Houlihan Lawrence stands alone), as independent contractors, agents vary greatly from within each company. When you invite an agent into your home, you are both interviewing the agent’s statistics, marketing plan, professional demeanor, expertise in the area as well as the company’s statistics. Remember that each agent has the option to pay for additional marketing programs to enhance/promote his/her listings.
14) “I was told to list with so and so as she has 20 listings.”
Answer: That is great! How much time does she spend in promoting each of those 20 listings? I would rather have fewer listings, and offer my sellers the time their house and they deserve in the selling process.
I have lived in Westchester for over 33 years, and if you have any further questions with regard to real estate, or if you would like to know what your home is worth, it would be my pleasure to assist! As a licensed Real Estate Associate Broker and Realtor, it is always my goal to make the process as easy as possible for my clients. I am here to help!
Larchmont and New Rochelle are GREAT!