Not Listening

The phone rings and you pick it up… Oh wait. I should set the back story here. You have just had your house on the market for 193 days without a serious offer, your agent disappeared about month 5 and returns calls after repeated attempts by you, only to tell you “the markets bad” or ” you missed the height of the Spring market and waited too long…”

Back to the phone ringing, and it has not stopped since 7:15 AM. You pick it up for the umpteenth time to hear” Hello, my name is Mike D’Agent and did you know your real

estate listing has just expired?”

angy face
You were polite with the first 23 agents with this same canned speech
and you finally let loose with all the pent-up frustration and you lay waste to this poor hapless soul who was unlucky #24.  You hang up on every call there after until finally a week later it slows down and stops.

What happened? Where were all these agents when the house was on the market and you were frantic because your teenage son kept leaving his laundry on the floor and dirty dishes EVERYWHERE! The dog and cat decided to eschew the great outdoors for their daily needs and you are plumb exhausted.

Selling your valuable asset is one of the most important and emotionally stressful things that you can do in your life. Selling and buying multiple times does not make this easier, it only lets you know what is coming.

The reality of selling your house and the feeling of no control is overwhelming. I know. I have some clients that had gone through some of the same situation that you are or have experienced. I am sometimes unlucky #24! My day is filled with calls and meetings to help correct the past sins of fellow agents.

When you decided to list your house to sell it, what was the REASON you wanted to move? Was there a timeline that was in your mind; a place to move to that was important? You wanted to downsize? Move to a larger home? Now, here is the real question…Did your agent ask why you wanted to move or was there a timeline involved? Did they know your goals and longings? Did they listen?

If they did, and they recommended you lower the price within the first three weeks, did you listen? If you thought the price was too high when you listed, did the agent listen? If they don’t listen, fire them! You do not have to put up with incompetence.

If you don’t listen, a smart agent will fire you! You are wasting time, and time is money to the self-employed.

Communication both ways is so important and having that open back and forth exchange makes life a bit easier. Don’t hold back with your agent because she or he is so sweet or charming; has a big reputation with lots of listings or works for the BIG player in the marketplace.

When the next agent calls, take a deep breath and ask them how they work with their clients. See if they ask you questions that are all about you and your goals. Invite them over, compare and contrast. Follow that deep sense of intuition we are all imbued with. Listen and act on recommendations.

Sell your home and be grateful you changed agents.

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Realtor Secrets~Shhhh!


1. Selling Secret # 1: Pricing It Right:

This is a pricing strategy used by realtors in the current seller’s market. Find out what your home is worth, and then shave 10 to 15 percent off the price. Your realtor should establish a submission date and time for all offers. The number of showings and open house visitors to your home should give your realtor a reasonable idea if you will be receiving multiple offers. With low inventory of homes for sale in your community, this may result in the possibility that buyers will bid up the price over asking. It takes some courage but it is an excellent strategy to sell a home in today’s market.

There is always that fine balance between accepting the highest qualified price versus the likelihood of getting an appropriate appraisal valuation. When the market is trending upward, there is a good chance of getting the right valuation. It would not hurt to keep a back-up offer if possible from one of the other buyers. If the offer is all cash, then the valuation is of no concern.

2. Selling Secret # 2:

Half-Empty Closets:Storage is something every buyer is looking for and can never have enough of. Take half the contents out of your closets then neatly organize what’s left. Buyers will snoop so be sure to keep all your closets and cabinets clean and tidy.

3. Selling Secret # 3: Light It Up:

Maximize the light in your home. After location, good lighting is the one thing that every buyer cites that they want in a home. Take down the drapes, clean the windows, change the lampshades, increase the wattage of your light bulbs and cut the bushes outside to let in sunshine. Do what you have to do make your house bright and cheery – it will make it more saleable.

4. Selling Secret # 4: Conceal the Critters:

You might think a cuddly dog would warm the hearts of potential buyers but you’d be wrong. Not everybody is a dog or cat lover. Buyers don’t want to walk in your home and see a bowl full of dog food, smell the kitty litter box or have tufts of pet hair stuck to their clothes. It will give buyers the impression that your house is not clean. If you’re planning an open house, keep the animals away for the day. Ask a friend who does not have pets to come do a sniff test to see if there is the scent of a “Rover” in the house.

5. Selling Secret # 5: Don’t Over-Upgrade:

Quick fixes before selling always pay off. Mammoth makeovers, not so much. You probably won’t get your money back if you do a huge improvement project before you put your house on the market. Instead, do updates that will pay off and get you top dollar. Get a new fresh coat of paint on the walls. Clean the curtains or go buy some inexpensive new ones. Replace door handles, cabinet hardware, make sure closet doors are on track, fix leaky faucets and clean the grout.  Put down new throw rugs

6. Selling Secret # 6: Take the Home Out of Your House:

One of the most important things to do when selling your house is to de-personalize it. The more personal stuff in your house, the less potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. Get rid of at least a third of your stuff – put it in storage. This includes family photos, memorabilia, collections and personal keepsakes. Consider hiring a home stage-er to maximize the full potential of your home. Staging simply means arranging your furniture to best showcase the floor plan and maximize the use of space.

7. Selling Secret # 7: The Kitchen Comes First:

You’re not actually selling your house, you’re selling your kitchen – that’s how important it is. The benefits of remodeling your kitchen are endless and the best part of it is that you’ll probably get 85% of your money back. It may be a few thousand dollars to replace counter tops where a buyer may knock $10,000 off the asking price if your kitchen looks dated. The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware. Use a neutral-color paint so you can present buyers with a blank canvas where they can start envisioning their own style. If you have a little money to spend, buy one fancy stainless steel appliance. Why one? Because when people see one high-end appliance, they think all the rest are expensive too and it updates the kitchen.

8. Selling Secret # 8: Always Be Ready to Show:

Your house needs to be “show-ready” at all times – you never know when your buyer is going to walk through the door. You have to be available whenever they want to come see the place and it has to be in tip-top shape. Don’t leave dishes in the sink, keep the dishwasher cleaned out, the bathrooms sparkling and make sure there are no dust in the corners. It’s a little inconvenient but it will get your house sold. If done right, your showing period will be over before you know it.

9. Selling Secret # 9: The First Impression Is the Only Impression:

No matter how good the interior of your home looks, buyers have already judged your home before they walk through the door. You never have a second chance to make a good first impression. It’s important to make people feel warm, welcome and safe as they approach the house. Spruce up your home’s exterior with inexpensive shrubs and brightly colored flowers. You can typically get a 100-percent return on the money you put into your home’s curb appeal. Entryways are also important. When you’re selling, make it welcoming by putting in a small bench, a vase of fresh-cut flowers or even some cookies.

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Sending the right message to Buyers

You should know that selling your home is a competition…you against all the other sellers in your category of a single home, 4 bedrooms , 2.5 baths Etc.  What makes your home stand out in the crowd? Granite? 68% of homes have upgraded to that, so put that into the expected category. New appliances? Again, buyers expect newer appliances in the properties they want. A pretty yard? That is a given.

PRICE is still the one thing that can propel your home to the top of everyone’s must see list. At the end of September we had 1,904 new listings come on the market in Central Virginia and 6,143 active listings total.

The National Association of Realtors have done studies relating price to time on the market and  states that if you do not get a showing in any two-week period, or if you get showings but no offers, it is time to reduce your price.

And PRICE solves many issues you may not want or be able to upgrade.

Are you competitive or are you “also ran” ?

Ask your agent to set up a search that would include your house and all the ones in your school area that are similar. Seeing this will give you the information to make the right decision when your agent suggests a price improvement.

Now you are moving in the right direction!

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WHEN is the best time to move?


Some of our clients have told me the only time to move is…(fill in the blank here)! The reality is that houses are bought and sold year round. The best time for you depends on your needs and situation. For example, if you have school age children, the ideal time might be in the spring; you have the summer to get moved in, have some fun and then your ready for the new school.  

If you are relocating to the South, You may want to move in during the Fall or winter as the weather is not as hot. Conversely, moving North (who would do THAT?) might avoid the tundra months of November through April! 

As far as advantage for Buyers, I would suggest the off season (anything but the first 6 months) and the closer to the Thanksgiving Christmas holidays the better. Why? Anyone who is selling their home then is motivated. I can’t tell you how often I hear Sellers say they are taking the house off the market until the Spring…they don’t want to deal with showings and Christmas! A sure sign they are NOT motivated sellers. The ones that really are hoping to move soon will keep it on, and will be happy to negotiate the terms you may need or want.  

Best time to sell ???  From a seasonal standpoint, I would get it on ready to go the week before the Super Bowl (first weekend in February) .  You will have all the advantages of being part of the early Spring market with a pent up demand ( Yes, there are Buyers who slack off  for the Holidays WAITING for the Spring Market).  

This past year we were showing houses right through the end of the year into a very busy Spring market. That was a little unusual in terms of volume. Will this be a new Normal? My crystal ball is in the china shop for repairs and polishing, so I can’t say…

The best part about being early is that the market is not flooded with listings ( see above where Sellers took the house off of the market for the Holidays…) and this means there is less competition on pricing.

Best time to buy or sell in my mind is…NOW!



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