- Why do you think your home didn’t sell?
- If you got feedback, what was it?
- How was your home marketed?
- Were any showings refused?
- Did you receive or refuse any offers?
- Was the price adjusted? If no, why not?
- Did you receive regular progress reports?
- Were there any public and/or broker opens?
- Did you have a professional photographer?
- Did you have a video walk through done?
- Are you still committed to selling the property?
- Have you made recent updates?
- What is the debt against the property?
- What drew you to this home when you bought it?
- What is your favorite/least favorite thing about this house?
- What is your favorite/least favorite thing about this neighborhood?
- What sets your home apart from others ?
- Why are you looking to sell?
- How soon do you need to move?
- Which is more important—price or timing?
- What challenges do you see in selling your home?
- Who do you think is the ideal buyer for this home?
- What is your plan if your home doesn’t sell in the time period you indicated?
- What qualities do you want in your agent?
- Do you have a ballpark price in mind?
- Tell me about your home – how long you’ve lived here, what you like best about it and whether you’ve performed any renovations or major repairs.
The role of an agent is to guide and advise you through the process. We’re a team, working together!
- Help you determine the highest possible selling price for your home
- Present a list of suggested repairs or presentation tips, if necessary
- Recommend reputable repair companies, if necessary
- Take professional pictures and video for marketing purposes
- Share your home with our extensive global network
- Enter your home in the local listing services
- Advertise your home to ensure the greatest exposure to buyers
- Arrange showings
- Gather and present feedback from showings
- Present and negotiate offers on your behalf
- Guide you through the contract and attorney review process
- Guide you through the home inspection & appraisal
- Guide you through township and state requirements
- Assist the attorney & title company in closing needs-iemonitor buyer’s loan and progress
- Assist you on the purchase of your next home, if necessary
- Be present at closing to ensure a successful transaction & to CELEBRATE!
Just as in dating, wooing homebuyers unsuccessfully can leave you wondering what went wrong. But don’t take it personally!
Deborah Morehead was anxious and excited. Morehead, who lives in Danville, Va., thought she was going to be selling her house. What she didn’t know was that the woman who had agreed to meet her wasn’t coming, after all. Morehead and her Realtor were about to be stood up.
You may not have thought about it, but selling your house is a lot like trying to meet the man or woman you’re going to marry. After all, you’re trying to find someone not to just buy your house, but to live with your house. Just like in dating, your house needs to be presentable, ready to make a great first impression and you want to do more than just dazzle with that first impression — you want people to fall in love. Often, you’re told by a potential buyer that they are in love with the house.
But then, just like in dating, the buyer doesn’t make an offer, even if they said they would.
“Calls were not returned,” says Morehead. “The real estate agent left my house over an hour later, completely baffled. A follow-up call to the Realtor revealed that the woman never got back to her and wasn’t taking her calls. How weird is that?”
Not all that weird, actually, not in the world of real estate. It happens, probably every day, where home sellers are left to their own devices, annoyed, frustrated or even hurt, wondering if it was something they said, or something their Realtor said, since often you’re not meeting the home buyer face-to-face until the closing. But the cold hard truth is, just like the best-selling book and new movie says, sometimes they don’t buy because, cruel as it may sound — they just aren’t that into your house.
Maybe They’re Not That Into Yard Work
Diane Wallace, of Gilbert, Ariz., and her husband wanted to cut their lengthy commutes to their photography studio, 32 miles away in Phoenix, so they put their house on the market. Soon, their Realtor was showing a couple their 2,900-square-foot home situated on an 8,000-square-foot lot. Among other amenities, it had two and a half baths, a spacious entertainment room and a three-car garage. And the house was located next to a greenbelt.
“They love it,” reported their Realtor. “The wife totally wants to make the upstairs game room into her yoga studio, and they love that the master bedroom is on the first floor, and they want to come back to measure the rooms.”
They did come back. In fact, they returned three, or possibly four, times, recalls Wallace.
The Wallaces left for a trip, confident that they would soon sell their house. But when they returned, they had to hunt down the Realtor, who reluctantly informed them that the couple had decided to buy another home. But why, Wallace wanted to know.
“They didn’t want grass,” said the Realtor, sounding puzzled. Wallace was, too. Despite being in a desert state, Wallace says that every house in their community has grass, and besides, it wasn’t as if that was a feature of the house that had remained hidden during those handful of visits, only to be noticed when a home inspector remarked, “Hey, Buddy, did you know this house has a lawn?”
Maybe They’re Not That Into Buying Right Now
When Chris Loncto and his wife Karen put their three-bedroom, one-bath house on the market in Glen Rock, N.J., they had numerous showings to at least three potential buyers who came back three different times, and two others who came for second looks.
Loncto says that one young couple brought their mother over, and then on the second visit, they brought a friend, and on the third visit, they brought their father and a friend who was a Realtor. “They went up into the attic, the garage, and it sounded like an offer was coming,” says Loncto , “but it never did, and we don’t really know what happened. There was no real communication. The last we heard, they were looking at another house in another town.”
Not that the Lonctos never got a reason for buyers not making an offer. The reasons just weren’t very satisfying. They heard a comment from someone that there wasn’t enough closet space, and from another that the street they lived on was a little busy. But again, they had people coming back again and again and raving about their place. “Everyone seems to agree our house is quite charming,” says Loncto , “and they really dug it, but as they took longer and longer to make their purchase, everyone had reasons for talking themselves out of it.”
It was an exercise of frustrations for the Lonctos , especially for Karen, who had to keep the home in “show-worthy” condition and be ready for a potential buyer at a moment’s notice. Not easy when you have a two-year-old and a three-month-old.
“It was an annoyance,” admits Chris. “[Karen] often was just kind of sitting and waiting by the phone for a call from our Realtor.”
Don’t Let Rejection Get to You
Loncto , who is now debating between putting his house back on the market or staying put and adding onto it, was smart to think of the rejection as an annoyance and nothing more.
“The hardest thing for the homeowner is that — after the blasted people have inconvenienced you three times, running around, turning on all the lights, fluffing the pillows, tucking away errant toys, spraying madly with Febreze — the rejection feels personal,” says home stager Juliet Johnson. “It isn’t, of course.”
Johnson, who is based in New Jersey, has spent the last six years listening to potential buyers reject a house because they didn’t like the location, the layout or the fact that the kitchen has an electric stove.
Johnson says she has heard people say, “Oh, it’s just not me,” or “The backyard’s not what I always dreamed of.”
In other words, a buyer is judging a house based on those feelings. “Buying a home, like deciding to marry, is a lifetime commitment and a life-changing decision that requires lots of due diligence beforehand,” says Lynne Sandler, who runs a dating site that uses music to predict compatibility. “Just like you wouldn’t propose to your girlfriend to save her from hurt feelings, a buyer isn’t going to slam down a half million dollars or more to spare the owners the embarrassment of not liking their home enough to buy it.”
Furthermore, says Sandler: “When a relationship is the right one, it usually blossoms quickly and effortlessly. There is no convincing or waiting for answers. Both parties know it right away.”
They’re Just Not That Into Your House if They’re Not Making an Offer
Fortunately, you can focus on what you do have control over. “So fix the lawn,” advises Wallace, the seller in Arizona, “clean the garage, paint a room or two — and when someone says they love the house but just don’t want the master bedroom downstairs, well, I can’t rebuild the house, so I just had to move on. You have to realize in the end, no matter how good a deal your house is or how nice it is, people do not make rational decisions about houses, they make emotional decisions. There’s not a lot of ways to work with that.”
You can improve your home by trying to get honest feedback, rather than the suspicious dodges (“we don’t like grass”), suggests Jane Straus, a relationship expert, author and radio host. “It’s better to know than not to know because some problems can be fixed easily and inexpensively. Other deal-breakers can’t be fixed except to lower the price.”
That said, Straus concludes, “If you’re doing everything you can to sell your home and no one is nibbling, remember that you’re in good company. This is not a seller’s market at the moment. So don’t add more stress to your life by taking this personally. We do not control the universe but we can control our thoughts. Think good thoughts right now. It’s the least you can do for yourself.”
Here are some budget-friendly tips and tricks from stagers and Realtors® that will make over your home for next to nothing—or even for free!
Get free advice
A no-cost—and no-brainer—way to get your home looking good and ready to sell? “Get your Realtor involved,” says Realtor Bill Golden with Re/Max Metro Atlanta Cityside, who has 29 years of experience.
Golden’s basic advice: If a home is vacant, furnish only the main rooms: living, dining, and family. “Otherwise, people have trouble picturing how it can be set up.”
Skip bedrooms, which are generally straightforward, according to layout. Add furniture only if bedrooms are unusually small or oddly shaped, to help define how the space can be used. Finally, clearly define any transitional space with straightforward furniture that demonstrates the space’s function.
Don’t rent a storage unit
Experienced sellers all know the absolute cheapest way to spruce up a home for sale is the critical de-cluttering stage—”the most typical problem” of homeowners, as one staging pro puts it. Still, storage units can be expensive, as can the U-Haul you need to rent to slog your stuff there. So consider some cheaper alternatives.
Depending on the amount you need to stash, Clutter.com offers storage for as little as $7 per month; Makespace.com, $12 per month. These services make it easy, too: They’ll send you boxes, which you fill and mail back to them. Whenever you want your stored stuff just ask, and back it comes.
Slipcover old furniture
Cover up dated or worn furniture with a slipcover.
Design expert Sam Jernigan at Renaissance Design Consultations of Northern California previously worked at one of the top staging firms in San Francisco and developed a mini-staging service. Her top tip for DIY staging: ready-made slipcovers—including for chairs—that can neutralize dated or too-busy patterns and freshen up worn upholstered pieces. Couch slipcovers start at $79.96 at Sure Fit.
Grab just 1 quart of paint
A splash of color can draw attention to features.
You already know that most rooms should be painted in a neutral tone. But according to Jernigan, a quart of the right pop of color can play up key architectural features and costs only around $15.
“Is the fireplace or bay window lost amid a sea of same color walls?” she says. “An accent paint will give new focus to important features that are otherwise lost.”
Raise the roof, visually speaking
“Older homes with low 8-foot ceilings benefit from adding strong vertical lines to a room,” says Jernigan. Cut some wild foliage—like 6-foot branches—and place them in a narrow vase. Another trick? Add draperies from a ceiling mount rod to give the room a lift. “Ready-made draperies are now available in 96- as well as 108-inch lengths.” (They start at $29.99 at Ikea.)
Update the look of a room with a low-cost bedding set.
If a bedroom needs updating, snag bed-in-a-bag bedding ensembles from a discount store (starting at as low as $8 at Target). These low-cost linens can even do double duty as a window treatment in a pinch. Jernigan suggests using the matching sheets—that no one will see under the duvet—as curtains.
Quick bathroom face-lift
Some new fixtures can quickly make your bathroom feel newer.
If a complete gut job isn’t in the cards for your outdated bathrooms, just paint existing cabinets, add new hardware, and finish with a cloth shower curtain. “Voila! This helps your old bath feel almost as good as new, ” says Los Angeles–based interior designer Sarah Barnard of Sarah Barnard Design.
Pay attention to lighting
Show your home in its best light by purchasing good quality bulbs with appropriate wattage.
“Some bulbs have warmer hues, which are more flattering to skin tones,” says Jernigan. Soft pink bulbs start at two for $2.99.
Hit thrift stores and yard sales
If you need to buy some pieces to stage your home, don’t break the bank unless you’re shopping for furniture you plan to keep. Instead, hit thrift stores and yard sales. Better yet, borrow pieces from friends or family.
“You’d be surprised how many people have an attic or basement full of furniture that they’re not using,” says Golden. “A desk can stand in as a dining table, and clean, appropriately scaled outdoor furniture can be used inside.”
Banish outdated decor
Zero in on yesteryear’s decor “such as silk flowers and outdated curtains,” says Colby Sambrotto, CEO and founder of USRealty.com. This includes updating one of the first things buyers see when they pull up: the house number.
“Make sure the numerals are in a style consistent with the architectural design of the house,” Sambrotto says. Sometimes it’s the small things that make a big (initial) impact.
Create homey vignettes
Stage for everyday living with bouquets of fresh flowers and bowls of fresh fruit. This kind of staging is basically free—”it means setting dining tables and creating small vignettes like a folded newspaper with a coffee cup on a tray by a chaise lounge,” says Jernigan. “These small touches spell home, especially our idealized version of home.”
After reading this article, Melissa Christopher, Ocean County, NJ Realtor has the following insight:
Stage on a DIY budget! I don’t recommend hiring a professional stager to rent furniture and decorations unless you have the funds to do so. There are so many tips and tricks to staging your home for sale yourself! These are great tips and tricks that won’t break the bank. Remember, not every buyer is going to keep what you’ve done. Homes are personal. Keep it within budget and make it look good. Don’t stress about not being able to afford a personal home stager, most can’t! However, some steps should be taken in preparing your NJ home for sale!
Your agent won’t have to say, “Picture this.” Buyers will see your home at its best.
Staging your house can make you money. Seventy-one percent of sellers’ agents believe a well-staged environment increases the dollar value buyers are willing to offer, according to the National Association of REALTORS® “2015 Profile of Home Staging.”
Both units were in the same complex. One hadn’t been staged or updated since it was built; the other was staged and had been slightly refreshed (a little paint here and there and one redone bath). Otherwise, both units were the same size and layout. The staged condo sold for about $30,000 more than the unstaged unit, she says. “People couldn’t believe it was the same model.”
Before your eyes turn into dollar signs, keep in mind staging isn’t guaranteed to get you more money. But it’s an important marketing tool to help you compete at the right price, which means you can sell faster. (A study from the Real Estate Staging Association bears this out.)
Related: Why Spending Money on Fancy Bath Salts Can Help Sell Your House
Helping buyers fall in love with your property takes more than running the vacuum and fluffing the pillows: It’s all about decluttering, repairing, updating, and depersonalizing, say real estate agents and stagers.
With help from Fisher and other sources, we’ve compiled the ultimate home staging checklist.
Jump to a specific room or area of the house:
When placing anything from accent pillows and table lamps, go for symmetry, which is pleasing to the eye.
Light it up with lamps. Chic lamps provide both added lighting and appealing decor.
Make that fireplace glow. Scrub away soot stains and replace the old screen.
If you’re using staging furniture or buying slip covers, choose light colors for an airy, inviting feel.
Whatever amount of furniture you have in your living room, remove a few pieces to make the room feel spacious.
Use bright, coordinated accessories like accent pillows and throw blankets for a chic splash of color.
Help buyers imagine their life in your home. Set the scene by displaying a board game or tea service on the coffee table, and arrange furniture in conversational groups.
Let a slideshow of beautiful images play on your television like a screensaver.
Clear everything from countertops except one or two decorative items, like a vase of flowers or bowl of fresh fruit.
Pack up all the dishes except one attractive, matching set. Do the same with glassware, flatware, and cookware, and pare down all other cupboard and drawer items down to the minimum.
Freshen up and modernize those cabinets with a fresh coat of paint or stain and new hardware.
Seriously evaluate your appliances. Can they look new again with a good scrubbing? Give it the old college try or consider replacing with new models. The Real Estate Staging Association strongly recommends stainless steel. Tip: You can get the look of stainless for the cost of a cheap dinner with stainless films.
Remove those fridge magnets and give the door and handles a good cleaning.
Scrub dirt, grime, and stains from walls, cabinets, and backsplashes.
interiors, especially under the sink.
Clean and organize the pantry, leaving some empty space to make it look bigger. Store items in decorative baskets and display a few jars of fancy jam and other upscale condiments.
Empty all trash cans and move them out of sight.
Go gender neutral in the master bedroom. Ditch those dainty, floral pillow shams or NASCAR posters.
Pack up all but the clothes you’re wearing this season to make you closets look larger.
Swap out the motley crew of mismatched hangers in your closet for a set of wooden ones to create a classy, boutique look.
Put jewelry and other valuables in a safe spot.
Consider giving extra bedrooms a new identity as a home office, sewing room, or another interesting function.
Remove televisions or video game consoles from bedrooms to depersonalize and create a serene setting.
Let buyers entertain the idea of entertaining. Set out some chic place settings around the table, or a few wine glasses and a decanter on the buffet.
Strike a balance between overly formal and too casual with an attractive runner and a few fun, decorative elements — think small floral vases or short candle holders.
It’s de-grime time: Scrub and sanitize the walls, floor, shower door — virtually every surface that comes in contact with steam.
Spend extra time scrubbing that tile grout and re-caulk around the tub if necessary.
If your bathroom tile is dated, try paint instead of replacing it. Start with a high-adhesion primer and either epoxy or latex paint.
Remove clutter from the countertop, tub, and top of toilet. Clean surfaces until they gleam.
Pack up and hide all your personal products — from medicine to razors.
Create a luxury spa look with a fancy soap dispenser, fluffy white towels, decorative baskets, candles, plants, a white shower curtain, and a new bath mat.
Fix leaky or running toilets and replace toilet seats.
Remove hard water stains on faucets and shower heads. (Try vinegar!)
Take a daring sniff of the drains. Odorous? Clean them out, and deodorize with baking soda, boiling water, or vinegar.
Time for a new sink anyway? Try a pedestal sink to optimize precious bathroom space.
Walls, Windows & More
Have a dark corner or hallway? Brighten it up with a decorative mirror.
Neutralize the walls. If any rooms are painted in dark colors, repaint white or beige.
Paint adjacent rooms the same color to make the whole space feel larger.
Fill nicks and holes in walls, and touch up with paint.
Sorry, wood paneling. It’s time. Paint over paneling with a neutral color. To really cover your tracks, use wood filler between panels and paint over the entire thing.
Make sure every switch plate and outlet cover matches and looks brand new.
Wash the windows, inside and out. Repair any holes or tears in screens.
Replace those family portraits with interesting art placed strategically throughout the house. Avoid leaving dead space on walls.
Throughout the House
Declutter! Consider it pre-packing for your move. Box up books, clothes, and personal items and place them (neatly!) in the garage or — better yet — a rented storage unit.
Don’t forget to include memorabilia in those decluttering bins. Family photos, diplomas, and the kids’ artwork should all go.
Keep closets, basements, and attics as empty as possible to maximize the appearance of storage space.
Transform underused areas of the house — the alcove under the stairs or the end of a hallway — into functional spots. Add a desk to create a mini office, or a chair and small bookshelf for a reading nook.
Swap dim lights for high-wattage bulbs.
Check every door, drawer, and cabinet to ensure they open and close easily. Swap out any faulty — or dingy — hardware.
Damaged or aging hardwood floors? Replace damaged boards with new wood, sand down the entire floor, and re-stain.
Do a deep (deep, deep) clean. Hire a professional cleaning service to clean your home from top to bottom — including carpets — before viewings.
Hang attractive house numbers that are legible from the road.
Brighten up your porch with fresh paint or stain.
Add a fresh coat of paint to the front door, preferably red, black, blue, or wood stain, so long as it complements the trim and doesn’t blend, says The Real Estate Staging Association. Steer clear of unconventional colors like purple.
Buy a new doormat to welcome home buyers.
Power-wash the house exterior, walkway, steps, driveway, and porch until everything sparkles.
Make sure the locks and doorbell function.
Make that mailbox look clean and welcoming, or get a new one.
Plant lots of colorful blooms in attractive pots and planter beds.
Trim back trees and shrubs from the approach to the front door.
Whip that yard into shape with fresh sod or new seed
Store yard equipment and children’s toys out of sight.
Repair shaky banisters.
Get a hammock (or bocce ball game or raised fire pit) to show off how fun your yard can be.
Dress up any imperfect planting area with mulch.
Make sure entryway lights function and are free of cobwebs and insects.
Hide trash cans, recycle bins, and garden hoses.
Don’t forget your outdoor living space. Stage your patio like a second living room, with fashionable furniture, accent pillows, an outdoor rug, and other patio-friendly decor.
For Pet Owners
Scrub those pet stains on the carpets and rugs until totally gone or replace them if necessary. Try cleaning formulas made especially for pet odors.
Pet odors soak into your best friend’s favorite things. Completely remove pet beds (or Fido’s most-loved couch), blankets, toys, play structures, food bowls, and the like.
Use air fresheners that eliminate odors, rather than simply mask them. There’s nothing worse than the smell of artificial pine with kitty litter undertones.
Repair or remove any furniture that’s been scratched or gnawed on.
Clean all pet “presents” from the yard.
Keep cat boxes immaculate and hidden away, or — better yet — see how your feline-loving friends feel about a temporary houseguest and remove litter boxes altogether.
Remove any dog or cat doors. Pets? What pets?
When you leave the house for a viewing, take all the furry (or feathery or scaly) residents along with you.
Make a pet hair sweep the last thing you do before you leave the house.
Day of Showing
Add a seasonal touch. Simmer cinnamon sticks in the fall and set out fresh cut lilacs in the spring.
Tidy like you’ve never tidied before.
Avoid cooking any food for your own meals, but do bake some cookies or other baked goods to leave a welcoming aroma behind.
Take off. After all that staging work, you deserve a trip to the spa while potential home buyers are busy falling in love with your house
After reading this article, Melissa Christopher, Ocean County, NJ Realtor has the following insight:
This article covers all spaces within your home that could optimize your bottom dollar when selling your NJ home!
If you’re selling a home, there’s pretty much nothing worse than seeing your beloved place sit on the market with no offers in sight. And the longer it remains, the more you’re apt to worry: Is something truly wrong with your home? When the weeks turn into months, it may be time to admit that something is amiss.
We’re here to help you figure it out! Here are four common culprits and how to correct them.
But first: Maybe it’s all in your head
For starters, don’t exclude the possibility that you’re just worried for nothing, and your home will indeed sell in due time. According to one study by data-gathering company Graphiq, a home stays on the market for an average of 73 days in the United States, but realistically, there’s a wide range. Houses in the metro area of Birmingham, AL, sit on the market for an average of 144 days while homes in the San Francisco metro area last only 54 days.
“Take a look at your local market and compare the average days on market for a comparable home,” says John Steele of Steel San Diego Homes in San Diego. If you’re in an area where the average days on the market is 100 and you’re only at 50, you might not have to worry about it. All you may need to do is sit back and wait!
Reason No. 1: Your listing pics are subpar
In the digital age, home buyers start looking online—much like with modern dating. So photography is key to making a great first impression, with the most flattering pictures possible. If buyers aren’t coming around to see your place and your pics leave a lot to be desired, hiring a photographer could help. Professional photographs “drastically improve the online presence of a listing and can immediately create more attention,” says Patti Michels, a Realtor® in Hinsdale, IL.
Costs vary, but a general ballpark for a standard shoot—interior and exterior—is around $250 to $500 or more, not including any extras like video.
Reason No. 2: Your home isn’t prettied up
We’re not saying your home doesn’t look nice, but are there cracks in your driveway? Does your kitchen scream 1970s? If so, then you’re sending out all the wrong signals.
“Think of it like dating,” says Nicole R. Wilhelm of Sotheby’s International Realty in Berkeley, CA. “When you go the first time, you expect your date to have showered and be dressed in their best.” In home terms, that amounts to staging by a professional who arranges your home for maximum appeal.
Staging can help your home sell faster, too—about 20% quicker than a home that isn’t staged. Costs vary depending on the service. To give you a general idea, the National Association of Realtors® found the median cost of staging a home to be $675. And once it’s staged, do your part and keep it clean.
Reason No. 3: Your home is too … you
Hey, we’re not judging you—but buyers might. Your flamingo-pink porch and painted black bedrooms might be a bit, um, much for the typical home shopper. It’s time for a candid talk with your Realtor about whether there’s anything around the house you could do to make it more of a neutral backdrop for other people’s home dreams.
You should also make yourself scarce, if not absent, when the property is being shown—no matter how lovely and helpful you are, your presence can make sellers feel self-conscious or pressured to politely ooh and ahh rather than speak their minds.
Finally, make sure to make your house available for showings at times convenient for buyers—not just for you. So expect to give up a few weekends for property browsers.
Reason No. 4: You priced it too high
If you’ve tried all of the above and still can’t get a buyer, then what’s wrong with your home may be the price you’re asking for it. When it comes to homes that are stagnating, Alex Bracke, owner of the Alex Bracke Real Estate Group in Sterling, VA, says he makes one point clear to sellers: “I don’t set the value of their home; they don’t set the value of their home,” Bracke says. “The market sets it.”
Translation: The home is worth no more than what someone is willing to spend for it. So to stir up interest, reduce the price. And don’t be coy—slash it.
“In order to make a splash and get buyers excited, the price reduction must be significant,” says Danny Batsalkin, CEO of TBG Homes Worldwide in Beverly Hills, CA. “Reduce the price by at least 5%, and 10% is even better.”
A price cut doesn’t even mean you’ll take a huge hit.
“Just because a home’s price is reduced does not mean that’s the maximum it can sell for,” says Michels. You’ll hear from new buyers because your house will be in a new price range, and you might even get a bidding war that will bring the price back up to where you started.