Dear Short-Sale Sellers, Do You Want to Sell Your Home or Not? (An Active Rain Newbie Contest - Come Get Some Jump in Your Step)

Real Estate Agent with Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada

Dear Reno Short Sale Sellers,

I'd like to tell you about my recent experience showing some of your homes. Last week, I took an investor client out to look at houses for sale in Northwest Reno. He is an experienced and hands-on sort, and had compiled a list of eight short sale properties he wanted to visit. This guy is ready to buy; hot to trot doesn't even come close. Appointments were made and confirmed. Half the homes we visited still had you folks living in them. 

First fly in the ointment: call from the listing agent on the first showing. Homeowner says 10am not good, could we please come between 12 and 1, that would work much better for her. Ok, sure, we will make it work. Rearrange, move that house to the end, now we will have to backtrack, oh well...

crowded's a beautiful day, the investor is in a cheery mood as he has a day off from his normally very stressful job, and off we go. We arrive at home number one to find your entire extended family at home. Grandma is in the kitchen cooking, assisted by two adult daughters. Someone (the homeowner?) lets us in, waves her hand absently toward the house, then wanders back to the kitchen to join the others. We can't really see the kitchen, it isn't that big and no one moves an inch to allow us in. The living room looks ok, if a bit messy, couple of kids in there playing a game on the floor. Now down the hall...oops, can't see that bathroom, someone is taking a shower in it. Bedroom across the hall has a kid working on a computer so we don't go in there. Finally the master of the house wanders out in his skivvies, scratching his backside. At this point even my savvy investor is heading for the door.

On to house number two. Similar scenario. Heaps of stuff everywhere, entire family going about their Messy roombusiness. Third house is what I would call a trash-out-to-be. You all have obviously moved out, but left so much stuff, heaps of clothes and other junk, that one can hardly walk through the place. Maybe you will return to get it. Maybe I will win the lottery.

Finally at 12:10 we arrive at the last house. Recall that we were specifically instructed to come at this time. Uh-oh, car in driveway. I ring the doorbell, no answer, knock, then begin to retrieve the key from the lock box. Suddenly the door opens and a woman in her pajamas peers sleepily out. I explain that we have an appointment. "Oh", she says, "well I'm tired right now". I point out that we rearranged our schedule to specifically come at this time, per her request.  "Ok", she says sighing deeply, "let me just go clean up a bit". "Never mind", I say, "we will come back another time" (NOT! I think to myself). "Alright" she says and shrugs indifferently as she closes the door.

The worst part is, while no one is overtly rude, there is this sense in the air of veiled hostility. YOU, Mr. Buyer, are taking my home from me. You are a bad person. It isn't fair. Fortunately my investor, being a Unhappy short sellersingle and very busy professional male, is pretty much oblivious to emotional undercurrents of this sort. What if I had been showing these homes to some young first-time buyers? They would have been horrified.

Now I am not unsympathetic to the plight you, the probably unwilling short sale seller, are in. I feel for you, truly I do. But the reality is this albatross is around your neck, not my buyer's. If you actually want to Albatrosssell your house and relieve yourself of this burden (and there are many good reasons you should want to do that), you need to put a little effort into it. I'm sure you have a cracker-jack agent with designations up the kazoo that can get this short sale accomplished for you, but there is one magic ingredient you still need: a buyer. The rules of engagement for selling a home don't change just because it's a short sale. It needs to be available to be shown, preferably with you elsewhere, and to show at least presentably well. You don't have to go overboard, just tidy up a few things and don't let the lawn die. Remember that the buyers need to be able to picture themselves living here. They need a little time to look at your house without the distraction of feeling like an intruder. Luckily for one of you, my investor buyer has the experience to see beyond the mess and distraction; most buyers can't do that. And if they can't, there are dozens of other properties on the market just like yours. Have a little chat with your listing agent, he or she can give you a few really easy suggestions to get you started on the road to a good offer. Best of luck!


Photo credits:

Albatross picture by Peregrine's Bird Photography, from Flickr via creative commons license

Grandmother cooking picture by L-plate big cheese, from Flickr via creative commons license


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Linda S. Humphrey, M.D., CDPE, e-PRO, EcoBroker, GREEN

Broker/Owner - Humphrey Home Connections Realty, LLC

cell: 775-287-4665

office: 775-232-8515

Sonja Patterson
Keller Williams - BV - College Station, TX
Texas Monthly 5-Star Realtor Recipient for the Hou


I totally hear you on this one!  I had a lclient that for the reasons listed above would not look at an occupied short sale! 

Aug 06, 2010 04:37 PM
Amanda Nicodemus
Spring Texas Keller Williams Professionals - Cypresswood - Spring, TX
Spring Texas Real Estate

Linda, Great post on showing short sale properties.  I think the short sale sellers feels like they're "giving away" their home, so they don't make it easy to show to a perspective buyer.

Aug 06, 2010 04:52 PM
Ted J. Macy
Top Agents Atlanta Metro - Milton, GA

Some folks just don't understand, a short sale is better than the sherriff at the door, one day very soon. I agree, clean up the mess and the PRAY someone will make an offer.

Aug 06, 2010 04:56 PM
Linda Humphrey
Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada - Reno, NV
CRS, Broker/Owner HHC Realty

Sonja - Thanks, I don't blame your client one bit, it is a struggle!

Amanda - You're right, compared to what they paid it probably does seem like that, and they make their resentment known.

Ted - True, and not only that, but the offers the sellers receive are likely to be better if the buyer perceives some value. This may be important to them later when/if deficiency judgments are a possibility.

Aug 06, 2010 05:19 PM
Lola Audu
Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate - Grand Rapids, MI
Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home!

Excellent post & humorous to boot!  We're featuring this on 'Blogger's Choice'!

Aug 07, 2010 08:03 AM
Linda Humphrey
Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada - Reno, NV
CRS, Broker/Owner HHC Realty

Thanks Lola! :)

Aug 07, 2010 09:17 AM
Sheldon Neal
Bergen County, NJ - RE/MAX Real Estate Limited - Maywood, NJ
That British Agent Bergen County NJ

Ha ! Very true Linda ! Amazing that so many of these sellers believe that the world revolves around them and that they dont have to make any effort to get out of the hole that they are in !!!


Aug 11, 2010 04:58 AM
Linda Humphrey
Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada - Reno, NV
CRS, Broker/Owner HHC Realty

Hi Sheldon, I would love to understand what is going on in their heads. Some probably just gave up caring a long time ago. I am sympathetic, but it is hard to help (or feel sorry for) people who won't lift a finger to help themselves.

Aug 11, 2010 12:24 PM
Jeff Belonger
Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc - Cherry Hill, NJ
The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans

Linda...  nice post and good story line. I know some of these people have had it bad and such, don't want to leave their homes...but it just irks me that they think they can do what they want when they want... especially when an appointment has been made.  Nice job and thanks for participating in the contest.  Good luck.

jeff belonger

Aug 12, 2010 02:10 AM
Linda Humphrey
Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada - Reno, NV
CRS, Broker/Owner HHC Realty

Jeff, Thanks for your comments and again, thanks for the contest, it has been fun. Maybe for your next contest you could invite any who dare to post an entry to be critiqued by the assembled multitudes. The winner wouldn't be the best post, it would be the best suggestion for improvement in the comments.

Aug 12, 2010 03:53 AM
Vickie Nagy
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate - Palm Springs, CA
Vickie Jean the Palm Springs Condo Queen

We have so many short sale homes in this area that can't even be seen! Many times I have been told "Write subject to visual inspection". This means if they accept our offer price and terms we can come in to see the property.

Aug 12, 2010 09:50 AM
Linda Humphrey
Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada - Reno, NV
CRS, Broker/Owner HHC Realty

Vickie, that's ridiculous, might make sense for an investment property (which is where I have seen such things in our area), but these are would-be homeowners for the most part. They are not going to write an offer on their new home sight unseen.

Aug 12, 2010 12:04 PM
Elizabeth Bolton
RE/MAX Destiny Real Estate Cambridge, MA - Cambridge, MA
Cambridge MA Realtor

Hi Linda ~ Super points! It's a crazy world out there. Congrats on the contest!


Aug 12, 2010 04:16 PM
Linda Humphrey
Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada - Reno, NV
CRS, Broker/Owner HHC Realty

Thanks IS crazy out there isn't it...some days I'm afraid to get out of bed!   {:-P     

Aug 12, 2010 04:32 PM
Connie Harvey
Pilkerton Realtors - Brentwood, TN
Realtor - Nashville TN Real Estate

Linda, congratulations on your win. I recently was looking for a house to purchase, not necessarily a short sale, and had to do a similar post. People were not making their homes available for us to see. Drove me crazy.

Aug 13, 2010 05:29 AM
Linda Humphrey
Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada - Reno, NV
CRS, Broker/Owner HHC Realty

Hi Connie, yep, they don't seem to get it that they are shooting themselves in the foot.

Aug 13, 2010 09:13 AM