Why Hasn't My House Sold? It's Not Always The Price!x=

Real Estate Agent with RLAH Real Estate AB95346

A few years ago, I was approached to be the third agent for a stately colonial on upper 16th Street.  The first two agents had the distinction of being the guys who ranked number 1 and 2 in dollar volume in DC.  I'm nowhere close.

I reviewed the prior listing information.  The price didn't look bad.  Neither agent had made the place particularly easy to show - I hadn't been inside during either listing period.  Then, when I got inside, I quickly figured it out.

 The owners had been in the Foreign Service for decades and had lived and worked all over the planet.  And there was some amazing art work on every surface in the house - floors, tables and walls.  

In the living room, on the first wall you saw upon entering the house, they displayed a huge collection of ceremonial masks.  They were beautiful, but awfully distracting, and some of them (the ones made to ward off burglars) were probably a little menacing to buyers crossing the threshold.  Then there were paintings and sculpture that was just distracting.  Also, I imagined that the owners were reluctant to allow a lock box on the door of their little domestic museum.   

So, my advice was to pack up almost all of the artwork and put it into storage.  They did.  They painted the living room and refinished the floors on the lower level.  

I listed the house without any price reduction.  Within a week, we had a ratified contract.

Now, sometimes it really is a price that's too high, but once in a while it's the ceremonial masks! 


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Linda Sticklin
Home Staging & Organizing - Berwyn, PA
You are so right! If dropping the price is not getting the attention of buyers, it is likely the appearance of the house. I was at an open house yesterday where the price has been dropped 149k over the course of several months! It was obvious to me that alot of paint would dramatically improve the appeal of the house. 
Mar 31, 2008 02:01 AM #3
Ron Tarvin
Luxury and New Construction in Katy & Cypress TX - Katy, TX
Broker, Katy, Houston, Cypress 77450,77494,77095
I usually give the speech to my sellers:  PRICE, PRESENTATION, POSITION.  We only control 2 of the three on the list but all three control the buyer.  Anything that you can fix with PRESENTATION helps your price.  Anything you do not fix on PRESENTATION, must be added with POSITION and PRICE is then adjusted accordingly!
Mar 31, 2008 02:06 AM #4
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate
Pat, good job, it's not always price, but most of the time. You did good telling them to paint and remove masks, I'm sure easier access helped too.
Mar 31, 2008 02:25 AM #5
Jim Crawford
RE/MAX Paramount Properties - Atlanta, GA
Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR

Are you saying the "Shrunken head collection"  is preventing the seller from selling?  LOL!  You are very correct!  "Centric" art was the term one of my homeowners used to desrcibe this.

Mar 31, 2008 02:29 AM #6
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

 Ken, some of them were a little creepy.

Mike, this isn't even real staging - I think it was a lot more basic than that!

Linda, this place needed paint and patching after they took all of the nails out of the wall!  It helped!

Ron, you're right - they are all inter-related.

Missy, easy access made a huge difference.  So many agents hadn't even been inside to get scared away by the masks.

And Jim, yeah, there were a few "centric' shrunken heads on the wall.  


Mar 31, 2008 02:38 AM #7
Fran Gaspari
Patriot Land Transfer, Inc. - Limerick, PA
"The Title Man" - Title Insurance - PA & NJ


Another great post illustrating the ins and outs of the ART of real estate sales!!! Thanks,   Fran

Mar 31, 2008 03:09 AM #8
Latonia Parks
Top Bragg Realty, Fayetteville NC, Home of the 82d ABN DIV - Fayetteville, NC
Certified Military Relocation Expert
It seems like that would have been common sense.  It's a good thing, however, since you got the deal.  Congratulations!!
Mar 31, 2008 03:11 AM #9
Brian Block
RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President - McLean, VA
Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate
Pat, it would take a certain type of buyer to buy a home with all those masks.  I just saw a home last week that must have been owned by that owner's cousins.  Very similar decor.
Mar 31, 2008 03:24 AM #10
Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities
Charlemagne International Properties - Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A.
Patricia - Reminds me of the full size upright bear that greeted me at the front door when I arrived for the listing presentation.  Then we went into the room of heads...moose, deer, antelope who were no longer at home on the range!
Mar 31, 2008 03:43 AM #11
Christine Bohn
RE/MAX Professionals - Gainesville, FL
The Bohn Team, Gainesville FL
Patricia - Great story, great advice!  
Mar 31, 2008 06:41 AM #12
Stacy Magid
Century 21 New Millennium - Woodbridge, VA
Its amazing what a little cleanup can do.  So glad the sellers listened to your advice.  Congrats on getting the house sold. 
Mar 31, 2008 07:35 AM #13
Kelly Sibilsky
Licensed Through Referral Connection, LTD. - Lake Zurich, IL
I'm surprised the other agents never mentioned to the sellers that they should remove the masks...we all don't share the same taste in "art" that's for sure!
Mar 31, 2008 10:17 AM #14
James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move
I wonder if the sellers had been told that before.... funny how the 2nd or 3rd agent can say the same things and suddenly its gospel !
Mar 31, 2008 01:09 PM #15
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Fran, I am laughing really hard after reading your comments!  As usual.

Latonia, common sense, maybe.  But these sellers loved those masks!  I had to tell them I was afraid one could get stolen - not that they were freaking people out.  That's as close as I get to a fib.

 Andrew, I think Bambi's mother's head trumps fertility mask any day! 

And Brian, these masks were right up there with pictures of seller and a president that 82 percent of the country think sucks.

Mar 31, 2008 02:10 PM #16
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Norma, I've never met a stuffed bear, but I once encountered a huge stuffed cat in a totally trashy house in a tacky suburb.  What was I doing there?

Christine, thanks!

Thanks, Stacy!  And a little fix up certainly helps!

Kelly, I imagine the other listing agents thought these masks were totally amazing!  And they were!

James, I have the feeling that I was the only one to broach the mask issue!  

Mar 31, 2008 02:16 PM #17
Marchel Peterson
Results Realty - Spring, TX
Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro
Patricia, you are SO RIGHT, those ceremonial mask will keep them away.  Especially when it is included with lots of ceremonial clutter.
Mar 31, 2008 03:07 PM #18
Roland Woodworth
Q Realty - Clarksville, TN
Q Realty - Power In Real Estate

Patricia.... Your title saud it all..... Price may be great and the home still not sell as there are many things besides price that must be in order

Mar 31, 2008 03:24 PM #19
Carol Culkin
Reece & Nichols - Leawood, KS
Overland Park

Scary masks! Well, you just reminded me - I am putting together a deal on one of my listings which I have been trying to get my client to clean up. In discussions with the other agent today, she refered to it as the "money tree house"...the light bulb went off in my head when she said this and I realized that I need to stop by for a photo - in a few days I will be blogging about "The Money Tree House" - look for my post! First, I need the photo.

Mar 31, 2008 03:40 PM #20
Joseph Ellman
Realty Executives- Williams-Sykes Realty - Poughkeepsie, NY
Pat - Well stated and great outcome!!  I bet the prior agents had their heads spinning wondering how you did it.
Mar 31, 2008 08:52 PM #21
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Clearwater, FL
Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor
SUPER job on your part! Reminds me of that castle down in the center of South Florida that I posted about a few months ago!!!!
Apr 01, 2008 03:35 AM #22
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Patricia Kennedy

Home in the Capital
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