But sometimes that is the only choice.
I had sold Janice (not her real name) her house 5 years ago, so I knew she was a bit neurotic. I did much more hand-holding in the process than usual but I got a lot of satisfaction too. I got Janice out of a basement apartment, into a pleasant row house with a yard. She took up gardening. She made a good financial move. Her mortgage payment was cheaper than her rent. At 47 years old, Janice became a homeowner building equity.
First red flad: No good reason to sell. Janice is fed up with one of the neighbors. She has a new boss who ticks her off. She is sick of the city. Fine. But where is her motivation? She has no real plan to go somewhere new or do something different. Nothing is motivating her to help me get her house sold.
Second red flag: Too many owls. Janice's downstairs features her collection of crystal owls. A lot of the owls are small. There are a few pictures and one painting of owls on the walls. Since selling means packing and moving, I suggest packing up most of the owls before we start showings. Janice practically got teary. "This is my life," she said.
Staging works. Realtors agree on that now, right? Lots of seller are still not on board though. The next best thing: "Empty and Clean." Pack up half of your possessions before the house goes on the market. Each box a seller packs makes them $100 to $600. It is nuts not to pack. It is a given that the house sells much faster. Janice said she can't handle it. She said she didn't care how long it takes to sell the house!
Third red flag: Janice argues with my every suggestion--no matter how benign. Her dining table is against the wall with her computer and printer on top. "Buyers need to see where they can have meals," I pointed out. "How about moving the office to the spare bedroom?" Janice said, "No." She practically got teary.
I like low light myself but Janice lives in near darkness. Her blinds are always closed. She does not have enough lamps or lighting. She has an old cat--and one room with cat smells. She refused to paint. She didn't call the cleaner. She refused to have showings while she is at work. I finally woke up last week, realizing how hopeless it is. Yes, the market is sizzling. But HGTV has changed the way we sell. Ninty-nine percent of buyers can't see past clutter and quirky decor. Janice will never get what she paid for her house. If I list Janice's house, I may never get paid, but I will in for a lot of grief.