In some popular neighborhoods, well-priced homes are now flying off the market. But there are many exceptions, and for some sellers, any time on the market – however brief – is very stressful.
“It’s exhausting trying to keep your house immaculate as you wait for showings,” says Ashley Richardson, a 20-year real estate agent.
But sellers can’t afford to pass up appointments that could result in a sale. The most serious buyers, including those relocating for a new job, are typically in a hurry.
“Often, they fly in and have just one day to look at houses,” Richardson says, stressing the importance of adhering to prospective buyers’ schedules.
She tells the true story of a couple in their late 50s – a school administrator married to a sales manager – who are currently sabotaging their chances for a successful sale by limiting showings.
“From time to time, they go on strike, refusing to let their house be shown because their grown children are coming over, or for any excuse whatsoever,” Richardson says.
Their home – first listed in mid-2013 – is languishing unsold. Here are a few pointers for home sellers:
• Hit the market with your place in prime condition.
As a former real estate agent turned professional organizer, Vicki Norris knows how challenging it can be to keep a house in pristine showing condition. It’s especially tough when the need to move is overlaid on another family issue, like a marital breakup.
“It’s doubly hard for someone coping with a life crisis to keep a property looking good,” says Norris, author of “Restoring Order to Your Home.”
Norris urges would-be sellers to streamline their belongings before they open their home to visitors. That means purging excess possessions and putting the rest in storage. It also means consolidating items you'll want on a day-to-day basis.
For help culling and sorting, Norris says professional organizers are typically less judgmental than family and friends about accumulations, an especially important factor if you’re going through an involuntary move.
One source for referrals is the National Association of Professional Organizers.
• Consider renting a storage unit temporarily.
Most sellers can easily dispense with pairs of worn-out sneakers or old magazines. But most also have collections of favorite items.
“Leaving all this stuff out in view, or crowding your closets, will simply distract buyers and lead them to think your place is smaller than it is,” says Sid Davis, a real estate broker and author of “Home Makeovers that Sell.”
• Plan a family meeting to discuss upkeep issues.
No matter how brief their showing period, many sellers quickly tire of the process and lose focus. Dirty clothing is left in the laundry room, unpaid bills accumulate on a kitchen counter and bowls of half-eaten popcorn linger in the TV room. Children and teens, especially, can quickly revert to old habits.
If you find your clan going off-track, Richardson suggests you convene a family meeting to reframe the situation and offer incentives, such as a night out at your favorite pizza place or movie theater.
“When you’re feeling down, just remember that hundreds of thousands of people have toughed it out until their homes were sold and you can do it, too,” she says.