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For Sale By Owner

March 5, 2007

There is a listing in my neighborhood that is being marketed through one of those for sale by owner companies.

First off, because I am a Realtor and am bound by the Realtor code of ethics, I can not approach this owner because they are “represented” by this other company and that would be interfering with their relationship. [wish other people had this code of ethics!]

I’ve been watching this listing for a few months. I walk my dog twice a day and on our morning walk we go by the house. So, I’ve been wondering what the problem is. One day, out of curiosity, I checked and the property is not listed on the MLS.

First red flag!

Yesterday, on the way home from church, I drove by an open house sign. It’s the sale by owner that I’ve been watching. I kept heading home and then,on second thought, turned around.

As I drove up to the house, I wondered if it really was “open”. There is a big SUV parked right in front of the door and there aren’t any signs out front. I double checked the open house signs and walked up to the door.

Hearing voices inside, I walked in.

The first thing that literally hit me was the stench! Air freshener but, super industrial air freshener and a dirty entry carpet. Hmmm

I walked into the house and the sellers, a couple in their 50s, were both arguing with some potential buyers. The woman was sitting on the sofa with her big fuzzy cat in her lap. The source of the smells that were “covered” by the stench.

The sellers were both dressed in jeans for the weekend and I wondered how serious they were taking this “home selling business”.

I walked into the kitchen and lying on the counter were the flyers. $710,000. No wonder it was sitting here. It’s a $630-650,000 market if the house is in good shape – meaning fresh paint, new carpet/refinished hardwood floors and some upgrading.

The kitchen was livable but, judging by the grey tile counters, the last remodel was probably done in the 80s. As I walked through the house my mind wandered back to the songs of Bon Jovi and Mr. Big. I was twenty pounds lighter and Aaron was in elementary school then. The oak trim and gold detail almost had me in a rash. The coup de gras was the bright red floral wallpaper in the master bedroom. I enjoyed the 80s a lot but, the market for folks trying to relive the 80s is pretty miniscule.

I took a deep breath of relief and fresh air as I walked back to my car. I always wonder if there is something I can do to help folks. I am sure these folks are decent people and just want to get the best offer on their house.

If they spent $30-$50,000 they could get their close to their $710,000 asking price. Otherwise, they need to drop their price pretty close to $100,000.

Assuming I could talk with them, I wonder if I would have the patience and skills to help these people position their house to sell or if they would just keep singing Bon Jovi’s “Come Back”.

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