Is that house REALLY for sale?

“Top Ten” Signs

Just because a house has a “For Sale” sign in front doesn’t mean it’s really for sale. In fact, a large percentage effectively aren’t.

Unbeknownst to the general public, on average more than one-third of all listings simply expire, unsold, after the listing contract ends. That number is undoubtedly higher in the current Buyer’s market.

It reminds me of an article about dating that compared a single man ready to settle down to a cab looking for a fare (just to avoid chauvinism charges, I’m sure that the same is true of single women).

According to the article, when a single man is finally ready to commit, an “available” light gets switched on. If the light’s off . . don’t bother.

Or consider Berger’s blunt assessment to Miranda, Carrie’s pal, in “Sex in the City”: ‘he’s just not that into you.’

When it comes to being serious about selling . . . homeowners either are or they aren’t.

Serious About Selling

Fortunately, it’s not that hard to tell the difference.

In that spirit, here are the “top ten” signs that the homeowner’s “light” is really on:

10. The home is attractively priced relative to its comp’s (“comparable sold properties”).
9. The home is available to be shown on reasonably short notice (vs. “it’s not convenient now,” “try again next week,” etc.)
8. The home is empty when you get there (no roaming animals, sleeping tenants, etc.)
7. There’s minimal deferred maintenance (preferably, none).
6. The home’s price is reduced incrementally as market time mounts (the opposite — a homeowner asking the same price after ten months on the market — is almost certainly not serious about selling).
5. The home is being marketed by a reputable, full-service realtor (indicative of homeowner commitment — both financial and emotional).
4. The home shows well, i.e., it’s well-staged, clean, well-lit, in good repair, warm, and welcoming (vs. winterized, unheated, and dark). See #5.
3. The listing agent has put together flattering literature, photos, and a coherent marketing campaign (see #5). Corollary: behind every unmotivated agent is an unmotivated Seller.
2. The owner has provided clear and complete Seller disclosures, and satisfied any point-of-sale inspection requirements in their municipality.
1. The MLS listing doesn’t include the terms “motivated seller,” “priced to sell,” “hurry, don’t miss out,” “make an offer,” etc.

At any given time, such hyperbole can be found in hundreds of MLS listings. It’s attention-grabbing only until you see that the home has been on the market since . . . 1985.

The New Yorker captured the essence of this approach in a cartoon showing a father and son standing in front of a clothing store. The store’s picture window is plastered with signs screaming “90% Off!,” “Must Liquidate!,” “Going Out of Business,” etc., etc.

The caption: ‘some day, son, this will all be yours.’

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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