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Double Check Your For Sale Listing Details

Posted By Jim On 08/19/2008 @ 12:20 pm In The Home | 11 Comments

A little over two years ago, my friend discovered that she had developed mold in her basement. It was a strain so difficult to manage that it required thousands of dollars to eradicate and she developed medical problems because of it. She had it professionally cleaned and had a ultra-violet light-equipped HVAC system installed to combat future growths. Despite all her improvements (and spore-free test results), her medical issues persisted and she was forced to move out and try to sell her home.

When I looked at the description used to explain the comforts of her home, I was aghast. The description, couched in all sorts of non-specific novelette-type prose [3] like “quaint neighborhood” and “lovingly renovated,” did nothing to describe any non-mold related improvements. While a bit shady, I could understand not mentioning the mold related enhancements such as the UV HVAC system or the extensive cleaning of the basement; but the listing completely skipped how she replaced all her appliances with stainless steel, replaced her counter-top, and installed hardwood floors on the first floor. It even skipped on describing the renovated bathroom on the first floor.

My logic for offering as much information as possible so that buyers can make an informed decision on whether they want to tour a place stems from my experience with buying pay per click advertising. The key in any type of advertising is to lower your cost of acquisition. The cost in this case is your time. What you want is someone who is genuinely interested in your home coming to get a tour. If someone absolutely hates stainless steel appliances and doesn’t know you have them, they might be turned off the minute they walk in. You’ve just spent time showing a place with zero chance of a sale and time away from showing it to someone who would buy it.

On the other hand, if they don’t care about hardwood floors and they come, they might be pleasantly surprised but they won’t value it as much. You want the person who values hardwoods to visit because you will be paid more if that person buys. That person is more likely to answer the listing if they see hardwoods in the description. Offering as much information as possible might limit your pool potential of buyers but the probability one of them buys will increase (in pay per click advertising, you want a lot of targeted clicks, not just a lot of clicks).

I told my friend this but she was reluctant to ask the real estate agent to change the listing because she felt the agent knew best. While I have no doubt that a listing agent knows more than I do about selling homes, I find it difficult to believe that you would avoid mentioning stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, or a newly renovated bathroom.

Ultimately my friend was unable to sell the home and is now happily renting it out. (this is more a product of the softening real estate market and the agent having too many listings to manage at the time)

Often, experts do know more than you in their domain but it never hurts to make suggestions. When you’re talking about such valuable assets and when the cost of asking is zero, it makes no sense not to ask.

(Photo: thetruthabout [4])


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[3] non-specific novelette-type prose: http://www.naeba.org/euphemisms/20080804NAEBAEuphemisms.pdf

[4] thetruthabout: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thetruthabout/2751832880/sizes/l/

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