Why a price reduction is usually better

I practically wrote this post in my head last night.  I woke up just before 3 and never really went back to sleep.  Then riiiight when I was about to fall asleep, the dog barked at 5:AM and wanted to go out.

As I was lying there, hoping to fall asleep, I got to thinking about those houses that get the same negative feedback from showings and how sellers sometimes respond.

Let’s say a house is getting showings but no offers.  The feedback you get is something such as the buyer didn’t like the kitchen.  The kitchen is plain.

I often get asked by my sellers if they should do something like spend money getting granite.  I probably disappoint them because I usually say it isn’t a good idea.  It is better to reduce the price.

To a seller, this one thing is what appears to be holding back the sale so it only makes sense to remove the negative that has been a common thread in the feedback.

Having done this for a while, I know how it works.

See, the buyer walks in the house hoping it is THE one.  They look around until there is something they cannot live with.  Once they have made the decision that they will not be making an offer, they quit looking at the house.  Sure, they may walk around the rest of the house but they don’t really think about it any more because they know it isn’t the one.  They’ve checked out.

Then you get the feedback that they didn’t like that certain feature.

You spend a lot of time and money fixing that feature.  You turn that frown upside down.  You get a new batch of showings expecting it to sell because well, you’ve resolved the only problem previous buyers had with the house…..then you get feedback and there is a NEW problem.

See, what happened is that the buyers got past whatever problem you fixed.  You did a good job.  They kept looking at the house with serious buyer eyes.  They made it further into the showing this time before the next big negative became the issue.

IF that happens, then you’ve really wasted the money you spent because now your house isn’t selling for some other reason.  That is why I think it is safer to reduce the price verses spending a lot of money.

There has only been one time in the past 12 years where I was wrong on this.  I gave my client this same advice that you have read.  She insisted on getting granite.  LOL, the very next buyer bought the house……So if you’re reading this Tammy M, I hope I have made your day!


The hardest houses to sell

I’ve been at this for a long time.  I’ve sold a lot of houses.  In a good market.  In a bad market.  In Lexington.  Outside of Lexington.  In neighborhoods.  In the country.

Want to know the houses that are the absolute hardest to sell?

The ones that are partially updated.


You would think that a buyer would view a house that has some parts really nice to be a big bonus.  They don’t.  The nice part of the house just makes the rest of the house look worse to a buyer.  Too much contrast between the nice and the average bits of the house.

Who comes to see these houses?

  1.  The buyer who sees the nice new stuff in the pictures.  They get excited but almost always say that the rest of the house needs too much work.
  2. The buyer who see the part of the house that needs updated.  They get excited because they want to renovate the rest of the house, but not give any credit for the work that has been done……meaning they want it for free.
  3.  All the other buyers who come mainly because it meets some or all of their search criteria.  They don’t buy it because they say it needs too much work.

What you have to do with a house like this is try to make the non-updated bits look as good as possible.  You want to minimize that contrast.  You don’t want the buyer to walk in one room and be unhappy, then walk in the next and fall in love, then walk in the next and be unhappy.  The goal is to make them at least feel neutral, then love, then neutral as they walk through the house.  Less contrast is good.

You also have to really emphasis the other features of the house, hoping that the right buyer will see all the other pluses and feel like they can live with the house like it is or take on the updating.  If the house is the best bargain in the neighborhood, walking distance to trendy places, has a park nearby, a desirable school district, is the most square footage for the money…..whatever the house excels at, and all houses have something unique, that is what you want to emphasize.  Anybody looking for one or more of those unique features is usually the one who buys the house.  Why?  Because they don’t have as many choices

Common mistakes sellers make

Besides thinking the people on HGTV really know a lot about real estate, below are the most common ways sellers shoot themselves in the foot.  Granted, we are in a hot market and buyers are easier to please these days, but there are 228 houses in Lexington in the $100-500k range that have been on the market for more than 60 days…..not EVERY house in town is selling in multiple offers the first day on the market.

Here goes:

1. When sellers don’t finish moving out. If you are no longer living in the house, get ALL of your stuff out. You know you are going to have to do it anyway, right? It will make your house look better. Better looking houses sell quicker. Time is money.

2. When you don’t paint because you think you are somehow doing the buyer a favor by leaving it up to them to paint. I hear this a lot: “I don’t know what color the buyer will like and most buyers always paint after they move in anyway.” I can tell you that bad paint keeps a buyer from making an offer. If it doesn’t look good, they don’t want it. Fresh neutral paint is the cheapest thing you can do you make your house easy for a buyer to say YES to.

3. Leaving a lot of room for negotiating. An over inflated price usually drives buyers away. I see all the time where a seller will list for far more than the house is worth and eventually sell it for a little less than it is worth. The best model is to price it right from the start. If a house has been on the market for a long time, buyers assume there is no risk of losing it so they make a low offer just to see what you will take.

4.  Not doing any obvious repairs.  As a seller, your goal is to make it easy for a buyer to say yes to your house.  You want them to be excited and fall in love.  If a buyer walks in and immediately sees work that needs done, they begin to subtract whatever they think it would cost to change it, and they usually overestimate the cost.  You want your buyer to be walking around your house falling in love with it rather than subtracting repair costs off your list price.

I hope this helps you when it is time to sell.  The worst thing that could happen if you did all of this is that you sell your house for top dollar in multiple offers the first day on the market.

New roof add value to your house?

I just don’t buy it.
I read an article put out by the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.  It said putting on a new roof is the biggest single item a seller can do to get the highest return. They said it increased the value of a house by 105%. Get this, remodeling or updating your kitchen only brings back about 67% in added value.
I laughed so hard I snorted a little.
About 50% of my work is with buyers. I sell a lot of houses. I have been doing for over 10 years. My experience in and around Lexington Ky is that very few buyers even notice the age or condition of the roof. The HVAC too for that matter. Most buyers care more about the appearance of the house than anything…..assuming they were okay with the location to have even considered viewing the house.  Most don’t think about the roof (or windows or HVAC or water heater) until the home inspection. That is why I always try to think about these things for them. I am always telling people the age and condition of the roof and the rest of the house. In fact, I’m working with a buyer right now who fired their old realtor because they kept making offers on houses that were in terrible shape and the deals fell apart after the home inspection. The last thing I want is a client of mine to emotionally move in, tell their friends and family all about the house, and then it fall apart after the home inspection.
Several years ago I listed a house for some clients/friends have used me several times. Their house had new windows and literally a brand new roof. The house was a bit outdated. They found their dream home before doing much inside to this one. The seller knew a lot about houses and wanted to take care of those big items first. LOL, I guess I am the same way because I am sitting in my own home, that has a new water heater, sump pumps and I am about to put in new windows…..yet I have a master bathroom that dates back to when Dallas and Knots Landing were new shows.
I put their house on the market. I showed it several times. It took a while to sell because it was outdated. I would remind buyers that there was $15-20k in windows and the roof that they would not have to spend. I would tell them it is more fun to spend that much on flooring and granite than to buy another house that was updated inside but would need new windows and a roof. It finally sold, but my point is that most buyers make decisions on how updated a house LOOKS. That is just how it works. 99% of the time, I would rather have my sellers drop money on updates that can be seen verses maintenance items than cannot. Unless a roof is just ancient or really ugly, most buyers don’t care as long as it doesn’t leak.
So, I totally disagree with this report. It just isn’t happening in my area.
And ALWAYS consult with a knowledgeable real estate agent in your area before making big decisions. I spend a lot of time advising friends and clients about how to spend money on their houses. You need somebody who knows the market and even your neighborhood to help make decisions.
There are a lot of variables depending on your neighborhood and price range.
We had a hail storm several years ago in South Lexington. Almost everybody got a new roof. The norm in those neighborhoods was to have a new roof. Buyers expected a new roof. It was a negative in that situation to not have a new roof.
There are several neighborhoods that are about 15 years old right now. The norm is to have original HVAC and roof. Since buyers will be viewing houses that all have an older roof or HVAC, a seller would do better to spend money updating the interior if they are considering selling any time soon. If they plan to stay forever, it is okay to spend their money any way they want.