Home-selling chat transcript

About Our Guest
Linda O'Connor has been a Realtor since 1983. She is the Broker/Owner of REALPRO Associates in Beverly.

Read Linda O'Connor's bio

Bostondotcom: Welcome Linda!

Linda O'Connor: Good afternoon chatters and welcome!

carolina74: What should I look for in a selling agent?

Linda O'Connor: It's very important to do your homework. Make sure that they are licensed and actively working in the marketplace.

Linda O'Connor: In addition, since REALTORS follow the NAR Code of Ethics, ask if they are a REALTOR, not just a licensed agent.

Linda O'Connor: Next, as a Seller you may want to ask how they will market the home to prospective Buyers. What is their ratio of sold to asking price for their listings?

Linda O'Connor: On average, what is the average length of time their listings take to sell.

Linda O'Connor: Also, many REALTORS hold professional designations demonstrating additional experience and specialty areas of practice. A CRS is considered one of the highest levels of education a REALTOR can attain.

Chris: Is there any down side (aside from having to clean every Saturday night) to having an Open House every week?

Linda O'Connor: Depending on custom in your area, it could possible have a negative effect. A house that has repeative open houses week after week may indicate that a seller is anxious.

jj: If you plan on living in your home for the next 5 years, is it a good time to buy?

Linda O'Connor: Absolutely. Historicially, home prices double every 10 years, and in greater Boston, median home prices have increased an average of 6.5 percent per year over the past decade.

Linda O'Connor: Remember, when buying it's not timing in the market, it is time in the market. The longer you hold your property, the greater your return on your investment.

15fram: What do you suggest if you and your agent disagree on the listing price of your home?

Linda O'Connor: Listen to your listing broker. Make sure that you look at the data is being presented to you for specific comparable value. The agent should be comparing properties like yours that have recently sold.

Linda O'Connor: There is a difference between worth and value. Many sellers believe that their property is worth more than what the market will bear. It's important to be objective when listing your property.

Linda O'Connor: The closer you are to your real price when you list the house, the more money you will realize. Statistics show the further away you are from market price, chances are you will end up selling for below fair market value because the home sat on the market longer than other like kind properties.

Dorchester: Is there a rule of thumb for a seller to consider lowering their asking price depending on time the property is on market?

Linda O'Connor: In this particular market, if a property has not had any activity in the first 3 weeks, you need to talk to your agent about the possibility of a price adjustment.

Linda O'Connor: The first few weeks are critical to the success of the sale. Today's buyers are so well-versed as to what is on the market, that the majority of the buyers view a property in the first three weeks. Remember, listing price is a strategy. The goal is to get the house sold.

wondering: Hi Linda, even though everyone says the real estate market is in the tank, I still see sold signs up all around my neighborhood in JP. Which city neighborhoods are weathering the downturn the most?

Linda O'Connor: All markets are local. Even in certain communities, homes in some neighborhoods or streets will sell quicker. Ask your real estate professional for what areas are "hot".

Linda O'Connor: In some areas we are seeing multiple offers on properties which tells us there is confidence in the market if the price is right.

Katie: When you say "activity" in the first three weeks, is that the number of showings, second viewings and/or offers?

Linda O'Connor: When I say "activity" I mean the collection of all of what you are talking about. It includes inquiries on the property, showings, open house attendance, and can include offers (but not exclusively).

Linda O'Connor: If you get an offer in the first three weeks that is close to asking price, do not think you have underpriced your home. You actually priced it correctly to meet your GOAL of selling the house.

Crematia: Why is it so difficult to get feedback from showings?

Linda O'Connor: Interesting question. If you asking about feedback about showings from your own agent, let them know what your expectation is. If they know you expect a call, note or e-mail, they will be more responsive.

Linda O'Connor: If you mean feedback from other agents from their buyers, it may be that your agent has not heard back from them or their buyers are reluctant to give negative feedback. Rule of them is if you have not heard from them within 48 hours, chances are they are not interested in the house.

DOG: Would you suggest selling your property first before trying to buy the next place or finding the right place before selling your old place?

Linda O'Connor: Good question. You can't be in a position to buy unless you sell your house, unless you can afford to carry (pay) two mortgages on the properties.

Linda O'Connor: Few people can afford the payments or the stress. It is better to have an alternative living arrangement in advance and then put your house on the market to sell.

Linda O'Connor: Take advantage of this market while prices are lower. You need to be a ready, willing, and able buyer, in order to compete in this market place.

mdr: I am thinking about relocating due to a new job. What is the going commision rate and is it negotiable. We have been in the house for 5 years and I think 6% will eliminate any gain and possible the ability to move.

Linda O'Connor: There is no standard or "going rate" for a commission. All commissions are negotiable between you and the broker and will vary based on the services provided and office policies. Interview several brokers.

Linda O'Connor: You shouldn't be making a decision based on commission alone. It may be that the agent that charges you more will provide you the best representation and services. The best broker is the one that will fit your overall needs.

carolina74: How can I stage my property while living in it at the same time. We have 2 kids and it seems like an uphill battle every moment of the day to keep things clutter free .

Linda O'Connor: Not an easy task. The way you live in a house and the way you sell a house may be two different things.

Linda O'Connor: It's important that buyers focus on space and not stuff. Talk to a professional home stager about temporary storage alternatives.

Linda O'Connor: It's also important not to disrupt the children as much as possible. Explain to your kids that any changes in the household environment are temporary and make them part of the selling team.

Linda O'Connor: One more thing. Make contests, games, challenges, and rewards during this difficult process and you may find that you could have more fun.

middleman: Hi Linda. Can a proper listing price be determined if no truly comparable houses in the area have sold recently?

Linda O'Connor: As REALTORS, we use a number of different tools in evaluating property. One is comparable solds. Additionally, we use other resources, such as appraisal techniques, to adjust for markets and market conditions.

Linda O'Connor: Asking prices reflect a compilation of data from many resources, so despite no truly comparable sales, a listing price can still be arrived at.

Katie: What do you suggest about pets, during showings and open houses, while selling a home?

Linda O'Connor: If at all possible, pets should be removed from the property. Based on allergies and public apprehension, they can detract from a buyer's ability to make an objective decision or focus on the elements of your home.

Linda O'Connor: In addition, to removing your pet during showings and open houses, you should also have a professional evaluate your home for pet odors and take their advice on ridding the odors from the property.

Issy: If you are a seller with a vacant house, I've heard that its recommended to find a house sitter. Even if there's no rent exchanged, they can bring furniture to stage the place and added security. Plus covering of utility costs. Is this something you recommend? How does one find a quality house sitter?

Linda O'Connor: There are several parts to your question. Generally speaking, it is not a good idea to let someone live in your house unless you trust them and have specific references.

Linda O'Connor: My suggestion is to rent furniture and have the house staged by a professional because it will show better than a vacant property.

Linda O'Connor: If you are more confortable with someone living in the property, talk to friends, relatives an local real estate professional who may be able to find the right person.

emma: What, besides price, is the number one thing buyers are looking for in a home? What should I as a seller be focusing on to make my house appeal to buyers?

Linda O'Connor: Aside from price, they want a property in move-in condition. Since buyers have many choices today and are extremely busy, most are not interested in making numerous repairs or renovations.

Linda O'Connor: Focus on cosmetic improvements, both inside and out, and clean up the clutter to add to your home's curb appeal. Talk to a staging professional for advice.

middleman: Would it be reasonable to list a house for 15% more than it's professionally appraised value?

Linda O'Connor: Appraisals are performed for many reasons, whether it's refinancing, estate preparation or fair market valuation for sale. Depending on the purpose of the appraisal and timing of the appraisal, the sale price may fluctuate higher or lower.

Linda O'Connor: You need to consult your REALTOR to set the list price to properly reflect today's market.

PLB: If a real estate agent doesn't have the professional designations you mention, nor belongs to NAR but is ethical, should I not consider using him/her to sell my house?

Linda O'Connor: You need to use your own judgment, and interview carefully, when selecting an agent to work with. Above all else you need to feel comfortable and trust the personl you ultimately choose to work with.

Linda O'Connor: Thank you all for your questions. It has been a pleasure chatting with you.

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