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Worst tips for home sellers

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis February 13, 2013 05:27 AM

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For home sellers, there is no lack of advice out there!

As I sip my early morning coffee - clock reads 4:52 a.m. - I am getting a massive headache reading through all many and sundry lists chock full of tips for home sellers.

The fact is, there are some really tired and frankly stupid ideas out there that really need to go away or take a breather.

Top of my list: Offering tickets to sporting events or other supposed perks as a way of luring buyers.

If your home needs work and overpriced, offering me tickets to a game isn't going to get me to play the sucker for you. Especially you are trying to unload Sox tickets, though it would be hard to think any vaguely in-touch Boston-area seller would try that one now.

Of course, why not stop there - you can offer gift certificates for a night out at the local foodie hang out as well.

"You'd be amazed at how many potential buyers will attend your open house, just due to the incentives," chirps one of the many online advice givers out there.

Sorry, but if you are trying to sell your house, you want buyers, not freebie-seeking moochers.

Another variant of this is offering free home maintenance services. I guess if you really want to be cheap about it, you could offer to come back and mow the lawn of your old house once a week or shovel out the snow in the winter. The idea, as it is presented here, isn't that moronic - it involves paying for a cleaning lady or lawn maintenance guy for the buyer of your home.

Not so sure about offering home warranties either - it sounds like a good idea on paper, but it also suggests there is something the seller is trying to hide.

Finally, my favorite genius idea: Self financing. If I am reading this one right, you want to sell your home, but the buyer can't get financing. So presto, you become the bank, and loan the buyer the money to buy your house.

The only problem with this brilliant idea is that banks make this type of lending work because they do a whole bunch of it at time, spreading the risk. If one or two loans go bad, no biggie. If you have one loan out and it goes bad, you are suddenly up the creek without a paddle.

Moreover, you are taking a risk on a buyer who has been turned down by a number of lenders, who do this for a living. (OK, they have also screwed up royally, but that still does not qualify the average seller to play loan officer.)

I am still trying to get my head around this one. You have to read it to believe it, so here goes:

Self-finance: This obviously is not an option for all home sellers, but consider floating a note - i.e., be willing to issue a short-term loan at a reduced interest rate to the buyer, for a three-year or five-year period. The loan should specify that if the buyer fails to qualify for a conventional, fixed-rate mortgage or otherwise defaults, you re-take possession of the home.

To be sure, mortgage rates are incredible low, averaging about 3.60 percent for a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage - that's down about 1 percentage point from 18 months ago - but if you take a note for 3 percent or 2 percent for 5 years, you'll make more prospective home buyers eligible to buy your home. At the end of the note, they can apply for a conventional 30-year or 20-year fixed-rate mortgage with a bank: Chances are, they'll be in a better position to be approved, as they'll have more equity in the house, they'll have side-stepped today's rigorous mortgage qualification requirements -- and you'll be paid in full.

So what are your top candidates for bad home-selling tips?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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