May 1, 2017

by Nena Perry-Brown

Census data released at the end of April shows that, for the first time since 2006, the number of owner-occupied households increased faster year-over-year than the number of renter households.

From the first quarter of 2016 to the first quarter of 2017, the number of owner-occupied households nationwide grew by 854,000 — over twice the number of new renter households, which grew by just 365,000. This reversal in household formation could be the first sign of a shift since the housing crisis over a decade ago, which led to significant growth in the rental housing market at the expense of homeownership.

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The agent/seller relationship is like none other. No other professional spends the majority of their client time in the client’s actual home. We get very close to our sellers, not just physically but mentally and emotionally.

Because we see them in this somewhat vulnerable setting, and for an extended period, sometimes special bonds form. The line between the business and the personal sometimes blurs, and the seller feels comfortable enough to indulge in some behaviors that drive the agent crazy.

Here are five things sellers do that make agents go nuts – and diminish their chances for a successful sale at the best price and in the shortest amount of time.

Failing to keep the home clean

When your home is on the market, it needs to be ready for a showing on a moment’s notice. That means you need be “seller aware” 24/7.

If you’re serious about selling, keeping things tidy is par for the course. Make a plan to remove Fido’s saliva-stained tennis ball from the couch or Susie’s Barbie doll off the floor.

Before you list, move out the stuff you won’t need until you settle into your new home. Make a particular space in a closet or storage bin for the day-to-day stuff that could turn off potential buyers. Doing so will only ensure a positive experience for your prospective customer, the buyer.

Sticking around during an open house

There’s a reason real estate agents don’t want sellers hanging around when potential buyers arrive. While you may be perfectly friendly and agreeable, your presence can alienate your customers or make them feel uncomfortable without you even knowing it.

They want to dig their feet into their potential new home. That means they need to feel free to open closets, poke around in cabinets and make comments to their partners or kids.

Your presence prevents them from getting to know your home – and it can backfire. If you’re desperate to find out what’s going on at an open house or how buyers are responding, make a plan with your agent to show up anonymously during the open house.

Holding out for extra money at the last minute

A home sale negotiation can be a rocky road, even in healthy markets. If you sense the market is in your favor, you may second-guess the list price if you see activity quickly, particularly in the form of multiple offers.

It’s a great and powerful feeling. But imagine if, in an attempt to squeak out an additional $3,500 from a serious buyer, you pit them against a not-so-great buyer, and you lose both?

It happens, much to the dismay of the listing agents who advocate working with the best buyer and not necessarily the best “offer.”

In other words, you should always be thinking of the big picture – which isn’t always the same as the most significant offer.

Neglecting to clean up for the new buyer

Imagine you’re the buyer. Would you want to walk into your new home and find 12 cans of old paint in the garage? How about an old baby carriage in the attic?

Clean your home and deliver it in good condition to the new buyers. Not only will they appreciate the gesture, but they’re more likely to be on your side if you need them in the future for favors like forwarding mail or packages.

Insisting your home is unique

Your home is no doubt very special to you. You’ve built memories, tracked major life events and used it as more than just a place to lay your head at night. When it comes time to sell, it’s often hard to think of your home as a product on the open market.

Because of your emotional attachments to it, you may feel your place is unique, which you then equate to being more valuable.

If you find yourself resisting your agent’s pricing advice, take a step back and consider if you’re ready to sell. Resisting may be a sign you’re not yet willing to emotionally detach.

Keep in mind that an overpriced home, even in a strong market, will ultimately sell for less than a home priced well from the start.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Zillow Blog

The home where Samantha Baker faced her sixteenth birthday with adolescent aplomb is on the market — a 3,250-square-foot colonial home in suburban Chicago.

For $1.499 million, you can have 6 bedrooms, 6 baths and all the “Sixteen Candles” nostalgia you can handle, including the front window where Molly Ringwald sat beside a lit-up birthday cake and kissed her crush.

Situated in the tree-lined suburb of Evanston, the home was built in 1931 and has been expanded by the current owners.

Listing agent Jill Blabolil of @Properties said she’s shown the home to serious potential buyers and to looky-loos. “People walk in the front door and say, ‘This is my favorite movie. I have to be able to say I was in the house,’” she said.

Even brokers have brought their children to brokers’ open houses to check out the home that helped kick off a spate of beloved teen movies from John Hughes.

Now the home has even more space for ’80s-movie loving fans. In addition to renovating the kitchen and bathrooms, the current owners finished the third floor, adding a family room plus a bedroom and bathroom. For taking the party outside, they also installed a backyard kitchen, wood-burning fireplace, stone terrace and television.

In case you’d like a set of homes to celebrate your love for the classic film, Molly Ringwald’s historic co-op in Manhattan’s East Village is also on the market. Asking price: $1.795 million.

Photos by Brad Schade/VHT Studios.

Zillow Blog