Sometimes, it pays to follow your instincts

Section: Real Estate,  Page: G4

Date: Sunday, December 16, 2012

"Because I said so" may work for parents, but it's not always effective for real estate agents working with potential clients.

Selling your home is about more than creating an MLS and sticking a sign in the ground. Offering suggestions on how to help move the property is also part of the job. And, in the midst of the holiday season, we're sure plenty of homeowners have heard they should skip the Christmas tree or the menorah this year. After all, we know agents -- and buyers -- usually prefer homes uncluttered by personal touches or religious elements.

But is the agent always right? We asked readers of the Times Union On the Edge blog (blog.timesunion.com/kristi), the Times Union's Facebook page (Facebook.com/AlbanyTimesUnion) and Kristi Barlette's Facebook profile (Facebook.com/JustKristiOnline) to share the time (or times) they decided to skip the agent's suggestion, and how that choice worked out.

When we sold our last house, I refused to remove our coveted photos and kids' artwork from the front of the refrigerator. Our Realtor was a total nag about it. We got a new Realtor and sold the house quickly.

-- Sue, via On the Edge

The first Realtor we used here to buy a house (in '04) had us looking at houses about 50K above what we could really afford. He reassured us that we'd get a mortgage. I had a bad feeling, so we ran away. Found another Realtor and bought a house we could actually afford. If we had listened to the first guy, we'd be "underwater" now.

-- David A. Salomon, via Facebook

Replace the original (white, early 1990s, still working) kitchen appliances with brand new stainless steel. Sounded like good advice to me, but my husband refused.

Would we have gotten a little more money for the house if we had done it? Maybe. Would it have been more than we put in to buy the new appliances? We weren't convinced. The house sold for more than 90 percent of our slightly ambitious asking price within six weeks of listing, so it can't have hurt us too much.

--EBG, via On the Edge

I had an orange front door on my last house. My Realtor thought it would turn people off, and that I should paint it a more "normal" color. I would not (I love the color orange and thought it looked good). The house sold for nearly the asking price in just a couple of weeks. The buyer said she was going to paint the front door a different color after closing, but it must have grown on her because four years later the door is still orange.


A Realtor that was selling a potential home we were looking at, who also wanted to be our listing agent, told us to do a short sale on our current home to get out quickly and that it "only messes up your credit a little". Ummm ....NO.

--Jen, via On the Edge

I shot all my own photos and staged the house myself. Designed the sell sheets and wrote the copy. Figured I could do better than his $100 point-and-shoot. And was right.

-- John Bulmer via Facebook

The Realtor suggested we price our house below the average for our neighborhood. This was when it was a seller's market. They just wanted a quick sale.

We went with a Realtor who we could convince to sell for what we wanted, which was higher. She said, ''Well, I guess I can try." Hired. Sad, huh?

We sold for 10K more than our asking on the day of our open house. At closing, I handed her her check and said, ''I told you so."

Folks, do your research. A Realtor is for advertising and showing only. They want the fastest sale more than the highest price. Make your money decisions solely on your own research. -

-- Sean Bridgeford, via Facebook

"Don't engage with the sellers (we were buyers); that never ends well."

--Goldenjake, via On the Edge

The only piece of advice she gave us was not to worry about taking out an extra $5,000 on our mortgage (to improve on things that the seller was unwilling to budge on -- like the half-finished basement and the toilet just plopped down there with no walls or anything) because it was only an extra $30 or so a month on the payments. We were really uncomfortable with being strapped with the added debt, even if the payments were really low, so we just rescinded our offer and found a nicer house at our comfort level.

-- Megan Beauchemin, via Facebook

Pictures and the lack of stainless steel appliances are not legitimate reasons for not buying your home. Holidays are for celebrating and for being with family. A buyer who can't see beyond your family stuff is unsophisticated and quite frankly looking for a reason not to buy a particular home other than just being honest. Realtors tend to encourage the behavior, but they also aren't that sophisticated. There is no logical reason why, in most cases, family pictures, white appliances or a paint color would stop a truly interested and qualified buyer from at least making an offer. I'm a Realtor and I've sold every property type imaginable. You live in your house; you don't owe your buyers gifts like new appliances etc.

--REMan, via On the Edge

Lower the price! Over and over. Of course, the longer the house sat on the market the more our agent reached for reasons. In the end it comes down to the right buyer for the right property.

--Kate, via On the Edge

One of our Realtors wanted us to sign an exclusive agreement so that we couldn't go through anyone else. This was wrong for us on so many levels, so we refused. He still worked with us. After looking at many houses with us (he) decided there just wasn't anything left to show us.

We called his bluff and told him that was fine; we'd find someone else.

Amazingly, he found more houses for us to look at. The house we eventually fell in love with was one we found ourselves, but needed an agent to view. It killed me for him to get a commission after I did most of the legwork.

--Robin Lamb, via Facebook

My dad is a Realtor. I ignore him all the time.

--Susan Matthews, via Facebook

kbarlette@timesunion.com - 518-454-5494 - @JustKristi - facebook.com/JustKristiOnline