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How To Get An Offer On Your Home In A Slow Market

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How To Get An Offer On Your Home In A Slow Market

The past few years have been great to get houses sold for a good price. There were even multiple offers everywhere. What I noticed overall was just HOW houses sold faster.

It wasn't because: the agent was brilliant, the marketing was spot on, open houses were held every weekend or even that there was more than one prospective buyer.

What sold the house fast was that sellers took out unnecessary stuff and added paint then cleaned it up!

Now we are in a buyer's market and it it taking a bit longer to get homes sold. In the Lexington KY market the average days on market is approximately 82 days. As sellers, there are some basics to make your home stand out in a sea of homes for sale.

For most of you this is just everyday stuff. I am cleaning ZEN kind of person and I just like my house clean and fresh. I do have a little dog with mountains of hair but you would never know it when you come inside. I enjoy cleaning. Some people hate it! Many houses I listed that sold lighting fast had pro-active sellers. They had done their homework by checking out new homes to see how they could compete... and it worked!

The number one pet peeve of buyers when looking at homes was wallpaper. When you look at new homes it just isn't there. Not even a border.If you want to get your house sold take out every inch of wallpaper or border. I know you thought it matched your decor, but the next buyer will probably hate it. Not only that, but he will not even want to take the time to take it off the wall. This is when he will roll his eyes and look at his agent and say..."Next". Borders and wallpaper date your home and designers rarely suggest it. Get to work and take it down.

The next in line is paint color. Again take a look at some new homes and pick out neutral earth tone colors. Stay away from pinks, purples, blues, and tutti-frutti tones. Freshen your baseboards by cleaning them and paint. Doors too if needed. Most times all the trim just needs cleaning. You know it's the one thing you never do!

Another peeve is knick-knacks and collections. Keep in mind at all want to move! Pack all that stuff like dolls, angels, toys, religious icons, stuffed animals, glass figurines, deer antlers, gun racks, china, family pictures, stacks of books and magazines, pill bottles, etc. The goal is to make surfaces look a little empty.Don't leave placemats and china on the table either. Replace it with a nice centerpiece like a bowl of fresh green apples or vase of cut flowers. Take off appliances (Blenders,can openers, etc.) rarely used and old towels and sponges on kitchen counters and sink. Survey every room and pack up unnecessary objects. Less is more!

I started to put this at number one but it is SMELL. Your house needs to smell nice when buyers arrive. It is the first impression they will have. I'm not talking about air freshener (that will turn them off fast too!). It should be a "CLEAN" smell. Almost no smell at all. Get carpets and floors professionally cleaned to start. Clean dead bugs and cobwebs out of windows and blinds, dust off ceiling fans and light fixtures.

ANIMALS - Take them with you when the house is being shown. Cute pets in the house or yard do not help you sell your home. Litter boxes are a BIG YUCK! Stick it out in the garage on your way to the car. Put away dirty dog bowls. Some people will not even look at a house that has had dogs or cats. I don't blame them. To sell a home with pets you will have to work harder than the average homeowner just to keep it clean and hair picked up. Have a friend who doesn't have pets come by to take a front door sniff test. Take it from there on how much cleaning will get rid of the odor.

O.K. that's a BIG start on what can get your house sold. Look at it like it is a part time job you have taken to make more money. You won't have to lower your asking price. Really, I'm not kidding. I want more than anything to see your home sell fast. Sometimes it's hard to say these things to clients. That's why I wrote it all down I don't have to hurt your feelings. I spend long hours taking clients through house after house and see them turn their nose up at all this stuff.

Bottom line is you are ready to move, start packing it up and concentrate on the prize...a new home!


Lizette Fitzpatrick - Baby Boomer Real Estate Relocation Specialist with Prudential Don Foster in Richmond, Kentucky.

Rated number #1 featured Kentucky Realtor on and Publisher/Author for the only Central Kentucky email newsletter on local real estate listings and sold properties, Kentucky relocation, local events, homeowner information and fun! For more information on Lizette, Kentucky Horse Farms, Prudential Don Foster, Madison County, Fayette County, Richmond or Lexington, Kentucky click on

See for yourself what Lizette's extraordinary clients have to say about their Kentucky real estate experience.

Copyright © 2008 By Lizette Fitzpatrick, All Rights Reserved..*How to get an offer on your home in a slow market*  

Comment balloon 40 commentsLizette Fitzpatrick • September 13 2008 11:47AM


Clean, fresh paint, good smell, and no wallpaper go a long way Lizette. I totally agree.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) almost 11 years ago

These are all great things to do, and will make your listing stand out among others that are not doing them.  But, I still feel that Price is critical in this market, and location also plays a big part, as they always will.

Posted by Troy Erickson AZ Realtor (602) 295-6807, Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor (Good Company Real Estate almost 11 years ago

Lizette, I am so glad you mentioned no air freshners. Such toxic chemicals!!! I have even seen them next to baby cribs...AWFUL! I would also say NIXNE too to scented candles.. Both these products permeate the sheetrock and carpet with their VOCS.  Like cigareete smoke it will stay in the house long after the owners have moved out. Have you ever shown a house where you can smell the scent before you even get to the front door... UGH!


Posted by Ginger Sala, Wilmington NC Real Estate & Relocation~ (Wilkinson & Associates, Wilmington NC) almost 11 years ago

Fresh and clean and uncluttered!  I was in a home several weeks ago that reeked of mothballs in every room.  I think they put fresh mothballs out in anticipation of our visit.  No one will be able to stay in the house long enough to look at all the rooms.  Unbelievable.

Posted by Susie Blackmon, Ocala, Horses, Western Wear, Horse Farms, Marketing almost 11 years ago

Liz, clean house, even if dated it better than an updated dirty one. I actually see most homes looking really nice in this market, almost all in excellent condition with the competition so abundant. Occassionally when I see a smelly home, the buyers just never pursue it even if priced right. Smell is our  strongest scent.

Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) almost 11 years ago

Good idea to clean it whenever possible and keep it simple and uncluttered, but not all sellers want to unfortunately.

Posted by Michael Sahlman, e-PRO - Miami Beach Florida Luxury Homes ( - Keller Williams Realty) almost 11 years ago


I think the wall paper tip is a good one. Nobody likes it.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

I agree with you and thanks for the tips Lizette

Posted by Stephen D White, E-Pro, ABR Cape Cod Real Estate (SDW Realty of Cape Cod) almost 11 years ago

The other thing that I thinks helps a lot is to get as much natural light into the rooms, or use artifical light to brighten up the atmosphere. I agree that a little cosmetic work helps a bunch. Oh, and lets not forget the landscaping should be in good shape.

Posted by Lorraine or Loretta Kratz, Certified Negotiation Consultants (Crescent Moon Realty, Inc. & Land N Sea Auctions.) almost 11 years ago


Great tips.

We have a tool called Home Sale Maximizer that,  based on a survey that we do with our agents, estimates how much certain home improvements cost and what your ROI might be on those estimates.

You can try it here: (you can also order a free desk top version of Home Sale Maximizer and download the pdf)

Posted by Louis Cammarosano, Smaulgld (Smaulgld LLC) almost 11 years ago

Too many home sellers object to clearing up their clutter & nik-naks.  They say "But I have to live here!"  But they need to realize that if they are really going to move, (and not just test the market) those things need to be packed anyway, so they might as well start it right now. 

All these tips are valuable and by doing them, it shows that the sellers are committed to actually selling their house.  (So they usually also take their agent's advice and price it correctly too!)

Posted by Vicki Lloyd, (619)452-9798, Real Estate San Diego California (The Lloyd Realty Group) almost 11 years ago

Wallpaper is the kiss of death to me.  No one wants to deal with stripping it off or hiring someone to do it for them.

Posted by Diane Bell, Hilton Head Real Estate, Bluffton (Charter 1 Real Estate, Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC) almost 11 years ago

I should start a wallpaper removal company...there is so much of it here!  It is a huge turnoff.  Thanks for putting it all in writing, I'll use this for next listing appointment.  hopefully Soon!


Posted by Anna Little (Greater Atlantic Shores Properties at Atlantic Shores Cooperative) almost 11 years ago

In today's market, a seller must do all it takes to be a step above the competition.  Good post.

Posted by Kay Bennett, Your Best Cookeville Area Agent! (First Realty Company) almost 11 years ago

I agree with every word!

Posted by Cameron Norfleet (Century 21 ACCESS AMERICA) almost 11 years ago

You would think that would be common sense but I needed it as a refresher. I am going to send this to a couple of sellers and maybe they will remove the gold walpaper. They always forget those cat littler boxes though.

Posted by Charles Stallions, 800-309-3414 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl. (Charles Stallions Real Estate Services ) almost 11 years ago

Some very good points made. Now if only sellers listen.

Posted by Richard Lecinski (Long Realty Company) almost 11 years ago

Some very good points made. Now if only sellers listen.

Posted by Richard Lecinski (Long Realty Company) almost 11 years ago

And once all the cleaning and spiffying has been done then marketing the property becomes the next great challenge!

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) almost 11 years ago

Amen! Great post!  I just took down wallpaper in my powder room this year knowing that down the line (as empty nesters now) we will be down-sizing.  It was the only room left in my house with wallpaper.  I agree with the pet issue - I am allergic to cats and if I see a cat or any signs of one, I would not go through the home.  It's not worth my throat closing up and the sneezing fit that follows!

Posted by Kathy Passarette, L.I. Staging/Decorating (Creative Home Expressions) almost 11 years ago

I totally agree...smell and a clean uncluttered house are top priorities...wallpaper is something to take down as well...most of the time it will not suit the buyers taste...make it look like someone can just move in!

Posted by Sonja Adams (Samson Proprties) almost 11 years ago

Sellers always say... but the buyers will just come in and paint and remove wallpaper.... houses look totally different once they have a fresh coat of paint and no wallpaper.  Good info in your post!

Posted by Christina Moock, REALTOR - Cutler Real Estate (Cutler Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

If you haven't used it in the last 12 months, GET RID OF IT!!!

Posted by Mike Klijanowicz, Associate Broker @ Cummings & Co. Realtors (Cummings & Co. Realtors) almost 11 years ago

You said it so perfectly!  Great post and I will use your tips with my sellers.

Posted by Cathleen OnullHannigan, Cary NC Homes Pro (Keller Williams Realty) almost 11 years ago

Definitely clean smells, no junk, nor knick kacks, and no wallpaper-- all advice.

Posted by Bob & Carolin Benjamin, East Phoenix Arizona Homes (Benjamin Realty LLC) almost 11 years ago

Yeh - As a home stager this is just our basic list and then we go from there to optimize the appeal of the home, traffic patterns, highlighting architectural details. etc.

Posted by Kathleen Lordbock, Keller Williams Realty Professionals (Keller Williams Realty Professionals) almost 11 years ago

All of the above -- and then price it for the current market -- priceless!

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) almost 11 years ago

Always good have certainly nailed it.

Posted by Debbie Small, REALTOR (Long & Foster Realtors) almost 11 years ago

Spot on... Thanks for the reinforcement.

Posted by Wayne and Lynda Gomillion (Real Living Hagan Realtors | Pinehurst ~ Southern Pines, NC) almost 11 years ago

Good thoughts on making a home presentable and welcoming to potential buyers.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) almost 11 years ago

Lizette, very well said... excellent advice. (I got quite a chuckle out of that photograph) Enjoy your day. Love, C. ;-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) almost 11 years ago




I'm out for a day on AR and I didn't realize my little post would be featured. Thanks for all the comments. I've been nursing an extremely sick dog (Chanel) back to health. She is with me for the weekend. I truly appreciate you took time to comment. Please forgive me if I don't comment each one personally. I'm honored you stop by my blog. Thanks!

Have a fantastic Sunday!

Posted by Lizette Fitzpatrick, Lizette Realty, Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes (Lizette Realty - Richmond KY) almost 11 years ago

All tose points are great and sellers would do weell to take your advice.  the best way to get an offer on a home though is to price it competitively!  Works every time!

Posted by Chris Canzano, Billion Dollar Broker - Cape Coral, FL (Villa Realty Group, Inc.) almost 11 years ago


Posted by Ryan Case (Pacific Servicing) almost 11 years ago

Great Comments, I find sellers very surprised and responsive, especially the motivated ones. Painting and cleaning are essential, but decluttering goes a looooong way! Thanks for your great blog.

Posted by Tj Stroben (California Residential Consulting) almost 11 years ago

I had to reply in part because of that picture. 

WALLPAPER NEEDS TO GO: it's not 1985 anymore.

Posted by Everard Korthals, Mountain Realty (---Preferred Lifestyle Advisors---) almost 11 years ago

Thanks for your post.I have a client that just not want to put her dogs out or put away all the knick knacks.I now think I am going to get her to look at some of her competion,maybe she will see.

Posted by angela madzia (Assist-2-Sell) almost 11 years ago

Angela, that is a very good move. I sent a client to a few open houses "to spy on the competition." It was a lot easier to get her to be more responsive to changes when she realized she would have to match or top the competition.

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Tann, Thank you I am going to give it a shot.

Posted by angela madzia (Assist-2-Sell) almost 11 years ago

Great post.  Don't forget to have them take care of the outside too. Nothing worse than driving up to a home with a yard needing mowed and kiddie toys everywhere. We don't want to see what you couldn't grow in the pots with dirt and a dead stem sticking out. Use a broom to keep the porch/entry area spider web free and looking nice.

Posted by Sherry Scales, Realtor, for Austin, TX and surrounding areas (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) almost 11 years ago

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