A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

Decisions (part 2)- First Impressions

In my local Realtor Association’s publication, there was an article which contained an interesting fact: a good number of sellers going it alone will end up using a Realtor in the end to sell their home. The statement makes a great deal of sense, but it was not backed up with percentages or other data for support. I think by giving you my initial impressions of the three properties mentioned in the first post that you may understand why.

Two of the homes are close to a bus stop for my son. My baby daughter and I walk around the area when waiting for him, so I have chances to look at these homes often. The third is in my neighborhood, and I see it on walks with my daughter. The first home is offered by a Realtor. From the exterior, the home has a prepared for sale look. I noticed workers (like cabinet installers) there over the past month, so the home is being prepared on the inside too. Since I am a gardener, my eye is drawn to the garden, but the home does not offer much here. This is a personal preference, but you may well consider doing something with your garden to impress. As an inspector, I noticed that some details which an inspection would mark down have been addressed. Damaged trim, window screen repair, and some roof work have been done on the exterior. I feel that their Realtor has instigated these actions. I have worked with Realtors who are a wealth of advice to homeowners on this front, and that is why I feel these tasks were done on a Realtor’s recommendation.

The second house is just down the street from the first. The owner is selling the home on her own, but she is using an assistance service. There are different companies doing this work. In her case, the firm is ForSaleByOwner.com. The first impression compares favorably to the home offered by the Realtor. The sign in the yard is professional, and there are flyers similar to those provided by Realtors. The garden is nicer, which is a plus for me. The home does have a prepared to sell look. It is in the details where I notice an issue. The roof appears new, but other exterior work that an inspector should point out have not been taken care of. Trim and other wood look as though they have some rot. A window screen is missing (in Texas, window screens have to be in place with no damage). The grading in the garden beds were to close to the siding. Minor items like these may not be noticed by a buyer, but an inspection would mark them down, and I think that most Realtors would mention something to their clients.

The last home is in my neighborhood. The owner is selling this home without any assistance. The sign is a cheap one from a home improvement center. In general, the house just does not look as if the owner is serious about selling it. The plants in the garden are nice, but the garden needs work. Toys are all over the driveway. The garage door is askew. Trim has some rot. Window screens, broken panes of glass, branches rubbing against the roof, and the list goes on of concerns that an inspector would bring up. Basically, I would not look at this home, unless I really loved the area.

The last home has been on the market for two months longer than the first two, which came to market at roughly the same time. It appears to me that the last owner would eventually give in to using a Realtor as the home sits on the market. Could this owner have taken steps to improve his home for sale? Yes, but you have to have the initiative to discover what needs to happen to make the sale occur. Of the first two homes, I think that at this point the owners are at the same stage of the race to sell their home. The Realtor handled sale has prepared more, but from a buyer’s perspective the homes do not have much of a difference at this point.

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