1. Your stuff is great, but it’s ugly.

Please don’t be offended.  We’ve all got beautiful things collected over the years and comfortable furniture that we would never get rid of, but buyers do NOT want to see it.  They want clean, uncluttered, and newish.  You have to be able to give them the space to envision their things in your soon-to-be-former house.  So my recommendation?  Start packing.  If you can’t bring yourself to put away all but a few items, then you might want to consider waiting until the market gets better.

2. Wallpaper – NO!

I’ll be short with this one.  Before selling your house, unless you want to sell it at a deep discount, remove all your wallpaper.  Immediately.  Wallpaper is like art – it’s very personal.   The same goes with very bright colored paint.  And vinyl floors.  And florescent lighting.  And pet smell.

3. Your house may be considered a ‘fixer upper’ even if you don’t think so.

Because there are so many homes to choose from and financing for house projects is scarce, most buyers want move-in ready.  Meaning – they don’t want to do more to a house than add their favorite paint color and fix minor items, unless it is priced as a fixer-upper.  If you don’t have granite counter tops, if you’ve got carpet in your living areas, if your grass and/or landscaping is non-existent, if your floor plan isn’t somewhat open, then get ready to price your house accordingly.

4. Speaking of…your house will probably sell for much less than you think it’s worth.

I hate to say this but imagine the price you are thinking of for your house, then subtract 15%.  That’s your number.

5. It was the worst of times…it was the best of times…

Now we all know about the mediocre state of real estate but let’s address whether or not NOW, right now, is a good time to sell.  Late November, December and early January are typically the worst months to sell a house because all but the smartest of buyers are not out looking during the holidays.  However, most people interested in selling their house  adhere to that philosophy and so wait until the early spring to put their house on the market.  Plus, all signs point to the banks unfreezing foreclosures after the holidays – read – even more houses on the market.   As a matter of fact, right now we’ve got the lowest number of homes on the market in Charleston County since January of 2007. There are even a few hot pockets out there where the pickins are slim.  If your house fits into one of these, you are lucky.

  • Renovated houses under $250,000 in Wagener Terrace or North Central.
  • Renovated houses with a garage under $500,000 in Wagener Terrace.  There are none.
  • A renovated 2BR condo with a stable HOA for under $500,000 south of the Crosstown.
  • Renovated million-dollar houses in Harleston Village.  You know how I feel about this.
  • Houses over 3000 square feet and under $1,000,000 in Snee Farm in Mount Pleasant. (6 of the 7 sold since the beginning of the year sold in the last 6 months and there is only one available.)
  • Any house at all in Bayview Acres in Mount Pleasant.  There are only two for sale.

6. Photos photos photos photos photos.

Great photos.  And lots of them.  Once you decide to sell your house and have made it ready, the single most important thing besides the price, are the photos.  I used to think I was a pretty great real estate photographer – I take 20 shots of each room, I stage each shot, I use a tripod, I edit for hours – until I hired a professional with a wide-angle lens.  Now I’ll never go back.  If you are working with another agent, INSIST that they do the same.  If they won’t, I’d suggest looking for someone else.  It’s that important.

To get a good laugh – check out this guys hilarious presentation on “Unbelievably Bad Real Estate Photos Hall of Fame”

At any rate, I realize I wrote this post in a most un-Southern, un-passive aggressive, un-delicate way – but I know many of you are ready to move, want to downsize, NEED to downsize, or want to upsize to take advantage of the current deals.  Treating this situation with kid gloves won’t help you at all.  As my husband says, real estate these days is a domino effect.  All it takes is one house to sell to start the ripple.  Could yours be that one?