Realtor.Rock: Getting back to basics with your listings

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Realtor.Rock is a bi-monthly column where local Realtors share their expertise on real estate matters.

This week’s interview is with Ben Kullberg, a Realtor with Dickerson & Nieman. He can be reached at by phone at (815) 381-1223 or (815) 289-1174, or by e-mail to

Why does it seem like houses are on the market longer now?

The simple answer to this would be that houses are on the market longer. Less than two years ago, we were seeing 45-50 days on market for an average. Today, homes in the same areas are staying on the market for an additional 20 days, on average. This is common in real estate. History shows that real estate cycles up and down, and it always will. I think a big reason it’s happening now is the number of listings we have on [Multiple Listing Services (MLS)] across the nation. With a record number of foreclosures nationwide and in the greater Rockford area, coupled with a larger inventory of available homes and a shrinking pool of buyers, competition for your home is high. This means buyers have choices. The good news is that interest rates have remained low, and activity is picking up in real estate. In our Rockford Area Association of Realtor’s MLS, we currently have over 3,000 listings; this is up almost 20 percent from a year ago, but down a few hundred from June of this year. This means that homes are selling, but because of the supply on the market, it is just taking a little more time.

Are there ways to make my home sell faster?

Regardless of the property, there is a price that will attract a buyer. The key thing here is to find a buyer who is willing to pay that price. Even though we are experiencing longer days on market, the homes are still selling. The things a buyer does have control over, like the cheer factor, the access factor, the distraction factor, and the front yard factor, definitely should help in reducing the number of days a listing is on the market. Since there are so many choices out there for buyers, it’s important to know the competition for your home and stay ahead of them by making your home as presentable as possible. Homes that are presented well will sell faster than their competitors with similar homes that are not presented as nice. When I started real estate two years ago, it seemed like homes would get listed and, regardless of the condition, were selling right away. While it’s not like that today, sales are strong and homes are selling. Doing the little things around your listing should cut your days on market, and it should also raise the value of your home.

Can you go into more detail on the factors a buyer has control over?

The factors the buyer has control over are items I think that a lot of people know about but often fail to implement because I still see listings every week I feel need help in all of these areas. The cheer factor is easy; just make sure you get the most light possible throughout your home. You make sure all the lights are on, and all of the blinds are open. While this can help, I would also recommend extra cleaning because the light will show more. The access factor refers to showing of your home by Realtors and making sure that no showing is prevented for any reason. Every person touring your home could be the perfect buyer, and, so, preventing an agent from showing your property, for any reason, could lose that potential buyer.

The distraction factor is a way to let the prospective buyers concentrate on your home, and not on anything else. Take some pictures down, turn off the television and loud music, and if at all possible, remove yourselves, your kids and your pets, allowing a distraction-free environment for the buyers. The front yard factor is important because it’s the first thing the prospective buyers will see when pulling up to your home with their Realtor, or it’s what they will notice if they happen to drive by your property. You want to make sure the lawn is cut, the front door is in its best condition possible, and the exterior of your home is presentable, inviting and appealing. Since you’re usually given notice of showings, people can make sure the interior gets picked up, but there is no notice given for someone driving by your home and looking at your front yard. These are not the only factors that go into selling a house. The Realtor who lists your property is dealing with issues that you have no control over like marketing, negotiating and consulting, just to list a few. So, if the Realtor is doing their part, and the home seller is doing their part in keeping the home presentable and accessible, this is when I would expect to see less days on market.

James Frazier is the owner of A Defined Design-Professional Home Staging Service. He can be reached at 815-997-3212 or through his Web site at

from the Aug 22-28, 2007, issue

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