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This week’s interview is with Maria Haun, a residential Realtor with Whitehead Realtors. She can be reached by phone at (815) 229-8007 or (815) 978-2338, or by e-mail at

What do you think about all the headlines concerning the national real estate market?

Recently, we have had such negative stories about real estate in the news that I would like to talk about the positive. I truly believe that the only market that matters is the one you are in. George W. Mantor wrote a great article for the Realty Times, and he stated, “Each market is different and unique to now, and driven by not one but several events.” Why should we care about what goes on in Florida or California, or even Chicago? Granted, someone from the Chicago area may want to buy your home and can’t until their home sells, but what percentage of buyers from that area would that be? In the two years I have been a Realtor, I have only had two clients that transferred or bought in our area. According to the market report on our MLS for the months of January-March, the average home price was only down by less than 2 percent? In 2006, the average home price year-to-date was $141,106. In 2007, it is $138,682.

So if the local market is only down 2 percent, does that affect every home sale?

I have seen homes selling and homes sitting. Maybe we should ask ourselves why. How many of us have seen our neighbor’s house sitting for months and not sell, but how many of us have seen our neighbor’s house sell in a matter of days, or even hours? In my neighborhood, the homes are selling in less than 30 days. Buyers are out there, so how do we get them to buy our home?

How do you get people to buy your home?

We all know it is a buyers’ market, so what does that mean for sellers? It means they have to make their home stand out from the competition. Inventory is up in our area. We have 501 more homes for the year compared to last year (January-March). Buyers have many homes to choose from, so you have to make them want to buy yours.

We all want a great price for our home, and think it is worth what we want for it, but is it really? How old is your roof or furnace? Is your kitchen still a throwback from the ’70s? Does your bathroom have that original pink or blue tub and toilet? Do you have pets or smoke? When someone walks into your home, they can tell. Remember, we are not sensitive anymore to the smell of what is ours, but someone else can definitely tell! I have had many clients that have walked into a home and, right away, said, “They must have cats” or “They are definitely smokers.” I am not saying to get rid of your animals or quit smoking, but find a way to get rid of the odors before you put your home on the market.

A few hundred to a few thousand dollars invested could help raise your asking price significantly. New carpet and some paint can work wonders in a room. See how much it is to re-glaze that bathtub and replace the toilet. I’ve seen buyers choose one home over another because it had a newer roof or furnace, or it had an updated kitchen and bathroom. Take your agent’s advice to heart, and do what they say to improve your home. If you don’t want to do the work necessary to get the price you want, then listen to your agent, and price it at a point where a buyer will not have a problem paying that price and doing the work. Buyers want to know they are getting a good deal, too. They want to know that if they do the work necessary to make it a great home that they will get their money back in the future. Really, nothing has changed. We all want to know we are doing the right thing and getting a good price for something.

What is the most important thing sellers need to do to help with the sale of their home?

I believe that sellers have to change their way of thinking. Most buyers today are not willing to do the necessary repairs; they want them to be done. They want to be able to bring their things into the home and not have to spend money on needed repairs. I am positive that they will keep looking until they find that home that is in move-in condition. Homes that are in move-in condition are getting great offers and going fast!

Since I have started, I have heard over and over again that price and condition is what sells a home, it’s just finding that price that will move the buyer to buy it.

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 May 2-8, 2007, issue

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