Things Realtors Wish Sellers Knew – Part I


When Realtors work with clients, there are some things they wish sellers knew.

  1. Not Everyone Loves That Décor
    When a seller has a strong sense of style, one that stands out, prospective buyers sometimes have a hard time imagining themselves in the house. Realtors don’t want to offend their clients who are selling the property, but they do want to let them know that it’s best to keep décor neutral. Also, less is more. Removing a third of the furniture (especially any highly stylized pieces) allows buyers to imagine their own belongings there.
  2. Secrets Are Counterproductive
    Sometimes, sellers believe that if they can hide information from their Realtor, then they will be able to pull one over on inspectors, buyers, and anyone else involved in the transaction. This is a terrible idea.

Sellers are legally required to disclose all material deficiencies with the house, the ones they know about and the ones they should reasonably have known about. If the property is in escrow and buyers discover a problem that should have been disclosed, the buyers can 1. Renegotiate for a lower purchase price, 2. Cancel the transaction, or 3. Wait until the transaction closes and then sue the sellers. Sellers will be lucky if the buyers simply walk away, and all the sellers must deal with is lost time.

Even if the buyers find an undisclosed problem months or even years after the escrow closes, they can sue the sellers (and often win). The moral of the story? Tell your Realtor everything you know about the property. Disclose everything to the buyers up front. If you’re a buyer, be suspicious if a seller has nothing to disclose (unless the house is pretty much brand new).

  1. Some Home Improvements Are Not Worth It
    The sad fact is, even when sellers have spent tens of thousands of dollars improving their property, they don’t always earn that money back in the sale price. The $100,000 pool will not increase the value of the property by $100,000. It may not even increase the value by $50,000. The garage-to-family-room conversion will not increase the value at all. It’s an even trade in the eyes of most buyers, if not a detractor. Most people want a garage.
  2. Some Home Improvements Are Really Important
    If you’re going to spend time and money improving your home, renovate dated kitchens and bathrooms. Replace avocado appliances with stainless steel. Add a fresh coat of paint. Fix things that are broken (even if you’ve lived with them that way for 20 years). Remove dead landscaping. Repair the broken latch on the fence. Mend the broken tile. And for heaven’s sake, replace burned out light bulbs. Little fixes can have big rewards. If you appear to be the type of seller who pays attention to details, buyers will feel confident the house has been well maintained. This makes buyers feel relaxed and happy. These are the feelings you want buyers to have as they begin to negotiate.
  3. Fix Big Stuff
    Between the down payment and closing costs, most buyers get cash-strapped during the home-buying process. They would rather have you replace the roof and increase the sale price so they can pay the roof off over 30 years than to have you lower the sale price and leave it to them to repair the roof. If the house needs major maintenance, take care of it. The increased value will be reflected in the sale price.

If you have questions about real estate or property management, contact me at or visit If I use your suggestion in a column, I’ll send you’re a $5.00 gift card to Schat’s Bakery. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business in Ukiah for more than 40 years.


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