The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 24, 2012

Homecoming and home going

The ups and downs of selling in autumn

By Lisa Shrewsberry
Lifestyles Editor

— Tara Taylor is selling a piece of her childhood. She, along with husband Richard, moved back into the well-kept, attractive brick Raliegh County home four years after Tara’s mother passed away. The decision to sell, her first time in the real estate game, isn’t one she’s taking lightly.

“I have lived in the house for 35 years. Now it’s just my dad and me left in my family, and I don’t have other outside assistance to come up to bat. I need to move closer to him,” she explains, thinking ahead about care for her father as he ages.

The Taylors have found a new home closer to their daughters’ school district and to Tara’s father. They listed four weeks ago and have since decided to move the asking price down to an attractive mid- $140K range. So far, they’ve had four showings and zero offers.

A larger back yard for two growing kids is a bonus to a potential move, but the leaves are now littering the ground and the countdown to winter has begun.

“I thought I would’ve had a few more people by now. It’s the wrong time of year. People don’t want to move when it’s getting cold.”

Tara’s right. Fall is a difficult time to sell a home, according to 16-year real estate veteran Carolyn Stover, with Prudential Sigmund-McLean. But keeping a few key things in mind will make seller expectations reasonable and stoke the home-fires of optimism.

Know the market:

“Here the market is pretty stable,” Carolyn says, adding that 2012 has been one of her best years. While reports about rock-bottom prices for homes in Florida and Nevada abound, Carolyn believes home prices here have fallen only about 10%, according to appraisers she’s talked to. “That’s not much,” she states. In addition, recent mine layoffs and closures have affected the number of locals shopping for homes, compounded by the uncertainty surrounding election season.

“I believe people here are worried about what’s going to happen. When people are concerned they don’t move. They stay where they are. And I don’t blame them,” Carolyn says.

What she believes is in both the sellers’ and buyers’ corners are low interest rates. “Right now, they’re between 3 and

3.5 percent.”

Be willing to negotiate:

A buyer’s market coupled with a buyer’s expectation of a bargain demands a seller to be willing to negotiate.

“The tough ones are homes priced in the upper range. You have to have a special type of buyer for those. A good range here is anywhere from 120- 150 thousand.”

Be patient:

Patience is a virtue learned in Sunday School and in selling a home. While 120 days represents the typical listing, Carolyn says sellers listing now should expect to continue listing their home for up to a year.

“Don’t consider it a failure if you have to list again. It all depends on the market and on the way things are moving,” she encourages.

A tweaked backyard and several coats of fresh paint later, the Taylors are doing everything they can to sell in a down economy, on the edgy eve of an election and on possibly the worst page of the calendar.

“On November 20th, we’re expected to close on our new house…,” says Tara.

They’re hosting their first Open House this weekend, expecting to match up with someone feeling the crunch of the opposite predicament — needing a nice new home before winter.

— E-mail:


How do you keep the “For Sale” sign from turning tombstone in your front yard?

More tips for taking the CHILL out of your fall home listing:

— Add curb appeal: Most everyone gets lazy in the yard come fall. Spend the extra cash to consult a landscape specialist about what shrubs and trimming will fit within your budget to attract potential buyers to your home. Don’t forget to keep the leaves and limbs cleaned up and the gutters free from fall foliage.

— Choose tasteful outdoor décor: It may be ghost and goblin season, but a front door wreath featuring gourds wrapped in ribbons of autumn color will be more appealing than, say, a zombie head.

— De-clutter indoors: Less is always more when a potential buyer is scanning your home to see how their own things will fit in. Get a head start on the packing and put away non-essential items and knick-knacks before showing your home. First impressions are everything, says Stover. Make sure your home smells clean and fresh when coming in from outside. Capitalize on the subtle scents of fall with a wickless candle warmer.

— Add swag: Not only in your curtains…  while those help, too. Offer concessions toward closing costs and/or a home warranty to motivate buyers with extra incentives.

— Invest at the higher-end: If your home lists in the 300K range or more, you may need to spend extra cash updating it before listing. “If I’m looking at a home in that price range, I don’t want to have to do anything to it,” explains Stover, who says the seller will generally get their money back for the upgrades in the form of more reasonable offers. The higher the asking price, the more the home is expected to have a “new” look.