Straight talk: Advice to sellers in a tough market


Earlier this month, The Times asked Island real estate agents:

What advice can you offer sellers on how to make their homes stand out in a tough market?

Lisa Stewart, Lighthouse Properties, Oak Bluffs

Price your house correctly from the beginning. Homes that are originally priced appropriately or have dropped to where buyers see good value will sell at a price close to asking. Sellers have a huge misconception that they should price their homes high to accommodate for low offers but buyers are extremely well-educated in terms of the local market, are working with buyer’s agents and have a lot of properties to choose from. Most buyers have been renting on the Island and are dreaming of owning a second home. They certainly have no urgency to buy as they have good options in the rental market. Also, present the house as if it were rental-ready. Eliminate or box up clutter and keep the house as clean and as bright and well cared for as possible. First impressions are more important than ever in a competitive market.

Art Smadbeck, Priestley Smadbeck & Mone, Edgartown

The best advice I can give to sellers is to learn the market, determine what is for sale that is competing against your property, and price your property competitively. In other words, make your property the best buy on the market in your price range and location.

Neal Stiller, Cronig’s Real Estate, Vineyard Haven

The key for sellers in a tough market is to price their properties accurately. If overpriced, a property can remain on the market for years. If priced properly, it will sell within a reasonable amount of time. Certainly a seller should spruce up and make necessary repairs to his home so that it looks as good as possible when buyers come through. A good time to list a home is in late winter/early spring, as opposed to in the middle of winter when the market is quieter.

Sean Federowicz, Coldwell Banker Landmarks Real Estate, Vineyard Haven

Sellers should ask themselves this question: Do I want my house to sell or do I just want it on the market? Today’s buyers are savvy — they can find lots of information through technology. First, make the property saleable by cleaning it up and dealing with maintenance issues. I recommend a pre-sale inspection to expose any defects you might be unaware of. Then you can choose to fix them or price it accordingly. I also suggest that you have an independent appraisal conducted. We do research that should correlate with technical valuation in order to establish fair market value.

Doug Reece, RE/MAX on island, Vineyard Haven

Buyers purchase under current conditions when they see a value in the market. So proper pricing and good condition is key. Look at what has sold, not what is on the market, then price your property five to eight percent below recent sales. Pick up clutter, spend some money on landscaping (first impressions), and have a pre-sale home inspection done to identify and repair any issues that might give a buyer second thoughts. Also, because of people’s environmental sensitivities today, it’s imperative to remove any mustiness, animal odors, and molds/mildews from the home.

Abby Rabinovitz, Tea Lane Associates, Chilmark & West Tisbury

Be the best value at your price point. Price your home appropriately for the current market. If it is priced higher than comparable homes, it’s not going to sell.

Pricing is a process. Sometimes there’s no way of knowing the “right” price.

As for presentation, it depends on the property. If the view can be improved, do it. Selling land? Get your engineering done. Something obvious broken? Fix it.

Sheila Morse, Island Real Estate, Vineyard Haven

Make sure the property is priced right. Buyers are doing their homework. They are aware of competing properties, the amount of time a property has been on the market, and recent sales. They take all this into consideration when presenting an offer. Sellers should also de-clutter the property, remove yard and house debris, and make sure it’s clean every time it’s shown. It’s difficult for buyers to concentrate on a property when the house is in disarray.