Dear Ms. Lank: Hope you can help us.
We have been trying to sell our house for three months now — with not a single offer. From our agent's market analysis, we are at the low end of the price range for similar houses. We have even dropped the price with no effect.
Our house is relatively new (a little over two years). I think lots of buyers drive by, but we hardly get any calls for showings.
What can we do to start getting some activity? We have never had any reason to believe we are overpriced. — M. and R.
Answer: Anything will sell if the price is right.
Three months is a pretty long time to test this market, even through the winter and the school year. It seems clear to me that you do have plenty of reason to believe you are overpriced.
The answer is simple: The buying public does not think your home is worth what you're asking for. No matter what the problem — and I can't judge it from here —a lower price will always cure it.
I'll bet you already knew you needed to drop the price again and were just hoping I'd say something different.
Dear Edith: I'm considering going in to real estate sales. I'd be interested to hear what, in your opinion, is the most important thing for success. — L. R.
Answer: For starters, total honesty and fair dealing. Your success will largely depend on your reputation.
After that, the most important thing is how hard you want to work. There are plenty of jobs in which working harder doesn't get you anything except tired. Real estate sales, though, is one of the few places where the more you put into it, the bigger your rewards.
You need to be a self-starter. No one will stand over you with assignments. You also need the ability to brush off disappointments and keep on going.
Learn all you can. Begin by paying close attention to the study that's required before you get your license. There's a lot to real estate — law, construction, finance, architecture. And then before you're done, you'll be using interesting bits of sociology and psychology.
With some jobs, clock-watchers long for the end of the work week. It's different with real estate. People who don't like it soon leave the field. Those who stay and succeed enjoy what they're doing and the feeling of accomplishment it brings.
Selling Valuable Acreage
Dear Edith: My mother has some valuable land she wants to sell. She gets regular inquiries and wants to limit taxes as much as possible but is unsure how to do that. With so many dishonest people out there — including some financial advisors and real estate agents — how can she find someone she can trust, or where can she find resources to become somewhat informed? — via email
Answer: There must be some professional you or your mother believe to be honest? That person will probably have names to suggest.
If I had valuable land I wanted to sell, I'd start by hiring a real estate appraiser and ask for a simple — be sure to stress "simple" — estimate of the probable market value. Then I'd talk with an accountant about the tax consequences of selling and discuss installment sale treatment.
Next, I'd put the property in the hands of a real estate broker who is experienced in sales of vacant land in that area. And finally, I'd retain my own real estate attorney to guide me through the contract and sale.
In other words, the value of that land justifies your mother seeking help from four professionals: an appraiser, accountant, broker and lawyer.
Seller Retaining Deposit
Dear Ms. Lank: I made an offer on a home. The seller countered back indicating, "Seller to retain buyer's deposit if transaction is not closed for whatever reason," including not getting the mortgage loan. I have been preapproved for a loan, but is this a usual provision in a contract? — via email
Answer: No. Real estate sales contracts often do specify that the deposit will be forfeited if the buyer backs out for no good reason. But you certainly wouldn't want to lose it if, through no fault of your own, you couldn't obtain the necessary financing. Or what if the seller simply backed out and then claimed your deposit?
I hope you consulted your own attorney about how to answer that counteroffer.
Contact Edith Lank at www.askedith.com, at [email protected] or at 240 Hemingway Drive, Rochester NY 14620.