Selling your home is always about the price


Pricing a home for a sale is not always easy. There is an abundance of empirical research that has confirmed the many variables that affect sales price. Some influences are manageable and some are not. The top factors to consider when pricing your home to sell include location, condition, features, and timing.

Your home’s physical location is one of the top factors that will affect its sale price. Although home prices vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, your home’s location within the neighborhood could also impact the sale price. Homes located on commuter routes typically sell for less because of the traffic and noise. Even homes located just off of the thoroughfare can be impacted by the perception of traffic and noise; the sale price could be lower than a similar home situated further away from the main road.

A home can sell for more when located close to neighborhood amenities; however, the price could drop if perceived too close. Neil Metz’s research (Effect of Distance to Schooling on Home Prices. The Review of Regional Studies 45.2 (2015):151-171.) indicated that homes located close to schools tend to sell for more. However, the opposite was found with homes within 1,000 feet from schools; the home sale price decreased as the distance from the school closed in from 1,000 feet (probably due to congestion and noise). This effect is typically true for other neighborhood amenities such as shopping areas.

home repairRepairing and upgrading your home prior to listing can increase the sale price. In contrast, deferred maintenance can not only deter home buyers – it could attract low offers; especially if the home has been on the market for a lengthy period. Many home buyers are looking for a “turn-key” home, where they don’t have to be concerned about immediate maintenance; while some are willing to put in the time and effort to personalize a home. If you’re making updates to your home, consider that the quality and installation of upgrades can impacts price as well; cheap fixtures and sloppy workmanship can have a similar affect as deferred maintenance.

Your home’s amenities can also impact the sale price. For example, features such as a finished basement or deck can be appealing and add value. Even green amenities can impact sales price. Research conducted by Cadena and Thomson (An Empirical Assessment of the Value of Green in Residential Real Estate. The Appraisal Journal 83.1 (Winter 2015): 32-40.) concluded that homes that were designated “green” increased sale price by 1%, while certified green homes increased sale price about 2%; however, energy efficient features increased sales price by about 6%!

Finally, your sales price can be affected by the timing of the sale. Miller, Sah, Sklarz, and Pampulov (Is there seasonality in home prices-evidence from CBSAs. Journal of Housing Research, 22(1) (2013), 1-15) conducted a comprehensive study of home sales that occurred in 138 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs are geographic population centers set by the Office of Management and Budget for use by Federal agencies in collecting, and publishing statistics) from February 2000 to April 2011. They concluded that monthly price changes can vary through the year; and homes that sell during summer months (April through September) typically sell for more than homes that sell during the winter (October through March). However, they point out that the seasonality effect could be due to weather; there is less price variance in areas with less temperature variation.

Copyright © Dan Krell

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Basements, humidity and dehumidifiers

Basements, humidity and dehumidifiersThere seems to be a misconception of the relationship between basements, humidity and dehumidifiers; which probably results in the dehumidifier being one of the most misunderstood and least respected household appliances. This is apparent because many first time home buyers are turned off to any home where they see a dehumidifier, thinking there is a moisture problem. The dehumidifier doesn’t even have to be running; it could be turned off and tucked away in a closet.

The battle that all home owners deal with is keeping moisture out of the basement. Of course, regular maintenance can retard water penetration from the exterior: having the proper grading and extending downspouts will keep rainwater away from the home’s foundation. And serious water penetration issues should be resolved by licensed professionals. However, if the home doesn’t have a foundation or water penetration issue, basement humidity is still an ongoing battle. And if your home has an in-ground basement, chances are you know what I am talking about.

Believe it or not, it’s not necessarily a water problem that dictates humidity in a basement; but rather it’s physics. More precisely: thermodynamics and entropy. Put simply: temperatures in your home seek equilibrium, and warm air will move toward cooler air. Basements tend to be cooler than the upper floors because warm air rises. However, as the temperature seeks equilibrium, the warm air will also move toward the cooler basement air. When warm air meets cold air, the air condenses and develops humidity.

Basements, humidity and dehumidifiers

Although humidity is generally thought of as the amount of moisture in the air; according to Dehumidifier Basics(, it is most commonly referred to as “relative humidity” or RH. “RH is the amount of water vapor actually present in the air compared to the greatest amount of water vapor the air can hold at that temperature.” An RH between 30% and 50% is considered to be optimal. When RH is above 50%, bacteria and mold may grow.

If you don’t have a dehumidifier, you might consider buying one to help maintain the optimal RH in your basement. Dehumidifiers are differentiated by capacity, which is described as pints per 24 hours (measured by the size and conditions of the area where the unit may be placed). Energy Star provides a chart to help you decide the capacity best suited for your needs.

If you already have a dehumidifier, you might be surprised to know that most units are not meant to be operated in areas that are below 65°F (according to Energy Star); however, there are models that are designed for lower temperatures. If you use your dehumidifier in temperatures below 65°F, the unit may not function properly even though you may hear the compressor running. Below 65°F, frost can form over the condensing coils inhibiting the unit from removing moisture from the air. If your unit frosts, it should be unplugged and allowed to defrost.

Although some units are designed to be placed against walls, Energy Star recommends placing your dehumidifier in an area that allows free circulation of air around the unit for optimal operation. And of course, refer to manufacture’s manual for operation and electrical safety warnings.

Maintaining a comfortable RH level in the home can be achieved, and it starts by proper home maintenance. However, a dehumidifier may be necessary for optimal comfort. Energy Star ( provides consumer information about selecting and safely operating a dehumidifier.

Original published at

By Dan Krell

Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Handling home buyer feedback

home buyer feedbackYou’ve spent months preparing your home by de-cluttering, painting, and maybe even making renovations; the last thing you want to hear are objections from home buyers why the home is not suitable for them. Obviously, you’ve had years of enjoyment and you’re thinking about all the benefits the home offers. However, getting honest home buyer feedback when they visit your home is invaluable information to help get your home sold.

Asking for home buyer feedback is one of the tasks that your agent performs throughout the listing period. However, soliciting feedback from agents who bring buyers to your home is often hit or miss; although many agents offer good and honest feedback, just as many don’t respond (for various reasons) to feedback requests unless their buyers are interested in the home. Additionally, home buyer feedback is solicited when they visit open houses and includes questions such as: “What do you find most appealing about the home?”; “What do you find least appealing about the home?”; and “Is the home priced right?”

Ok, it’s nice to hear the good things people have to say about your home; these are obvious benefits and what others find appealing. Buyers may list various home features, upgrades, and/or renovations as appealing or beneficial; but it is also important to put weight on the negative feedback too. All the de-cluttering and neutralizing can make a home look good, but it may not change home features that do not fit other’s needs. Likewise, making cosmetic and minor repairs also increases your home’s appeal; but may not make obsolete systems acceptable.

One of the most common pieces of feedback you might encounter is about the home’s price. Since home buyers typically view similar homes, you get perspective about how you priced your home compared to other similar homes. If there is overwhelming feedback that the home is overpriced, then you should consider reviewing additional comps with your agent and correct the price as needed. It is also not uncommon that buyers may feel that the home is priced well, but for various reasons they are not interested in making an offer.

Keep in mind that the feedback you will receive is subjective and offered from various points of view, so don’t be surprised with seemingly contradictory objections from different home buyers. Some objections can be addressed readily while others cannot.

For example, objections about the size and/or location of the home or yard are not easily overcome; and it may be that buyers offering such objections are looking at the wrong home. However, objections about shabby flooring or lack of updates can be addressed by either taking action or changing the list price to reflect the home’s condition.

Sometimes in pushing their client’s limits, home buyer’s objections may actually be a commentary on their limitations rather than the home’s attributes. In the hopes of getting a great deal, buyers are taken to view homes that are out of their price range and/or in need of updates they cannot make.

Buyer and agent feedback is the easiest way to gauge how your home is positioned in comparison to your competition on the market. Clearly, the home’s positive attributes and benefits should be highlighted as these items would be appealing to home buyers. However, buyer objections should also be considered and addressed if possible to help facilitate a sale.

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By Dan Krell

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice.  Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.

Consider rescheduling closing instead of a post-settlement occupancy

Home sellers and buyers look forward to closing day, when the deed to the home transfers; and in a perfect world, everyone moves on with their life. However, there are times when the seller asks to stay in the home after settlement. Ideally, a post-settlement occupancy can be avoided by adjusting the settlement date to accommodate the extra days needed to stay in the home. But alas, the world is not perfect and sometimes a post-settlement occupancy is quickly arranged. Whether you’re the home seller or the buyer, make certain you understand the post-settlement occupancy agreement: what you’re getting into, as well as your risk and liability.

Typically, when someone “rents” a home, a standard lease is used; but since the post-settlement duration is usually very short, the post-settlement occupancy agreement is mistakenly an afterthought to the home sales contract. Here in Maryland, there may be various forms that are specifically used in a particular region for this purpose; such as the one that is used here locally.  Just like the sales contract, the post-settlement occupancy agreement contains terms and conditions, including duration and fee collected.

Additionally, a deposit is collected in case there are damages to the home during the post-settlement occupancy. The buyer usually has a walkthrough prior to the settlement, as well as at the end of the post-settlement occupancy to ensure that there is no damage and the home is conveyed in the condition that is expected.

Unfortunately, the risk of loss and liability to the home during a post-settlement occupancy can be vague. Even if the post-settlement occupancy agreement specifies who is responsible for such loss, there may be additional considerations.

moving dayIt is usually expected that the seller repair any damage they caused during their post-settlement occupancy. But what about damage or loss caused by a fire or an extreme weather event (such as a tornado or a hurricane)?

Even if the post-settlement occupancy agreement is specific about risk of loss and liability, your insurance company might have a different view of risk of loss and liability in a post-settlement occupancy arrangement. Any insurance carried by the home seller may limit or exclude coverage from such damage/loss that occurs during the post-settlement occupancy. Furthermore, the buyer’s home owner’s policy may have exclusions and/or limitations for coverage if the home is vacant or occupied by anyone other than the policy holder. Consult with your insurance company.

Another consideration is that the buyer’s mortgage company may have restrictions about a post-settlement occupancy. The mortgage note may specify that the home be “owner occupied;” which means that the home is not to be rented. A post-settlement occupancy by the seller may infringe on the terms and conditions of the mortgage note. Consult with your mortgage company.

Even if your real estate agent is able to explain the post-settlement occupancy agreement to you, there are considerations other than what is written on the form – you should consult with your attorney before entering into such an agreement.

Due diligence is required before entering into a post-settlement occupancy agreement. Consult with your agent about rescheduling settlement, if possible. Additionally, consult your attorney, insurance agent, as well as your mortgage company to make certain you understand the terms and conditions of the agreement, as well as your liability and risk of loss.

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By Dan Krell

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2012 Dan Krell.

Attractive real estate agents: the research and the hype

attractive real estate agentsIt is often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but a recent research article has the blogosphere a buzz questioning how attractive real estate agents can help you sell your home. The article was even posted on a National Association of Realtors® blog (; posing the question, “do attractive real estate agents sell homes for more money?”

Do attractive real estate agents help sell your home faster?

The research conducted by Salter, Mixon & King, and published in the journal Applied Financial Economics, was titled “Broker beauty and boon: a study of physical attractiveness and its effect on real estate brokers’ income and productivity” (2012. vol. 22(10): p.p. 811-825). The research was not just an attempt at pop psychology, but rather it was one of the more recent attempts to establish how physical attractiveness affects income. The authors suggest, as stated in the abstract, that, “Results suggest that beauty augments more attractive agents’ wages and that more attractive agents use beauty to supplement classic production-related characteristics, such as effort, intelligence, and organizational skills.”

As the article makes its rounds on the internet, the results have most likely become misinterpreted and distorted. Although headlines might suggest that attractive agents sell homes at higher prices than others, however, the results could be interpreted that attractive agents may actually charge you more for their services rather than selling your home at a higher price (after all, the research is how beauty affects earnings). Additionally, as some have suggested that the results indicate less attractive agents sell homes quicker, beauty does not guarantee a quick sale (or satisfaction, as I describe below).

Although beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Hamermesh & Biddle state that there is empirical evidence that “beholders view beauty similarly” (1994. Beauty and the labor market. The American Economic Review, 84(5), 1174-1174.). They also acknowledge that beauty may “alter” other characteristics – and these variables are difficult to measure. Some variables that may be part of the “beauty quotient” might include facial structure, height and weight, while other variables may also include a person’s self esteem and confidence. Although Hamermesh & Biddle make it clear that there is a “penalty” in earnings for unattractiveness, they also acknowledge there may be “unobserved” characteristics associated with attractiveness that could account for increased earnings (they suggest a possible example is that increased earnings in adulthood with appearing physically attractive may be a result of a privileged background).

Do attractive real estate agents help sell for more money?

selling housesThe phenomenon of increased earnings for the beautiful is not a new concept, but Salter, Mixon & King have indicated it is factual for real estate agents. But the attractiveness quotient is not clear cut as other factors (besides physical characteristics) are brought to the table, such as networking and communication skills, previous experiences, and professional image.

But wait- there’s more to the story! There is another body of research on contrast effects and physical attractiveness that suggests that when people are surrounded by beautiful people, happiness decreases (see: Michael Levine (2001). Why I hate Beauty. Psychology Today. 34,4). So, this could be interpreted to indicate that just because you hire an attractive real estate agent (quite possibly for a higher commission) – your satisfaction is not guaranteed.

Do attractive real estate agents make more commission?

The bottom line: stick with the basics when hiring a real estate agent; which include (among other things) asking trusted sources (such as friends and relatives) for a referral , and ask agent about their license and qualifications as well as recent references.

Original published at

By Dan Krell

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2012 Dan Krell.