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real estate: the sellers
real estate basics 101
by robert a. melos
1.16.08
general

As I’ve stated in earlier columns, I’ve worked in the field of real estate in Central New Jersey for the past 25 years. I’ve seen a lot of the mistakes people make in buying or selling homes, and no matter how much advice I offer I know, deep in my heart, people won’t listen. Yet with each new client (a person who signs an agreement with me to sell their property) or customer (a person who comes to me asking for assistance in finding their dream home), I offer my wisdom garnered from my years in the field and then stand by and watch all my advice being ignored by the novices who indubitably know more than I about everything.

After years of imparting this knowledge one client or customer at a time I’ve decided to increase the number of people ignoring my advice by offering it here to the unwashed masses, at least some of you are unwashed, in hopes that some of it may sink in to someone somewhere. A lot of this may seem to some to be common sense. All I will say is that everything I mention here are situations I’ve encountered. I will try to generalize since every state and country has differing real estate laws. My specific real estate legal knowledge is centered on Middlesex County New Jersey.

This segment is for you, the homeowner looking to sell your property. Notice I call it property and not refer to it as your home. The first thing you have to do is separate yourself from the notion that you are selling your home. You’re not. You are selling a commodity; a place to live. It is a product just like a hairdryer or lava lamp, or can of beans. Detach yourself from the emotions of thinking of your property as “home”. Home is a state of mind, or where the heart is. I’m not sure which, I just know when you’re selling it, it is reduced to a monetary value and when something is reduced to a monetary value it loses a great deal of emotional value.

When you sign a listing agreement with a licensed Realtor you are signing a legally bonding agreement with someone who will market your property with the objective of getting you, the homeowner, the highest and best price for said property. You are obligated to make this property presentable. “As is” does not mean you don’t have to do anything to market your property, what it means is, if you want to get fair market value, and not short change yourself, clean your house.

That’s right, you, the homeowner, are responsible for cleaning your own house. You are an adult; we assume that anyone who owns a house and has legal rights to sell said property is an adult. My advice when it comes to cleaning your house before your property is show is to clean it as though your mother or grandmother would be the person coming to view your home.

You read that right. What I’m saying here is, don’t leave anything lying around that you would be embarrassed to have your mother or grandmother see. For the single guys this means no matter how neat the magazines look spread out like you would find them in a doctor’s office, Maxim, Penthouse, Playboy, Hustler, Swank and M.I.L.F Monthly are not the magazines you want on your coffee table, end table or magazine rack. Those go in a box in the back of the closet where one would have to dig to find them.

Also it is not advisable to leave all your porn DVDs right on top or in front of the DVD player. Hide them. Put them away in a drawer somewhere and not the kitchen drawers because those get opened by the curious buyers. I recommend dresser drawers because those shouldn’t be opened by anyone other than you.

To this end it is also advisable to hide the sex toys and the lube. Sometimes buyers have children with them, and most buyers don’t want to hear their child exclaim, “Look mommy, they have one of those vibrating backscratchers just like you have in your nightstand.” To put it bluntly, why was the dildo or fleshlight on the kitchen counter? Inquiring Realtors want to know.

Along these same lines, unless you work in law enforcement handcuffs are not a decorative statement. They do not belong on headboards, especially if they are fur lined. And while I’m at it, unless you are Hugh Hefner, a bra hanging from the dining room chandelier is also not a decorative statement. Take a minute and watch some Queer Eye for the Straight Guy decorating segments to learn what is appropriate.

While I’m at it, pick up your laundry. Dirty laundry belongs in hampers or laundry bags or baskets, not spread out on the floor of every room in your house. I’m not judging here, really, because I don’t care if you want to live like a slob. All I care about is getting you the highest price for your property because I in turn get more money for selling the property.

One actual decorating tip I offer is this. If your taste in art leans toward Robert Mapplethorpe, Boris Vallejo, or Tom of Finland, or any other bizarre bondage, busty babe, or hunky leatherman art you might want to rethink it or take them down. Go to the local Wal-Mart, K-Mart, whatever-mart and invest in posters of kittens hanging from branches or cute puppies sleeping, or fish in bowls swimming in circles. Trust me, puppies and kittens sell properties better than sex.

Another thing to hide is the drug paraphernalia, bongs, pipes, leftover weed, mirrors and razors with cocaine residue and anything else that could get you arrested if the potential buyer happens to actually work in law enforcement. This includes getting rid of that marijuana plant in the back of your walk-in closet. Just because the buyer may not be on duty doesn’t mean he won’t report you to the local police and they will be watching you.

These are just some of the common sense things that are overlooked by many homeowners who are desperate to get their properties sold for the highest and best values. I will offer more advice soon, but for now realize these are some of the top problems I encounter in trying to market your properties, so don’t blame me when the buyers hurry their children out of your houses and decide to look elsewhere.


ABOUT ROBERT A. MELOS

Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

more about robert a. melos

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