Hampton Roads Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find my blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because I care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. I’d love to talk with you!

March 14, 2019

Selling A House Is As Easy As Pi… Or Is It?

For whatever reason, most of us are aware of “Pi”. Mostly we just think of it as that number that goes on and on forever, with no end or solution. And we just know it as 3.14. When and why do we learn about it in life? What good does it ever do us? There’s certainly a lot more to it… For instance, it’s a “constant” ratio in circles. And, it’s an “irrational” number. They teach us that, too. Maybe that stuff sticks with us. Maybe not. For most of us, just knowing the 3.14 part is good enough. There’s no need to think about it much beyond that. Pi probably isn’t going to affect you or me one way or another in life... But...there is a rather “constant” and “irrational” number in real estate that does affect many people. And most people never learn about it in life...at least until they list their home for sale. That number is the listing price of a home… It’s a “constant” in the sense that almost every homeowner wants the listing price of their home to be a much bigger number than it should be. It is also a “constant” thing that real estate agents have to help clients understand, and even come to terms with. But many homeowners disregard what real estate agents explain, and list their home for an “irrational” number, which is too high. Which then creates an unsolvable problem (much like Pi is)... Listing a home for too high of a price, typically makes the process of selling a home go on, and on, and on. Forever. With no end…(also much like Pi is). But, unlike Pi, proper listing prices for homes are not unsolvable. There’s a rational number to list every individual home for on the market. No, it isn’t necessarily easy to figure out. But it doesn’t take a mathematician. It takes a real estate agent who knows how to analyze where the house should be priced and positioned within the current market. And, it takes an agent who knows how to explain it well, so that their client doesn’t decide to list for too high of a price. Not all agents can or do these things well. Which is why “irrational” pricing is a “constant” problem so many owners struggle with. When selling your home, it’s important to find an agent who prices homes perfectly. Not too high… but also, not too low. It’s a fine balance that needs to be struck. So, when it comes time to list your home for sale, it’s important that you or your agent finds, and understands, the most rational number to list your home for on the market.

Posted in Holidays, Seller Tips
March 4, 2019

All Generations Believe Renting Is More Affordable Than Owning—Even Though It’s Not True

According to new research from lender Freddie Mac, every generation—from millennials to Gen Xers to Baby Boomers—are continuing to rent because they think it's saving them money. According to the report, 76% of Millennials, 75% of Gen Xers, and 81% of Baby Boomers said renting was the more affordable option. But with rents rising across the country, that's just no longer the case. According to the most recent Market Outlook Report from Realtor.com, rents rose year over year in nearly ¾ (73%) of counties across the United States. And according to Trulia, it is now more affordable to own a home than to rent in a whopping 98% of the largest metro markets in the US.

The Takeaway

The misconception that renting is more affordable than homeownership is not only costing renters of every generation money, it's also costing them the ability to own their own home. If you've been renting because you believe it's saving you money—no matter how old you are—it's time to look at the facts, reevaluate your situation, and consider transitioning to homeownership.

Feb. 27, 2019

When You Hire a Realtor, You’re Also Partnering With These 11 Pros

 

Whether you're putting your home on the market or searching for your dream house, a Realtor is going to help you achieve your goal as smoothly and seamlessly as possible. From striking the best deal to simplifying that often-daunting paperwork, these pros truly do and know significantly more than their job title implies. In order to maximize your value and minimize your stress level, your agent must morph into nearly a dozen different roles to get the job done. Let's take a look at some of the other hats your Realtor wears throughout the course of a single transaction.

1. Expert photographer

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We're all familiar with that expression, "A picture's worth a thousand words," but when it comes to selling houses, a great photo might be worth a thousand walk-throughs. Because most homebuyers are browsing the web before hitting the open house circuit, photography has the power to reel them in or convince them to keep scrolling. Who's going to make that tiny half-bath look like it's large enough to host Thanksgiving dinner? Photographers, er, Realtors know just the right angles to show off your home and make it look so good you might wonder why you're putting it up for sale in the first place.

2. Magician

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Though they may not carry a wand, Realtors are experts at working a little magic when it comes to transforming the average home into a stunning showplace. They also have the ability to make things happen. Negotiation stalled? A great Realtor is often able to reach an agreement when others would've considered all hope lost. Pulling proverbial rabbits out of their hats is par for the course.

3. Chauffeur

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According to the National Association of Realtors, its agents log approximately 30,300 miles annually for business-related driving. With their trusty GPSs and chargers, cars are virtual mobile offices for agents on the go. Visiting the car wash is almost a prerequisite for this post.

4. Home stager

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Knowing exactly which furnishings to keep and which to store takes a home from meh to marvelous. Recognizing that clean countertops, perfect accessories, and a well-placed plant may make all the difference, Realtors will put your furnishings to work for you and remove those that work against you. (Dogs playing poker painting, we're looking at you!)

5. Landscaper

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Never underestimating the value of curb appeal, Realtors aren't afraid to whip out their green thumbs when yards require a little TLC. Let's be honest: If a lawn doesn't look well-maintained, buyers assume the interior is probably in shambles as well. Enough said.

6. Psychiatrist

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For most people, a home is the largest asset they'll ever own. So it's natural that from time to time both sellers and buyers require a little hand-holding along the way. According to home design and improvement site Houzz, simply making home renovations can lead 12 percent of couples to consider divorce. We imagine those figures only increase when you think about all that's at stake with a home sale or purchase -- not to mention moving!

7. Plumber

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Toilets have an uncanny knack for overflowing just seconds before an open house begins. Water pressure in a bathroom sink or shower somehow dwindles down to a trickle moments before a buyer is about to cross the threshold. But never fear, Realtors are ready. If they can't fix it themselves in a hurry, chances are they've got a connection who'll have it repaired in no time.

8. Life coach

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Whether buying or selling, sometimes clients need a little pumping up -- as in "You've got this!" From qualifying for a mortgage to hiring a mover, Realtors have your back and are rooting for you every step of the way. On other occasions, clients may benefit from a bit of tough love. Realtors aren't afraid to tell clients what's best for them when they lose perspective.

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9. Lawyer

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Just hearing the words "attorney review" can strike fear in the hearts of most, but particularly first-time buyers and sellers. Your agent will put that legalese into layman's terms and your mind at ease. And you don't even need to put them on retainer.

10. Home inspector

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Going beyond the simple white-glove test, your Realtor will notice everything from less-than-gleaming light fixtures and mismatched doorknobs to sagging gutters and cracks in the foundation. If you're selling, these extra touches will make your home sparkle during an open house and prevent any unwanted surprises from popping up on an inspection report. If you're the buyer, you want these eagle eyes on your side as well, pointing out repairs that may help you get a better price or at least help you negotiate when the time comes.

11. Marketing guru

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Marketing is so much more than 'For Sale' signs and postcard mailers -- but, of course those are important too. Having a branded online presence and knowing how to harness the power of social media is key when it comes to promoting properties. Much like Mad Men's Don Draper, Realtors are powerful storytellers at a time when every word counts. With so many talents wrapped up in one title, it kind of makes you look at those commissions in a whole new light, right?

Feb. 14, 2019

Don’t Fall In Love With A House Before You Are Ready To Fully Commit

Finding the house of your dreams might seem pretty easy. You know what you want and like. You feel like you will know the perfect house when you see it. The minute you find “the one”, it will be love at first sight. It will just feel right, like it was meant to be. Kind of like the notion of finding your soulmate. Back in the day, finding your ideal house or soulmate was a lot trickier. Until...the Internet. Nowadays, there are tons of websites for people to find the love of their life...and just as many to help people find the home of their dream. The Internet has made it easier to find “the one”...in love, and housing. But just because it is easier for you to find your soulmate, or your “soulhouse”, doesn’t mean you are in any position to do something about it. Fate can only take you so far. Reality has to be dealt with… Your “relationship” status in terms of housing has to be considered.

Are you “married”?

Let’s say you are married... All of a sudden, you stumble into your someone who you feel is your soulmate somewhere. Could be at work, online, at a bar, at the gym. Doesn’t really matter. Let’s put all debate about “right” or “wrong” aside... You decide to ditch your significant other, and follow the passionate path, and marry this new man or woman. You’re going to have to deal with your marriage. You can’t ignore it. It is an issue. You can’t still be married, and actually marry your newly found soulmate. You could fool around. You could have an affair. But you aren’t getting married without ending the marriage you already have. It’s kind of the same thing if you find the house of your dreams… If you already own a house, it’s like being married. Most people don’t have the ability to buy another house, without selling the house they already own. So, what do you do? Should you sell the house you already own first, and just hope your dream house appears once your house is sold? Or do you keep your eyes open for your dream house, find it, fall in love, and then scurry to get your house sold as quickly as possible, before your dream home gets scooped up by someone else? There is no easy solution to this.

Are you seriously “dating”?

There is a lot more to ending a marriage than there is when you are simply dating someone. So, if you are dating someone, and you fall head over heels for someone else, you can end things a little more quickly and easily. But, of course there will most likely be some headaches and heartaches to deal with.

Renting is like dating.

If you are renting a house or an apartment, and you come across the house of your dreams, you are probably not going to find it is the perfect timing. Maybe you will have to try and end your lease early. Or maybe you will have to continue paying your rent until the lease ends. But these are not huge issues in the grand scheme of things. You are in better position to go after the house of your dreams, than someone who is married to a house they already own.

Are you “single”?

A lot of people look at being single as undesirable. Even more so if you are living at home still with your parents. Let’s face it, if you you’re looking for your soulmate, you probably don’t want to fess up to living in your childhood bedroom, or your parent’s basement. It doesn’t sound all that impressive or intriguing. (Whatever...if someone is truly a soulmate, they should be totally cool with you being a cellar dwellar!)

Not owning a home, or even renting your own place is like being single.

As unimpressive as this scenario sounds to some people, this is the best scenario to be able to act upon finding your dream home. You have nothing to sell, and no lease to worry about. This is as good and easy as it gets.

Did you get “divorced”?

Things happen in life. Life throws curveballs. People grow apart. People make mistakes. People split up. People hurt each other. And people who go through a breakup often have “emotional baggage”. Plenty of people end up getting “divorced” from their own home…

Having a short sale, or a foreclosure in your past is like having gotten divorced.

This doesn’t mean you are unworthy of finding and getting your dream home. But it might affect you being able to get it. It depends on a lot of factors.

Get some pre-“marriage” counseling.

Most people do not really consider their current housing “relationship” when they start looking for their dream home. It usually starts off as some wishful thinking. Maybe browsing a few websites...just seeing what’s out there. Then it progresses to flirting with possibilities, perhaps. Before you know it, there you are...in love with the house of your dreams. So, you call a real estate agent who “introduces” you to the house in-person. Sure enough, it’s “the one”! Maybe you’re in position to jump on the chance to follow your heart… But, unless you’re “single”, most likely you are not. And it is absolutely heartbreaking. You aren’t ready for the new relationship. You need to deal with the one you already have. The best way to avoid any heartache is to put yourself in the best possible position to grab your dream home when you find it. This doesn’t mean you need to be absolutely “single” before you start looking for your dream home. But you do need to have a plan in place as to how you will transition from your current housing relationship, into one with the home of your dreams. There is no one solution, or even an easy solution.

The best solution is to call a real estate agent before you start your search.

Let your agent put on his or her “marriage counseling” hat, and advise you on the best way to plan for and make the transition from your current housing relationship, to the one of your dreams.

Posted in Buyer Tips, Holidays
Jan. 25, 2019

Home Prices Up 5.1% In November—Another 4.8% Expected By November 2019

Home prices across the US have been steadily on the rise for years, and that trend continued well into the end of 2018. According to CoreLogic's most recent Home Price Insights Report, home prices in the US increased 5.1% from November 2017 to November 2018. According to the report, the coming year should continue to see increasing home prices; the experts at CoreLogic predict home prices will increase another 4.8% by November 2019.

The Takeaway

Increasing home prices have been great news for people wanting to sell their homes—and as those prices continue to increase in 2019, markets across the US should continue to be favorable for sellers.

Posted in Market Updates
Jan. 7, 2019

10 Amenities That Get Homes Sold During Winter

 

Many homeowners believe attempting to sell their places during winter is a losing proposition. Real estate agents, however, know any season is the right one when a property is attractive and represents a great value. With inventory typically lower during the cold weather months, it's actually a perfect time to put a home on the market. It also doesn't hurt to set the stage — or sweeten the pot, if you will — by evoking a warm and welcoming vibe that makes would-be buyers want to hang up their coats, kick off their boots, and stay a while. There's no denying it's cold out there, so why not embrace it? The following are amenities that prove winter really can be the most wonderful time of the year.

1. Fire pit

#Cozy #night by the #fire during the #holidays...

A post shared by Lights Over Atlanta (@lightsoveratlanta) on

Create a covetable outdoor space with the help of a fire pit. Whether it's made of stone and serves as a permanent fixture or is a movable and affordable centerpiece for backyard S'mores-making, adding the element of fire ups the charm factor immediately.

2. Hot tub

A nighttime soak in this Jacuzzi ® Hot Tub will bring a smile to your face in no time

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Wait, is this a home or a five-star resort? Watching steam rise from a frothy hot tub on a chilly afternoon or evening makes anyone want to move right in! Giving a place the spa treatment, will remind home-shoppers that with this luxurious item on the premises, winter can last as long as it likes.

3. Home theater

Think the kids will like this one? #SoldbyKenitaTang #Kenitatangrealtor #Movienight #hometheater #movies #Kids #Realtor

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Especially during the winter, and particularly in cold weather climates, playing up the ability to have a blast indoors does wonders for buyers' peace of mind (moreso if they're parents). A home theater, even on a smaller scale (think flat screen and an old-fashioned popcorn maker), helps visitors envision themselves and their families surviving those endless snow days in style.

4. Fireplace

It's almost impossible to resist the hypnotic allure of a roaring fire. According to the National Center for Real Estate Research, fireplaces have a positive impact on the selling price, with each fireplace adding about 12 percent. If a home has this feature, by all means, strike a match and watch that property heat up!

5. In-home wine bar

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Baby, it's cold outside — so why leave the house? This wine bar is one way to keep spirits merry and bright. It also conjures up thoughts of hosting holiday parties and gatherings as new owners envision celebrating and showing off their place.

6. Hot cocoa bar

On the other end of the spectrum, but no less festive, a hot cocoa bar offers a sweet welcome all ages can enjoy. Placed in the kitchen, dining room, family room, or foyer, this treat station makes you feel comfortable and right at home.

7. Wood-burning stove

Wood-burning stoves represent a delightful throwback to bygone days. Their timeless appeal will charm visitors at the same time they warm up a home. Thanks to advancements in technology, these old-fashioned heaters are more energy efficient than ever.

8. Home sauna

A home sauna? Why not? We can do that.

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Calling all athletes and anyone who could use a haven from the stresses of the outside world! (So, OK, everyone!) An in-home sauna is the oasis you've been seeking. Steam away those cares while enjoying health benefits that include improved circulation, detoxification, and even sinus relief.

9. Storm survival kit

Throwing in a highly-desirable item often increases interest from buyers. In a snowy climate, there are few tools as sought-after as a snowblower once that white stuff starts falling. Want to keep the enticement more affordable? Heavy-duty snow shovels, high-end gloves, rock salt, and de-icer all come in handy as well. First-time home-buyers who may be snow-removal newbies will appreciate this gesture.

10. Highlight energy efficient upgrades

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In addition to being comfortable temperature-wise, if a home is as energy-efficient as possible, that's something buyers will definitely want to know — and remember. Creating a list of any upgrades to windows, doors, HVAC units, and the roof, as well as the installation of energy-saving appliances, means more money in buyers' pockets and less going out the window.

Posted in Seasonal, Seller Tips
Dec. 31, 2018

10 Home Decorating Trends To Retire In 2019

 

As the new year approaches, plenty of homeowners look for ways to refresh their spaces to keep them feeling interesting and updated. If you're preparing to put a place on the market, keeping up with trends is key because unless your prospective buyers are flippers, stagers, or redecorating fiends, nothing can make would-be buyers turn tail faster than some outdated decor. Check out these once-popular home decor trends that are being shown the door, and find out what's replacing them in the months ahead.

1. Rose gold loses its luster

Sorry, rose gold. You were lovely, but it's over. This mauve metallic is out, and straight-up gold and brushed gold are back.

2. Goodbye, granite counters

Granite had a great run in the 1990s and 2000s, but this kitchen staple is being replaced by quartz, which is considered virtually indestructible. So, go ahead, set those hot plates down and don't worry about a thing. Since granite is porous, it has the potential to trap bacteria if not cared for correctly. Removing that concern is a welcome relief in arguably the busiest room in the house.

3. Sunsetting nautical motifs

You'd think something as classic as navy and white could never go out of style, but when it comes to nautical-themed decor, that ship is sinking. Fast. Even when designing a beach house, experts are putting those sailboats, shells, and starfish out to sea and letting a mix of bold blues blend for a less-is-more aesthetic.

4. Bye-bye, Edison bulbs

Edison bulbs were a bright light on the decor scene from 2015 on, but their popularity is definitely dimming. Is it any wonder? It's only so long you can stand to look at an exposed bulb. (Sorry, Edison.) Also, the trend was most often incorporated in industrial motifs, which are also on the way out, by the way.

5. See ya later, statement range hoods

Though some boast beautiful detail, many statement range hoods were swallowing up the room. Skinny hoods are on trend and slimming down the look of stovetops.

6. So long, all-white kitchens

All-white kitchens were all the rage. If there's a room in the home that should appear as clean as can be, it's definitely the kitchen. But as people spend more and more time in this space, often dubbed "the heart of the home," they're longing for a look that's warmer and more reflective of their personalities. Prepare to see bright, bold kitchens, complete with colorful appliances, to be in vogue for the next few years.

7. Questioning the wisdom of word art

Designers suggest homeowners look beyond their walls for inspiration and motivation. If you want your walls to make a statement, decorators suggest the use of wallpaper or hand-painted murals.

8. Barn doors, you're back out in the cold

There's no debating it, barn doors had a moment. Adding them to bathrooms or closets brought the rustic charm of the country indoors, no matter your locale. But, as farmhouse-chic style wanes, barn doors are being put out to pasture.

9. Chevron prints are no longer on point

Chevron prints were all the rage for a while there, appearing on everything from clothing to wallpaper. But this pattern has been overdone. Replacing it are geometric shapes and tropical prints.

10. Shiplap gets docked

Wood on the walls peaked for a few years. It's time to pack up that paneling and move on. As farmhouse decor loses its appeal, it's no surprise this trend is starting to feel outdated. If you're hoping to make a home feel as current as possible, considering removing these decorating duds and replacing them with on-trend alternatives.

Dec. 24, 2018

The Greatest Christmas Story Ever Told

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse
My signs were all out and brochure boxes loaded
The ad copy in and the lock boxes coded.
I just wrote an offer with that 1 perfect buyer eegads its so low...they say they won’t go any higher
So I call up my seller with the not so good news
And they agree to meet with me...what have they got to lose
So we sit at the table & I do what I do best
Crunch numbers, talk deadlines and give it a rest
So the sellers agree and get ready to sign
And then they exclaim... “We’ve got an equity line!”
More crunching & digging to find extra money
The sellers are smiling...but this really isn’t funny
3 months on the market with nary a showing
Now I have an offer and not sure how its going
And that’s when they ask what I don’t want to hear
“Can you cut your commission?” and they crack open a beer
What I need is a Martini while relaxing by a pool
I reply that “I can’t...it’s a company rule”
So I ring up the buyer right there on the spot
I need to know if they’ll consider a counter or not
To my surprise they speak up, ‘we’ve got $5000 more’
If its signed tonight we’ll accept it, but absolutely no more.
So back to sellers for signatures on the line
They hem & they haw & then finally sign
I email the buyer and get their reply
Accepted as countered, Now I’m flying high
The sellers are happy as I walk out the door
It’s just 9pm, I can stop at the store
I pick up some goodies for my own Christmas treat
Head home to chill out and put up my feet.
When I drive up to my house it is such a great sight
All lit up for the holidays with the lights oh so bright
A smile crosses my face as I thought it just might
“Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night”!
-Shelly Brunette
Nov. 19, 2018

The Fast, Easy, And Affordable Home Renovation That Can Fetch Nearly 20,000% ROI

 

When it comes to home renovations, most homeowners think they need to go big by doing things like renovating a bathroom, finishing a basement, or adding new appliances to a kitchen. But if you don't have a lot of money to invest, the best thing you can do? Paint your door. According to the 2018 Zillow Paint Color Survey, painting the door black can increase the sale price of the typical US home by 2.9%. That might not seem like much, but when you look at the numbers, it's astronomical. Here's what it looks like in action: at Home Depot, you can get a quart of black paint for $32.98, more than enough to paint your front door. According to Zillow, the current median price for a home in the US is $218,000—so a 2.9% increase would add $6,322 to your sale price. In a nutshell, you spend $32.98, you get back $6,322 when you sell your home. That's a 19,169% return on investment!

The Takeaway

If you have a low budget but want to add serious value to your home, head to your local hardware store and pick up some black paint for your door.

Nov. 5, 2018

8 Mistakes First-Time Home Sellers Make & How to Avoid Them

 

Plenty of home sellers consider their places to be coveted properties that others would be lucky to own. But, that hubris can often lead to trouble when it comes to actually landing an offer and closing a sale. First-time sellers in particular exhibit some self-sabotaging behaviors that can trip them up on the way getting the deal done. The following are the most common mistakes they make and how to avoid them.

1. Thinking they can go it alone

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Selling a home is not for the faint of heart, nor is it an easy DIY project. First-time home sellers quickly realize marketing and showing their property is a full-time job. Unless they're experts in real estate contracts, appraisals, inspections, and other documentation, they can end up make costly errors. Fortunately, this is an easy one to fix: Hire a licensed agent.

2. Wanting to price it too high

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Homeowners may think they're living in the perfect home, but pricing it too high will render it a white elephant. It's great to be optimistic that you'll make a nice profit, but it's important to be realistic and price a home accurately. Remember, time is money. Seeking top dollar can cost you if your home remains on the market far longer than you'd planned.

3. Being unwilling to negotiate

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Just because an offer comes in lower than a seller might have hoped, that's no reason to take it personally and refuse to negotiate. Think of an offer as a starting point that leads to a compromise that works for both parties.

4. Not doing a thorough cleaning

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From the moment sellers decide to put their places on the market, they should begin cleaning and decluttering to make the home look as attractive and well-kept as possible. Staging is important, but experts agree, nothing makes a home shine quite like a thorough cleaning.

5. Making it difficult for agents to show it

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Sure, last-minute showings can be inconvenient, but if sellers really want to make a deal, they have to be willing to let an agent and prospective buyers inside. Thinking a two-hour open house once a week is going to be enough is some serious wishful thinking.

6. Refusing to take the agent's advice

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Homeowners often think they know their properties better than anyone, so why should they take any advice — even from a professional? Because you'll benefit from the wisdom and experience of a professional. If your agent suggests that you stash your garden gnome collection in the shed or fix that rickety staircase, just do it.

7. Being unwilling to make changes

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Things like kitchen and bathroom updates can make a home look more attractive and move more quickly as it means less work a buyer will need to tackle after moving in. Still, some sellers dig in their heels and decide to adopt a "take it or leave it" attitude. Sadly, many buyers will choose to leave it.

8. Not considering the next move

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Homes can sell more quickly -- or more slowly -- than anyone, including even a Realtor®, can anticipate. So it's important to have a back-up plan either way.