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Thursday, March 31, 2011

What's up with West Bloomfield?

A visitor from another planet who just looked at the real estate charts and statistics for West Bloomfield Michigan might conclude that this must be a poor area with a badly distressed economy. I suppose that last part might be partially true, but West Bloomfield is anything but a poor area. It is just an area that has been hit hard by the recession and which is still reeling, with distressed home sales (foreclosures and short sales) running above 70% of all home sales thus far in March and about that same level so far year-to-date.

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

The Average Median Price of homes sold in West Bloomfield has struggled back up a bit since the new year started, but the high percentage of distressed sales is keeping things artificially low right now. West Bloomfield homes have sold so far this year for an average of 1.5369 times their SEV values and about $72/Sq Ft. That means that a home with an SEV of 150,000 that the assessor says is worth $300,000 would likely have sold this year for $230,535. No wonder Tums sales are up in West Bloomfield.

West Bloomfield is an older, fairly well built out community, with many "upscale subs that were built in the late 70's and 80's. Those homes, many originally built for around $85-100K (big money back then) had appreciated to nearly $300,000 before the bubble burst. Now sellers are lucky to get $130-150K for them. Unfortunately for many, the value of their homes was a large portion of their retirement nest egg - a nest egg that has largely vanished. For others, their homes were like piggy banks that they kept taking money our of to pay for various other toys and now many are trapped in homes which are severely underwater on value vs. the mortgages.

Highland does the double dip...

Real Estate in Highland, Michigan has been hammered by the recession and now appears to be going into a second swoon - a double dip.

Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com

Both Median sold home prices and the Inventory level are back on their way down, after a brief run-up in the 4th quarter of last year. The huge spike in new inventory can probably be attributed to the a burst of listings by sellers who have been like a little boy holding his breath and needing to take a deep breath. In this case the brief run-up in sold prices spurred and over-response by would be sellers to get in on that market - a market that turned out not to really be there.

So far this year, 41 homes priced above $20K (my arbitrary cut-off price) have sold. The average SEV multiplier so far in 2011 is 1.5079, which means that house that the assessor says is worth $200,000 would have actually sold for $150,790 or about 75% of the value that the tax man thinks it is worth. Obviously the local assessors are playing catch-up with the market. That house would have sold for an average of $72/Sq Ft, compared to all of last year at $74/Sq Ft. Of course last year homes sold for an average of only 1.3949 times their SEV, so I guess the assessors are getting closer to market value.

Foreclosures and short sales continue to make up a significant portion of overall sales, but they are running at under 50% for March, which is good and the first time that they've been below 50% in some time.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The clarity of hindsight…

An article by Clara Hill in today’s Realty Times release uses statistics released by the National Association of Home Builders to quite confidently discuss events that took place in February. According to her article, sales of newly-built homes declined by a staggering 16.9 percent in February; as reported by the U.S. Commerce Department. That was a national average with the Northeast hitting a record low, falling 57.1 percent last month. The Midwest was down by 27.5 percent.

This “news” followed reports earlier in the month which stated how confident the NAHB was that things are getting better. Now, of course they discuss in great detail all of the factors that have stalled out new home sales. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

The pronouncements based upon hindsight are also the only truths that sometimes get reported. There are many guesses or hopes that also make the news, usually positioned as forecasts by various learned men or groups. They actually provide some of the best fodder for the hindsight writers to feast upon later – sort of the “what were they thinking” tag line.

I’m reminded of the recent statements that have been published by Daniel Kahneman, Nobel laureate in economics, which quite correctly pointed out what a buffoon Alan Greenspan is and always was when he repeatedly sat in from of various Congressional panels spouting total nonsense, which of course they took in with wonder and adoration.

Greenspan was, after all, “the smartest guy in the room”; even thought not one of the Congressmen or Senators had any idea what he had just said. Alan, as Kahneman pointed out, has mastered the art of talking in economic gobbledygook to such a level that not only did no one know what he was saying, they didn’t know how to question or refute it. It is only though the clarity of hindsight that anyone has come forward and stated – this guy led us down the garden path to recession.

It’s just too bad that in the midst of the hindsight driven witch hunt that is now gong on for scapegoats in the banking world that there isn’t some way to drag Greenspan into court for his role in perpetrating this mess upon the country. One can only imagine the appropriateness of Alan Greenspan sharing a cell with Jeffrey Skilling or Bernie Madoff – two other smartest guys in the room – although they are pikers compared to the damage that Greenspan did to the U.S. economy. Now that would be a sight worth seeing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

MIA - First time buyers

According to a recent National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) article, in January, first-time home buyers made up 29 percent of the market, the lowest since NAR began tracking first-time buyers on a monthly basis in 2008. First-time buyers normally make up 40 percent to 45 percent of all purchasers. Where'd they go? USA Today also had a recent article that highlighted some of the factors that have first-time home buyers sitting on the sidelines, even though home prices continue to all and mortgage rates are near their all-time lows. USA Today sited: • Tougher lending standards – Not only have lenders tightened up their requirements, but they have also backed away from most of the down payment assistance programs that used to allow these buyers to get into a home. • Expired tax credits – The tax credits were the tipping point for many first time buyers, especially with programs in some states that allowed the credits to be taken up front as part of the transaction. • Competition from cash buyers – While HUD and the GSE’s have programs that give first-time owner-occupants the edge over investors for really low-cost houses that have been foreclosed, investors are waiting like a tree full of vultures to swoop in as soon as the initial 10-14 day period for O-O buyers is up. I would add to this list that it is my gut feel that most of those first-time buyers who were really ready (with money saved up to take the plunge) have already bought. There is not an endless supply of first-time buyers, especially those that have been fiscally responsible and have been saving up to buy. I might add that I’m seeing the same thing start to happen with investors, especially smaller investors. They have tapped themselves out in cheap houses and are now pulling back to regroup a bit. There are still investor pools out there buying; but many of the small-timers are fully invested at this time. I suppose that, if there is a silver lining in the statistics, it’s that mid-range and upper end buyers are making up a higher percentage of buyers overall. The mid-range buyers (our traditional move-up buyers) seem to be testing the waters more and more as they become more confident in the overall economy. They are finding some great bargains in the market, although much of what is holding them back is that they can’t find t a first-time buyer to buy their current home. The Boomers are widely reported to be sitting on their McMansions, hoping for a miraculous recovery of lost value. That’s not likely to happen and it may take a few more years before they finally give up and swallow the losses. I suspect that most can hold out for a year or two once they retire before they realize that not only are they missing their dream retirement plans, but may also be stripping their savings to pay for those houses at a rate that will put those plans permanently out of reach. Having a highly leveraged a big house just doesn’t look nearly as smart, once you go on a fixed income. The upper end of the market has not been immune to the effects of the recessions either, with some really big homes falling into foreclosure; however, there is still a reasonable market for luxury homes and condos in this area. I suspect that it is much worse in Florida and Nevada and California. Still, one can get great deals in the $750K to 1.5 Million range for homes that were $1 – 2 Million. Ahhh, if only one had that 1.5 Million to invest. So, I see the buy-side of the market in my area in sort of a settling out and settling down phase right now. Even though values are still dropping, many would-be low-end buyers are already tapped out and need to sit the market out for a bit. Midrange buyers are cautiously reentering the market and the upper end is still puttering along like it always has. I suspect that by mid-year the market mix of buyers will reflect a more traditional percentage split between first time buyers, move up buyers and high-end buyers. As for the sell side, we are already seeing a drop in the number of foreclosures taking place locally; however, short sales have kept the distressed segment of the market over 50% of sales in my area. Leases also make up a much higher percentage of transactions than would historically have been the case, as owners who want to avoid a short-sale try to hold out for a return of lost value. The mid-range market continues to see low inventory as underwater owners also hold out (probably unrealistically) for lost value to return. Lots of second homes/vacation cottages are also sitting on the market in summer resort areas. That's what I see happening in the local market in the Milford Michigan area.

Monday, March 28, 2011

“Optimism doesn’t mean everything is going to be great. It means that we can respond to everything with greatness.” (Elimelech Goldberg) from the blog - http://jackswinningwords.blogspot.com/ Perhaps this saying that Jack featured today on his Jack’s Winning Words blog should be today’s words to live by. Certainly we all have many opportunities these days to respond to things happening around us that are not great. We can’t change them, but we can change how we respond to them. I sometimes struggle with staying positive in these times, but it is a struggle worth continued effort. One has only to look about to be able to find people in situations that are worse than ours. Doing something to improve their lot will also improve yours. The key is to do something and not to just sit still, wallowing in self-pity. So, find some things to respond to with greatness today and see if you don’t feel better at the end of the day.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

And still the champ...

I’m in the midst (three months in) of yet another short sale involving the worst bank in America to deal with in that sort of situation and they have proven again why they are still the undisputed champions of short sale misery.

Yesterday I got a request to have my buyer (at least I’m on the good side of the deal) sign an amendment that states that the sale is subject to the bank’s approval. Now, mind you this is three months into the approval process for the deal and the Purchase Agreement included a Short Sale Addendum which clearly stated that the sale is subject to the approval of all lien holders. I suppose that this particular bank doesn’t want to be lumped generically in with all of the other potential lien holders and certainly not without being specifically named (one would assume for branding purposes).

So now we had to jump through yet another inane hoop put in the way of progress by some buffoon somewhere, who presumably has not even taking the time to read the complete offer package. Is there any wonder why this particular bank has such a well earned reputation with so many Realtors® as the worst bank of America?

If the pace of the decision making process stays on this course, we should have a decision on this sale by mid-June. Of course, every month or two they stop the process and come back out asking us to update the bank statements that the buyer provided to prove his worth for this all cash sale. Fortunately his money is not in that particular institution, otherwise there might be cause for valid concern. I’m tempted to advise my client to revise his offer downward every month or two to take into consideration the continuing decline in property values, but that is way to logical to be understood by this bank.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday morning bits and pieces…

New Build Starts Down Again - According to figures from the U.S. Commerce Department, housing starts declined 22.5 percent from January. Builders said the decline is due to concerns over interest rates, energy costs, and tightened lending standards. At the same time, the Commerce Department reported an overall up-tick in builder confidence for the future – based upon what the Department really didn’t say.

Where’s the people go? - A recent report in Forbes Magazine listed the six most vacant cities (as of the end of 2010)

1. Orlando
Home vacancy rate: 4.3 percent
Apartment vacancy rate: 23.6 percent

2. Las Vegas
Home vacancy rate: 5.5 percent
Apartment vacancy rate: 13.5 percent

3. Memphis, Tenn.
Home vacancy rate: 4.7 percent
Apartment vacancy rate: 16.1 percent

4. Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.
Home vacancy rate: 6.4 percent
Apartment vacancy rate: 10.4 percent

5. Dayton, Ohio
Home vacancy rate: 3.3 percent
Apartment vacancy rate: 26.4 percent

6. Phoenix
Home vacancy rate: 3.4 percent
Apartment vacancy rate: 15.5 percent

Nationwide, the single-family vacancy rate ended the year at 2.7 percent while rentals were at 9.4 percent.

The Forbes article asked the question, “Where’d all of the people go?” That’s an interesting question in general and I think it points to the size of our nation’s so-called “underground economy.” At least in my area there has been lots of investor buying of foreclosed properties and most of those properties are being bought as rental units. Those kinds of rental units don’t normally show up in the local real estate statistics, because the owners don’t use Realtors to list and rent them – they just stick a For Rent sign in the front lawn with a phone number on it. I suspect that many of the displaced people ended up in those homes and will be there for the next 2-3 years, rebuilding their credit scores.

Where’d the money go? – As reported in the Dow Jones Business News of last week - A congressional panel looking into where the money went that was allocated for helping distressed homeowners has concluded that much of it went nowhere. The Treasury Department allocated $45.6 billion for three major housing programs to help home owners, including the Home Affordable Modification Program (or HAMP), a refinancing program run by the Federal Housing Administration to aid underwater home owners, and a program designed to help hard-hit areas. But the Treasury Department only spent about $1 billion in TARP money for the foreclosure prevention effort, the panel noted. Amidst much Harump, Harumping from the Republican lead panel, increased oversight of the use of bailout money was promised, along with promises to do away with most of the programs and the Government Sponsored Entities (i.e. Fannie and Freddie). Democrats were appropriately unset at any mention of ending the programs and the GSEs.

Doing the civil suit shuffle – According to a story reported last week by the Associated Press, Federal bank regulators (the FDIC) reported that they are suing three former top executives of Washington Mutual, accusing them of allowing risky mortgage lending. In the civil lawsuit, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. accuses the three former executives of Washington Mutual Bank of risky lending practices that caused the bank to make mortgages "with little or no regard for borrowers' ability to repay them.” Well, duh! Wasn’t that what everyone was doing back then? Washington Mutual, which was the largest U.S. bank ever to fail, collapsed in September 2008. The former bank officials have released statements calling the lawsuit “baseless” and “political theater.” Of course it’s political theater, but maybe it’s as close to the perp walks that those clowns should be taking that we’ll ever get.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fresh update of market stats

I just completed the weekly updating of the market data that I track for 9 markets in my area - Milford (Village and Township combined), Highland Township, White Lake Township, Commerce Township (including Walled Lake and Wolverine Lake), Lyon Township and South Lyon, and West Bloomfield Township in Oakland County; plus, Green Oak Township, Brighton and Brighton Township and Hartland Township in Livingston County.

You can see all of the latest data, plus historical data for many of those markets at my Web site -
www.movetomilford.com . I collect and show the last listed price for the house and the sold price, from which I calculate the percentage of sold vs. list to see how close listed homes are to the actual market price. I also look up the SEV (State Equalized Value) and calculate the sold price vs SEV ratio. In theory, since the SEV is supposed to represent 1/2 of the assessors estimate of the homes market value, I should always get 2.0 as the ratio. In practice we have been consistently running between 1.5 to 1.8 times SEV as the actual sold market price.

I also capture and report the Square Footage of the homes and the calculated price per Sq Ft as listed and as sold. Most homes in areas that I track are selling in the mid $80/sq ft range, some much lower. That is a reflection of the impact of distressed homes on market pricing.

The way I display the data is to focus on this month's sales and then also have PDF files available that show the year-to-date statistics for each market. In the Current months data I also calculate the percentage of sales that are distressed - either foreclosed or short sales - and show that at the bottom of the data for each market.

If you are thinking of selling this is a valuable place to get a feel for the market and where you need to price your home in order to be competitive. You can price it any way you wish, of course; but, remember that this data is showing you what is actually selling, not what is listed and just sitting on the market.

If you are a buyer, this data can give you a good feel for what to bid in any market, since you will have a good feel for what sellers are ending up taking for homes. You can use the price per square foot data to at least find the ballpark that you might want to start your bidding in. Of course, most non-distressed homes will sell higher tan the averages that are shown, since they include lots of distressed sales (distressed sales are making up 50% or more of all sales in most markets).

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Milford Michigan Real Estate market

The market in Milford, Michigan continues to track downward, at lease as far as median sold home value are concerned. The inventory on the market bounched up at the beginning of the new year. but has again started down - perhaps an indication of dashed hopes of would-be sellers.




Real Estate Market Chart by Altos Research www.altosresearch.com



So far in 2011 the average price per square foot for sold homes in the Milford market remains well below $100 at $82/Sq Ft, with the median value even lower. The SEV multiplier is currently averaging 1.5454, which means that homes are selling at about 77% of their assessed values.



On average sellers are accepting offers that are 95% (the median is 93%)of the asking price at tht time of the sale. I don't track how many times the the property has had price reductions before it sells, but my observation is that homes are starting out way overpriced when they are initially listed and only sell once they are reduced into a reasonable price range. That tends to drag out the listing days on market. Some price bands are well into 2 years as averages for days on market.



See all of the details for the Milford real estate market and eight other surrounding markets at my Web site - www.movetomilford.com

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Is the New Home Market bi-polar?

The Daily Real Estate News, a publication of that well respected voice of the real estate industry carries reports from The Commerce Department (and others) that would seem to indicate a severe case of bi-polarized market behavior (or at lease of bi-polar public releases). A quick look back over the last 4-5 months shows how confusing these releases can be on the state of the real estate market. In this case I just looked at the articles which were released in the Daily Real Estate News about every 20-30 days concerning the state of new home starts, along with the learned projections of the so-called experts in the National Association of Home builders, among others.

Daily Real Estate News - March 16, 2011
New Home Construction Plunges in February

New-home construction in February dropped 22.5 percent from the previous month, the lowest in nearly two years and marking the second lowest level on record, the Commerce Department reports.

Builders broke ground on a seasonally adjusted 479,000 homes last month. Economists consider 1.2 million units a year a healthy building pace.


Daily Real Estate News - February 16, 2011
Housing Starts Jump 14.6% in January

Housing starts in January reached their highest rate in four months, increasing more than analysts expected the Commerce Department reports. Housing starts jumped 14.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 596,000 units

Daily Real Estate News - January 26, 2011
New Home Sales Surge

New single-family home sales in December rose to their highest level in eight months and prices were the highest since April 2008, raising cautious optimism for a housing market recovery.

The Commerce Department said sales jumped 17.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted 329,000 unit annual rate after a downwardly revised 280,000-unit pace in November. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales rising to a 300,000-unit pace in December from a previously reported 290,000 unit rate. Compared to December a year earlier, sales were down 7.6 percent. Overall 2010 sales dropped 14.4 percent to a 321,000-unit rate.

Daily Real Estate News - December 29, 2010
Housing Starts Predicted to Hit 3-Year High

Housing starts will probably reach a three-year high of 739,000 in 2011, creating about 500,000 jobs and helping trim the unemployment rate to 9.1 percent, said David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders, in an interview with Bloomberg.

Daily Real Estate News - November 29, 2010
New-Home Sales Slide

Blah, blah, blah…
Well you get the picture.

Is it any wonder that the public perception of the market is so confused – it’s up , it’s down, oops it’s back up again…no, no, no it’s down.

Of course the existing home market reports are just as confusing and just as bi-polar. It may well be that we are in the phase of the market that was predicted when we would bounce along the bottom for a while – up and down, up and down.

It would be a relief to get some sustained market movement in one direction or another, just for the reassurance of momentary consistency.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Moving towards equity loss write downs...

The RealtyTimes News feed this morning had a story about how builders are abandoning the traditional McMansions in favor of smaller, more affordable new homes. That’s a good sign overall that the industry is adjusting to the needs of the current economy. Another part of the same story talked about negotiations that are on-going between states and major lenders to try to get the mortgage industry to bite the bullet and write down some of the lost equity value on underwater houses. That’s a strategy that makes a lot of sense.

There is a significant portion of the market that is frozen in place by the current negative equity situation – people who want to sell, but can’t because they are so far underwater on their mortgages. While a few greedy, or maybe not so intelligent homeowners, did treat their homes like piggy banks and took equity out for other uses; the vast majority of underwater homeowners are innocent by-standers who did nothing wrong, but who got caught up in the tsunami of the current economic mess.

The lenders have been waiting all along for the Federal government to figure out a program that will take on their losses or at least share the losses. In the interim, they got caught cheating on foreclosures and now face disciplinary action by the states. Perhaps that stick is big enough to spur them into action; especially if the feds can figure out a way to add a little bit of carrot into the equation.

Since the banks have concerns about the write downs impacting their capital requirements, something as simple as the Fed’s coming up with a way to allow the lenders to move the loses off their books would probably provide the needed push to get this going. Maybe they can get some of the Enron people out of jail to help them with that issue. After all the Enron management team are the guys who figured out how to move all of their bad debt off their books.

Until this issue is resolved, we have a nation of people who are delaying retirements or job moves or other decisions that involve selling their homes; because they can’t afford to take the losses involved. We can’t really turn things around in the economy either, until we get people out from under this huge debt load and get rid of the bunker mentality that surrounds this issue.

Local businesses and communities will continue to feel the impact of their citizens being basically unable to spend on much other than their mortgage payments. Short sales and foreclosures will continue to have a huge negative impact on local communities and local governments. We need the financial reset that can only occur if lenders are allowed to modify mortgages at lower principal levels and write off the lost equity. Then we can start growing again.

The biggest hang up right now seems to be that no one can figure out how to triage the situation – how to determine those who will get help and those who just won’t qualify. Fairness or at least the perception of fairness is very important, if any program is to work. There will be people who would try to game the system, no matter what the system is; and there will be people (tax payers) for whom there is just no benefit at all (people who have paid off their homes or held them so long that they are not under water); no then no system is completely fair. The important thing is to get on with it, so that we can get the American economy out of neutral and rolling again.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Where to go to get the facts...

It's that time of the year when peoples thoughts turn to...

fighting their assessments.

If you're not happy with what the local assessors have come up with for the value (especially taxable value) of your home, you may want to get an appointment to challenge that assessed value. If you're going to do that you should first take the time to talk to the assessor and find out what method he/she used to arrive at the assessed value. You should also ask about the appeal process and what the expectations of the appeal board will be for your presentation to them of your appeal. Then you'll need to go find the actual market data to support your case.

Fortunately, if you live in one of the areas that I track, you can find that market data on-line at my Web site www.movetomilford.com

I have been tracking the sold houses in Milford (Village and Township), Highland, Commerce, White Lake, Lyon/South Lyon, and Brighton for some time now and recently added Green Oak, Hartland and West Bloomfield. There's probably not enough data on the sight for those last three yet, but there is 2-3 years worth of data for the other six. You generally only need to go back 6 months.

You'll have to pick out the homes in your immediate area from the data that is there and you can't just use distressed sales (they are marked as "F" for foreclosures and "S" for short sales). In general the assessment boards want to see market data for your immediate neighborhood or area, certainly no more than 2-3 miles away and in the same school district. You'll be able to find the listed prices, the sold prices, the SEV's the square footage and other data on my site. Again, make sure that you understand what things are important to the appeals board.

Fighting your assessment is somewhat of a two-edged sword. You may succeed in getting the SEv (and taxable) value reduced; however, you should then not complain that your house is worth more when it's time to sell. In the current economic environment about the only place where your home has retained it's old "value" is in it's replacement value for insurance purposes. It almost always costs more to rebuild your house right now than it's worth on the market.

Realtors are not allowed to provide you with a comparative market analysis for the purposes of appealing your tax assessment. They can provide you with the raw data of what has sold in a particular area, which you can then use to make your own market analysis; but why bother them, just go to my Web site and look under the choice "What has sold in the Milford area" if you live in one of the areas that I track.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It’s more than a matter of taste…

Where is the line that marks the difference between “shabby chic” and just plain tacky? How modern is too modern? What do you tell a homeowner whose house is a tribute to Graceland that an oil painting of Elvis on black velvet is not appropriate in every room? Can you suggest taking down the horny heads and putting away the stuffed dead animals to the Great White Hunter? What do you do with the Princess bedroom that is painted pink and has glow in the dark starts on the ceiling? Is it appropriate to suggest alternate colors for the sports team themed bedroom done in maize and blue? How do you deal with “custom-built,” when the result looks like the lounge at a cheap motel? What do you tell the owners who just love their Victorian themed purple and turquoise paint job?

These and many other questions beg the issue of when things are just a matter of taste and when they become impediments to the sale of a home. Somewhere near the center of the universe of good taste is a bland little patch of off-white. Everything else is something else and the further out you go, the further you get away from that happy little neutral patch. The farther away you move from that center point, the lonelier it gets, too. There are fewer and fewer buyers who will share your tastes and appreciate that all black room that your moody teenager chose for himself.

My challenge as a Realtor is to help the owner see that imposing their tastes and preferences on potential buyers is basically an exercise in exclusion. Every personal choice that is expressed in a room color or décor may drive away those who don’t share in that choice. The avid hunter often can’t understand why someone would be offended by the dead, stuffed mounts that are spread around the house. Yet many women won’t even go into a house if they see these trophies all over the place. And many single women who’ve lived in a house alone for a while can’t understand why male buyers are turning off by frilly frou-frou all over the place.

I’ve tried several approaches with owners who are over the top in their home décor, including taking in home stagers to provide “professional advice” above and beyond what I may have told them. Quite honestly, even that seldom works and often the owner is offended by the advice that they remove or tone down the personal touches and content of their house – especially if it involves advising that they take down and store most of the family photos that may have lined the walls of a stairway or, perhaps, that they paint over the cute little marks on the kitchen doorway that documented the growth of their children.

The bottom line is that when they put it on the market it is no longer a home, it is a house – a product that is competing against other houses on the market and the owners must be able to look at it that way. For some this is a tough emotional transition to make – letting go of the “home” aspect of the house and getting comfortable with that aspect living on in memories. This is where taking the sellers to a few other, well staged homes would probably help them see what you need them to do for you to make the house more marketable. Sometimes it just takes time and giving the owners a few weeks to get over this hump and make the changes needed is probably the best thing to do. Sometimes the seller never does agree with what needs to be done to sell the house and in those cases it's a long and frustrating wait, tryin gto find those few buyers who have matching tastes.