Monthly Archives: October 2016

Creepy Distractions that Turn Off Home Buyers when Selling a Home

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As a Realtor, I see a lot of unusual, even crazy things in people’s homes. If these silent idiosyncrasies could be explained by the home seller, I am sure they would make more sense. But in their absence and left to the imaginations of home buyers, these eclectic eccentricities can often creep home buyers out …distracting them from the advantages of the home and maybe completely turning them off.

I once entered a room with a full-sized child doll sitting in a rocking chair in the corner of the room. You could not see it until you entered the room. It surprised each and every person who came into the room and needless to say, no one really saw that room. Or the full-size “butler” statues – yes they scare you because they seem like a real person when you walk in the room. Startling to say in the least, creepy to say in the most. This goes for any personal possessions that may not be appreciated by the general public. Doll collections with eyes seemingly following you all over the room are not much lower on the creep-o-meter. Realistic stuffed toy animals of cats sitting on beds or a large tiger in the corner, are another eerie distraction.

And Taxidermy…I have seen heads of nearly every animal on the wall, as well as various skin rugs on walls and floors, horns on walls and full-on stuffed formerly live animals. While these trophies are treasured by the home sellers, to a homebuyer who may not share this hobby, they are unsettling and unpleasant. When you are blindly entering a home, it can cause children to be afraid and many times scare even adults who are not expecting a “jungle room.” Home sellers, let’s put it this way, do you want the home buyers referring to your home as the “dead animal” or even the “jungle” house after their visit. No, that will not sell your home. Put them away in storage, boxes, etc.

Marked graves in the yards for pets or urns of grandma on the mantel are another turn off. While the urn will move with you, home buyers only can wonder how many fluffy and spot bones they will inherit if they buy the home. What is unseen….is the best answer for this.

Weapons in the homes, from samurai swords and cross bows to maces and guns are more common than you would believe. Best to keep the armory put away in a closet in a box, etc. Not only are they dangerous, especially for children viewing the home, but also could be a theft temptation you don’t want to deal with and a potential insurance nightmare you definitely don’t want to deal with.

And while the Nazi flag may be reminiscent of an inside joke or historical memorabilia or something to the home seller, home buyers could easily be offended enough to ignore the home’s attributes and head for the door. Or better yet, they may never come to see the house as they see the photography on the internet and in listings.

Snakes, tarantulas, hamsters, gerbils and lizards may be in cages, but do you want to take the risk that recoiled home buyers will not enter those rooms with their slimy occupants present. If they have to stay in the room, best to cover them …. out of sight, never in mind.

And “Friendly” cats and dogs may be fine for your guests while you are around, but home sellers need to cage or remove these residents and not leave for unsuspecting home buyers…and agents for that matter. You don’t want agents and homebuyers skipping your house when they go to the door and “spot” is barking his head off at the front door awaiting them.

Real life encounters are not limited to pets. Believe it or not, more than once, I have opened a bedroom door to see a lump in the bed that was not laundry, but a real person sleeping in the bed. Both the buyers and I couldn’t get out that room or that home faster.

Again, while it is your home, it also is a product. If you wouldn’t like it in a department store, don’t put it in a home you want to sell. Remember, first impressions last forever and are not easily erased.

Is your condo association property manager working for you or for themselves?

If you want to live in a condo or townhome, an association and usually a condo association property manager is a necessity. But it is adding another layer of control over your life and your home, so you need to be sure you have the best possible representation working in the best interest of all the condo residents.

Most people have little involvement in their condo association until something happens. It is often hard to get attendance of the residents and even harder to get people to participate in the condo board. What you want in an condo association property manager is someone who is going to help all the residents with building maintenance and repair planning, proper budgeting and general management. But often what you end up with is varying levels of bureaucracy with managers who are difficult to deal with and even harder to communicate with. Here are a questions to ask when you are considering management of your condo or townhome association property manager.

Do you have the property license, insurance? Make sure they have the proper credentials. In Illinois, people who manage properties must have a Community Association Manager license with the State of Illinois. Per Illinois regulation, the person who deals with the association’s money, contracting, etc. needs to have this license. So, if the person you deal with on a regular basis for everything does not have this license, this is illegal, sometiemes even if they are working for the person with the license. Administrative staff have specific tasks they can and can not do. Anyone can verify this license on the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation websitehttp://idfpr.com/licenselookup/ Also, make sure the company and/or the person has proper liability insurance, like general liability or errors or omissions insurance and some kind of bond if they hold your money. This protects the association and all the residents.

What is their experience/reputation? Even properly licensed individuals can vary in experience. Let’s face it, some people are good at their job and some are just not. Before you hire a condo association property manager, talk to people on their other associations. Yes, references are often like calling someone’s mother – you are not going to get a bad reference or they will not give the person to you. I recommend asking for the board member names and numbers of ALL the associations they represent and maybe even ask for a couple non-board resident names. Check them out.

What are ALL the fees they charge? Not only the fees they charge monthly, but what other fees are involved. Do they charge extra for accounting fees? If legal and accounting fees are outside, do they markup those professional fees? What fees do they charge for resident sale transactions? Managers often charge fees during sale transactions to cooperate. This is something no one usually knows or asks. They charge to give the buyer a copy of the bylaws, budget and/or declarations. This can be $100-200 charge to the seller. Sometimes they also charge the buyer and/or seller a fee to transfer their records from the seller to the buyer. I have seen anywhere from $250 to $350 for this charge. These fees are usually a surprise to the seller, but are not an option.
Any condo association property management agreement should disclose and negotiate ALL FEES they can ever charge to residents or potential buyers. Also, should have an agreed timetable for responding to inquiries from residents and requests for documents.

Realtors and residents often see the real truth of the deal with condo association property managers when selling their home. Property managers are an important component to ensure a smooth sale transaction. Contracts require buyers get a copy of the budget, bylaws, and declarations and require the association complete a form indicating the health of the association, if there are any pending assessments or law suits. The association and their cooperation or lack thereof can jeopardize your sale. This is about the time many residents find out just who their association property manager is working for…you or themselves. And if you have an uncooperative condo association property manager during the sale transaction, your buyer may decide that they don’t want to live in a condo or townhome that has this difficult a manager – too much hassle.

For example, it is often a problem to have condo association property managers take forever to get the documents to the buyer and lender and not respond to emails and calls from the buyer and seller’s agents and attorneys and lender.

In one case, I had a deal cancel because the condo association property manager did not disclose that there was a lawsuit against the association. Lenders will not lend money for that deal. So, the seller could only have a cash buyer, which is a very low percentage and will affect the amount of the sales price. In another situation, the association manager failed to advise that there was a special assessment pending until the last minute, forcing the seller to pay additional money they did not anticipate to finalize the deal.

Condo association property management is not an easy job. You have to answer to a lot of residents who all have differing opinions on everything, but I am often surprised when a seller says the condo association property manager is horrible and very difficult to deal with. Then why have them?