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About spending money for the phantom buyer: My sisters had wanted to spend no money in order to sell my parents' fixer upper home, a mishmash of furniture and eclectic belongings in a old house with an odd layout. Some would call it charming - but probably not the ones who would spend the money we hoped to get for it as it was part of a unique location (it was part of a multi-unit property, the rest were rentals) in a popular small town. It would be a fixer, for sure ... and why put in effort and expense when a new buyer would simply do their own thing anyway? We showed it - as is - to two people, one with deep pockets and one without - and they both came to the same "not for me, it's too much work" conclusion. As a local in that same town, my thought was that there were limited buyers for a property such as this, and we'd be wise to try to find one immediately rather than let it sit for months assuming someone would want to take it on. So to me, it had to look move-in ready, which meant some repairs and considerable thought, effort and strategic expense to get it ready to show.

Along with a handyman, a friend who used to be a painter (a stroke of luck), and a few very helpful friends, we did it ourselves. First, estate sales, yard sales, donations and distributions to relatives - the clearing of the majority of their belongings. Lots of small repairs that seemed to pop up every time we moved a piece of furniture or appliance. Then fresh, light monochromatic paint in almost every room inside, so the odd walls and windows (charming to some but weird to others), did not stand out. Inexpensive new carpet to replace existing thrashed berber. We used a few pieces of their furniture, put in some of ours. An artist friend loaned us some lovely landscape paintings that brought beauty and a feeling of natural tranquility indoors. New towels for kitchen and bath; clean tablecloth and pretty table settings created from my parents' belongings. We added some live plants indoors. At the direction of a friend, we made the view of nature from the large picture window in the dining area the major focal point of the home, rather than the fireplace in the adjoining living room. Also at his direction, we removed the many outdoor plants in plastic containers and used ceramic or metal, a guideline that helped us clean up the patio and get a better look. It was definitely work during those two months of getting ready for the sale and a few thousand dollars of expense, including labor. But when it was time to show the house? The realtor was astounded and pleased. A one-day showing for local realtors was followed by a weekend open to the public with a "for sale" sign posted, but no other local advertisement. At the end of those few days, we had 3 valid offers - one over asking price by $75,000 and in cash, which we accepted. The new owners DID repaint, changed out the carpet, and made new decisions down to the plantings! But I am convinced that making it look fresh and cared for (rather than tired and needing massive work) helped the sale happen!

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Linda Floyd

We are trying to sell our home, now working with the third realtor. They all say everyone 'loves' our home, but no buyers. We've asked for direction for staging, but the realtors say the house is perfect. We've de-cluttered. cleaned up inside and out, put fresh plants outside. The home is very well maintained, floors, kitchen, etc. We live on a dead end street in a nice area. I don't know what else to do. If anyone has any suggestions I'm open.

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Lexie Longstreet

Linda Floyd, have your agent pull all the houses that are near yours, have similar size and are in a similar price range. Look at all the photos of the homes that have gone under contract in the last month. Have the agent call all the agents that represented those buyers and ask for real feedback... why didn't they come to your home and if they did come, why did they choose the house they chose over yours. At the same time go see all the competition homes. Have your agent take you to see all the ones that are in your price range, higher and lower, and similar size. There is usually a reason homes are not selling... and your agent should be able to tell you what it is.

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