Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I've Seen It All On Martha's Vineyard

For as long as I can remember it has been a mystery to me how some home owners here on Martha's Vineyard decide to sell their family home, hire a seller's agent, agree to pay a fee and put their home on the market but never take the time to clean and fix up their home and property, not even just a little.

One would think a seller would at least fix that broken staircase to the second floor bedrooms so a prospective buyer would not have to use an outside staircase to get to the second floor living area. One would think the two Rottweilers running loose in the house would be sequestered outside when the seller's agent shows the property.

A prospective buyer coming into a house and contemplating living there needs to see through the distracting maze of stuff the home owner has accumulated over the last 30 years; they need to see themselves living in that home. They will see nothing if they are trying to dodge the growling dogs, making sure their child doesn't fall through a broken staircase, or navigate around dirty laundry strewn across the living room floor.

Staging and Feng Shui is all the buzz now, but for the most part we still ignore it on Martha's Vineyard. I guess you might say the pervasive attitude is “We’re Martha's Vineyard and we’re hot so deal with it!”

I belong to the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA) and below is an article being circulated throughout the media in this country. You may get a chuckle out of it, but more importantly, if you are a seller, pay attention and give your agent and my buyer clients a break. Remember, sellers want to sell, buyers want to buy and real estate agents want to make it happen.

Buyer Beware: Skeletons in the Closet
(and Aliens in the Basement)
ARLINGTON, Va., June 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- How much do you suppose a pile of crunchy dead bugs on the basement floor will affect the selling price of a $500,000 home? How about a life-size skeleton hanging in the closet, or an open coffin in the basement with a dummy vampire inside? Or an overly-ripe kitty litter box under the kitchen table?

The National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA) recently conducted an online survey of their members to rate the items they found most annoying when searching for a new home with buyers. Since these real estate companies are always looking out for the buyer's best interest they don't pull any punches. The results of the survey are revealing, surprising, and sometimes downright weird.

Here are the top five things exclusive buyer's agents find most annoying when previewing a home:

1. Broken door locks preventing access to the house.

2. Pet deposits in the back yard or dirty cat boxes.

3. Missing light bulbs in the basement.

4. Sellers that ask you to remove shoes and then have wet carpet or dirty

5. Having loose stairs on a stairway or missing banisters.

Other reported annoyances include:

6. Low hanging dining room light fixtures in a vacant home.

7. Closet doors that fall off or are not adjusted properly.

8. Going into a vacant home and hearing animals in the walls.

9. Halloween decorations that are left out.

10. Dangerous children's toys left out.

11. Dead cars in the driveway or yard.

12. Homes on large lots without a survey or description of the lot

13. Political signs.

14. Graffiti on a home for sale.

15. Dead birds or animals in or around the home.

It seems that many home sellers are not overly-endowed with common sense. Closet doors falling off? Dead animals in the front yard? The pitter-patter of mousy feet in the walls? Scary Halloween decorations all over the house? These should all be no-brainers. Sending buyers away disgusted or frightened out of their wits is probably not the best of business decisions. Neither is killing or maiming them with dangerous children's toys left as booby traps.

Jon Boyd, President of NAEBA, relates some of the unbelievable things he's encountered over the years when going through homes for sale. "Once I was previewing a fairly expensive home by myself. I go into the huge basement and I can't find the light switch. As I'm reaching around a corner I catch a light switch and turn it on. About 8 feet in front of me is a life-sized model of the ALIEN MONSTER LOOKING RIGHT AT ME! My heart starts beating again in a few minutes when I figure out what the stupid thing is, but whose idea was it to leave the thing there while the home is on the market?"

At another house Boyd almost became an unwitting participant in a Chaplinesque silent comedy. "I'm stepping into the basement the first time with buyers right behind me, again without good lighting. My foot hits something and when the light goes on I see I just barely missed stepping off the step onto a roller skate. I'm serious. Can you picture me flipping over onto my back like a cartoon character? If my foot had come down 2 inches to the left..."

Silliness aside, there is an important lesson here for home sellers. "In all these cases the buyer's attention is diverted from evaluating the home to something mildly disgusting or frustrating," says Boyd. "If sellers have a dead pigeon lying on the deck it will just help our buyers negotiate a better price because of less competition. But let's try to leave the skeletons and coffins for the Halloween party!"

The National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents was founded in 1995 to help consumers become educated homebuyers. NAEBA is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to be the "champions of real estate buyers' rights and representation." It has over 500 members nationwide. Starting in the mid- 1990s, savvy buyers wanted the benefits of a real estate representative working for their interests exclusively. They turned to EBAs, Exclusive Buyer Agents, to do the job. NAEBA is an industry group dedicated to supporting EBAs in serving clients to the best of their ability. NAEBA offers industry standard certifications, ongoing education, client referral service, technology and information sharing. The NAEBA Code of Ethics pledges undivided loyalty to real estate buyers only. More information about NAEBA can be found at

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Blogger Jon Boyd said...

I loved the "... Rottweilers running loose in the house would be sequestered outside when the seller's agent shows the property."

I spoke to Real Estate author Kenneth Harney about the article last week and he actually remembers buying a house that had two Great Danes barking in the basement when the real estate agent took him through the home.

I guess the dog story I personally remember is a small caged dog in the kitchen that was perfectly quiet from the time we got into the house until we were about into the kitchen. We had assumed the sellers had taken the dog so we were not expecting the amazing amount of noise that dog made!

Both the buyer and I jumped back about a foot!

Thanks for sharing the story with your readers.

11:19 PM  

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