THE MICHIGAN CHRONICLE
April 21-27, 2010
Selling a home in a buyer’s market
Last fall, my wife and I de-
cided to downsize our housing and move to something easier to manage. However, on the sell side we were faced with one of the toughest real estate markets in recent history. This is truly a buyer’s market. I am sharing our experience because it may be helpful to you, if you anticipate selling your home in the near future.
Before we talked with real-
ATTENDEES of a recent program educating youth on alcohol.
Young people learn the Facts During Alcohol Awareness Month
It is a startling statistic,
but one that hits home with many children. According to the National Institute on Al- cohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 6.6 million children live in a home with an alcoholic parent or primary caregiver. Children living in this environment face the constant pressure of stress, embarrassment and denial. Their needs are down- played, overlooked or gener- ally ignored. And often, they have no one to talk to, as most treatment programs focus on the alcoholic parent.
In Detroit, there is a pro-
gram to help young people navigate the challenges of living in an environment of alcohol or substance abuse. Established in 1997, the Your Choice Prevention Program offers substance abuse pre- vention, academic support and recreational activities for youth, ages 7-14. The pro- gram also offers life and social skills training. Many of the participants are impacted by
substance abuse in the family, or live in a neighborhood with a high incidence of substance abuse.
There is a consistent mes-
sage of alcohol and substance abuse prevention in the pro- gram, but during April, which is Alcohol Awareness Month, Your Choice participants engage in a variety of activities to demonstrate the effects of alcohol on the human body. In one session, participants were asked to wear “Fatal Vision” goggles, which mimic alcohol intoxication. They must then perform a series of tasks that police officers might ask of a drunk driver. The session proved valuable, as many of the Your Choice participants now understand the impact of driving under the influence of alcohol and other substances.
The Your Choice Program
is a Community Based Servic- es program of Spectrum Child and Family Services, and is supported by the City of De-
troit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion and the Bureau of Prevention, Treat- ment and Recovery. For more information, call (313) 456- 6000.
Spectrum Child and Family
Services is an affiliated com- pany of Spectrum Human Ser- vices, Inc. Founded in 1976, Spectrum believes that all people have the right to re- ceive services designed to sup- port and uplift, as individuals strive to achieve their highest potential. The programs and services offered by Spectrum Human Services, Inc. impact children, youth, teens and adults with mental, physical, emotional and/or behavioral challenges. Services are pro- vided throughout Michigan including Berrien, Genesee, Kent, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Manistee/Benzie, Monroe, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties.
For more information, visit
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tors or anyone else, we needed a clear understanding between us of what we were trying to do. We sketched out a plan and a timeline for our move. This included why we wanted to move, a vision of our future home and the key steps it would take to get there.
Hire the right agent
Our next step was to in-
terview three top real estate agents who had experience selling homes in our market area. Each came to our home armed with an array of bro- chures, statistics and mar- keting materials. During the interviews we asked five major questions:
• Can you tell us about your experience selling homes in our market area this year?
• Specifically, how would you market our home?
• What recommendations do you have to make our home more marketable?
• What are comparable sales in this area over the past three months?
• What is your commission and how do you get paid?
All three agents were well qualified, had strong market-
ing plans and their pricing was competitive. However, we were looking for the agent that we were most comfortable with as a partner to begin this journey.
Fix it to sell
We owned the house for 30
years and were very comfort- able living there. However, from a selling perspective, all three agents gently told us that our house was out of date. The kitchen, bathrooms, lighting fixtures, carpet, wall colors, etc. would not sell, es- pecially in a buyer’s market. One agent told us to expect to spend $1,000 in redecoration expense for each year we lived there. (Gulp!)
The agent we selected was
also a skilled interior decora- tor and together we worked up a list of needed improvements. It was hard to swallow, that our favorite crystal chande- liers, vertical blinds and wall- paper had to go. However, we had to trust our agent’s judg- ment because we had hired her to sell the house. The agent suggested three contrac- tors to consider for the work. We interviewed each and care- fully reviewed their proposals. Again, all were well qualified, but we had to select a contrac- tor that we were most comfort- able in partnering with.
Price it right
Our agent told us that we
needed to have the house on the market during February to be positioned for the spring selling season. When the re- modeling work was completed, we sat down with our agent to discuss the listing price. They suggested a high and low price range that differed by $5,000.
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We agreed on the lower listing price because we felt it would attract other agent’s atten- tion.
During the third week in
February, our agent held an open house for other real estate agents and placed the listing in the multiple listing service. A week later we had an offer, which was backed by a bank mortgage pre-approval letter. After negotiations, we signed a purchase agreement within 1 percent of the listing price.
We are completing inspec-
tions by the city housing de- partment and the buyer’s pri- vate inspector and will make the necessary repairs. We anticipate closing within the next 60 days.
• In a given market area, the 80/20 rule applies. 80 percent of the sales are made by 20 percent of the agents. Hire the best in your market.
• Hire the best partners and ones that you are comfortable with. Selling your home in a buyer’s market is a long jour- ney.
• Put your house in “move in” condition and decorate it for the potential buyer’s tastes.
• The market sets the price, so list your house slightly below the market to attract in- terest.
• Communicate regularly and follow up with your agent and contractors.
Selling a home in a buyer’s
market is tough work. There- fore, we are looking forward to being a buyer in the near future.
Michael G. Shinn, CFP, reg-
istered representative of se- curities and investment advi- sory services offered through Financial Network Investment Corporation, member SIPC. Visit www.shinnfinancial.com for more information, Send comments or questions to shinnm@financialnetwork. com. ©Michael G. Shinn 2010.
The Men Who Dare
In 1959 a group of men at a
local Baptist church noted the difficulties of a young man, a member of the same church, at Highland Park Junior College. The young man was unable to secure financial assistance and thus unable to continue his education.
As a way of raising funds,
the group of men sold bar- beque dinners to defray the tuition expenses. Because of the favorable outcome, the group decided in September of 1959 to form an organiza- tion devoted to helping young people secure financial aid further their education.
The original membership
consisted of fourteen coura- geous men. The name of the organization, The Men Who Dare, was selected after a great deal of thought because it reflected the daringness of the undertaking at hand.
June of 1964, The Men Who Dare was incorporated and chartered as a non-profit orga- nization by the State of Michi- gan.
The Federal Government,
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. All rights reserved. Lowe’s and the gable design are registered trademarks of LF,LLC. (R100491-2)
Department of Internal Reve- nue, granted the organization a 501(c) 3 tax-exempt status in December of 1966.
The Men Who Dare Inc. is
a scholarship organization whose sole purpose is to pro- vide its members with oppor- tunities to supply financial and other support for advanc- ing the education of at risk and/or disadvantaged youth in the Detroit metropolitan community.
must be enrolled or seeking full time enrollment in an ac- credited institution of higher learning. They must demon- strate a strong will to succeed. They must be able to docu- ment financial needs in access of their available resources.
As an integral part of the
Detroit area community, the MWD will establish alliances, with institutions of higher learning,
and other like-minded orga- nizations, which will improve their ability to support the or- ganizations mission.
For more information, call
call (313) 872-0052 or visit
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