Condition Outsells Price Sub: In a tough market, buyers will pay a premium for a house in top condition

In the spring of 2005 we put our Cleveland Heights house on the market. No part of the consultation with our realtor prepared us for the market slowdown that was just beginning in Cleveland, or gave us any hint that we might have trouble selling. By the end of summer we had less than a handful of showings. Eventually, three years of few showings, two more realtors, and a bad experience with renters (who stopped paying rent and trashed the place before we could evict them) convinced us that we needed a new approach.

We found an agent who could oversee repairing the property and getting it rented or sold. We selected Olsen Ziegler Realty because they provided a detailed plan for repairing and marketing the house along with a comprehensive market analysis.

Olsen Ziegler proposed a variety of options, from investing nothing in the property and listing the house at a rock bottom price to a complete renovation that would increase the initial asking price by at least $75,000. We elected to invest $40,000 to repair and renovate the property over an eight week period. They managed all aspects of the project, from material selection to coordinating contractors and laborers, and provided me final approval. We completely renovated the kitchen with new cabinets, appliances and granite counter tops, renovated two bathrooms, waterproofed and renovated a finished basement, sanded and coated all hardwood floors, painted throughout, spruced up the yard, staged furniture and decorated the empty house.

“Condition will outsell price nine times out of 10,” says broker and owner Chris Olsen. “In a strong buyers’ market, where sellers are competing against so many other properties, buyers will pay a premium for a house in top condition.”

After the renovation, just weeks after the banking collapse of 2008, we put the house back on the market. And 78 days later we were rewarded with two offers at 95 percent of our listing price.

Even in the worst economy in generations, if you have the right information and a clear strategy properly executed, it's possible to sell a home.

Matthew Feldt and his wife lived in Cleveland Heights while his wife attended residency at Metro Health Medical Center. In 2005 they moved to the Southern U.S. and then further south to New Zealand. Now back in the Southern U.S. they contemplate their next move.

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Volume 2, Issue 3, Posted 8:52 PM, 01.20.2009