"Get referrals," says Janice Waisman of Shorewood Realtyís
Mequon office. "Some people interview six or more, but you donít
have to. Itís just like buying a house. When you see a good fit,
just get it."
Cathy Liebert of Realty Executives in Hartland says donít
necessarily sign with the first agent you see. "Every seller and
every Realtor is different," she adds, "and you need to see
things the same way. You also need to hire someone local and full time
ó not a Ďweekend warrior.í"
Take a fresh look
Waisman and Liebert say sellers need to think like buyers. "Go
outside and see what your home looks like from the street,"
Waisman notes. "What kind of curb appeal does it have? Do the
same for the inside. You are selling on two levels, one to the realtor
and one to the buyer."
Liebert adds, "Start at the front door. Some people donít
use their own front door regularly, so they rarely see cobwebs and
areas that need painting. Have a friend come over and give you an
Orchestrate the experience
"The homes that are getting the best offers, the highest
prices and selling the fastest are those where the owners have shaped
their home for the sale," says Katie Falk of the Katie Falk
Agency in Whitefish Bay. Falk says her 30 years of experience have
taught her, "You have to approach the sale of your home as if you
were preparing it for the Parade of Homes, a fancy party or some other
That means, she adds, approaching the sale of a home like it is a
luxury product. "You have to have the home perfectly maintained
and staged," she says. "That means you have to completely
de-clutter it; it should have a mean and lean look so that buyers will
look at the house and not the furnishings and personal items. By
getting rid of the clutter, you create a sense of order to the place.
Homes that are in disarray attract only those who want to rehab and
are looking for a bargain."
Falk says she has had clients rent furniture, rugs and beautiful
crystal to help show off their homes.
Home selling also comes down to the finer points. "Repaint
that bedroom that reminded you of your trip to Tahiti in a neutral
color," Waisman says.
"Clean the windows and get good lighting throughout the house
so that everything shows well even in the evenings," Liebert
Says Falk, "Fix any nicks in the woodwork and, if you have a
dry basement, paint it. Just donít do anything that will camouflage
a condition that the buyer needs to know."
Going above and beyond
Melody Stephens, an agent with Coldwell Bankerís Downtown
Milwaukee office for almost four years, says selling older single
family homes, duplexes and condos of a wide range of ages introduces
another level of tips for home sellers.
"For example, sellers of older properties should consider
offering home warranties that cover appliances and mechanicals such as
furnaces and central air," she says. "That way, the property
will be more attractive." Stephens says this is especially true
for younger buyers who have not previously owned and are nervous about
Older condos, she says, also may be unattractive to buyers if the
property has not been maintained. "The best advice is to work
with your condo board to make sure that the property is brought up to
date. This is especially true of those common areas that make a first
In the end, Stephens notes, the best advice is to make sure your
home is in the best shape possible. "Buyers have a lot of
choices," she says, "so if thereís one thing that turns
them off, they may move on."