Sure, the home-sale market isn’t as red-hot as it was for a few years, but you all have seen it — houses that sell as soon as someone pounds in a “for sale” sign, and others in the same class that sit on the market seemingly forever.


Sure, the home-sale market isn’t as red-hot as it was for a few years, but you all have seen it — houses that sell as soon as someone pounds in a “for sale” sign, and others in the same class that sit on the market seemingly forever.

What makes one house a cream puff and another a pig in a poke?

Price and location are obvious keys to attracting buyers, said Realtor Linda DeHoff of Prudential DeHoff Realtors.

The other 10 percent of the equation is the condition of the house.

“The buyer today is educated and discriminating,” DeHoff said. “They decide how to invest their money wisely.”

Realtor Marcy Klee of Keller Williams Legacy Group Realty agreed.

The biggest factor: “Buyers comparison shop. The property that looks the best is the one they’ll make an offer on. The one that offers the best package.”

Including price and condition, “The seller has to offer a complete package,” Klee said.

• Get clean — That includes cleanliness.

“A house, generally if it’s clean, brings thousands of dollars more,” she said.

• House should be staged well — A house also has to be “staged well,” she said.

The seller may want to change some things that were a matter of personal preference.

“Many buyers lack vision,” Klee said. “They can’t see past what they’re looking at. If they see purple walls, they don’t like it. They cannot picture the house any other way.”

• Around town — DeHoff said many buyers check the school system for strength and solidity.

“It’s like investing in a stock. You want stock that’s going to appreciate,” she said.

Buyers want to know “Are they passing levies? Are they investing in the school system?”

Many also look at SAT scores.

There’s also “curb appeal,” which can doom even a good house.

She said it’s like putting an attractive woman in a gunny sack.

The basics are there but not well-presented.

“If we keep the exterior trimmed ... so that it looks current and well-maintained, that makes people more prone to buy,” DeHoff said. If the reverse is true, “You probably lose 85 percent of the market.”

Then there are things that hinder a sale, but the seller can’t do anything about, such as a busy street, steep driveways, an unsightly view or a really weird floor plan.

“Those can affect the value by $10,000 to $20,000,” Klee said.

Factors that help (or hurt) the price or ability to sell are location, price, condition, the number of bedrooms, kitchen and bath (“Are they updated?”) and “mechanicals” such as the furnace, plumbing, wiring and roof (“Are they up to date?”).

• Get a professional — Many things aren’t going to occur to a seller that professionals spot right away, DeHoff said.

Sellers “should see a counselor” such as a Realtor or real estate agent, she said.

Most don’t ordinarily spend a lot of money without expert advice and buying or selling a home is no different.

And even with all of that, “There is a space called ‘I don’t know,’ “ when a house doesn’t sell, even with all of the factors lined up, DeHoff said.

Sometimes even the pros are at a loss as to why a house won’t move.

“There is a space that challenges us, too,” DeHoff said. “It’s a small space, but it exists.”