Home location: Georgetown, Tex. (suburb of Austin)
Original list price: $163,000
Time on the market: 6 months
When Britt Skrivanek landed a new job in northern Virginia last September, he and his wife Athena Gu were excited. The job - developing software applications for a big defense contractor - meant a fatter paycheck and a promising new career track for Skrivanek, a former artillery specialist who left the Army in 2003 to work in information technology.
The game plan: Gu would stay in Texas with their four-year-old daughter Deanna, continuing her job as a data analyst for the University of Texas until their home sold. The couple figured the separation would last a few months. But nearly six months and more than 50 showings later, they've gotten only one offer, which fell apart in a clash between the buyers and the homeowners association.
They've tried sprucing up the place to enhance its appeal by adding a formal table and chairs to the dining room, storing some furniture and personal items to make the rooms appear more spacious, and repairing broken fixtures.
Meanwhile, Britt lives in a one-bedroom rental apartment and flies home once a month - the couple can't even think of buying in the more expensive northern Virginia area until they sell their Texas home. And they're desperate to reunite as a family. "We never thought it would take this long," says Britt. "Living apart is really stressful."
Update: After updating their MLS listing to reflect some of the changes recommended here, Gu and Skrivanek held an open house in March and got an offer the same day. The final price, $159,000, was just $2,000 below what they'd hoped to get. Most important, they are overjoyed that the whole family will soon be living together again.