They Got How Much?
Two realtors managed to sell their own home in just five days
(MONEY Magazine) – Marci Miller's funky, just-renovated Boise bungalow (circa 1905) had personality to spare. But the 1,200-square-foot house lacked the elbow room she and fiancé Dave Roth, 43, needed. The pair, both realtors, were ready to trade up. "The house looked nice, but the floor plan felt too small for us," says Miller, 40.
Boise's once hot market has cooled in recent months, a fact that the couple knew all too well from their work. Houses are sitting longer--an average of 74 days vs. 66 a year before. Sales fell 37% from September 2005 to September 2006. And prices have slumped too, down an average of 3.5% between July and September, according to the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service.
What She Did
Miller wanted to make sure her house looked buyer-friendly before putting it on the sluggish market. So she called in Jim Meadows. A professional home stager, Meadows uses interior design principles to make houses look appealing to buyers. This bungalow had plenty going for it already: a prime location and $50,000 in renovations, including a new kitchen. But the combination dining room/living room made the house feel small, says Meadows. So he first removed some furniture to make the space less cluttered; then he brought in a couch, positioning it at an angle to form a pathway. "This created flow, like a magnet drawing you through," he says. To help buyers visualize options, he turned one of the extra bedrooms into a guest room and the other, which is small and oddly shaped, into a reading nook.
What It Cost
$1,200. Staging can run anywhere from $750 to $5,000--on the higher end if more furnishings are needed. To find a stager in your area, go to iahsp.com.
How It Worked
Miller received a cash offer after five days on the market, a success she credits in part to staging. "We showcased the possibilities," she says. Indeed, says Meadows, his work is all about feeding the imagination: "If you demonstrate that a house is warm and inviting, buyers will be better able to picture themselves there."
LEVELING OFF After recent declines, mortgage rates have remained relatively stable, reports HSH Associates.
[UP] Up from the previous month [DOWN] Down from the previous month [SAME] Same as the previous month
NOTES: As of Oct. 27.  $417,000 or less.  More than $417,000. SOURCE: HSH Associates.
DEALS: 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgages
The banks below offer some of the best loan rates and terms. Use them as a benchmark for your own shopping. Visit hsh.com for more deals.
NOTES: As of Oct. 27. Rates and terms subject to change. SOURCE: HSH Associates.
MARKET WATCH: New-Home Sales
14.2% in September '06 compared with a year earlier.
50% for large builders in the past year.
Median price fell
9.7% from $240,400 to $217,100, the worst decline since 1970.
SOURCES: National Association of Home Builders; U.S. Department of Commerce.
Selling price $337,000
Listing price $347,500
Time on market 5 days