Short Sales (written for the Chicago Tribune)

Short sales are on the rise, at least here in Philadelphia. . Short sales (when the seller and bank negotiate the sale to preclude bankruptcy) and bankruptcies are not good for a house. They, by definition, exude distress and disrepair , the opposite of comfort: . No one wants to buy a forlorn home. It is scary and feels like bad luck.

Sellers need to find any way possible to maintain their houses. Whether by barter, DIY, or a loan if money is short, the seller will make their money back and more when the house sells.

Houses are expensive to own, and houses of people in financial distress have usually been ignored. As money gets tight, roof maintenance, gutter and window cleanings and utilities maintenance are all put on hold—not to mention interior and exterior painting, carpet cleaning and other aesthetic considerations. Almost every house my company, Tailored Transitions, works on has deferred maintenance—sometimes by the client’s choice or oversight and sometimes due to financial distress. I urge clients to remediate even if they have to take out a loan to do so. The money that they spend making their home as pristine as possible will come back at least 10 fold if not more at closing. The returns are huge: we recently staged a home that the realtor said would sell as is for $900,000. The seller spent about $30,000 with Tailored Transitions on staging and strategic upgrades. The house was so transformed that the realtor listed it at $1.7 million. It sold at asking within the week. Occasionally, we front the cost of remediation for a client, and then submit our bill to the realtor for renumeration, at a premium, at closing. In this climate, I am sure that sellers can find contractors and handymen in their areas willing to negotiate a deal like this.