Mesa County real estate Q&A |

Mesa County real estate Q&A

Doug Van Etten
Free Press Real Estate Columnist

Q: We have had our house on and off the market for a couple of years now. We’ve tried to sell it ourselves and we’ve tried two different Realtors. Nothing seems to work to get the house sold. My husband and I have lived in Grand Junction for 35 years and in this house for 10. We want to move to Denver to be closer to the grandkids. What can we do to make the house sell?

A: It sounds like I hear a bit of frustration on your part and that is to be expected after two years. That is a long time to keep the house neat and clean and ready to show in response to a phone call from a real estate office or a knock on the door.

An easy thing for a Realtor to understand and often one of the toughest for a homeowner in the current real estate market is that agreement between a willing buyer and a willing seller is what determines what a house will sell for. Oftentimes, a seller has a price in mind they think the house is worth; or as sellers often say “I have to get ‘X’ amount out of selling the house so I can …” whatever it may be — buy my next home, move to South Carolina, pay off my credit cards, send my daughter to college, etc.

As you know, a seller can “ask” any price for their house. As a seller, once you decide on a price and put the word out to prospective buyers that the house is available for showing, the buyers right away start sending messages to the listing Realtor. The most obvious actions and messages go like this:

Action: Buyers come view your house and within the first month on the market write you a purchase offer.

Message: Your home was priced at or very near the comparable properties other buyers have purchased in the past few months and you are rewarded with an acceptable purchase contract.

Action: During the first two to four weeks your house is for sale you get at least 6-10 showings on the home with no purchase offer.

Message: The price, location, condition, photos on the internet are all enticing enough to get prospects in the door but none wrote you a purchase offer so the price must be too high compared to similar properties the buyers are seeing.

Action: In any two-week period of time your house is on the market, you get no showings at all.

Message: The property does not appeal enough to prospects to come look.

After that initial month on the market, interest in a property often falls off precipitously. Since in the internet-age buyers often take 6-9 months from the start of the home search to the date of an accepted purchase contract, most of the prospective buyers have seen your house online, by driving by, or with an actual viewing of the property within that initial two- to four-week period.

Since your house is competing with every other house in the market place, if you are not willing to be responsive by lowering the price you may want to offer some “inducements” or unique opportunities right off the bat when you put the house up for sale.

No, you cannot offer to throw in that Lake Powell houseboat or with most buyer loan programs you cannot agree to carry a second mortgage. However, you may want to let the buyers know that you are willing to:

• Pay up to the maximum allowable amount of buyer closing costs, pre-paids and reserves;

• Offer owner-financing, where you effectively become the bank, perhaps for someone who may not otherwise qualify for a mortgage loan;

• Consider a lease-purchase, where the buyer pays you monthly rent for a defined period of time with part of their monthly payment going toward a down payment or other arrangements the two parties (and their attorneys) may agree upon;

• There may also be other options that I will not mention here because some of them may run outside banking regulations or civil or criminal laws.

In the end, it all boils down to the fact a buyer is looking for the best price with the greatest number of amenities or benefits that are of value to them. Prospective buyers will weigh the amenities your house has to offer and its price against the amenities and prices of the competition and they will write their purchase offer on the house that weighs out the best for them.

Doug Van Etten is an associate broker with Keller Williams Colorado West Realty and is also the founder/organizer of the Real Estate Investors Network (REIN). Van Etten has been helping homebuyers, sellers and investors with their real estate needs since 1992. Contact Van Etten at or 970-433-4312. For information on the REIN,

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