To many buyers, a house that’s been on the market a long time must have hidden problems. And that could lead to unnecessary and endless price reductions. Luckily, even in a distressed market, there are ways to prevent roots from sprouting under the ‘for sale’ sign.

By Karen Aho of MSN Real Estate

Real-estate agent Vince Romano could have sold his client’s house in a month if not for a little paint.

The single-family house in suburban Chicago looked great, except for some graffiti on the walls in the two teenagers’ rooms and in the basement. The homeowner wasn’t stupid. She’d taken good care of the home and knew buyers could easily see past a little spray paint. Except she was wrong.

“It looks phenomenal online. I had 17 or 18 showings in the first two months,” Romano recalls. But buyers — and often it’s subconscious — actually aren’t good at overlooking even superficial flaws, particularly if those flaws so boldly announce they’ll need a redo.

“Buyers don’t want to do that,” Romano says. “There are homes that are decked out to the nines. Maybe this home isn’t ready, but the one down the street is.”

In the end, this seller not only lost time, she lost big in the math. Had she listened to her agent and spent the $1,200 to repaint, Romano is certain he could have sold the home quickly for its $350,000 asking price. As it is, he’ll likely fetch $310,000, and only after several months of viewings.

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