The Home Inspection

Question:  Do I have to fix all the items that the buyer asked us to fix after the home inspection?

The quick answer:  Nope.

The longer answer:  If the issue is a cosmetic one, no, you don’t have to fix it.  The buyers saw the house and, if the problem was in plain sight (old windows, for example), then they knew that they weren’t buying a house with brand new windows.  However, if it was a problem that was hidden (maybe you were not even aware of it), then it is something to consider fixing.  If it is an electrical, plumbing, septic, roof, or structural problem, that is an entirely different story.  A buyer has a right to a house that “works.”

The Best Answer:  Have a home inspection (and a septic inspection) yourself prior to putting the house on the market.  This is an investment that will potentially save you a lot of money and a lot of heartache in the long-run.  If there are any big problems that come up, you can have then fixed prior to selling your house.  It really is no fun to have so many problems at the home inspection that causes the buyers to run for the hills.








School Districts


We recently had a question from a reader regarding school districts.  There is a place in the MLS where Realtors can publish the school district of a given house that is for sale.  The problem is, from year-to-year the town could actually change things and the house that you thought was in your favorite school district has been changed.  For that reason, we choose not to write in the schools for a particular listing and we suggest that the prospective buyer call the town and check to see what schools apply to that property.

Keep the questions coming!


Yes, everyone knows a Realtor – from Aunt Mary to your co-worker’s husband – but how do you know who is the best Realtor for you?

Here are some important things to consider:

  1. You are going to be spending a lot of time with this person for the next few months –make sure that you have a good comfort level with him/her.  Is this person approachable and do you feel comfortable asking questions?
  2. Professionalism — is this someone who gets along with others well?  Realtors work together with their competition (other Realtors) and we all have to get along.  Some do this better than others, and it is really vital to have all parties cooperate with each other in order to have a smooth transaction.  If the Realtor that you are considering has a reputation for being hot-headed, unfriendly…just pass.
  3. Is the Realtor up on social media and online advertising?  Will he/she provide a personal website for your listing?
  4. Will he/she provide you with a written marketing plan?
  5. Is there a service guarantee?  If you are not happy, can you withdraw from the listing?
  6. Finally, if I were to help you choose the best Realtor for you, I would ask them to provide you with three references from satisfied customers that they have had within the past year and CALL THEM.  You want to ask them if they could easily reach their agent when needed, if they were great when it came to negotiations, if they got along well with all parties involved, and if they would use this agent again in the future.  Good luck (and call us! )

PRICING. Or, Why do Realtors price my house lower than I think it should be?


We have been asked to explain why the price range that Realtors present in the market analysis is often a lot different than the price owners had in mind.

Owners often feel that their homes are worth more than they actually are because of a few reasons:

  1. Sellers (you) are emotionally attached to their home.  So many wonderful (and not-so-wonderful) memories are tied into the house, and it Is very hard for some owners to evaluate the house with an unbiased eye.  The reality is that the house, once put on the market, is simply a product to be sold.  That product has a value that is determined by the economy, comparable homes in the neighborhood, condition, and location.
  2. The house is not in the neighborhood that gets the highest prices in town.  I know that you love your part of town, but each town has it’s higher valued neighborhoods and, if your house isn’t in one of those areas, it can’t be compared to houses that are in those areas.  You have to compare Apples to Apples.  If there are not many houses that have sold in your particular neighborhood, a good real estate professional will factor that in when determining price based on comparing houses in better neighborhoods.
  3. Your décor is lacking, your furniture is old, you have ugly carpets, out-of-date kitchen cabinets, and your paint colors are not in fashion anymore.  When you want to get top dollar, you have to update.  I’m not saying that you have to buy new kitchen cabinets, but you have to make the house more appealing.  The house that you are comparing yours to got that higher price because it looked great — it gave the appearance that new buyers could just move in and unpack.
  4. You are comparing your house to values that you see on media sites on the internet.  These sites do not factor in all of the things above, so you are not getting a true idea of the value of your particular house.
  5. You are comparing your friend’s house that sold last summer that was similar to yours and they got a great price for their house, so you should too.  The thing is, though, the market may have come down significantly, and at the time that you want to sell your house, there are fewer buyers looking.
  6. You bought your house for X, put $$$ into fixing it up, and you are expecting Y.  Sounds easy, but there are many factors that might work against you.  You may have paid a high price in the first place and, after putting in those fabulous updates, the house would be too high for the neighborhood.  Or, you may have updated the house but didn’t go as upscale as the neighborhood warrants, and people wouldn’t pay what you are expecting them too.

The best thing to do is to look carefully at the documentation regarding market conditions  and study the comparative market analysis that your real estate professional brings in so that you can have an open and honest conversation about what price range is appropriate for your particular house.

THE Most Frequently Asked Question

Welcome!  The first question that we get most frequently is how to prepare their house to get it ready to go on the market.  Before even asking what the house is worth, people want to know what to do to make it show beautifully.  Most people have seen shows and have looked at the internet for tips, but we will tell you our tried-and-true MUST-DO tips for getting your house ready to go on the market.

When we take a listing, we go around the house room by room with  the owners and let them know exactly what they should do in each room.  If you are good at this and have an impartial eye (we are all attached to our own stuff), you can do this by yourself, or you could ask a friend to go around with you and change what needs to be changed.

We may lose friends saying these things, but here goes:

  1.  Make sure your house is clean.  REALLY clean.  Amazingly clean.  Clean where you have never cleaned before.
  2.  Make sure your house smells FRESH.  Not like a cookie, not like pumpkins or flowers or fruit.  Just FRESH.  Don’t light candles  prior to showing your home because some people have an aversion to certain smells – you might lose that perfect buyer.
  3. If you have older furniture, pack it up and store it or get rid of it.  Rent something that goes with your space.  Old-style furniture and décor just tells buyers that they have to spend more money to upgrade things which, of course, isn’t true because your yucky old stuff moves with you, but it just leaves that impression on people.  This will lower what they would offer for your house.
  4. Update the color scheme of your home, if necessary.  A little paint in a currently popular color palette works wonders in getting you top dollar.
  5. Pack up your stuff and put it in storage somewhere.  You’re planning to move anyway, and if rooms and closets look nice and roomy, that equals a quicker sale and possibly higher offers.
  6. Closets and kitchen cabinets should look like hardly anyone lives there and that those who do are some sort of neat freaks.  Towels and toiletries should be placed strategically in linen closets in an artistic way.  In the kitchen, it should basically look like you eat, but not that much.
  7. Bathrooms should be sparse but pretty.
  8. Photographs:  KEEP your family photos, but just know where to place them.  A small grouping in certain areas make the home look well-loved.
  9. Fresh fruit, fresh flowers, and a plate of cupcakes:  Keep these three things around and replenish as necessary.  This gives potential buyers the feeling that living there would be so lovely (and yummy!).
  10. Place furniture where it should go, not just where you happen to like it.  Rooms need to have a great flow.  Make sure entrances aren’t blocked in any way.
  11. Of course, first impressions are key, so pick up any fallen leaves, pick out all weeds, put a few potted plants around, and make sure there aren’t any patches of ice that buyers have to skate on in order to get to your door.

Well, there’s more, but you just have to figure that out by yourself!   OK, if you have any specific questions, just ask.  Leah is a certified home stager for real estate and would be happy to help you.

For Real,


Jeanine Soderlund, Broker/Owner, RE/MAX HomeTowne Realty;

Janet “Jan” Alderisio, Sales Associate

Leah Selig, Sales Associate,


Hi, and welcome!

This blog is to offer you a place where you can ask any and all of your real estate questions and get a REAL answer,.  You may not always like what you hear, but my hope is that I can help you attain your goals, whether it is selling your house or buying a new one (or both).  If we can’t answer your questions, we have a team of experts in all real estate-related fields who we can count on to get you the answers that you need.

Our office is RE/MAX HomeTowne Realty in Wyckoff, New Jersey.  We have been listing and selling homes in the Bergen and Passaic County areas for a combined 60 years and our specialty is listing houses that are a little hard to sell – we love a challenge!  We also enjoy finding great homes for buyers it’s like matchmaking, only with houses!

In addition to answering your questions, we will relay some of our own experiences in listing and selling homes over the years –both educational and entertaining!

Most importantly, we are here to help, so feel free to send us your questions and we will get right on it.

For Real,

Jeanine Soderlund, Broker/Owner      Janet “Jan” Alderisio, Sales Associate        Leah Selig, Sales Associate