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11/20/2003

Playing dress-up assists in selling home

By James Bouknight
The Daily Times-Call

ERIE — Looks are important and initial reactions from a potential buyer are key when selling a house. Local businesswoman Majorie Van Name says she is full of ideas to make a seller’s home stand out.

“You only get one chance to make a good impression,” said Van Name.

Van Name, an Erie resident, founded her company, Dress Your Home For Sale, to help area Realtors and homeowners increase their chances — and perhaps decrease waiting time — for a sale by making homes more immediately appealing to potential customers.

Though some economists may be forecasting a sunnier outlook for Colorado’s economy, recent figures show that homes in the region are staying on the market longer than last year.

“Buyers are looking for reasons to not buy a house,” said Irene Schaffer, real estate agent and statistician with the Boulder Area Realtor Association.

In Longmont, homes averaged 55 days on the market two years ago. This year the average increased to 76 days, according to Schaffer.

Although the average price for a single family home in Longmont has remained relatively unchanged at about $250,000 over the last two years, the number of those homes on the market has increased from 687 to 770, according to Schaffer.

For homes in the the Denver metro region, the average number of days on the market has increased from 58 to 81, according to the Denver Board of Realtors.

“A sale is every bit as much emotion as it is logic,” said Andy Burnett, a customer of Van Name’s and real estate agent with the Prestige Real Estate Group.

Because owners are so used to their home as it is, when they decide to put their home on the market it may be difficult for people to determine what changes to make in their residence that will make it seem more inviting to buyers, said Van Name.

“It takes a neutral party,” said Van Name. “Small changes can add up to a really big difference. There are a tremendous number of details” that need to be considered.

With potential home sellers facing longer waits for a bid and increasing numbers of homes on the market, people need to think, “How am I going to make my house stand out,” said Burnett.

Van Name says she gives suggestions that are more personalized than a homeowner may find elsewhere. For example, people generally think that they need to clear out their personal clutter when trying to sell their home. But people may unintentionally make their home feel sterile and uninviting, said Van Name.

“There’s a very fine line between having too much and too little,” said Van Name.

It costs $80 per hour for Van Name’s service, and for an average 1,700-square-foot house, she spends about two hours on her consultation. It is up to the homeowner to carry Van Name’s suggestions, and she makes no guarantees that the home will sell more quickly or for a better price.

Though Schaffer hasn’t used Van Name’s service, she said she knows of several real estate agents that have used similar services successfully.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Schaffer.

James Bouknight can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 389, or by e-mail at jbouknight@times-call.com.