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Know The Competition Before Putting Your Home On The Market

By Lisa Scontras

Lookie-loos often get a bad rap for going to open houses with no real intention of buying. But some Realtors are encouraging their clients to snoop away on Sunday afternoons all in the name of research.

Knowing what your neighbor’s price tag is, if the kitchen or bathroom has been renovated, or if the house has a new roof can be useful information when preparing your own home for sale.

Wanda Ortiz Thayne, Realtor Associate with Prudential Locations, says she absolutely gives her sellers permission to be nosey because getting to know the competition is an important part of pricing and marketing your home.

“If you have the same kitchen cabinets from when you bought your home 20 years ago and the house down the street has brand new cabinets, you may want to consider upgrading your cabinets before you put your house on the market,” says Thayne.

Sellers are often advised to view their own home through buyers’ eyes, and there is no better opportunity for a little neighborly prying than a Sunday open house. By taking a critical look at other homes on the market, it is easier to compare your home and see both its shortcomings and assets.

“If your neighbors have replaced their roof, for example, and they have their house on the market, and your roof needs replacing, this may affect the sale of your home,” says Thayne. “Just like if your neighbor spruced up their yard by adding flowers and manicuring their lawn, take note of what was done and see if you can add to your curb appeal by working on your yard.”

Seeing the competing properties helps sellers to be more realistic about pricing their own home. Thayne wants them to see the currently listed properties as well as be aware of the details of homes that have sold in the last six months. Prudential Locations’ website (www., which lists all the open houses each week, is one of the few that shows what homes have sold for in the neighborhood.

“It is important to understand that it is the market that sets the price for a home not the agent and not the client,” she says. “If your home is overpriced, then it will make the other homes more attractive. Those homes will probably sell faster than yours.”

When comparing improvements, remember there are two general types of upgrades, and it’s important to know the difference when deciding what needs to be done to spruce up your house before listing.

“Improvements on bathrooms and kitchens seem to make the most difference in adding actual value,” she says. “Other improvements may help to sell your home faster, but may not add to the list price of your house.”

Even if you aren’t planning to sell your home, Thayne says that lookieloos are justified and encouraged to drop into open houses to “just look.”

“It’s always good to know, in case you decide you want to sell, to be aware of what homes are going for in your area,” says Thayne. “You start to compare the homes around you and can begin to tell when a house is priced well or priced too high. When you decide to sell, this knowledge will assist you in pricing it correctly.”

Thayne welcomes lookie-loos and even makes a point of personally inviting them to come to any open houses she is sitting.

“I like to go doorknocking the day before an open house to invite the neighbors to come and see the new house on the market,” says Thayne. “This helps my seller because when word gets out to the neighbors, they may know of a potential buyer. At my last open house, there were a few neighbors who were renting and actually contemplating home ownership.”

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