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Feature: Homeowners, Realtors go extra mile to land sales

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TMP Photo by Kelly Hite. Realty agents Phairabe Estes-Simpson and Annette Masterson partner to make over a home.
With home sales down from record highs, Murfreesboro homeowners are having to do more to get their homes noticed and sold.

Exit Realty agents Phairabe Estes-Simpson and Annette Masterson have decided to partner up and make over a listing that has been on and off the market since November 2007.

What they are doing isn’t anything new, but with a slowing economy and larger inventories of homes on the market it is becoming even more vital to sell a home quickly and for its appraised value.

Home sales in Rutherford County declined 24 percent in July 2008 compared to the same month last year, according to statistics released by the Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors. Sales are down 30 percent compared to July 2006.

But sales are up 9 percent when compared to June 2008.

A total of 412 homes were sold in Rutherford County in July compared to 543 in July 2007. Of the homes sold, 62 were new construction. The majority of homes sold were located in Blackman Farms and Evergreen Farms in Murfreesboro and Lake Forest Estates in La Vergne.

The average home sold for $173,260 and spent 78 days on the market.

Candy Roberts, executive vice president of the Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors, said the latest statistics aren’t all bad news.

“The local market is moving, though not as rapidly as before,” she said.

Roberts blames negative reporting by the media for “painting a giant picture of gloom for all consumers, buyers and sellers.

“The number of closed sales last month were slightly higher than June, and prices are only slightly less than last month's averages,” she said. “The days on market are only 10 days longer than last year, so properties are still turning over in a reasonable time period.”

Local real estate agents also say that consumers are being more cautious about making big financial decisions because it is a presidential election year.

“State and federal elections will have a significant impact on the consumer's confidence, coupled with lower gas prices and stable job markets in Middle Tennessee,” Roberts said.

Realtor Holly Sims of Sims Realtors, Auctioneers said July typically isn’t a large sales month due to heat, holidays and vacations.

“August and September tend to pick up slightly for those moving for schools — graduations, relocations and job changes,” she said. “Additionally, new home construction has slowed, loan programs and credit requirements have changed dramatically over the last year, and this also impacts the number of sales closed recently.”

So real estate agents have to do more to promote their listings and show them in the best light, Sims, president of the Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors, said.

Masterson and Estes-Simpson said sometimes just decluttering a home, painting a few walls and changing some light fixtures can make the difference in selling a home.

Lenders are now tightening down on loans and requiring 10 to 20 percent down in some cases, Masterson said. Potential homebuyers are having to put all of their cash toward a down payment and don’t have the extra money to do any repairs or updates.

“Being that there is so much inventory on the market, houses that are not updated are losing customers to those that are new and updated,” she said. “Houses that are not updated are losing customers to those that are new and it makes several thousand dollars difference on the sale.

“It is much more beneficial to spend $3,000-$4,000 to update their home than to get $30,000-$40,000 less on an offer,” Masterson added.

Masterson and Estes-Simpson are planning to do several things to update their listing at 2238 Tedder Blvd., in the Siegel area of Murfreesboro to secure a sale near the full asking price for the 20-year-old home. The homes is listed in the $190,000s.

They plan to change out several of the light fixtures, replace carpet and paint a few walls as well as replace the vanity in the master bathroom, update the window blinds and add landscaping.

“We think by looking at it that we will be able to get everything done for between $3,000 and $5,000,” Estes-Simpson said. “We will then outshine the other homes in the price point.”

Masterson and Estes-Simpson have obtained discounts from local vendors on much of the work to be done in the house. The homeowners will pay for the updates.

Erin Edgemon can be reached at 869-0812 and at eedgemon@murfreesboropost.com.

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