Business: Selling A Home? Symposium Gives Valuable Advice

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: Business

EAST HARWICH When it comes to purchasing their dream vacation home on Cape Cod, buyers are fickle – and they’re not interested in fixer-uppers.

That’s the message from real estate agent Tony Guthrie, who is holding an informational seminar for potential sellers. Guthrie works with real estate agent Sharon Mabile for Robert Paul Properties, and said the seminar aims to share some inside information with sellers that can reduce their frustration and improve their home’s selling price.

Guthrie said on the Lower Cape, the selling price for houses in the $1 million to $3 million range is down almost 33 percent, a number that’s noteworthy.

“It’s not necessarily a trend, but it speaks to the fact that Chatham has had several years of really good, robust sales. But there’s a tipping point,” he said. That means that sellers need to be ready before they put a property on the market.

“It used to be all about ‘location, location location.’ Now, it’s ‘price, condition, location,’” Guthrie said. “Buyers today will take a much lesser location for a better price and newer construction, or better condition.”

Two sessions of the seminar are planned, both at the Wequassett Inn. One happens on March 23 at 12:30 p.m., and other is March 28 at 1 p.m. The sessions are free and include refreshments, and don’t involve a sales pitch, Guthrie said.

“It’s really to get sellers to understand how important it is to be ready,” he said. The Cape’s real estate market is mostly about second-home sales, and those buyers are sometimes less motivated than people who are buying their primary residence, he said.

“We’re a pretty instantaneous society,” Guthrie said. If a person is in checkout line at a clothing store and there are 10 people ahead of them, they might decide that the purchase isn’t that important, and just walk away. “It’s the same with buying a second home,” he said. That means sellers need to make the process as easy as possible.

“People don’t want a lot of headaches,” Guthrie said. Sometimes, would-be sellers have put off minor repairs and neglected other details, not planning to sell anytime soon. But that while that chipping paint or rotten trim might not be an immediate problem for a homeowner, it can be a deal-breaker for a home buyer who’s paying a premium price.

“They want to see a solid investment, and if they have to sell tomorrow, they want to come out whole,” Guthrie said. That means homeowners need to do more than just take average care of their property.

The seminar will feature a panel discussion to provide potential sellers with important tips. In addition to Guthrie and Mabile, the panel will include David Murphy of Tobey and Leary Builders, flood specialist Joe Rossi who will speak about insurance and flood maps, real estate lawyer Karen Jennings-Flynn, John Bologna of Coastal Engineering, and home staging experts Jackie Zartarian and Amy Benz.

“Anyone who is thinking of making a move in the near future should consider this as a great opportunity to learn from experts who do this for a living,” Mabile said.

Whether it’s having the septic system inspected or finally obtaining permits for do-it-yourself improvements made years earlier, it’s time to “work with people to make sure there’s no hidden secrets,” Guthrie said. Just 20 years ago, when it came to home improvements, often “things were done with a wink and a nod,” he said. But a buyer who is paying top dollar for a vacation home isn’t looking for surprises.

“They want to make sure everything’s in order,” he said.

For information or to reserve a spot at one of the seminars, call 508-246-3236 or email