The best thing about “The Fearless Home Seller” by Elizabeth Razzi is the title. Although the book touches on all the important topics for home sellers, it is far from being aggressive and authoritative. A more accurate title would be “The Kind, Timid, Shy, Pussycat Home Seller” because the book skirts the tough but vital home sales topics such as how to price the home right, key questions to ask prospective listing agents, and selling in a difficult “buyer’s market.”
Razzi, once upon a time the hard-hitting personal finance editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine specializing in real estate, has mellowed and become far less aggressive. In today’s tough market for home sellers, she leaves out many of the essential steps home sellers need to understand and implement if they are to sell for top dollar.
Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.
A big problem is the author has written about selling homes but has never been a real estate agent working in the trenches. As a result, the book is filled with vague generalities rather than specific details and real-life examples. Her lack of experience selling homes shows.
The biggest oversight is failure to show how to interview and select the best real estate agent to list your home for sale. Razzi does a fine job of explaining the differences in listing types, such as exclusive right to sell, exclusive agency, open listing, and even the dangerous net listing.
Logically, the next step to listing a home for sale is interviewing at least three successful local agents who sell homes in the vicinity. At this point, the book falls apart with no list of key questions to ask each agent interviewed, what to expect from each agent, and how to check out agents by phoning their recent home sellers.
In the chapter about the key step of pricing a home correctly, there is absolutely no mention of the traditional comparative market analysis (CMA), which each agent interviewed should prepare for the home seller. Razzi doesn’t even mention the agent should base his/her estimate of a home’s market value on recent sales prices of comparable nearby homes, with adjustments up or down to compensate for the pros and cons of the home being listed for sale.
However, the author does mention why home sellers should not rely on home-market-value estimates from Web sites such as Zillow.com. She also warns the local property tax assessment is usually not an accurate reflection of a home’s current market value. But she totally neglects to explain how home sellers can accurately set a realistic asking price, such as by comparing CMAs from at least three successful local agents.
The chapter about selling your home alone without a professional agent, called “FSBO,” or for sale by owner, is unlikely to give any home seller enough information to be successful. Like most of the book, this chapter is lacking in details and is especially weak in building confidence in the do-it-yourself seller.
There is even a chapter on selling your home at auction. It explains the bare fundamentals but doesn’t provide any real-life examples of successful home sellers who sold their homes at auction and did better than they could have by listing with a successful sales agent.
Chapter topics include “When to Sell”; “Estimating Your Bottom Line”; “Remodel or Repair Before Selling”; “Dressed to Kill”; “The World of Brokers and How They Are Paid”; “How to Size Up Real Estate Agents”; “The Listing”; “What’s the Right Price?” “FSBO-Are You Cut Out for It?” “Hot Market Versus Cool Market”; “Showings”; “Sweetening the Deal”; “Negotiating Your Way to Agreement”; “Laws All Sellers Must Heed”; “Seller’s Remorse and Squirrelly Buyers”; and “Wrapping It All Up.”
In the past, Razzi has won several real estate writing awards. But this book isn’t up to her previous high standards. It is a very basic “how to sell a home” book with nothing unique to commend it. On my scale of one to 10, this disappointing book from an author who can do much better rates only a six.
“The Fearless Home Seller,” by Elizabeth Razzi (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, New York), 2007, $16.95, 257 pages; available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries and www.Amazon.com.
(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center).