Book Review
Title: "The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Selling Your Home"
Authors: Katie Severance and Nancy Gentile
Publisher: Alpha Books, 2010; 336 pages; $13.27

Homebuyers have all the fun. Well, at least they get the vast majority of the how-to books. Maybe it’s the fact that sellers have already gone through at least one real estate transaction that makes them seem inherently more sophisticated and less needy of basic instruction.

Fact is, these days it takes at least as much careful planning and strategy to be a smart seller as it does to be a smart buyer — sometimes more.

To the rescue comes "The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Selling Your Home," by Katie Severance and Nancy Gentile. In an expert, yet crystal clear voice, the authors guide smart (i.e., non-idiotic!) sellers through the basic steps and more sophisticated, strategic moves needed to "get top dollar for your home and ensure a smooth sale."

No, seriously — while the book’s promises might sound like the now-ubiquitous pabulum on every real estate agent’s Web site, these authors truly provide the insider dirt and nitty-gritty known to and used by agents who list homes and get them sold. It is no surprise then that they are prolific listing agents themselves, and have sold more than 75 percent of their listings at or above the asking price during this recession.

"The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Selling Your Home" provides a detailed advisory for home sellers in three parts.

Part I, "Getting Ready to Sell," teaches sellers how to create an overall master plan for their transaction (and the corresponding purchase of their next home), whether and how to select a listing broker or agent, and how to prepare and price their home strategically for sale.

Part II, "It’s Showtime: When Your Home is on the Market," covers showing and marketing your home, the intricacies of buyers’ behavior in both up and down markets, and several special situations sellers in which sellers might find themselves, including relocating sellers, estate sales, sales of investment homes and flipping properties.

In Part III, "Negotiating and Closing the Deal," the authors walk readers through the nuts and bolts of the actual sale transaction, from evaluating and accepting offers (including an orderly process for the more-frequent-and-less-fun-than-you’d-think dilemma of selecting from multiple offers), inspections and walkthrough, closing and moving.

The authors wrap the book up with a glossary, a list of resources for sellers, and checklists for closing and moving. (These closing resources are highly skimmable, but not as detailed or as useful as I expected, given the highly useful nature of the rest of the book.)

Throughout, the authors sprinkle little "Seller Alert" sidebars, tidbits of information oriented around saving readers money (or preventing them from losing money) or drawing their attention to potential decision-making pitfalls and non-obvious, undesirable consequences of various alternative courses of action.

Also, there are numerous "Trick of the Trade" boxes inset throughout the text, offering nuances of understanding and strategy designed to ratchet reader/sellers’ sophistication level up a notch with insider information.

The reality is that the average seller with a good listing agent will have a guide to walk them through most of the sequences and tasks in the book.

However, in a tough-to-sell market, "The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Selling Your Home" is a tool from which smart sellers can gain objective, expert advice (almost like a second opinion); a unique tip (or several) to help them prepare and market their home optimally; and an orderly overall plan for approaching and executing their next move calmly and strategically, from start to finish.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is author of "The Savvy Woman’s Homebuying Handbook" and "Trillion Dollar Women: Use Your Power to Make Buying and Remodeling Decisions." Ask her a real estate question online or visit her Web site,


What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.

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