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Hat tip to dwip for sending this over, from Yahoo. Full article here, and some excerpts:

For a seller, advertising that you’ve recently painted your house seems like a no-brainer. But in a study that looked at nearly 60,000 residential real estate transactions in Texas, listings that mentioned new paint, new carpet and/or roof work sold, on average, for slightly less than those that did not.

Thomas A. Thomson, the study’s coauthor and the director of the Real Estate Finance and Development Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio, says that buyers aren’t going to be fooled by a problem house simply because it has a fresh coat of paint. “It’s kind of like putting lipstick on a pig,” he says. But even if there’s nothing wrong with the house, an advertisement that touts new features could set off alarm bells. If a seller says everything is new, a buyer might wonder why everything needed to be replaced-and whether there are other defects lurking.

Thomson recommends sellers take the simpler route: Let potential buyers be surprised by the quality of the home, instead of disappointed by how average it is compared with its description.

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Do buyers pay more when sellers’ real estate agents are attractive?

Apparently so: Preliminary results of a study from Old Dominion University suggest that, put bluntly, the more attractive a male finds his female agent, the higher the price he’ll probably be willing to pay. Women also seem to be susceptible to attractive female agents, although not to the degree that men are. (Neither women nor men seem to respond much to attractive males.) “I’d like to think I wouldn’t fall prey to it,” says Seiler. “But I think that the people who were in our study would have said the exact same thing.”

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A big part of any decision to sell a house is where a homeowner thinks prices are heading. So how do owners feel after the brutal market of the past few years? Surprisingly-perhaps naively-optimistic. A recent survey of 479 homeowners in 20 U.S. metropolitan areas found that people were about five times more likely to say their own homes would see their prices increase in the next 12 months than they were to say their neighbors’ homes would do better.

Robert Shiller, a professor at Yale University, and Karl Case, a professor at Wellesley College, survey homeowners every year to gauge how confident they are that their homes will increase in value. Only once, when the housing market was at its worst in the recent crash, did the poll results slide into the negative. In general, the average respondent figured his home was bound to jump in value in the near future. “People don’t change their opinions that quickly,” says Shiller.

Whether they’ll regret those opinions later, only time will tell. If his expectations are out of whack with reality, an overoptimistic seller could wind up waiting for a higher price that will never arrive. But pessimists should tread just as carefully: An overly downbeat seller could wind up dumping a house at a price far below what it could fetch a year or two later.

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