Buy or sell a home, but only if you dare

My wife and I recently sold our home in Winnipeg and are in the process of buying one in the Chicago suburbs. I’ve learned a lot about home Melvin Durai's Humorbuying and selling, and would like to share some tips with you, in case you’re daring enough to buy or sell a home. I use the word “daring” because I strongly advise against it, just as I strongly advise against committing murder. And trust me, at some point during your home buying or selling process, you will want to kill someone, most likely your real estate agent.

I don’t mean to scare you – I just want you to be prepared for the bitter feelings that might arise if the process doesn’t go the way you hoped, Short-Salesuch as if you’re forced to sell your  home for less than you owe the bank. (This is known as a short sale in real estate terminology, because you will be short of money to pay the bank, the bank manager will get short with you, and achieving your retirement goals will be nothing short of a miracle.)

If you still feel compelled to buy or sell a home, it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can about the process. Let’s start with some home selling tips:

De-clutter your home. It’s important to make your home look spacious, so please rent a storage unit somewhere and fill it up with everything you don’t require for your day-to-day living needs, except perhaps your husband. Trust me, potential home buyers are not going to be impressed with your collection of seashells from all over the world, even if you’ve glued them together in the shape of Barack Obama. Remember: home buyers want to be pleasantly surprised, not shell-shocked.

Update your kitchen. This is really important to women, as I discovered when my wife and I walked into a gleaming new kitchen and her eyes lit up – more brightly than on our wedding day. Too bad we were just visiting a friend’s house.

Don’t hang around during home viewings. When a real estate agent is showing your home to potential buyers, it’s really not a good idea for you to be lying on the couch in the living room, watching an episode of “Wife Swap.” It’s better to disappear for an hour or two, and by “disappear,” I don’t mean in the walk-in closet. Trust me, if there’s anything more off-putting to a home buyer than seeing a row of leisure suits from the ’70s, it’s seeing a pair of eyes behind them.

Put away your photos and other personal items. Home buyers want to picture themselves living in your home, not picture you on a beach in Hawaii. You don’t want them to get the wrong idea.

Wife: “That bikini seems a little tight on her.”

Husband: “Not as tight as our finances will be if we buy this home.”

Tight finances are certainly a good reason to be careful when buying a home. Here are some tips to help you:

Always verify facts. The seller may claim that “the roof was installed in ’06 and the carpet was installed in ’08” but you need to make sure it wasn’t 1906 and 1908.

Do as much research as you can. Google the home, Google its owner, Google the neighbor, Google the neighbor’s dog. The latter may seem extreme, but wait until you need to retrieve an errant ball. Pretty soon, you’ll be calling the police to retrieve part of your butt.

Location is important. If a home is next to a busy road, you can count on getting a good price. If it’s next to an Indian grocery store, you can count on getting good rice.

Don’t let your agent pressure you or mislead you. Real estate agents can be very helpful, but they’re also eager to see you making a purchase. If your agent sends you a text on his iPhone that a particular house “will be scooped up within a week,” what he’s trying to scoop up within a week is his commission. Not all agents are like this, of course. Some have Blackberries.

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. Melvin you and Dave Barry (and me I might add) share a similar obtuse sense of humor….and I love it. Well done!

  2. V S Gopalarathnam says:

    As always, pragmatic and full of fun in side sane advice
    V S Gopalarathnam

  3. Your are SOOO right re: kitchens! Gotta tell my mom (who’s gonna be selling soon).

  4. Selling your home is a process in which if you are aware and take smart decisions, then you can have the deal end at a very good amount. When you have planned to sell your home, then make sure that your home has no flaws i.e. it should look attractive as well as striking to a buyer. One of the ways that you can sell your home is to find a real estate agent. Before that you should make sure that your home landscape is well maintained, your house is painted, remove furniture and other sensitive materials from the home. Most of the people do not have time to meet agents and this is the reason they search for homes online and thus, and effective way that you can sell your home at best price is by consulting an online estate agent. They can advertise your home online according to the type of property you want to sell.

  5. phatkickr says:

    I just enjoy your relationships from one object to another .. hell funny!

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