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Wilmington, DE 19806

Introducing “Libby's Magic Hand” ©™

A new way to organize all the information needed to make a wise decision about whether to


The Palm: Evaluating the market value of one's present home
The Thumb: Staying Put, Services available to live at home securely
Fore Finger: Scaling down, smaller house, Over 55 Communities
Middle Finger: Rental Retirement Communities,
Ring Finger: For Profit CCRC, (Continuing Care Retirement Community)
Little Finger: Not-for-Profit CCRC

Magic Hand - Picture

- © Libby Zurkow, 2011 - Wilmington Delaware



You will notice that there is a little house in the palm of  “Libby’s Magic Hand”© with four little windows. The little house represents your present home, and the windows represent the four windows of knowledge you must open In order to sell your house in “the shortest time, at the best possible price, with the least amount of hassle”©.

Or perhaps after gaining this powerful knowledge of how little you will really net in cash after you sell your home, (often not nearly as much as you expected),  you may decide to “Stay Put” in your present home but modify it to suit your physical needs as you “age in place”, or you may want to still sell your home, but scale down to a smaller home with a first floor bedroom, or go to an over 55 community.

 In any case, you plan on still living independently, and not going to a retirement community.

The five fingers of the magic hand represent the choices you should explore, BEFORE HIRING AN AGENT TO SELL YOUR HOME!! 


These four windows of knowledge will cost you approximately  $1,000  dollars. But on the scale of the price you are expecting to get for your home they are a very small percentage, and these costs may be deductible as an expense for the sale of your home.



Hire a bank approved, licensed appraiser to give you a full appraisal including pictures and full  details about room size, condition and relevant details of the comparable homes they used to establish the appraised price. This is important because then you can actually drive by and see what your competition is and know what their house If you sell your house for more than this appraised value, the mortgage company will not give a mortgage to your prospective buyer at the most favorable terms, or perhaps not consider granting a mortgage at all until the sale price is adjusted to the appraised value!

if you speak to any real estate agent they will tell you  “ That is crazy!! The buyer will pay all these costs, why should you do it  up front?” the answer  is that when the appraisal is done, the buyer has already signed a contract with you, and the buyer owns this knowledge, not you the seller. If you only had this knowledge in the beginning, you might not want to sell your home at all!!


Licensed home inspectors do not normally specify that anything be fixed unless it is structural, electrical, or plumbing related in approving a home for sale.

They do however, carefully examine and report other deficiencies in the property. You are not required, according to the sales contract, to correct these “minor deficiencies” because they are not specified in the standard real estate contract for the sale of your home.

However, most young buyers today are two career families, who neither have to the time nor the interest in buying “fixer uppers”. There is too much competition in new construction and newer houses than yours. So be prepared to fix everything that is on the deferred list of the inspection report!


Although you do not need to hire a contractor, you should get several bids to find out how much  it will cost to fix everything!

At this point, you will probably faint!

Because you now know what you will actually get from the sale of your home, how much it will cost to fix it, and how much LESS you will net from the final sale!

If, however you decide to go forward with the sale of your home, then:


Again, had you already hired an agent, you would have been told by the agent, “The buyer will pay for the lawyer, why should you?” BUT that is the problem for you as the seller. The lawyer is paid for by the buyer, and the lawyer’s fiduciary responsibility is to the buyer. And if there is a dispute at settlement, you have no legal representation!!

 In some states, there is no representative attorney present, and again the real estate agent will say “Why hire an attorney?” But on the way to settlement, there may be some disputes that the agent cannot solve, and which a good real estate attorney can resolve. But be sure you have negotiated the terms and price of that Attorney’s services before hiring them. 

The attorney that I suggest in Delaware and nearby Pennsulvania, will review every document you sign to be sure it contains the proper provisions and no “sleeper clauses”. It should be written with the terms you thought you had accepted. Sometimes when the sales contracts are retyped, essential phrases are modified without your initial on the original document, or perhaps there is a dispute at settlement, will the attorney represent you at no additional cost?


Only if you definitely decide you can “live with” the net cash you will receive at settlement should you go forward with hiring an agent and proceed to sell your home. There is, however, a very important commonly accepted criteria when hiring an agent that will actually SLOW DOWN the sale of your home.


Do not believe you are being “prudent” when you negotiate for the lowest possible commission to be paid to the agent who lists and/or sells your home. Most real estate agents who list your home will probably not be the agent who sells your home. On the listing sheet that the agents receive from the multi-list company that supplies the public with all the critical information about your house, there is a space at the bottom of the page, (almost hidden), that tells the selling agent what commission they are going to  get when your house is sold. It also informs the agent what the commission split is between the  listing and selling agents.  Please note that this is not always a 50/50 divide!

Even the most dedicated of selling agents are interested in making the most money for the time they spend on an individual buyer. In most cases, the listing agent is also interested in making the commission price attractive enough to the selling agent, to increase the number of showings and speed up the time your house remains on the market without  a sales contract.

Of course both listing and selling agents want to sell your home for the best possible price, but if there are several comparable houses, they may favor the house that will offer the best commission.

When you negotiate a lower commission, you are immediately limiting the number of showings you may receive, because, given two similar properties, one that gives the selling agent only 2% while the other gives the selling agent 4%, guess which house they are going to encourage the buyer to consider? And guess which house they may not even bother to show a prospective buyer!

When the commission is factored in as an expense of selling your house, you are simply looking at an expense in dollars, but there is another more important expense that you are overlooking!

There is an often overlooked personal expense, (STRESS), to you the seller, of enduring multiple showings while the house remains on the market. For most older home owners, each time the house is shown is a stressful event, because it takes time to prepare the house, to pick up things you may be doing which must be tucked way, finding a place you can go so that the agent has free reign, turning on all the lights, adjusting the heat or, more likely, the air conditioning to a level that for economic reasons you do not normally maintain, but which enhances the comfort of the buyers so they will remain in the house longer.

All this is endless disruption in your daily life is an unwanted stressful situation. For seniors, geriatric physicians recognize that recurrent stress can lower the immune system’s ability to ward off illnesses that might normally not affect them. 

One more caveat on the question of real estate commissions. You would assume as the seller that it will be a 50% split of the commission between listing and selling agents.

Sometimes, this is not always the case, the listing agent will take a disproportionate amount of the commission. Make sure that the commission will be 50/50, and write it into the listing agreement!

Contact Libby at:

Phone (or Text):

(302) 545-4420