April 29, 2018

Selling An Older Home? Sharpen The Marketing Focus With CLUE


A marketing challenge for many local sellers is how to put a fresh appeal on an older home. It's a concern because most Northeast Tennessee homes have some age on them.  Many existing home sales buyers look for homes that are 10 years-old or younger. But the median age in our primary city markets range from a low of 47 years-old in Johnson City to 55 years-old in Elizabethton. The median is the point where half of the homes are older, and half are younger. According to Realtor Property Resource (RPR), over three fourths of all area homes sold in the last six months were more than 20 years-old. Many were in the 60-to-70 years-old range.

2018 NETAR President


There's nothing wrong with older homes – especially those that have enjoyed tender loving care. They are the bedrock of the area housing inventory, and there are ample examples of older homes that a not outdated.  Look at it this way, a 40-year-old home with five-year-old components is more marketable than a 15-year-old home that endured a lot of corner-cutting on construction or maintenance.

But with that said there are things sellers of older homes should consider. There are a variety or marketing suggestions and upgrades that can be explored, but for this report let's focus on just one.

Some sellers greet serious buyers with a copy of the property's CLUE report as an incentive to move the process along.  This marketing trend has expansion potentials here in Northeast Tennessee as a precursor to an actual home inspection.

 Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know what a CLUE is. Many homeowners are surprised it exits or that they are entitled to a copy.

 In many ways, a CLUE report is the same thing to a house that a Car Fax is to a car, or a credit report is to an individual.

 Here's how the folks at the National Association of Realtors'® HouseLogic Web site explain it:

"A tree falls on the roof of your house. You file an insurance claim with your agent, collect a settlement from the insurer, and fix your roof. End of story, right? Not quite. Every claim you make on your homeowner's insurance is recorded in a widely used insurance industry database called CLUE", an acronym for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange.

 "Almost all insurance companies use CLUE to check on the claims history of prospective policyholders. The CLUE insurance report also includes claims made on your home before you bought it. LexisNexis, the owner of CLUE and A-PLUS, are the primary contacts for the loss-history databases. What's inside the CLUE reports can affect a homeowner's insurance premiums, or even prevent them from getting coverage."

 The CLUE database is used by most insurance companies, and a person's claims history follows them from one insurer to another. The data from each claim remains in the file for seven years.

 The logic behind the use of the database begins with the assumption that if a person has filed claims in the past, they're more likely to file more in the future. Dick Luedke, a State Farm spokesman, told HouseLogic the frequency of claims gets more attention than the amount of the claim.  "We aren't trying to make up for past losses, but to predict the risk of future claims."

 Keeping tabs on the CLUE Personal Property report is a relatively simple process. It's a lot like getting a copy of your credit report. And federal law gives consumers the right to one free CLUE report a year just as it does a credit report.

 According to HouseLogic's report on CLUE, knowing what's on your report will give you a sense of whether you'll need to pay extra for homeowner's insurance, or even if you run the risk of rejection. Another growing use is to offer it as reassurance for buyers looking at older homes.

 A copy of your CLUE report can be requested from A-PLUS by calling 800-709-8842. While the report is free, there's a $19.95 fee to have it mailed to you, according to the company's website.

 Aaron Taylor is the 2018 president of the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors. The real estate education and trade group is the voice for real estate in the Tri-Cities and has over 1,200 local Realtor® members and almost 100 affiliates