Sellers of older homes sharpen strategy with a CLUE report

Kristi Bailey 2020 NETAR President

A marketing challenge for some local sellers is getting past buyer’s apprehension about buying an older home. It’s a concern because most Northeast Tennessee homes have some age on them, while many buyers want something 10 years old or younger. More than half (58 percent) of the houses in the three-county Johnson City metro area are more than 20 years old. In the four-county Kingsport-Bristol metro area, the share of 20 years old or older homes is 69 percent.  


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 And there are ample examples of older homes that are not outdated.  Look at it this way, a 30-year-old home with three-year-old components is usually more marketable than a 15-year-old home that endured a lot of corner-cutting on upgrading or maintenance. 

But with that said, there are things sellers of older homes should consider. There are various 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 a CLUE report to move the process along. 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. 

 A CLUE is a lot like a CarFax. 

 Here’s how the folks at the National Association of REALTOR’S® (NAR) 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 an 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.  The data from each claim remains in the CLUE file for seven years.  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,” according to HouseLogic. 

 The logic behind using 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. So, the frequency of claims gets more attention than the claim amount because insurers want to predict the risk of future claims. 

 Keeping tabs on the CLUE Personal Property report is a 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. HouseLogic – a free service sponsored by the National Association of Realtors® can be found at  

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee – Southwest Virginia region representing over 1,500 members and 100 affiliates involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Pending sales, Trends Reports, and the regional market analytics can be found on the NETAR websites at   

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region, representing over 1,800+ members and 100+ business partners involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Weekly market reports and information for both consumers and members are available on the NETAR website at