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ORANGE (CBS) — In a tough real estate market, sellers have to be proactive to get a leg up on the competition. One industry expert says the secret to success may be spying on your neighbors.

Orange County real estate agent Al Ricci says shopping open houses in your area may make you feel like a nosy neighbor, but he wants his clients to see how their homes stack up.

After 90 days on the market with no offers, Barb Klinkenberg and her husband decided to take Ricci’s advice for their home. After sizing up the competition, they made some minor cosmetic upgrades to contend with nearby properties.

“We added shutters on the front,” says Klinkenberg. “And the front door is also new, added the facia board on top, and some pretty flowers to add color.”

Ricci warns against wasting money on unnecessary upgrades, and  says checking out what your neighbors have done can help you prioritize improvement projects and pick up design ideas.

“You have to compete with the foreclosures and compete with the short sales,” says Ricci, “because that’s what’s on the market.”

  1. FED UP says:

    How is sizing up the competition for a home sale being a nosy neighbor? A nosy neighbor is someone who gets into other people’s business. This was a stupid article and the headline was very misleading and even stupider.

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