The Sale: ‘Always the bridesmaid,' then home finally sells

Name: Bruce and Debbi Gurley

The home: A four-bedroom, three-bath brick traditional home built in 1985 with a basement.

Where: Roswell's Chimney Lakes neighborhood

Why they sold: To downsize. The couple bought the Cobb County home 15 years ago so their daughters could attend Lassiter High School, Debbi said. "They did that, and when the youngest one went to college, it was just a good time to sell. It was too big of a house," she said. They put it on the market in March 2008 with another agent, and it was listed until October 2008. Then they took it off the market and relisted it in March 2009 with Cindy Bowers of Solid Source Realty, who estimated they had 300 showings.

Time on market: 790 days (for the last period it was listed)

Original price: $376,900 (the first time the home was on the market); it was dropped to $350,000 in 2009 and $296,000 in 2011.

Sale price: $265,000

What it took: Getting down to the right price and updating the home, even while it was on the market. "We met with Cindy and we decided that we were going to take what we could and put some money into it and update. When we met with her, she said: 'These are all good things that you are doing. Let's put it up [on the market]. You don't have to wait until you get done. People can see what you're redoing,' " Debbi said.

The Gurleys made about $20,000 in changes, which included new carpet and luxury touches in the bathrooms and kitchen, such as granite countertops. The home also was staged, and Bruce made a seating area off the side of the house, where they put a table and chairs, to show the potential of the lot.

“Even with that, it took a while. We were, like, always the bridesmaid,” Debbi said. But the waiting paid off in January, when traffic picked up and people were looking on a daily basis. They received two offers and went with the buyer who was willing to pay cash so they wouldn’t worry about someone not qualifying for a mortgage. They closed on the home in February.

Potential stumbling block: Their backyard. "I guess the demographics were younger and they had younger families. What we loved about our house is what they were hesitating over," Debbi said. "Our backyard is literally a treehouse. It backs up to walking trails and a creek. People were falling in love with the house, but there's no place to put a swing set."

Seller's hint: If you choose to work with an agent, listen to them, from their ideas on staging to their perspective about the market. "There were times where I was so discouraged and she was like, 'Hang on, hang on, we're getting so close,' " Debbi said.