Advice for sellers in a buyers’ market
An increasing number of homes are for sale in Summit County, and while numbers of transactions are up over the first half of the year, and prices are still increasing in most segments, the pace of the market has slowed vs. the last several years. Buyers are taking a “wait and see” stance, while Sellers remain hopeful that the peak selling season (about July through October … so now) will see an increase in traffic and transactions. Some experts have predicted that any meaningful rebound might not happen until sometime in 2009, however, and so the gap between Sellers and Buyers remains open.
Homeowners who want to sell have a choice “- sell in the current market, which might mean a lowered price or some extra work, or wait until later when market conditions improve (which they will). Of course, the latter assumes Sellers are able to wait. If you are determined to sell, you need to forget about the real estate market of last year and face the new reality “- it’s a buyer’s market, and you will be competing with a growing supply of motivated Sellers to get people interested in your home or condo. Experts say that, when trying to sell your home in a Buyers’ market, the two most important factors (after location) are price and condition. Some flexibility always helps, too. With this in mind, here are some of the strategies experienced realtors typically advise to help sell a house in a Buyers’ market:
Price It Right: Set the price at what you can get, not what you think it’s worth. Don’t over-price your house; Buyers may ignore it and your listing will lose freshness and appeal. Reduce your price early. If your home has been on the market for a few weeks with no offers, it’s time to consider a reduction, and that’s what will spur Buyers to take a look, or take a second look. Sellers fear pricing too low and leaving money on the table, but there is little danger of this. If a home is priced too low, far below the competition, multiple offers will likely result, driving the price up to fair market value. It’s important to choose a seasoned Realtor who is able to strategically manage multiple offers to maximize this potential. Also, don’t choose to list with the Realtor who suggests the highest listing price. Instead, select a listing agent who can back up his or her proposal with the most facts, market research, and experience.
Make a Great First Impression: In a Sellers’ market, in-demand homes tend to sell with little or nothing done to improve their curb appeal. Not so in a Buyers’ market. Showings turn into drive-bys if the property lacks curb appeal. Most Buyers know “The One,” the first time they see it. If they make an emotional or aesthetic connection on the first showing, it’s as good as SOLD. For this reason, doing what it takes to get your house in selling-shape is the second most important factor (after setting the correct price) if you want to get your asking price or sell as quickly as possible. Emotions are no good when you’re selling, but if you can appeal to the buyer’s fancy, your property will be, “The One!”
Some things you can do to increase your home’s curb appeal and help it “show” better include:
· Spruce up the yard. Sweep the walk, mow the lawn, prune the shrubs, and clean up debris. Add flowers or new plants to gardens.
· Clean the windows, floors, carpets, kitchen, appliances, bathrooms, and even the garage.
· Paint the front door, walls leading to entranceways, ceiling stains, cracked or chipping areas. Replace “personal” paint (like pink in the girl’s room, or orange/blue in the “Broncos room) with neutral colors.
· Fix or repair broken doorbell, leaky faucets, sticky doorknobs or lock sets, broken floor or counter tiles, dead light bulbs, doors that don’t close properly, and broken railings.
· Organize all rooms, closets, and the basement.
· Remove pets and litter box, light scented candles, play background music, rearrange and remove excess furniture.
The industry term for doing this is “staging a house” and, as you can imagine, it can go far beyond decorating and cleaning. But doing this can result in selling your home faster and getting a higher price, according to professionals who offer these services. If you don’t have the time or would prefer to have someone trained and objective do this for you, ask your Realtor to refer you to a professional home stager.
Get a Pre-Sale Inspection: Sellers are advised to consider getting a pre-sale home inspection, especially if their home is older or in need of repairs. They can either use a clean home inspection report as a selling advantage or take care of the repairs listed on the inspection report. Of course, it’s advised that you make the repairs before listing the home if possible, especially if they involve things that can be messy and unsightly, such as replacing the roof or removing an old fuel oil tank. But if you can’t make the repairs, you can use the report to make estimates available to show potential Buyers about the cost of repairs.
Be Flexible: In this market, Buyers will expect to pay less than the asking price. They will be armed with the original list prices and final sales prices of comparable homes and will know the price reductions other Sellers are accepting. Many Buyers may make a low-ball offer to see what a Seller’s reaction is. Remember, emotion is the enemy of flexibility, so keep your emotions out of it. The objective is to sell the house and, if a buyer is truly interested and able to buy your house, then there is a price they may be willing to pay and one with which you may be satisfied. Don’t simply reject the first offer; instead, make a reasonable counteroffer and send the message that you want to work with them to close the gap between the offer and the price you need to get for the house. Don’t be afraid to ask what information was used to determine the price offered, and why they want to buy your house. Say the offer was based on comparable price per square foot data for two other listings. If your house includes upgrades and a finished basement and the others don’t, include an explanation of your upgrades and the additional value per square foot with your counteroffer.
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