Sell Your Home in a Down Market

Prospective home buyers hold most of the cards in today’s real estate climate.

That means sellers need to adjust expectations and prepare for the long haul. One of the simplest and most effective ways to boost your odds is to ensure your home looks the part.

You can still get your home sold in this down market for as high a price as the market will pay.

When it comes to real estate, appearance matters. Especially in a buyer's market.

Here's how to improve your chances of getting your home sold quickly and for as high as the market will pay.

Price it Right: In a down trending market, pricing is absolutely critical. If you’re going to sell your home in a down market, you may have to be willing to make some concessions on price.   Foreclosures have depressed the prices quite a bit in all areas, therefore you have to price your home aggressively.

You should consider pricing your home no higher than the middle of the range for homes comparable to yours.   With few buyers chasing many homes, you need to quickly get the attention of those who are serious about buying, If your home is priced too high, you many never get buyers to even consider looking at your home.

You may not get as much action as the foreclosures, but you will at least get more action than other sellers who aren’t as flexible on price.  Try not to get emotionally stuck on a certain price.

Improve the Curb Appeal:  If you can’t compete on price with foreclosures, you can do your best to make sure that your house at least looks better on the outside than the foreclosure down the block.  
  •     Paint the trim and the doors .
  •     Put up new exterior lights.
  •     Spruce up the landscaping.

All these improvements will make a good first impression on the potential buyer when they drive up to your home. Your home will also be more memorable to the buyer who has been riding around for hours looking at homes comparable to yours.

Clear the Clutter: both inside and outside the home.  It's important for the buyer to walk into your home and picture themselves living in the house.  Therefore it helps to:

  •     Remove personal photos from the walls.
  •     Take extra items off the counter tops in the kitchen.
  •     Remove some of the items from the bathroom vanity.
  •     Remove any unnecessary furniture and put it in storage.
  •     Remove some clothing from the closets to make them feel bigger.
  •     Remove any clutter from the garage.
  •     Straighten up the items in your pantry and cupboards, discard or store away any unnecessary items.

Sweeten the Deal: Consider offering a bonus to the first agent to bring in a full price offer. Offer the buyer a couple of thousand dollars credit toward closing costs, or offer to pay closing costs entirely will in some cases receive more attention from house hunters looking at similar homes. In a down market, buyers are looking for a deal, so do your best to make them feel they're getting one.
Marketing: In addition to the marketing your agent will do on your behalf, take the initiative and advertise your home on your own.

  •     Take advantage of online marketing.
  •     Post ads on Craigslist.
  •     Post ads on Zillow.com and Trulia.com
  •     Promote your home on your Facebook and Twitter.
  •     Send out a copy of your MLS listing to everyone in your email address book.

Find the Right Agent: Your house is one of your biggest assets. This is not the time to hire someone who happens to be a friend or a relative who may owe you a favor.  Interview a few agents and ask them to tell you what their marketing plan is for your home.  Use someone who understands the power of the Internet, the importance of good wide angle interior photos, and an overall marketing strategy for your house.

The Bottom Line: Selling a home in a down market requires a little extra work. Do everything you can to get the home in excellent shape and be prepared to make some small concessions at closing. These tips, coupled with an attractive price, will increase the odds of getting your home sold.