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7 Tips to Sell Your Home in a Soft Market

by Kevin on July 30, 2012

The economy is gradually improving since the housing meltdown of a few years ago. The one area that seems to be the exception to the rule is housing. This is especially true if you’re trying to sell your home. You’re competing with lower priced foreclosures and short sales, against a backdrop of fewer qualified buyers.

How do you sell your home in what is at best a soft real estate market?

Recognize that we’re in a “buyers market”

sell home in soft market Should You Sell Your Home?

Success or failure to sell a home often rests on proper perception of reality, and in today’s housing market, that means recognizing that we’re in a buyers market. Simply put, a buyers market is one in which there are more properties for sale than there are qualified people to buy them. Just like payday loans, with low interest rates, it’s a buyer’s market.  Consider for good rates!  You’ll be in close competition with other sellers to attract a relatively small number of buyers to view and hopefully to make an offer on your home.

In practical terms, you’ll need to adjust to that reality and do what it takes to get your home sold. Carefully consider the advice of real estate agents and other knowledgeable experts, as well as that of other people who have recently sold their homes. Ask them what worked, and what didn’t.

Prepare the house for sale

It’s almost ironic that we live in our homes, but when we’re trying to sell them, we have to make them look as if we haven’t. Think “showroom” here! The less lived-in your home looks, the better the chance of selling it.

Start by de-cluttering the house. That means getting rid of excess furniture and any storage items you have. The emptier the home, the bigger and cleaner it will look.

Be sure to fix anything that’s broken, and paint any walls or rooms that need it. When you’re looking for what it is you need to fix, go through your home as if you are a buyer—they seem to have radar when it comes to hidden flaws.

Finally, make sure your house is spic-and-span clean during the marketing period. Buyers don’t look past dirt, even though it won’t be there by closing date.

Price your home right

This is the time you need to leave emotion out of the equation. If the market indicates your home is worth price X, and you think it should sell at price X+, list it at price X. Some sellers want to try to go with the maximum price thinking to just try it for a month or two to see what happens, but that can be a bad move.

Overpricing the home is the worst of all strategies. Remember again, we’re in a buyers market, and the longer the house sits unsold, the harder it will be to sell at all. Price it right, and go for the quick sale.

Be ready to lower the price if the house doesn’t sell

This is the “B side” of pricing your home right; if the house doesn’t sell you’ll need to lower the price in response. Some real estate experts advise lowering the price every 30 days until the house sells. Nearly every home will sell at the right price, and you may need to adjust your sale price on a regular basis until you reach that point.

Watch the seasons

Like all industries, real estate tends to run in seasonal cycles, and they can be different from one part of the country to another. Find out from real estate agents when the down cycles are in your area, and avoid trying to sell your home during those times.

The holiday season, from about mid-November to early January, is almost universally a slow selling season for housing. Summer time can be soft in some markets, while winter can be slow in colder climates. What you want to avoid is putting your house on the market and having it sit for a month or two during a predictably slow time.

Offer flexible terms

Recognizing the buyer’s market factor, you want to offer terms that make your home more attractive. One way to do this is by offering to pay the buyers closing costs, which will minimize the amount of money they’ll have to come out of pocket for at closing.

Another is to be accommodating with a closing date, being prepared to work out a date that will be buyer-friendly. By being flexible, you’ll be confirming to your buyers that they’ve made the right choice in selecting your home, and they’ll be less likely to back out of the deal before closing.

Don’t play hardball

It’s difficult enough just to find an interested, qualified prospect willing to buy your home, let alone to get the sale closed. Don’t ruin the chances of it happening by letting your emotions take over during the negotiating phase. Your objective should always be on getting your house sold—everything else should be details to be worked out.

Unless a buyer is being completely unreasonable, it’s generally easier to work with the current buyer than it is to start all over trying to find a new prospect. Every prospective buyer will have their own set of complications! Do all you can to make the sale happen with the buyer you’re dealing with now.
In this market, there are no guarantees that you’ll sell your home quickly. But you can increase the chance of it happening by coming up with a comprehensive strategy to make the sale of your home easy for you and for a buyer.

Have you sold a home in the past few years? What obstacles did you run into and how did you work around them?

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