Homeowners are generally optimistic when listing their homes for sale. Since many aren’t real estate experts and they don’t follow market trends, they may imagine their house selling in a matter of weeks and snagging an offer close to the asking price. But this doesn’t always happen.
Home prices have decreased and stabilized in some real estate markets, which has led to an increase in real estate sales. In a sizzling market it may only take days to move a house. Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality for a lot of the country. And if you’re trying to sell in a down market, you need an effective strategy.
You don’t have to use a real estate agent when selling your house, but it’s highly recommended. Skipping the agent saves on realtor commissions, which can increase any profit you make off the sale, and ultimately provide a larger down payment for your next place. But while it’s possible to sell without a professional by your side, handling the sale on your own can slow down the process.
Realistically consider how much time you’re able to devote to marketing your home and meeting with potential buyers. If you work and have other obligations, your availability is undoubtedly limited, which dictates how often you can show the property. An agent, on the other hand, is available most of the day to meet with buyers.
You may feel that your house is worth a million bucks, and if you’ve put a lot of work into improving the property, you understandably want a return on your investment. But in a down real estate market, a high asking price is the kiss of death.
If you’re competing with other similar properties, and your home is priced higher than the other houses, it will take longer to find a buyer. Even if your house has a lot of upgrades and extras, buyers may go with another property to maintain an affordable mortgage payment.
The more you can offer a buyer, the better your odds of selling in a down market. Incentives might include paying a percentage of the buyer’s closing costs, offering a one-year home warranty, updating appliances, replacing the carpet or installing new windows.
You can have the perfect home on the inside, but if potential buyers drive by the house and see a mess on the outside, they may conclude that the interior is just as messy and move on to the next house.
Not to say you should spend a fortune on landscaping. But you should spend a day or two cleaning up the yard. Remove toys and other items. Keep your lawn neatly cut, trim bushes, paint shutters and doors, and power wash the exterior. A good first impression is what gets a buyer in the front door.
Tidying the interior may not be enough to sell in a down market. Your house can be clean, but if it’s cluttered and stores too much stuff, this gives the illusion of smaller square footage, which won’t win over buyers who are looking for a bigger space.
A solution: rent a temporary storage unit and then remove oversized furniture from the home. Clean out your closets, attic, garage and basement. Make sure that the house is always show-ready.
Despite your best efforts, it can still take months to sell in a down market. Be patient – the right buyer will come along. In the meantime, keep the home in good condition, and ask friends and family to spend the word.