7 Keys to Selling Your House When Sales are Slow
What was once a booming residential real estate market across the country has slowed to a trickle.
You’ll want to interview at least three real estate agents to
determine who will do the best job for you. What you are trying to
determine is who has a finger on the pulse of the real estate market,
and can offer his or her professional guidance to get your house sold
for a reasonable amount. Finding top agents in your hometown is helpful –
out-of-town agents may not have the in-depth market knowledge, or the
accessibility to motivated buyers.
Ask these questions before listing with an agent:
- How many homes have you sold in the past year?
- How many in the past six months?
- How did the selling price of those homes differ in relation to the list price?
- What do I need to do to the outside of my home to increase curb appeal?
- What do I need to do to the inside of my home to make it more attractive to potential buyers?
- What can I do to make my home sell quickly?
- How many homes like mine are currently for sale in this town? How much are they listed for?
- How will you determine the list price of my home?
Notice the list price question came last. Too often sellers interview
agents and list their home with the agent who comes up with the highest
price. In a slow market, a price that is the highest may very well mean
that your home will languish on the market, resulting in a much lower
sales price months down the road. Find the agent who will partner with
you to get your house sold in a reasonable amount of time for a
reasonable amount of money.
Rising mortgage rates are lowering the affordability of homes and an
increase of sellers looking to cash in on the rapid price appreciation
over the past few years has led to a dramatic reduction in buyers and a
rapid increase in the number of homes for sale. These factors have led
to too few buyers looking at too many houses, putting buyers back into
the driver’s seat.
It’s a whole new world for home sellers. So, how do you make your house stand out so it will sell when sales are slow?
- Price your home aggressively. When mortgage
rates are low and buyers are chasing too few houses for sale, sellers
can ask high prices and get them. Even when houses are overpriced for
the market, sellers are likely to receive some offers, as buyers are
often desperate to find a home that meets their needs. When things are
slow, pricing is absolutely critical. But instead of pricing your home
aggressively high, you should consider pricing your home no higher than
the middle of the range for homes comparable to yours. And if you need
to sell your home quickly, you should consider pricing your home among
in the bottom 25 percent of comparable homes. Why? 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.
- Quickly cut the price if you don’t get action.
Everyone wants to sell their home for as much money as possible. Nobody
wants to “give” their home away. But homes that languish on the market
in a slow market often are forced to make one price reduction after
another, as buyers and real estate agents may begin to question why the
home has been on the market for so long. In a slow market with few
buyers you may want to cut the price to make the sale more quickly.
- Finding the right agent is critical. Any agent
can list your house. But when buyers are few you need a first-class
real estate professional on your side. They’ll help with everything
from pricing to advising you on the other 6 points in this article.
Finding leading agents who outsell other agents in your home town are
the type of professionals you’ll need on your side. Talk with your
family, friends, and neighbors to identify the best agents in your area.
Interview several – hire the one who you believe will do the best job
- Curb appeal. After pricing, nothing will bring
more potential buyers into your home than a house with outstanding curb
appeal. Take a walk down your street with a critical eye. How does
your home stack up from the outside? If it doesn’t stand out from the
rest then it’s time to get to work.
- Consider home staging. The quickest way to add
home value to a home for sale is a fresh coat of paint. But after you
do that, you may want to consider home staging. Either do it yourself
or hire an outside firm to do so. A home staging professional will come
in and take away some furnishings and rearrange others to make your
home show better. When home sales were going gangbusters this was a
technique used mostly by those selling high-end homes. When things get
slow and homeowners need to sell, more people find home staging
professionals to help them prepare their home to make it more
appealing to prospective buyers.
- Fix stuff. The loose railing. The broken pane of
glass. The closet door off of its track. The leaky faucet. They all
need fixing. If you don’t have the time or skill, find a handyman to go
through your home and make repairs. Also, consider replacing the old
roof that looks like it might leak, the antique furnace, and the
stained rug. When there are few homes on the market, sellers sometimes
offer cash at closing to repair the roof or for the stained rug. With
so many homes on the market, buyers can afford to only bid on those
that are in move-in condition. Fix what needs repair before listing
- Offer flexible terms. Flexibility is the key
now. You’d like to close in two months, but the buyers might be in a
hurry and need to close sooner. Find a way to make it happen. You were
planning to take the appliances to your new home, but the buyers make a
bid near the asking price – including the appliances. Leave the
washer and dryer behind (and then go find a store that offers no
payments on appliance purchases for a year). And for those items that
have deep sentimental value, make sure they are removed prior to any
showings. Competition between home sellers is high – you don’t want to
lose the only buyer who has looked at your home in a month.