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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.

Interviewing agents

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 for you.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 your house.
  7. 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.
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