A few years back my wife and I were selling our townhouse, and the market was at it's height. Sellers were easily getting the asking price for their homes, and some were even getting more than one offer – sometimes above the asking price. Times were good if you were a seller, however, the problem was that if you were selling your home, you are also probably looking to buy a new home. We ended up selling our house for the asking price – and then we turned around and probably overpaid for our new home. If only we had known what the market would do, we could have waited a few years after selling – and bought a new home at a bargain. What's that they say about hindsight?
The market has now been going down for a couple of years, and homesellers are having a tough time selling their homes. For many homeowners they bought their homes with little or no money down, and they're now finding themselves underwater on their mortgage – they owe more than the house is worth. From bloomberg.com
Almost one-quarter of U.S. mortgage holders owed more than their homes were worth in the second quarter and that figure may rise to as much as 30 percent by mid-2010 as job losses and foreclosures climb, Zillow.com said.
With so many underwater mortgages many people are just walking away from their homes. When those people walk away the banks end up foreclosing. That means the market now has a glut of foreclosed homes on the market. In fact accordingto RealtyTrac.com there has already been 1,654,634 foreclosures so far in 2010!
With all those foreclosures in addition to all the short sales, your competition is stiff. You need to make sure to give yourself every possible advantage. Here are some tips that will hopefully help you to sell your house fast.
9 Tips To Help You Sell Your Home
To help you sell your house in a down market, here are some things you can do.
- Your pricing is extremely important: If you want to sell quickly when the market is bad, you might have to make some leeway when it comes to your price. Many areas (including mine) have been hurt by all the foreclosures and short sales, and prices are depressed. While you don't have to price your home like a foreclosure, you'll still want to figure out what a reasonable price in your area is, and try to undercut your competition if you can. The price you give your house is one of the more important pieces – so try not to get emotionally stuck on a certain price you were “hoping to get”.
- Make sure it looks nice from the street: While you can't always beat all the foreclosure and short sale homes on price, you can usually make sure your house has better curb appeal. The foreclosure home may have an un-cut lawn, scraggly plants and garbage in the driveway – while yours should be spotless. Get the home power washed, paint the trim and the doors, put on new exterior lights and/or knockers, and put in some nice new plants. If the buyers don't like how your house looks on the outside, you might not even get them through the door. If it does look nice, you'll give them a great first impression!
- Put all your junk away!: When you’re living in a home, you end up having bills on the counters, photos of your family on the wall and all sorts of other personal clutter that has grown over the years. But when you’re selling a home you want the people walking through the door to picture themselves being at home in your house. Take down Billy's class photos for the past 10 years off of your living room wall, and replace them with a nice piece of neutral wall art. Clean off your kitchen counters. Take extra furniture and put it in storage. Remove unnecessary items from the house in general and put them in storage to make the house feel bigger.
- Fix problems big and small: If your house has a big problem of some sort that is glaringly obvious, get it fixed. Broken window? Put in a replacement. Dirty carpeting? Put in some new carpet. Sometimes you can also have smaller problems that might not be so obvious, but that could still make a bad impression. For example, when we sold our house we went around and repainted several rooms because of small marks and scratches on the wall. The result was that our house almost looked brand new!
- Stage your house to give a better impression: We staged our home with my mother in law's help when we sold our home. It made our home feel more spacious, made it feel less cluttered and allowed buyers to picture themselves in the home. We removed several larger pieces of furniture, and put some smaller plusher pieces from our parent’s houses in the living room. We took our personal photos down and put up framed art pieces. We removed all the magnets and photos from the fridge, and put some strategic accessories around. We watched a lot of HGTV and picked up tips from the experts on how to stage our home.
- Give a bonus to buyers or agents: You might want to think about offering to pay the closing costs for a homebuyer, or offering a signing bonus for an agent who brings in a full price offer. Some folks have even thought to offer things like pre-paying homeowner's association fees for a year or two. Put your thinking cap on to think of bonuses, it doesn't have to cost a ton if you don't want it to.
- Use non-traditional means to market your house: While listing your house with your agent is a good first step, try other online and offline venues to market your house. Put up a craigslist ad and use sites like zillow.com or trulia.com. Try buying a domain name using your house's address (1500ParkAve.com), and put up a wordpress site to post pictures and details about your house. Let people you know that the house is for sale and post it to Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets. Put up flyers at the local supermarket!
- Find a good agent who will help you sell: Selling your house is one of the biggest financial transactions you'll have. It's not a good time to do your crazy uncle Bob who just got his real estate license a favor and let him sell your house, especially if he's not a good agent. Call some agencies and ask for their top salesperson. Get a good word of mouth recommendation and interview a few agents and ask them what their marketing plan for your home would be. Use someone who knows how to market on the internet, the importance of good wide angle interior photos, and someone who understands your particular market.
- Keep your house clean for when it shows -and don't be there!: One of the things I hated doing while we were selling our house was keeping the house clean at all times in case there was a showing. It stunk, but it paid off. We also made sure not to be at home when the house was showing, because buyers hate nothing more than feeling like the owners are staring at them as they check out the house. Finally, consider doing some baking before a showing, or light one of those cinnamon roll candles. Anything you can do to make people feel at home is a plus.
Getting your house sold when the market is this tough isn't going to be an easy prospect – but it can still be done. Just follow the tips above, have a little bit of patience, and you'll be well on your way to putting that sold sign in your front yard.
Have a tip for something you did that helped your home sell fast? Tell us about it in the comments!