There’s no doubt that a buyer’s market can be challenging for sellers.  Yet it does not mean that sellers cannot enter the market – or that they cannot garner a fair price for their homes.  Home sales in a buyer’s market may take longer.  But a little creativity can go a long way toward help sellers move homes, without having to significantly drop the price.

I can offer you the following suggestions, based upon my many years of experience for sellers who want to speed up the process.

Price Your Home According to the Current Market

Just because a house comparable to yours sold for a very high price last year does not mean you will be able to realize the same price when selling your home now. I will work with you to determine the appropriate – and competitive – listing price to maximize your potential financial gain, while also ensuring that your home sells in the timeliest manner possible. Don’t forget the many hidden, and not so hidden, costs of a home that remains on the market much longer than expected when considering your asking price, as well.

And remember that in this current real estate market, I will be basing my advice to you on pricing your home with others that are being offered right now, as opposed to those that have been previously sold. Some of the sales pricing techniques, and the application of prior sales numbers and comparison data, have been modified in the last 18 months. Which is why you need an expert now more than ever. But don’t jump to any major financial conclusions just yet, either!

Read the next topic for the reasons why this is true….

How much appreciation should I be expecting?

The key during the current housing market is being realistic in your expectations. Since the housing market began to slow significantly in late 2007, home prices have fallen all over the country. But of course, for those both selling and buying, the hope is that the reduced price you may accept on your current home will be made up when it is time to make your offer on your new home.

Understanding trends in our specific market is always critical – as not all areas have experienced the same drops or price changes. Some regions throughout the State, and within Central Florida, have remained fairly steady relative to prices, and are even back to experiencing modest appreciations. (In this regard, my many, many years in this market have given me an advantage over the vast majority of the competition.)

Just keep in mind, that if you bought your home many years ago, the gains you made in the decades before the downturn may still be far more than recent drops. While ever-increasing prices are certainly gone, for now, you shouldn’t assume that you have lost money or that you’ll be forced to accept a “bad” or negative financial transaction if you decide to move, either!

When you contact me and we get started, and have the chance to talk about your current house, new home search, your budget and real estate-related goals, etc., I can then provide you with a realistic view on how much your current home has gained – or lost – relative to its present value and its potential price. That way you can base your decision making on facts, not assumptions!

How can I make my home more marketable?

When a buyer sees your house for the first time, a critical first impression is made. Often times prospective buyers have made up their minds before they even step inside the front door – if they get that far!

You need to maximize your curb appeal in any way possible. Your yard needs to be well-maintained, trimmed and weeded – including any grass areas, trees, scrubs or bushes, flower beds, etc. If you can, plant fresh flowers or a few strategically placed new, healthy plants near the entrance. A fresh exterior coat of paint or thorough cleaning/power washing could also prove quite valuable.

Of course the inside of your home needs to as clean and well kept as possible. One issue to consider is that you want to take as much of your own personal sense of style and design out of the environment. Yes, you may be quite proud of your tastes and sense of design and style – but you may have prospective buyers who disagree, or are turned off completely by your own personal style.

Think about a generic background or catalog image found in a magazine. This can help with the look that you want to portray. You want to make the space seem as neutral as possible, so that prospective buyers can envision their stuff in the space, not yours.

Consider neutral colors for most interior walls and carpets. In general, you should also avoid very bold or unusual colors that may clash with your prospective buyers’ tastes, and also avoid dark colors on walls, along with any unnecessary clutter, which will make rooms look smaller. Natural light and open spaces are keys to successful home staging.

Never leave your personal items within view in your home when showing, especially in sensitive areas such as the bathroom – where it is a common practice during normal circumstances. All family photos, holiday souvenirs, trophies, certificates, collectible item’s, children’s artwork, home gym equipment need to be packed away into storage while actively showing your home. Buyers will be more attracted to your house when they can imagine themselves living there.

If personally showing guests around your property, let them enter the room first. In smaller rooms such as bathrooms, stay at the door. Too many bodies in too small a space can cause problems, and make a room seem smaller than it actually is.

And don’t forget that we are influenced by all five of our senses:

Sight - Open the blinds and drapes to let in natural light. Keep clutter away and consider keeping your pet out of the home for that day.

Smell - Put out flowers and candles in the main rooms of the home and a colorful bowl of fruit on the dining table. Baking cookies or brownies that you can share with your visitors can also work.

Taste - A hot pot of coffee helps with taste and smell also.

Hearing - Turn off the sound on all television sets and computers, and have some easy listening or jazz music playing in the background softly.

Touch – Have your guests sit on the softest couch, and make sure everything is clean and dust-free.

Why should I inspect my home before sale?

First, you should know that a full home inspection is a basic requirement before selling your home.

If problems and detected and repairs will be required, your choices are to fix the problem yourself, or disclose the information to a potential buyer, and let them determine for themselves what the costs might be to correct the problem, which will of course be reflected in their offer.

In my opinion, it is usually a good idea to go ahead and fix the problems yourself before putting the house on the market, especially in this relatively tough real estate market where you will certainly have some competition from other sellers.

Potential buyers could cast a critical eye over your home if there are current problems, and when confronted with current problem areas already, they may also then wonder what other potential large issues are lurking beneath the surface of your home that will require expensive repairs, it’s human nature! And in a situation like this, when more houses are available on the market, they may take a pass on a home that needs too many repairs.

Be sure to have the home inspection report available for any prospective buyers, and also provide them with an itemized list of all upgrades and repairs you have done in the last 5 years or so – and the associated costs for each one as well.

What can I offer to help “sweeten the deal” with a seller’s contribution?

OF course, you can always decide to lower the asking price of your home if you are looking to sell more quickly. But there are alternative ways you can sweeten the deal for buyers by offering assistance in other ways, too.

These tactics are also ones that can help your home to stand out from the crowd. Consider the following:

· Offer to buy down the interest rate on the buyer’s mortgage.

· Offer to pay a portion of the closing costs.

· Cover the buyer’s mortgage payments for the first 3 or 6 months. Depending upon the size of the mortgage, the buyer can save several thousand dollars – and you still get the original asking price for your home. It is generally more financially advantageous for you to do this than dropping the asking price of the home.

· Many condos and houses across the country, including many in Central Florida, belong to homeowners’ associations that require annual dues. Paying the first year’s fees could be a big incentive to a buyer nearing the limit of his or her liquid assets.

· Offer to pay off a buyer’s bills. Some loan programs can be structured to allow sellers to pay off credit card debt or auto loans, which may help the buyer to qualify for a better mortgage and avoid the need to buy a smaller and less-expensive house.

The bottom line is don’t spend your time worrying – properly priced homes that also stand out from the competition are still very likely to sell, and to do so relatively quickly. Once again, for more information, to get started with your sales or buying process, and to find out how long an appropriately priced home is expected to remain on the market, please contact me today!