Tips to help you sell your home in these tough times


A few years ago, it seemed like in some markets you could stake a “for sale” sign outside your home and within a few hours you would have multiple offers. Not anymore.

Today’s tough economic times mean that home sellers need to do their homework, take a more assertive role in marketing their home and, at times, get creative to help their home stand out from others that are on the market.

Regardless of how tough the times are, the fact remains that a nice home, well maintained, in a desirable neighborhood, and priced right will sell more quickly than a home that hasn’t been kept up or hasn’t been priced according to what other homes in the neighborhood would sell for.

Whether you’re selling your home as part of downsizing your lifestyle or you’re seeking a larger home for a growing family, the following steps offered by FindLaw.com, one of the nation’s leading online sources for real estate law, can pay dividends in helping you achieve a quick sale and a price that reaches your desired goal.

• Assemble your team. Most sellers prefer to work with a real estate agent or a lawyer at some point in the process. In fact, in a handful of U.S. states, a lawyer must help finalize the sale.

Real estate agents typically charge a commission, about 6 percent, to be split between your agent and the buyer’s agent, if any. Lawyers normally charge by the hour. Despite the costs, experienced, responsible professionals can ultimately save you time, money and aggravation.

• Conduct a pre-inspection. Many states require a home inspection report as part of a disclosure form before placing a home on the market.

To make sure your home passes the test, hire a third-party home inspector to conduct a pre-inspection of your home to help you make necessary repairs and updates before an official inspection.

• Conduct a comp. A “comp” is shorthand among real estate agents for comparing your home to similar types of homes in your area with similar features, such as square footage, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, etc. This process will help you determine a price range for your home.

To get comps, visit open houses, read classified ads (in print and online), and check out Web sites such as realtor.com, by the National Association of Realtors.

• Review actual selling prices. Of course, list prices don’t tell you how much houses ultimately sell for—that’s the comparable data you really need.

In a hot market, houses might go for well over list price, and vice versa. A number of Web sites offer such information, and you may want to carefully watch county Web sites that publish this information for tax purposes.

• Price aggressively, but not too aggressively. As the seller, of course you would like to get every nickel out of selling your home. The balancing act is finding the right price where you don’t have to cut it multiple times to trigger an offer, or a price that is so low that a potential buyer might think there’s something wrong with it.

• Go to open houses. Sellers need to understand what other sellers are doing and offering to sell their homes. The best way to do that is to go to as many open houses in your area and take note of who the potential buyers are, their feedback on nearby homes, and what other sellers are offering potential buyers in terms of price and incentives.

• Make your home as attractive as possible. Buyers will pay thousands of dollars more for a home that is tastefully decorated and appears in ready-to-move-in condition.

The first place to start is to declutter your home. Put away any personal items or items of expression that would detract from a buyer feeling at home. A fresh coat of paint doesn’t hurt either.

• Fill out the disclosure forms. Some states require sellers to fill out a long form that explicitly asks about the seller’s knowledge of various significant or material defects that might be present in the home, according to FindLaw.com. States vary in their requirements. Some states require sellers to disclose water in the basement, leaks in the roof, the use of lead-based paint, or unsafe concentrations of radon gas.

Regardless of what your state requires, it’s really in the seller’s interest to disclose any previous problems to reduce the risk of a lawsuit in the future by a disgruntled buyer.

• Hold an open house. Many home sellers find open houses a useful tool. They’re certainly good for bringing in the crowds.

In deciding when to hold an open house, look for opportunities when your area attracts a large number of people from surrounding areas, such as a neighborhood or citywide festival or sporting event.

• Be prepared to negotiate. Because there are more sellers than buyers in most markets, buyers currently have more leverage in negotiating.

Be prepared to respond to a range of concessions, from lower-than-expected offers and requests for the seller to cover the closing costs to decorating allowances and mechanical repairs.

On the other hand, as the home seller, you should be prepared to counter by demanding that all serious offers have their financing in place to ensure a smooth sale.

To learn more about real estate law, visit findlaw.com.

—Courtesy of ARAcontent


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