Putting your house on the market and watching it sit unsold can be a wrenching experience. Here are some expert suggestions for ensuring a quick sale.
By Jenny McCune, Bankrate.com
As the home-sales season goes in to high gear, you may feel extra pressure to sell your house in a hurry. Here are some ways to set a winning pace in the home-sale race.
- Hire a Top-notch Sales Agent. “You need a good agent, an agent who knows your neighborhood” says Julie Greenwood, co-owner of Greenwood King Properties, a Houston real estate agency.
- Price it Right. The No. 1 thing that will sell a house quickly is price. That’s the name of the game. If you price it right, it will sell. If you price it wrong, it won’t sell.
OK, so just how do you play the home-sale version of “The Price is Right”? That crackerjack agent you hired should have a good sense of what price will help sell your home sooner rather than later. As the owner, your objectivity is diminished, so give your agent free rein, within reason, to set the price. The broker will look at the average days a home in your neighborhood is on the market, how your home compares to others in the area and its condition.
- Create an Adjustable Sales Plan. Come up with a sales strategy, but make sure it’s flexible. What’s your initial asking price? How long will you insist on it before making a reduction? How much of a cut will you accept? What about after that? Having a plan in place will help you react quickly, according to Greenwood, and will move your home that much more quickly.
- Clear out the Clutter. “Get the clutter out of it,” says Stephen Roulac, author of the forthcoming “360 Housing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.” It will make your home more inviting to buyers. “After you thought you got out the clutter, take out more. Get it spare, open and fresh.”
- Offer Incentives. Incentives can help shorten the sales cycle, but be careful. Agents are divided on how much they help.
“I think it can be a fine line between wanting to sell a house quickly and having it look like it’s a fire sale,” Greenwood says. If prospective buyers get the idea that you’re desperate to sell, they will try to get you to accept a bargain-basement price.
Roulac, however, believes that adding premiums can help speed a house sale. A popular incentive offered purchasers is closing-cost help. You also can encourage your sales agent: Offer a higher commission for a speedy sale or give your broker show tickets, a meal at a fine restaurant or some other perk if the property moves quickly.
- Don’t get Distracted. What about those “cash for homes” ads you see on matchbook covers, billboards and late-night TV? Agents say houses sold this way are heavily discounted. You will sell your property quickly, but it will go cheap, probably at a price that really won’t make you happy. “If it’s too good of an offer to be true, it is too good of an offer,” says Re/Max’s Innes.
- Ask for Company Help. If you’re relocating because of a job change or company transfer, you may be eligible for home-sale help from your employer or a relocation company representing your employer. “Generally speaking, these buyouts are fair,” says Todd Thornton, a real estate instructor, consultant and author of “Home Buying Without the BS.”
“An appraiser would appraise the property, and the buyout would be for the suggested fair market value less a sales fee,” he explains. “The company would then put the home on the market with a local real estate professional.”
While that’s a great deal for the home sellers, Thornton notes that many companies are scaling back on their relocation packages, so it may not be an option.
- Rent it. If time runs out and you’ve got to get out of Dodge without selling your home, consider renting it. Just be sure to strike a deal with the renters so your home will be available for showing. For example, if a home such as yours normally rents for $1,000 a month, offer a discount (say $750) in exchange for the renters making the house accessible for showings to potential buyers.
The downside of renting a house that you’re trying to sell is that its condition probably won’t be as pristine as you or buyers would like. One way around this problem, says Innes, is to rent with an option to buy. “Let people move in six months and pay rent and then close,” he says.