The current market value of your home may be more than, less than or the same as it was last year depending on where you live and what you have to sell. Nationally, the median sale price of homes sold in October 2006 dipped 3.5 percent from October 2005, which was an exceptionally strong month. But there are still pockets of the market, such as Portland, Ore., where prices are still going up.
Recently, a San Francisco home seller was relieved to close the sale of her condo after six months on the market — a market that was flooded with condo listings. Across the bay in the trendy Upper Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland, a listing sold in less than one week with two offers, both for significantly more than the asking price. But, there was nothing else on the market to compete with this listing.
HOME SELLER TIP: Regardless of whether you’re in an area with a surplus of unsold inventory or one where listings are in demand, the blueprint for a successful sale in 2007 is the same. Price your home right for the market. Properly prepare your home for sale. And, make sure that your listing receives extensive market exposure.
Overpricing will get you nowhere in the current market. Buyers have been barraged by negative press on the housing market; they are cautious and won’t pay a penny over market value. They aren’t in a hurry. The threat of the market escalating in the near future is slim in most areas so buyers are holding out for value.
Sellers often wonder whether it’s worth it to spend money fixing a home up for sale, especially if they aren’t looking at selling for a huge profit. It’s not only worth it, but also can be critical to a sale for the highest price possible, particularly in areas where the inventory is high. In some areas, resale homes are in competition with brand-new homes.
When there is a lot to choose from, buyers can afford to be picky. If your home has a dated décor you may need to invest in replacing items such as outmoded light fixtures, floor coverings and paint colors. Also, plan on correcting deferred maintenance, or discount your price accordingly.
Imagine that you’re the buyer and have a choice between a house that you can move into without lifting a finger and one that needs a complete overhaul. Most buyers won’t even consider the house that needs a facelift.
Be sure to select an agent that will promote your home on the Internet as well as to the local community. The Internet is the most important venue for residential real estate advertising. Realtor.com is the most comprehensive Internet site. Buyers in all price ranges, even multimillion-dollar buyers, use Realtor.com to search for new listings.
Although Realtor.com is the best in terms of reach, the limit on photos per listing is six. However, your agent can link a visual tour to your home’s listing on Realtor.com for more effective marketing. Check your agent’s advertising copy before it goes live to make sure it’s accurate and includes the features you like best about the house.
Home-sale activity is affected by supply and demand dynamics in the local marketplace. For this reason, it may be beneficial to plan on marketing your home early in 2007. Inventories of homes for sale tend to rise in the late spring and summer months. Another factor that could work in favor of early-bird sellers is interest rates.
THE CLOSING: Interest rates continue to be at historically low levels but are expected to rise later in the year.
Dian Hymer is author of “House Hunting, The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers” and “Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer’s Guide,” Chronicle Books.