Did you miss the 2004 spring sales season for selling your house or condo? Be happy! Since then, in most communities, home sales prices have appreciated and you can probably sell for an even higher sales price.

During this second-best sales season of September, October and early November, in most towns the number of prospective home buyers is almost as huge as last spring.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

Why? The big reason is home-mortgage interest rates are still near their lowest levels. My apartment landlord friends complain that all their best tenants have moved out and purchased a house or condo.

This is a great time to be a home buyer in most communities, but not the ideal time to be a residential landlord.

IT’S A FALL “BUYER’S MARKET” IN MOST CITIES. With the rare “seller’s market” exceptions of areas where there are more qualified buyers than homes listed for sale, in most communities there are currently more home listings than qualified buyers.

The result is a “buyer’s market.” That means it is a fantastic time to be a home buyer.

The happy result for buyers is they can negotiate hard. But sellers should consider written purchase offers very carefully before counter offering or rejecting a solid offer from a qualified buyer.

HOW TO DETERMINE IF YOUR AREA IS IN A BUYER’S OR SELLER’S HOME MARKET. To determine if your local area is in a “buyer’s market” (with more homes listed for sale than qualified home buyers) or a “seller’s market” (with more eager qualified buyers than listed homes for sale), just ask a knowledgeable local real estate agent. They know.

The general rule is if the local “average days on the market” for a listed house or condo is more than 60 days, it is a buyer’s market. However, if the local average days on the market is less than 60 days, it is considered a seller’s market.

In the current “equilibrium” market in many towns, neither home buyers nor sellers can be too demanding. In other words, it’s a great time to be a home buyer or even a seller.

HOW TO SELL YOUR HOME IN TODAY’S MARKET. To get your house or condo sold fast for top dollar in the current market, within 30 to 90 days, it must get the attention of home buyers. Here are five steps to make your home sell when others don’t sell:

1–PRESENT YOUR HOME IN ITS BEST “MODEL HOME” CONDITION. Most house and condo buyers want to purchase their next home, turn the key in the door, and move in. They don’t want any hassles, such as making repairs or fixing up.

If your residence presents no problems, as evidenced by a satisfactory professional inspection report, you eliminate most of the potential buyer objections.

Spending a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars to repair obvious home defects will be money well spent to bring your residence into near-perfect condition.

However, please don’t go overboard. If your home obviously needs a new roof or has a defective foundation, those are repairs that will add little to no market value. But they might prevent a swift home sale.

Spending a few thousand dollars on a new roof, for example, probably won’t raise the sales price but it might bring a fast sale because buyers can’t object to a brand-new roof.

However, if you decide to sell your home as a “fixer upper,” be prepared to heavily discount its sale price from full market value. The reason is most prospective home buyers will subtract far more than the actual repair cost from their purchase offer.

For example, if a new roof would cost $10,000, a prospective buyer might subtract $15,000 or even $20,000 from his/her purchase offer to arrive at your home’s estimated fair market value.

2–INTERVIEW AT LEAST THREE SUCCESSFUL LOCAL REALTY AGENTS. This key step for home sellers cannot be over-emphasized. If you interview just one or even two local realty agents before listing with one, you could be making a very costly mistake.

The reason is you might be innocently misled to overprice or underprice your home by thousands of dollars.

One agent might estimate an abnormally high sales price for your home. This is called “buying the listing.” After a few weeks, when your house or condo doesn’t sell for the inflated price, the listing agent will ask for a price reduction to make your home saleable.

But, by then, you missed that ultra-important first opportunity to sell for top dollar. Now your home is considered by other local agents who have prospective buyers a “tired listing.”

Or, another agent might use his or her charismatic personality to charm you into signing a listing at too low an asking price. The result could be leaving thousands of profit dollars on the table.

However, only by interviewing at least three successful local realty agents who each present their individual CMA (comparative market analysis) can you will be assured you are not being misled as to your listing price and market value.

Also, be wary of any listing agent who wants an exclusive listing but refuses to put your listing into the local MLS, the most powerful sales tool, and on the Internet at www.realtor.com where more than 70 percent of home buyers now start their purchase quest.

3–DON’T GIVE YOUR LISTING AGENT TOO MUCH TIME. After interviewing at least three successful agents who enthusiastically want your listing, it’s time to pick the best agent. Before making your choice, be sure to phone each agent’s client references of recent home sellers to ask “Were you in any way unhappy with your listing agent and would you sell your home with the same agent again?”

When you decide upon the best agent from among the three (or more) top local agents interviewed, then it’s time to sign the listing.

But don’t be misled. The best agents can sell a house or condo, with a proper listing price, within 30 to 90 days. For this reason, it is smart to set a 90-day listing limit.

If the agent you select wants a longer listing, just ask “Don’t you have enough confidence in your ability to sell my home within 90 days?”

Watch out for any agent who says “Well, the average time on the market for homes in this area is 121 days (or whatever).”

Your immediate reply should be, “I don’t want to hire an average agent. Aren’t you above average?”

If the agent doesn’t want your 90-day listing, you selected the wrong agent.

An alternative is to sign a listing longer than 90 days, but including a written unconditional cancellation clause after 90 days.

4–TRICKS OF SETTING THE ASKING PRICE. Unless you are selling a “cookie cutter” house or condo is an area where all the homes sell for about the same price, your residence has a “range” of valuation. Of course, you want to be at the top of that range.

If you set the asking price too high, prospective buyers and their buyer’s agents won’t bother even looking at your home.

If your asking price is too low, you might be selling too cheap and leaving thousands of profit dollars on the table.

Be 100 percent certain, based on the CMA of the listing agent you selected and the other agents you interviewed, your listing price is an accurate reflection of market value. Setting the correct asking price, even if very slightly above the price you expect to accept, can be critical to your home sale.

5–LISTEN TO ALL REASONABLE PURCHASE OFFERS. If you selected the best qualified local realty agent for your listing, who takes all the proper marketing steps, and if he or she is doing a great marketing job by exposing your listing to the Internet at www.Realtor.com and the local MLS (multiple listing service), be sure to listen to all serious purchase offers.

Verbal offers or “wouldjatake” offers are bogus. Politely tell those prospects, “Please put that in writing to see how it looks on paper.” Many of those fake offers will disappear into vapor.

However, if a serious buyer makes a written purchase offer, especially if he or she is pre-approved in writing for a mortgage, that offer is worth very serious consideration. If the buyer’s offer is not enough, consider making a written counteroffer.

Home purchases are one of the few places in the U.S. where hard negotiation is acceptable (the other place is new and used car sales).

If a qualified buyer makes a written home purchase offer price which you absolutely cannot accept, at least show the courtesy of a written counter-offer which you would accept.

SUMMARY. Fall is the second best time to sell your house or condo if it is listed for sale at close to its fair market value.

If you want to receive top dollar (1) get it into tip-top model home condition, (2) interview at least three successful local realty agents before selecting a listing agent, (3) list your home for not more than 90 days with the best agent, (4) set your asking price at fair market value based on the recent sales prices of similar nearby homes, and (5) consider all purchase offers seriously, making counteroffers if necessary.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center


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