You may be kicking yourself for not selling your home last year when the market was hot and gave sellers an advantage. Now, in most parts of the country, you’ll be selling in a balanced market, at best. In a balanced or normal housing market, neither the buyer nor seller has an advantage over the other.
Your selling experience in the new market needn’t be unpleasant, as long as you know what to anticipate so that you can realign your expectations accordingly. There are two key factors that differentiate the current market from its predecessor. One is that there are many more listings on the market now than there were then. The other is that there are fewer buyers.
With more listings and fewer buyers, you’ll need to distinguish yourself from the pack. There are three good ways to do this. First, make sure that your home is priced right. Second, your home should look impeccable when it goes on the market. Third, you need a comprehensive marketing effort.
HOME SELLER TIP: Last year, homes in some areas sold after just one open house. Today, it might take months to sell your home. Start the process by hiring an experienced real estate agent with good marketing skills and a keen knowledge of your local market niche.
Your agent will be able to tell you what your home is worth in the current market, and discuss appropriate pricing strategies for your area. She can also give you advice about how to prepare your home for sale.
Few sellers are aware of this, but buyers often use nick-names to describe listings they see. This helps them distinguish one home from another when they’re trying to recall details.
For example, if there’s something striking about your house, like a fabulous view, a buyer might tag your house “the view house.” But, they might call it “the dog house” if it has a strong pet odor. In this market, it’s extremely important to pay attention to the condition of your home. Buyers have a choice.
Today’s listings often aren’t being shown to a lot of buyers before they sell. One house in Sonoma County, Calif., recently sold in only 12 days. Only two prospective buyers previewed the house. However, one of them bought it.
You should mentally prepare yourself for the fact that you will have to keep your home in great shape for the relatively few buyers who will want to see it. Keep in mind that buyers who are actively looking these days are serious about buying.
Your home should be easy to show, particularly if there are a lot of homes similar to yours on the market. If there’s an impediment to showing your listing, buyers will move on to a listing that’s easily accessible.
Studies show that 70 percent of home buyers start their search on the Internet. In fact, buyers screen inventory online to save time. Be sure that your agent’s merchandising efforts include a high-quality photo tour of your home.
Buyers discard online listings that don’t have photos. They assume something is wrong with the listing and move on to listings where they can get a sense of what the listing has to offer without having to get into a car, or fly across country.
THE CLOSING: It’s nice to imagine that a buyer will fall in love with your place and throw caution to the wind. Unfortunately, impulse buying is not a part of the current market. The buyer for your home will be someone who has a compelling need to buy and who finds value in what your home has to offer.
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.