The latest issue of Money Magazine includes a “Real Estate Survival” guide with tips for selling your house in the current down market.
Rule 1: Get real about price. Interview multiple agents, and have them each come up with a price based on recent, comparable sales and current market conditions. Don’t obsess over what you could’ve gotten had you sold a few months ago. Also consider inventory in your price range. If there are a lot of properties like yours, you might want to undercut the competition.
Rule 2: Vet your agent — especially if it’s you. Selling amidst a major market slowdown is tough work. If you’re not prepared to market the heck out of your property, consider enlisting the help of a pro. If you go this route, make sure they have a track record. Ideally, you want someone who has weathered previous market downturns.
Rule 3: Pimp your house — hire a home stager. Staging a home is all the rage these days. If you don’t know how to properly stage your home, it might be worth bringing in a pro who will help rearrange furniture, move extraneous items to storage, etc. Also browse through my tips for preparing your home for sale. You want that curb appeal as high as possible.
Rule 4: Cash will make your home look even better. Instead of offering some sort of gimmick such as a car or cruise to the lucky buyer of your home, consider throwing in some cash. Offer to pay part of the buyer’s closing costs. You might also consider throwing in an additional bounty to the realtor that brings in the buyer. Either a higher commission and a flat amount of cash. You may even be able to carve this out of the commission to the seller’s agent, but be careful… You don’t want to decrease your agent’s incentive to sell your house.
Rule 5: Underwater? Learn to swim. If you bought recently, your mortgage may be larger than what you can get for your home. According to data from Zillow.com, about 1/3 of 2006 homebuyers currently have negative equity (ouch!). If you have no choice but to move (say for a new job) you still have some options. For one, you might be able to get your employer to cover the difference. Alternatively, if the rental market is holding up, you could rent out your house while you wait out the slump. Finally, you can always sell for as much as you can and then make up the difference out of your savings.
So there you have it. Five tips for selling when nobody is buying.
Any other suggestions?