It’s stressful enough to consider selling your home, but when the real estate market takes a serious dive, you’ll need these ten practical tips to take the stress out of having to sell during tough real estate times.
1. Do your realtor homework. In a lousy real estate market, you want the best possible help selling your home. Take your list of questions to several real estate agents and take plenty of time when interviewing them. Comparison store. Nobody is rushing to buy houses this year, so don’t be in a rush to choose a real estate agent.
2. Get ready. Many real estate agents agree that it takes 30 days to prep a home before the “For Sale” signs show up, as those first impressions will often prove the most important factor in determining whether a ” viewer” ends up becoming a “buyer”. Invest in external repairs that can mean the difference between a quick “no” and extra time spent examining your home. This is the time to paint, repair and repair what buyers will see first. Buyers are more forgiving in a strong real estate market, not in a weak one.
3. Consult homeowners who are selling successfully. What buyers consider valuable may vary from region to region. Ask members of your community who have a newly placed “sold” sign for directions on how to prepare your home for sale. What did they notice most “watchers” pay attention to or comment on when exploring their home? Just ask – is it more important to install new carpet or is it better to paint the walls freshly. Ask several owners of recently sold homes and take lots of notes. These can serve as a guide to using your time wisely to prepare your home for sale.
4. Actively engage your family. Let them know that there will be “company” and that they will help you with their unique skills. Let your family’s list maker fix and “beautify” lists, and keep lists of open house dates and other important information. Share the work of selling a home and each family member will have a personal stake in your success. You’ll be able to stay less stressed if you delegate some of the prep work to prepare your home for sale.
5. Be flexible with your personal plans. Stay focused on the goal from the moment you first put up that For Sale sign on the front lawn until the first open house – no activity should become a distraction. Don’t plan messy parties or large receptions during this time, as you want your house tidy at all times. Host family reunions elsewhere. You’ll want to be especially vigilant when homes don’t sell easily so you don’t make a mistake.
6. Declutter. A cluttered house seems smaller. Rent temporary space at a local warehouse and fill it with seasonal items, extra clothing, and even extra furniture. A decluttered home will also reduce your stress levels by simplifying the cleaning process. Whip all your personal belongings to hide them. If you’re overworked and short on time, post an ad on Craigslist.org and hire a college student or affordable cleaning service to help you out. If you can’t afford it, consider downsizing your assets. Are they really worth cleaning, storing, and going through year after year?
7. Make your pets disappear. (temporarily, of course) Not everyone likes dogs; not everyone likes cats. Organize a day at a boarding school or away from home with a family member during open days. When the real estate market is slow, you don’t want to offer potential buyers excuses that will turn them away from your beautiful home.
8. Stage your home. Do a little research on “staging” your home, and if you’re financially up to it, hire a professional staging service to do it for you. Trade hard lighting for soft lighting. There’s no such thing as freshly baked cookies some veteran realtors swear. Sprinkle baking soda on your carpet before vacuuming. Buy a bunch of fresh flowers like inexpensive daisies to brighten up your room.
9. Be honest. No house is perfect. Be honest about the shortcomings. The buyer will trust your honesty and be more likely to trust a buying decision. It’s a buyer’s market, so be a trustworthy seller.
10. Be realistic. The higher the price, the longer it will take to sell your home, especially in a lousy real estate market with high foreclosure rates that drive home prices down. Discuss frankly with your agent how much you will accept below the asking price or how long it will take to find a buyer who will respect your price. Engage a practical friend or family member in this discussion.
Selling your home in a tough real estate market is not impossible. It just requires going all out and being fully informed.