Wow! Where was this article last year when the Ann Arbor real estate market was reeling from the Pfizer pull-out? While the article would not have mitigated any of the pain, it sure would have been reassuring to many sellers that this is how you should go about selling your home in a declining market. The Wall Street Journal recently did an article on how to sell your home when you absolutely, positively have to sell it in this market.
A few highlights:
1. DON’T WAIT AROUND.
Even in the better housing areas, it’s taking a long time to sell houses; and in the hardest-hit metro areas, inventories of unsold homes are stretching well past 180 days.
So, don’t try to sit out the market. That’s what hundreds of other timid sellers are doing, each of them hoping — somehow, some way — that hanging on the sidelines will improve prices and, ultimately improve his or her chances for selling success. It won’t. Not if you expect to sell anytime soon. If you want your place sold, the best way to make sure that happens is to put it up for sale.
Obviously, you should take advantage of your local market cycles — early spring is usually better for selling in much of the country — but otherwise don’t try timing the market. You won’t have any better luck than a stock trader who’s always holding out for the market highs or lows.
3. PRICE IT CHEAPLY.
Don’t fight the market by trying to price your house at bubble-era levels or by factoring in all those improvements you made. It won’t fly.
Set a realistic, salable price on day one. Don’t let the house hang around on the market as you gradually lower the price. Forget what you think the house should be worth or what it was worth three years ago. That’s not what it’s worth today.
Smart buyers will be looking for bargains. So you must set your price below comparable nearby properties. Look at the asking prices of neighboring houses, and set your price to beat them. If prices in your area are generally down 20% from where they were at the bubble peak in 2005, then price your house 25% to 30% below its peak bubble value. Your area down 40%? Be prepared to take just half of what the house was worth three years ago. Yes, it’s painful. But if you want to sell, you don’t have much choice.
[ed. We’re back to 2000 price points in the Ann Arbor real estate market.]
And remember: In much of the country, renting is still a better deal right now than buying. As you try to settle on a price, look at rents on comparable properties. Buyers are not likely to be counting on huge price appreciation, as they did during the bubble, so they may be less willing to take on the higher monthly costs of home buying and owning. You must set a price that makes someone’s prospective mortgage and home-owning costs look like a better deal than a month’s rent.
4. HIRE A TOP REAL-ESTATE AGENT.
Get the best, most aggressive selling (listing) agent you can find.
When everything was selling before it even hit the market, of course, you didn’t need the best. You just needed the cheapest. But not these days.
Fortunately, in this market, real-estate brokers are even more anxious than you. They’re eager to get whatever work they can, so don’t rely on your cousin with the real-estate license or your best friend’s wife.
Ask, instead, for the local real-estate office’s top salesperson. All offices have one or two sellers who greatly outperform their colleagues. That’s who you want.
Interview various agents and insist that they present you with a well-conceived marketing plan that goes way beyond the usual Internet page, one or two open houses and a yard sign. (Think about using a professional photographer for multiple shots on the primary Web listing, your house as the featured “home of the week” in the local newspaper, a decorating segment on a morning chat show, a stop on the local garden club’s spring tour.)
Contact Team366 for a peek at our Listing Syndication System and see how we can get your home sold in today’s market.