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Sell Your Home Fast in a Slow Real Estate Market

Written by: Kristy Welsh

Last Updated: August 10, 2017

Ask any realtor and they'll tell you, a house that sells within the first five weeks of their listing are most likely to get their asking price. The longer your house lingers on the market, the more pressure you will feel to knock down the price.

Many people face changing employment or life circumstances which ultimately leave no alternative other than to attempt to sell immediately. Others see opportunity in buying perhaps a larger home at current under-market prices, yet don't want to accept a similar discount for their existing home.

Home sellers today must be prepared to go well beyond the gimmicks to draw potential buyers in the front door and ultimately close the sale. You can "feng shui" the living room, bury a statue of Saint Joseph on the property, pass out out fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies at the open house. But if you really want to sell the place, follow our tips on selling your house and approaching it in a business manner.

Set the Right Listing Price for your House

You obviously want to try to get the best sale price you can, but you need to decide how much more important achieving the maximum sale price is than optimizing the timing of your sale. You should research other homes in the neighborhood that have sold in the previous three months and price your home accordingly. If there are active listings in your neighborhood, the price you select must also be below that of the most comparable home to yours. Set a realistic price from the start, and smart buyers will notice.

Market Your Home Aggressively and Professionally

Make sure you or your real estate agent have an aggressive plan to market your home and get people looking at it quickly. An effective marketing plan should include listing the home on all the top real estate websites, local newspaper ads, community publications, even non-traditional websites such as CraigsList and eBay. The marketing materials should include a good portfolio of professional photographs, a virtual tour, color flyers, listing postcards, and frequent neighborhood open houses (with the fresh baked cookies, of course). You or your agent should follow up with each potential buyer that views the home, if possible, to obtain input and maintain contact in the event a price drop occurs to within the buyers range.

Stage Your Home

Consider hiring a professional to "stage" or set up your house before prospective buyers begin coming through your door, especially if your house has been vacant for a while. Staging can run anywhere from $750 to $5,000 - on the higher end if more furnishings are needed. Home furnishings should be arranged so that prospects can more easily envision their own furniture in the house. If you, the seller, feel you have the creative ability and can leave a reasonable amount of nice furnishings to stage the home after you move out, you can save money on hiring a professional. For more information about professional staging, go to The International Association of Home Staging Professional.

Offer Buyer Incentives

Sometimes it is the little things that close a deal. Consider offering prospective buyers some extras that make sense and are attractive, but don't cost you too much. Commonly offered items in today's market include seller-funded home warranties, paying for an upgrade or improvement to the property that the buyer desires, or payment of some or all of the buyer's closing costs. Closing cost assistance is especially attractive now that credit has tightened significantly and 100% loans are next to impossible to obtain.

Offer Seller Incentives

Who is going to sell your home; a real estate agent, or you? And if you've hired a listing Realtor, are they responsible for selling it, or is the buyer's Realtor really the one you want to dangle the carrot in front of? The answer is, probably both. It's very admirable to sell your home without a Realtor, and certainly do-able; I myself have done it more than once. But if you really need to sell fast, you probably need the exposure and experience that a professional can bring to the table. If you can negotiate with your listing agent to take less commission than is standard, that is great, but make sure your marketing exposure will not suffer; sit down and hash out what services they will provide and do the rest on your own. As far as the buyer's Realtor? You can offer an incentive (on top of the standard commission percentage of the sale price they would receive) consisting of a flat amount of cash, or an additional percentage amount; but make it contingent on a quick sale, for instance, "bonus paid to selling agent for close of escrow by XXX date".

Ensure Your Home Has Excellent Curb Appeal

Studies have shown that potential buyers decide within the first 8 seconds of driving by your home whether it is worth going to the next step (actually going inside to view). Thus curb appeal deals with the impression that the exterior of the home presents to potential buyers. If a buyer does not get excited looking at the outside of a property, the chances in getting them in the door are very slim. Rather than re-create an obvious list of items that a seller should address prior to putting their home on the market, read our blog on "Curb Appeal: You've Got 8 Seconds to Impress".

Make the Interior of Your Home Impersonal

Remove any and all personal items, such as photos, portraits, and children's drawings on the fridge. Prospective buyers want to imagine a house with their own things in it, not yours. If you've utilized a professional stager, no doubt you'll have been provided all the advice you need regarding the inside of the home. If not? Here is another list of items you may want to refer to that are TOTAL turnoffs to avoid at all cost when you are trying to sell a home.

Homes that take months to sell often require the asking price to be cut multiple times. Additional costs to the seller include continuing mortgage payments, utilities, taxes and insurance, repairs and other associated costs. Following the tips provided in this article may reduce the amount of time it takes to sell a home in the current down market.