Since the end of the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit and the $6,500 long-term homeowner tax credit on April 30, the number of people interested in buying a house has plummeted by as much as 40 percent.
With more foreclosures coming onto the market, home sellers are in a tough spot: the number of homes for sale is increasing just as the number of home buyers is decreasing.
That means you might have to drop your price to catch a home buyer’s interest.
But before you go that route, you’ll want to do everything you can to get the attention of the maximum number of home buyers. Make sure you do everything on this list:
Selling a House Tip #1: Make your house look good enough to be on TV.
Today’s home buyers have watched tons of real estate programming on HGTV, Bravo, and other satellite networks that shows how to transform ugly homes into polished gems.
These shows are wildly popular, which means that home buyers (perhaps unrealistically) expect your house to be sparkling clean and professionally decorated and staged.
In other words, your house should look as clean and polished as a model home in a new home subdivision, and look good enough to be on TV.
Not sure how to do that? Check out some of my staging videos. And remember the Glink home-staging mantra: Pack away, throw away, or give away anything you haven’t seen or used in the past two years.
Selling a House Tip #2: Get your house online.
If you’re using a listing agent, ask him or her where on the Web your listing will appear. The answer you’re looking for is “Everywhere.” Your house should appear on the local multiple listing service (MLS) as well as the broker’s own site and Realtor.com. You also want to be sure your property is available at Trulia, Zillow, and as many other websites that feature homes for sale as possible.
You should also consider putting up your own website to promote the listing. Use the street address for the property as the site URL. For example, 123MainStreetAnytownState.com. While the URL will be long, it will attract buyers who are searching for homes in a particular location. Make sure the site includes plenty of photos of your property, including exterior and interior shots and any neighborhood shots that would help a potential buyer understand why you enjoy living there.
If you set up the website on a blogging platform, such as WordPress or Blogger, you’ll be able to add details in the form of blog posts about the property, why you bought it, and what you like about. These posts will also help attract visitors to your site.
Finally, consider setting up a YouTube account. Again, use the street address of the property as your YouTube account name to maximize search results. Then shoot video of the property, the special features of the neighborhood, and you talking about why you love living there.
While it will take you some time to create the appropriate online presence for your house, it will allow you to promote the property on a much wider level. And the more people who know you have a house for sale, the more likely it is that you’ll get a good offer.
Selling a House Tip #3: Know the competition.
Are other houses for sale in your neighborhood? Are any of them selling? You should spend your weekends touring neighborhood open houses so you can stay on top of your competition.
To sell your house, you’ll have to ensure it looks better and is priced more competitively than other houses in the neighborhood. If you don’t get out there and see what properties come on the market and at what price point, you won’t know if you’re priced right for the market.
Start a file of all the listing sheets for properties that are for sale in your market. If a house in your neighborhood sells, be sure to find out how much it sold for and note that in your folder. Over time, you’ll be able to pinpoint what is happening with the local real estate market.
Selling a House Tip #4: Price it right.
Throughout 2010, home prices are expected to further decline, which isn’t great news for sellers. If you want to sell, you’ll have to understand exactly what kind of offers sellers are taking.
Although your house might look better than other homes for sale in your neighborhood, appraisers are working under new rules that require them to look only at homes that have sold in the past 90 days. And even if a house was a disaster of a foreclosure and sold for pennies on the dollar, appraisers are required to consider those comps as equal to other home sales.
Because appraisers, and mortgage lenders, are being extremely cautious, you won’t be able to sell your home if it doesn’t appraise out in value. That means even if you find a buyer who agrees to pay you $100,000 for your home, if its appraised value is only $75,000 (thanks to a bunch of bottom-of-the-barrel foreclosure sales), you won’t be able to sell for a price higher than $75,000.
You’re far better off pricing your home realistically from the get-go. While you may not make a killing, hopefully you won’t wind up having to ask your lender for a short sale.
Ilyce R. Glink is the author of several books, including 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In!. She blogs about money and real estate at ThinkGlink.com and at the Home Equity blog for CBS MoneyWatch.
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