Selling a House in this Market
By Steve Gillman - 2008
What can you do if you are selling a house in this market?
As I write this (early 2011) prices are still falling around
the country, and sales are slow, to say the least. But don't
give up. Here are some suggestions for selling in these tough
times and getting the most for you home.
Wait a While
Not what you wanted to read, perhaps, but waiting could be
the best idea depending on your circumstance. A bottom has to
arrive sometime (and perhaps prices are already at the bottom
by the time you read this), and then prices will start to rise
again. If you have to move, consider renting out your home and
having a management company handle the details for you. If you
can come close to breaking even on a monthly basis, you might
be able to sell for much more in another five or six years.
This is another solution many readers will not like, but if
you owe far more than what your home is worth, you have to either
walk away and wreck your credit, or sell and pay the deficiency.
If the latter means coughing up $40,000, reconsider your reason
for moving. For example, getting a new job that pays $6,000 more
per year might not be that great if you have to pay $40,000 to
move. Stay where you are and you might be better off, and you
might even sell your home for a gain someday.
Sell With Easy Terms
You can always get more for a home--and sell it faster--if
you can make it easier for the buyer to buy it. If you own your
house free and clear you might consider offering a buyer a low
down payment and owner financing. He'll save on bank loan fees
and get into the house easily, and you'll make good interest
in a time when banks aren't paying much if anything on savings.
If you are concerned about tying up your equity for too long,
include a five-year balloon in the contract, which gets you out
with your money and gives the buyer enough time to prepare to
finance the house with traditional lenders.
Clean and Prepare
If you really need to sell, make your house one of the best-looking
ones buyers will see. Clean everything, repair what needs repairing,
plant flowers, and do anything else that is cheap and makes the
home more attractive. And pay attention to the last suggestion...
Take Away the Unknown
Nothing scares off buyers like the unknown. You might guess
that that little problem with the roof will take only a $400
patch, but a buyer doesn't know that. He is making the single
biggest purchase of his life, and he wants to know what it's
really costing him. Repair that roof, fix that heater. If you
don't want to spend the money, at the very least, get quotes
for the repairs in writing, and have them available for buyers
to look at, so they know exactly where they stand. When selling
a house in this market or at any other time, taking away the
uncertainty (to the extent possible) will always make it easier
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