With the big selling boom of 2005 long gone, home sellers are now returning to a market that is much more traditional. There are many people who may consider this a “soft” market, but in actuality it is really a return to normal conditions after a year that blew all expectations and all records out of the water as far as selling conditions nationwide.
Still, people who are trying to sell their homes are growing panicky as they see their properties up for sale much longer than they expected. There are several concerns when you are trying to sell your house in a soft market:
- Your house will take too long to sell, in the meantime leaving you living out of a rental property or incurring debt while paying two different mortgages.
- The value your house can get will actually decrease.
- The net profit on your sale will go down due to an increase in commission fees of realtors.
Each of these concerns is a valid one. There are steps that you can take to sell your home, even in a soft market.
The real estate agent
Selling a house or piece of property was so easy in 2005 that individuals were the ones who did the most selling of their own property, and the prices they could command and conditions demanded were almost always met. Some realtors pointed out that the market was so hot, even a monkey could make the sale. A soft market is much different, and you may want to forget about saving on the commission and using the services of an agent. Consider the following:
- Agents have the contacts, expertise, and resources necessary to complete your sale, and most of the time it will be for the price you expect for your home. While a soft market is not a good thing for a seller, it can be very useful when it comes to finding a good agent. The days of easy money are gone, and people who got into the business with visions of a quick fortune are sure to follow. This will leave the cream of the crop; those agents that are committed to customer service and who have been around long enough to negotiate a downturn.
- Agents can often provide valuable tips in increasing the level of serious attention your home receives. While there are always basic rules to follow, which we will outline below, there are always unique circumstances for individual houses that an agent will be able to point out to you.
Prepare your home for showing
The best strategy for selling for maximum value in a soft market is to make sure that your house looks inviting enough for someone else to want to live in. All the basic rules apply here.
- Your house should be in good repair, and nothing should give off any smells or sounds that might be of concern to a potential buyer.
- Whenever there is going to be a showing, make sure that your house is clean and tidy.
- Get rid of excess furniture. If you still want it, put it in storage. If you don’t, then sell it or give it away. Crowded rooms will lead people to think the house is less spacious.
- Make sure your outside looks as good as your inside. Cut your grass, prune your trees, and weed your gardens. You not only want to give off the impression of beauty, but also of beauty with minimal effort.
If your house just doesn’t seem to sell, you might want to think about ways that you can make the deal more appealing to potential buyers.
- Negotiate the price. Most of the time, this will mean that you decrease the asking price for your home. Depending on your neighborhood, though, increasing the price might actually increase the chances of a sale. An rise will bump the house into a different bracket of buyers; as in so many cases, perception is 9/10s of the law. If people think that a house is worth a certain amount of money, chances are that they will believe it.
- Offer to cover some of the costs of the sale. The bottom dollar amount is not all there is to the cost of a house. Buyers might look at your property more seriously if you offer to pay things like closing costs and other homeowner’s fees.
- Options other than straight sale. Sometimes buyers just need time in order to prepare themselves both emotionally and financially to buy a house. In these cases, there are other options to the sale. For example, you can offer a lease option where buyers can lease the house with the option to buy for a fixed amount of time.
One last tip might be to forego a realtor all together. Subtract what you would pay in commission from the asking price for a house; a five percent decrease might mean a sale. Most importantly, don’t panic too early. Remember, hot seller’s markets are a very rare occurrence, and don’t happen very often. If you can afford to be patient, you will get what you are asking for.