Greg Lane, Appraiser with Timberlane Appraisal has provided the following advice to those trying to get their homes sold in this difficult market.
During the real estate boom years, it was much easier to market and sell a home without any professional assistance. Once you found a buyer, you could put the necessary pieces of the closing package together, find a helpful title company, pray the buyer was working with a local lender, and close the transaction. However, in today's market, you will never put a fingerprint on the closing table if you home is not priced right to begin with. In fact, studies have proven, and my professional appraisal experience supports, the fact that homes which are initially priced too high will eventually sell for less due to an excessive marketing period. The first 30 days represent the crucial time period in the listing of the house. My Realtor friends use the donut analogy, it is best eaten when the sign says HOT, and every hour after that moment, that donut looks less and less appealing. Local Realtors use the terms "stale" or "dog" listing to refer to a property which has been listed too long. My wife uses the analogy of the two (or ten) times when I left clothes in the washer too long, they soured. Buyers start to ask, "what is wrong with the home" when it has been exposed to the market for an excessive amount of time without a contract. Don't let your home become one of these listings, use the current market and other sellers' 2006 pipe dreams to your advantage. You ask, "how can I use what some describe as a "declining market" to sell my house". First, get a Realtor, trying to sell without an agent in this market is like going into battle without ammunition. Second, forget the old school notion of pricing the home higher so you can "come down" in price that does not work in the current market. Finally, use the 5/10 formula to your advantage to keep your listings from getting lost in the crowd. This is easy math, no fancy algebraic equations, no word problems. Simply take the list price of your nearest competing homes, those as close to the quality, condition, lot size, etc. of your home and subtract 5%. Listing your house for 5% less than your closest competitors will generally create activity. If you want even more activity, potentially a quick sale, subtract 10% from your nearest competitor's list prices and get ready to pack. This may seem over simplified, and it certainly does not work in every case, but it is very effective in neighborhoods of homogeneous homes. These days, most of the contracts that come across my fax are those homes which were priced 5% below the competition; they were picked up on the radar of incoming buyers. Make sure your home is listed (flying) below the crowd (clouds), so you get picked up on the radar of today's informed buyers.
Ask yourself, do you really want to sell, because pricing up the clouds will cost you and your Realtor wasted time and money, it is not worth it.
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