Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Selling in a Tough Market

by Osman Parvez
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Here's the situation: You're thinking about selling your property but you're worried the market isn't what it used to be. You've read the news and you're getting worried. So you search the MLS and find if there are many similar properties on the market, all at about the same price.

What do you do?

Although Boulder's market remains relatively strongly, there are certain sections of the market that are slower than others. Neighboring towns are generally slower as well (except Louisville).

The good news is that attractive homes in nice neighborhoods with realistic asking prices still get strong offers. What's different is that Seller's in today's market need to be ready to put more time and money into fixing them up. Generally speaking, you may want to consider offering more incentives and accept more conditions, including offers contingent on the sale of another home. But a truly successful strategy starts well before your home is listed.

Here's advice we give our clients: Before you list your property, it's absolutely critical that you know the market before setting your asking price. On this blog, the market updates I publish are a good starting point. They should help you getting to know overall conditions (contact me if you don't see your local market).

Once you have a sense of general conditions, drill down to the properties that are directly comparable to yours. Consider getting an independent opinion of value. The goal is to look at your property as a buyer would. You can do that by studying the market, visiting many similar listings, and carefully weighing how your property stacks up. A seasoned real estate professional can help you with expert advice based on years of selling homes in your local market.

Second, get your property ready for listing in advance. Don't rush to put your your home on the market without removing clutter, cleaning thoroughly, and taking care of all those little home repair projects. It's also a good idea to consider having your property professionally staged. Again, real estate professionals can help. Your agent can provide you with good advice or even in some cases, staging services.

Finally, think about the first impression your home will make on potential buyers. Over 80% of buyers start searching online. Not only must your home look great in person but the quality of the photography used in your online listing is important and so is choice of language. Over the years, we've seen some pretty bad photography and read language in listings that have left us scratching our heads. It's very important that you get this right the first time. If the market is tough, there will probably not be a second chance to make a first impression.

What if you listed months ago and your home still hasn't sold? Recently, we've run into a few situations where a seller's previous agent was not successful. The listing history shows 300+ days on market and a series of price decreases. When a potential buyer walks into a home like this, one of the first things they want to know is how long it's been on the market. If it's been a long time, they almost always seem to lose some enthusiasm. It's human nature. Most buyers believe that if it's been on the market for a long time, there must be something wrong with it.

And by the way, at this point I should mention that we strongly discourage clients from refreshing days on market without a significant reason to do so. Any decent buyer's agent should uncover the re-listing and advise her client accordingly. If a sufficient reason is lacking, the seller ends up looking deceptive. This can be enough for some buyers to walk away, especially in a tough market. So don't think about it.

Why do some homes stay on the market for 300+ days? It's usually a combination of factors. Typically the property was initially over-priced (seller was "testing the market") or the property doesn't show well (wasn't staged, cleaned, landscaped, or de-cluttered). If this is the case when you first put your home on the market, the first and potentially largest wave of buyers has passed on your property.

Bottom line? If you're thinking about listing your home, remember this. It's always better to do it right the first time.

Note: If you find yourself dealing with a tough market, all is not lost. There are a number of things that Realty Unique can do to help you sell a home. It's our experience that we go further than most agents by coming up with solutions that are unique to the situation and effective. If you'd like more details on what we can for you, please call us at 303.746.6896.


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The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate. 

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