According to the National Association of Realtors®, more than
4.25 million homes sold in 2011. That's a lot of real estate and
such numbers raise the question: How are sellers doing it?
"Because individual homes are unique, there isn't one single
strategy that works equally well for every property," says Wendy
Forsythe, the executive vice president of a real estate company.
"The real trick is understanding that today's marketplace is cash
driven, quick and highly competitive. Owners who understand their
local markets and work with a knowledgeable agent are those most
likely to succeed."
In March roughly one-third of all sales were cash, meaning a large
number of buyers are not dependent on lender financing, the sale of
their existing home or a settlement that might be 45 to 60 days in
Instead, they can act quickly and in many cases seek properties
which can be bought today and occupied tomorrow.
To ready a home for sale in today's marketplace, Forsythe says
owners should consider six basic keys to selling success.
Six Keys to Success
1) Curb appeal counts. Most home buyers
want homes which look great from the outside. It's not just a
question of curb appeal -- it's about perception. If a home looks
good from the street it probably means the property is ready for a
new occupant without a lot of cost or hassle.
Buyers tend to pass on a home that doesn't appeal to them from the
street -- not even bothering to look inside. An experienced local
REALTOR® can show you how to generate the most curb appeal with the
2) A clutter-free home. With the new emphasis on
cash sales and speed owners must show homes which are free and
clear of clutter. A clutter-free home will make interior spaces
look larger and eliminates the need to get rid of stuff when you
are in the throes of moving. It makes sense to donate or reduce
clutter before a home is placed on the market -- not only as a
sales tactic but also as a practical step toward relocation.
3) Working condition. Having your home's systems
in good mechanical condition is an advantage in today's market.
Most distressed homes can't compete when it comes to such basics as
working heating, plumbing and air-conditioning. Properties that can
readily pass a professional home inspection are often easier to
finance, and are generally more appealing to buyers who don't want
to face the unknown costs and delays sometimes associated with
4) List and negotiate properly. According to
Forsythe, "a seasoned REALTOR® can show owners how best to market a
particular home according to such factors as location, price,
condition and financing. Owners want to work with us because our
experience brings value and confidence to a transaction, factors
that are enormously important in a changing marketplace."
5) Seek prequalified buyers. While many sales may
be for cash, the majority still require financing. It would be
frustrating to enter into a sales contract with a potential buyer
who ultimately cannot obtain financing to purchase your home --
meaning you have lost time -- and potentially money -- and then you
have to start over. When a home is shown by appointment, the buyer
should have a pre-qualification letter in hand.
Such letters from lenders are not binding but at least show that
the purchaser sat down with a loan officer and has some realistic
sense of what he or she can reasonably afford.
6) Distressed properties. Roughly 30 percent of
today's home sales involve "distressed" properties -- a term which
includes short sales and foreclosed properties owned by lenders.
You need to consider the distressed properties in your neighborhood
when pricing and marketing your home. These properties typically
sell at discount, especially in major foreclosure centers and
sometimes require substantial repair and rehabilitation.
"Home sellers can compete with these offerings," according to
Forsythe. "There's no question that a large number of distressed
properties in a local market will impact prices, but price is not
the only factor buyers consider. While distressed homes work for
some purchasers, they're not the right choice for buyers who want
homes that offer move-in condition -- homes in better shape that
can often command higher prices."
While the housing market is just in the beginning stages of a
recovery, it's still possible to successfully sell your home by
making sure you're catering to the kind of buyers in the market
today, and by making sure that you -- and your home -- are ready to
move as quickly as these buyers are.