An interesting article appeared in the "Washington Post" this morning entitled "Not even for a car" which details the extreme lengths some Sellers will go to in order to sell their homes. The Sellers, in this case, had a property located in Woodbridge, VA and decided they would offer their 2000 Mustang convertible as an incentive to get a qualified buyer to choose their homes. As Sellers struggle to compete in the current marketplace they are upping the ante by offering prizes, commission bonuses to agents and even auctioning and raffling off their homes. A Realtor friend of mine even had a Seller who was offering a time-share! The question is, do any of these unusual marketing efforts work?
As the Sellers of this Woodbridge, VA house found out, the answer is a resounding "no", despite their best efforts these sellers did not receive an offer and didn't even increase the number of potential clients who viewed the property. So, you might be wondering, if cars, time shares, vacations and cash incentives don't work, then what does? What does it take to get that qualified buyer over the threshold of your door and then make an offer?
The 2 secrets that will sell your home:
Realtors have known the secrets of selling a property for a long time and they are deceptively simple. The secrets are number one: price and number two: condition. I know, I know....it doesn't sound all that flashy or exciting, it's easier to think you can offer up a car and buyers will come beating down your door to make offers. It's kind of like that new cutting edge diet that allows you to eat all you want, not exercise and still lose weight! Everyone wants to believe there is a magic formula that's yet to be discovered that will sell your home and not require any work from you or cut into your profits. As a real estate professional, I really want to tell you differently, that I can work my marketing magic, hold an "open house" and presto! your home is sold. The fact is, there is no substitute for proper pricing and a home that is in "buyer ready" condition. I define "buyer ready" as a home that has great "curb appeal" and a home that needs very minimal (if any) cosmetic and or mechanical updating. Unless a property is priced at a truly "bargain basement" level, most buyers in a market rife with so many choices, will not choose a property that needs any kind of work or updating.
Keep in mind that the majority (more than 80%) of buyers will begin their home search online, so the way your home is represented on the internet is an especially important consideration. Some things that improve the way your home appears online are using adequate lighting, having spare, clean surfaces (removing any clutter) and using the services of photographer to capture your home in it's most flattering light.
A buyer's perspective:
Let's say that you are in the market to buy a home. You jump onto the "DROdio" website and plug in your criteria. You can purchase a home in Prince William County and go up to $350,000 and you want a single family home with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths and a nice backyard. The search engine comes back with 500+ homes in your price range and area which meet your criteria. The homes are priced anywhere from $199,000.00 up to $350,000.00 Once you start looking through the listings in detail, you realize that some of the lower priced ones are in need of a lot of work and you eliminate them from your list. A detailed examination; however, shows that some of the lower priced ones are in good condition, similar age and share the same amenities as the higher priced homes and you are elated!
What's a Seller to do?
As unpleasant as it may be, the first step is to accept that you are in "Buyer's Market". This type of market occurs when the supply of homes far exceeds the demand for those homes. As a natural consequence of the abundance of homes, there is downward pressure on home prices and buyers can effectively "name their price".
Once you have faced the reality of the market head-on, then you have some decisions to make. The first thing to consider is timing. Ask yourself, "Do I really need to sell right now?" if the answer is "no" and you have the flexibility to wait until the market becomes a bit more balanced, then that might be your best bet at this time. If, on the other hand, you really do need to sell your home right now, you will need to decide what price you can and are willing to accept for your home.
I strongly recommend having a real estate professional come to your home and evaluate it and give you an opinion on where he/she feels your home should be priced in order to be positioned competitively in the marketplace. This real estate professional should provide you with a CMA or comparative market analysis. This analysis will give you the basis for any discussion about the pricing of your home and should include recently sold homes (preferably homes that have sold within the last 3 months) pending sales (homes under contract but haven't gone to settlement yet) and active homes (currently on the market ie: your competition).
Pricing a home correctly from the outset is crucial. This is because studies have shown that the moment a new property goes on the market the interest level is the highest and that is when you, as a Seller, have the highest probability of getting prospective buyers to view your home. A house that is priced right will stand out in the crowd, it will be the nicest home in it's price range and in a buyer's market, it must be in order to sell. A lower price also increases your potential pool of buyers, this is because the lower the price the more buyers can qualify to get mortgage financing for the property.
Take a "field trip"!
If you are really having trouble narrowing down your price range, ask your Real Estate professional to take you on a "field trip" to see your competition in any given price range. This will give you a great idea of how your home will fare in comparison to your competition and give you the ability to accurately pinpoint the best price range for your home!