Keeping up with Chicago's North Shore Real Estate Market!

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Top 10 Tips to Sell your House in a Buyer's Market



I wrote this article a year ago for Make It Better. As I was rereading the article, I realized that the information is still relevant this year, so I'll post it again as we begin our Fall market.


Are you one of the many North Shore residents trying to sell your home right now? Then you know -- only too well -- that it is a challenging time to sell real estate. Anyone affiliated with this segment of the economy is affected, including mortgage lenders, builders, brokerage firms, real estate agents, home inspectors, title companies, real estate attorneys and - especially - home sellers. The only lucky souls in this process are the motivated and able home buyers. They are having a swell time with lots to choose from as they deliberate carefully to find just the right home.


So how do you make your home the next one to win over that motivated buyer in this very competitive market? The following tips will help:



1. Price it right from Day 1. Don't waste precious market time to "test the market" – the buyers know and understand the market value of your home. In this market they will just wait it out until you drop the price. Use comparable and recent sales to set your price. Price is still the single most important factor that affects which homes sell and which don't.


2. Recognize and understand the value of your location. Be realistic about your location. If your home is near a highway or train, on a busy street, or, in some cases, on a corner lot, you may need to aggressively adjust the price lower than you would in a better market. Location is second only to price in importance when it comes to selling real estate!


3. Detach yourself emotionally from your home. You want your home to become someone else's home. Buyers will often devalue rather than value a seller's decorating. It's not personal. In a buyer's market, the clever seller understands that they need to create a home that many buyers might want. Let go of your home and begin moving both physically and psychologically.

4. De-clutter and depersonalize. Buyers are essentially "buying space." Clutter and your personal items make the rooms feel smaller. Go room to room and trash, pack, or put away "stuff." Clean closets and clear out cabinets. Get rid of dust collectors like silk flowers and useless knickknacks. Limit the number of "things" on tables and in shelves. Organize your book shelves and desks. Lock up valuables and important papers. If necessary, rent a storage locker until the home gets sold.


5. Paint. You can do yourself a big favor and probably come out financially better on the sale on your home with just a little paint. Neutralize the very distinctive rooms. Check the trim, windows, doors, etc. If paint is chipping and marked up, then touch it up and make it look fresh and clean. If windows are painted shut, consider "un-sticking" them and repainting. Make sure the front door is clean and freshly painted. Paint the mailbox, too.

6. Clean. This is the most important action you can take. A clean home is perceived to be a loved home and buyers want to believe the home has been loved. Consider your home as a sensual experience for potential buyers, so make sure everything looks clean, smells pleasant, sounds repaired, and feels nice and smooth!

7. Create great Curb Appeal. Don't kid yourself, first impressions are important. Home buyers do judge a home by looking at its cover and sometimes won't even look inside if they don't like the outside. Make sure the front door is inviting and visible. Pretty pots of flowers or a small bench can add wonders to a front door. Make sure the home numbers are visible and clean. Make sure that the key and lock work effortlessly. Eliminate spider webs, repair steps and sidewalks, trim trees, and mow the lawn. Make sure that your house creates a fantastic first impression.


8. Stage the Interior. How you live in a space is quite different from how you sell a space. Remove excess furniture – make sure people can move down hallways and from room to room easily without bumping into furniture. Make sure the doors open and shut easily without any barriers in the way. ADD LOTS OF LIGHT throughout your home. Live plants and soft music helps just about every home!


9. Remain Flexible. Showing your home to strangers can be tiring and nerve racking. Buyers are sometimes impatient and downright inconsiderate. Regardless, make every effort to let potential buyers into your home at a moment's notice. Be flexible with the close date. Be flexible and creative with buyer financing options. Consider credits or paying points, etc. – anything that might be viewed positively by potential buyers.




10. Respect every offer. Finally, treat any offer you receive with gratitude and utmost respect. Offers are rare, precious and valuable. There is no such offer that is "an insult." Out of all the many homes on the North Shore – they picked yours! And something else to keep in mind: more often than not, the first offer is usually the best offer you're going to get!!! So make sure you have hired an agent with superb negotiating skills, who will work tirelessly with that buyer's agent to get the "deal sealed."

One final thing to consider: The Internet is now ranked as the number one source for buyers who are looking for homes. When interviewing real estate agents, ask them about their Internet marketing strategy. How they market on the Internet should be a primary consideration in your agent selection process.


So price your house well, dazzle the buyers and you will make your home the next one to win over the motivated buyer in this very competitive market!