Need to sell your home fast? With a glut of unsold homes on the market and foreclosures on the rise, you may be feeling discouraged. But there's no reason your property needs to sit unsold for months.
Here are five ways to expedite the process and sell your home quickly.
1. Price it right
With homes sales slowing and prices plunging, there's little doubt that selling for a good price in today's market is going to be tricky. The median existing home price dropped more than 7% last month compared with the same month last year, according to the National Association of Realtors. So if you try to ask as much for your property as your neighbor got six months or a year ago, you're going to turn off potential buyers. Instead, price your home conservatively by looking at similar houses currently on the market, says Michael Corbett, author of "Ready, Set, Sold!" Also look at the homes that aren't selling. Chances are those owners priced their dwellings too high, he says.
"If you really want to stimulate a sale, you should under price your property by just a hair," says Susan Singer, a New York-based real estate broker with Corcoran. Just shaving a few thousand dollars off can generate more foot traffic and create a buzz.
2. Make it inviting
There's no faster way to turn off a potential buyer than to show them a home stuffed with kids' toys, family knickknacks and a stinky kitty litter. Even stodgy furniture can make a property more difficult to unload. That's why many high-end real estate agents employ professional "home stagers" when they want to guarantee a quick sale. For anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, these folks will do everything from remove clutter and rearrange furniture to rent all new furnishings. Corcoran's Singer says her staged properties tend to sell faster and for more money than ones that aren't prepped in this fashion.
Fortunately, there are some inexpensive things homeowners can do on their own to attract a buyer. Whether you live in a cozy Cape Cod or a 4,000-square-foot McMansion, make your space feel as open and clean as possible. Get rid of clutter, organize the closets and remove all personal items that may make it more difficult for someone to imagine living in your house, says Corbett. See our story for more ways to make your home inviting or watch our video for advice on how to do it on your own.
3. Get an inspector
A home that's in good working order will always sell faster than one that needs pricey repairs, says Walter Molony, a spokesman for the National Association of Realtors. That's why it's a good idea to get your home inspected before you put it on the market. The benefits are twofold. First, it's always cheaper and faster to make your own repairs rather than have a buyer drag out the negotiating process to accommodate any necessary work. Second, you'll also avoid any nasty last-minute surprises that could derail a deal should the buyer's inspector discover you need, say, to replace the roof.
4. Fill your listing with photos
No matter how you sell your home — on your own or with a broker — make sure you have an eye-catching online listing. Some 84% of people start their real estate searches online, according to the National Association of Realtors. While it used to be enough to simply slap up one or two blurry photos, buyers now prefer a slew of pictures so that they don't waste their time touring a home that doesn't meet their requirements.
What should your listing include? If you really want to stand out from the competition consider including a video tour in your listing, says Eric Mangan, director of consumer relations for Forsalebyowner.com. It's also worthwhile to hire a professional photographer or find a broker who uses one. At the very least, take half a dozen or more photos that highlight your home's best features. Make sure to include a shot of the outside on a sunny day, and one of the kitchen, a bathroom, dining room, and a bedroom. "It's incredibly important to include multiple photos in an online property ad since homes without several pictures are likely to get passed over by buyers," says Mangan.
5. Throw in a little something extra
With home sales stalled, motivated sellers are offering incentives to buyers such as paying for the closing costs or points on a mortgage, says the National Association of Realtors' Molony. Such tactics are especially attractive to first-time shoppers who can afford mortgage payments but struggle to come up with both the closing costs and the larger down payments lenders now require.
Some other ideas: Consider replacing drafty windows with ones that are energy-efficient. If you installed a 40-inch plasma TV with a surround-sound stereo system in the living room, offer to include it with the house. Chances are you won't be able to take it with you anyway. If you're selling a second home on the water, throw in the jet-ski and dock rights. If you pad the asking price by just a couple of thousand dollars, you'll still come out ahead, says Corbett.