Amy Hoak’s Home Economics
Dec. 27, 2010, 12:01 a.m. EST
Resolutions for home sellers in 2011
Planning to sell your home next year? Start getting ready now.
By Amy Hoak, MarketWatch
CHICAGO (MarketWatch) — If your New Year’s resolution involves selling a home in 2011, you’ve got some work to do: There’s lots of inventory out there and in a buyer’s market like this one, getting an offer on a home can be challenging.
Still, for the committed seller willing to do some prep work and come to terms with the current value of his or her home, locking in a buyer isn’t impossible.
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By listing in early January, you might be able to catch some of those early birds who start browsing in the winter so that they can find a new home before school starts in the fall, said Louis Cammarosano, general manager of HomeGain.com, a real-estate website. In fact, many buyers tend to start their searches online right after Christmas, and continue throughout January and February, he said.
“If you hit the ground running and you’re a fresh listing that has done everything right, you’ve got the best shot,” said Cammarosano.
Consider the following tips to give your home the best chance to get noticed — and sold — in 2011.
Price it right from the start
Many sellers suffer from attachment bias, said Tara-Nicholle Nelson, consumer educator for real-estate website Trulia.com. They believe that their home is worth more than they’d pay for it in another context. While it’s always a bad idea to overprice a home, it’s especially dangerous in times like this because there is so much competing inventory in many local markets.
Nelson’s advice: Give yourself a reality check by looking inside comparable homes during open houses. That can help you get a clearer idea of your home’s value.
You might even consider interviewing a few real-estate agents to get more than one take on how the home should be priced, Cammarosano said.
The longer something sits on the market, the more price reductions you might have to make and the more potential buyers will assume that there’s something wrong with the home, he said. So more often than not, it’s best not to try testing the waters with a higher price, he adds.
Don’t be afraid to advertise in the listing and marketing materials that it’s not a foreclosure or short sale, Nelson said. In markets where distressed sales are plentiful, there are buyers who simply don’t want to deal with the extra hassle and uncertainty of a short sale or bank-owned property, she said.
Get the house ready
Most sellers know they need to declutter, paint in neutral colors and generally stage the home as best as they can to help buyers envision themselves in the home. Often, this is done on the advice of a real-estate agent or professional stager.
The closer you can get your home looking like a photo from a Pottery Barn catalog, the better off you will be, said Beth Jaworski, a real-estate agent in the Milwaukee area.
And make sure that your cabinets and refrigerators are cleaned out and decluttered, too. “You want to have a minimum of ‘stuff’ in the house. The less stuff you have, the larger the closets, basement and garage will look,” she said.
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