Selling Your Home
Selling Your House?
My husband and I downsized and moved last June. Since then, our house has not sold! We are paying two mortgages and two taxes! We listed with a 3% realtor, but found out that other realtors who get the standard 6% blackball them, because they want their huge chunk of money. Do you know of any way to sell our house ourselves that works?
Selling Your House: For Sale by Owner
Yes, in every major area, there is a For Sale By Owner website. Check out ForSaleByOwner.com/. You can list your house there, and it is very reasonable. You don't pay commission, but there is a modest fee for using their services, depending on what features of the service you want to use. Plus, there's a money-back guarantee if the house doesn't sell.
Selling Your House: Going Once, Going Twice, Sold
Have you thought about hiring an auction company to come in and try to auction off your home? This may sound extreme, but you do have control over setting a reserve price, which will guarantee that it won't sell for less than that price. You can work with the auction company on their fees. Their percentage might be higher than what you wanted to spend, but if you are paying two mortgages each month and taxes on two houses, this might be a better alternative to sell your house quickly.
Selling Your House: Get the Word Out!
Advertise, advertise, advertise. Make flyers yourself or get ones from your 3% broker, and post them at every grocery store, mall, library, and other community bulletin board you can find. Advertise in the newspaper classifieds. Post your house online. The 3% broker is a great deal because it affords you access to the MLS listings. Put flyers into mailboxes in close neighborhoods. The key to getting your house sold is simply finding the right person to buy it. Based on that reasoning, the better job you do of getting your house in front of as many people as possible, the more likely you are to find a buyer.
Mark and Jen
Selling Your House: Home on the Net
Does your area have a For Sale By Owner website? If not, try CraigsList.com; they may have listings in your area. MSN.com also has a real estate for sale area. If none of the above works or nothing applies to your situation, try bartering! Do you know anyone who can put up a plain website with pictures and a description of the house for you in exchange for something you have that they want? If so, you can print out flyers and business cards (try vistaprint.com for free business cards) that say "Home for Sale" with the website URL and a brief description. Put them out in public areas in and around where the house is, where you live now and where you work. Tell everyone you come in contact with that you have a house for sale and hand them a card or flyer!
Just remember the real estate market is slow so do not rule out a lease with option to buy scenario, a land installment sales contract or any other creative way to relieve yourself of the burden of making multiple payments.
Selling Your House: Adjust Your Expectations
We just moved to southeastern MI where there is a huge glut of homes on the market. We successfully sold our house before moving here with a traditional realtor and there are several things we've noticed in our recent transactions.
- Cut-rate realtors aren't really motivated to sell your home. We had realtors who wouldn't even open the house for a showing in the absence of the owners; these were always the "discount realtors." While you may think that 6% commission is "greedy," it's a great motivation to sell your house. We found that our seller's agent was highly motivated to market our home when she understood why we were moving and grew to know our family, but a 6% commission didn't hurt either. Do remember, though, that the 6% gets split between two agents (typically) and the realtor's agency takes a cut as well. So that generally only leaves about 1% for the agent.
- Many families here are realizing that they have to adjust their expectations about what they will see in terms of a profit from their home sale. If your home is the best looking and best value on your block, it will sell. And if it's not, be prepared to cut back on what you expect or wished to see out of the sale. One family turned down our (very good) offer and we walked away. Their house still hasn't sold. We often wonder if they are kicking themselves. After all, the expression goes "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." We were their "bird," and they let us go in favor of a (future) "two birds."
- Other couples are expanding their paradigms by renting their homes when they don't sell. You should probably talk to a real estate attorney to draw up a good lease, but it is a viable option if you can't sell. It will at least recoup your mortgage payment on the house. This is especially useful if you're in an area where there is a university or other educational complex; families often come to these places knowing they'll only be there for a few years and don't want to buy but would love to rent a well-cared-for home during their tenure.
Sue T. in Dexter, MI
Selling Your House: Your Money's Worth
As a real estate agent, I don't begrudge anyone trying to sell their own home or accepting less than full services for half price. But when that doesn't work, it's time to get professional help. Find a reliable, ethical, successful, full-service agent. Their service should begin with a thorough, honest assessment of what has kept your house from selling so far. They'll walk through the house and help you spiff it up to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible. They'll help you price it to sell. They'll develop a marketing plan to give it maximum exposure, including TV, magazines, flyers, and, most importantly, multiple websites with virtual tours and lots of pictures.
In addition, they will network through other real estate agents; through their goodwill and cooperation, you will have thousands of real estate agents working to sell your home. When you get an offer, your real estate agent will help you negotiate it. When you have a contract, they'll take care of all the details, such as home inspection repairs, appraisal, survey, termite inspection, and so on. That's a lot of work, but then that's what you should expect for the 3% that goes to your listing agent. The other 3% goes to the agent who brings the buyer. That agent has spent advertising dollars to connect with potential buyers and has often been working with your buyer for weeks or even months, helping them get pre-qualified, getting acquainted with the area, ruling out other homes, until they finally decide yours is the one.
I agree 6% is a lot of money, so make sure you get your money's worth. Interview agents to make sure you hire a professional who has a good reputation and successful track record. Check references. If your agent does their job right, paying a full commission will save you money.
Selling Your House: House Selling Trick
I've never sold a house on my own. However, we just purchased a home and remember that our first draw to our house was the outside and the way it was kept. Also, the way the house smelled was very important to me. I have always heard to have something baking in the oven when you have potential homebuyers in your home. The smells are inviting and make them feel more "at home." I know this is a simple tip, but I have had many clients of mine that are real estate agents. They say this trick really works.
Selling Your House: It's All About the Price!
We went with an agent from a regular real estate company and our house took several months to sell. For us, the key was price. We knew that our house was better than the other comparable houses that our agent wanted to use to set our price, so we chose a price that was $40,000 higher than what our agent thought was a good selling price, and we waited. And we waited and waited. Then we really got tired of paying that extra mortgage so we lowered our price by $20,000 and got a full price offer the next day.
The moral of the story is that it's all about price. We were right that our home was worth more than our agent thought, and he was right that we were asking too much. If we had taken his price recommendation, we would have only broken even on our remodeling costs. By trying for more, we made $20,000, which helped us buy our new house. It's not about the agent. An agent will show anybody any house if the buyer really wants to see it. Sometimes, potential buyers will even go around the agent and call about the house on their own if they want to see it bad enough. It's always about the money. It's just a business deal to them.
Selling Your House: Offer Incentives to Buy
There may be a way you can offer incentives to the buyer, such as help with closing costs or buying points to lower their rate. If rates are rising, it may be tougher to find a buyer even with housing prices still being as low as they are. They will need a way to differentiate your house from the thousands of others flooding the market right now. Even being flexible about closing dates might help, as most people need time to sell their own house. Remember that sometimes the only thing standing between your eager buyer and the closing is a few thousand dollars, but they may be too embarrassed to make this clear. It would be worth your while to ask them some questions, find out their real needs, and make your incentive offers.
Mary V. in Rhode Island
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