Seller strategies: Four tips for home sellers in a sluggish market

Basic considerations and improvements can make a big difference

Everyone has a different take on the state of the real estate market. Some experts say prices will drop more, some say they'll flatten, while others say they'll increase slightly this year.

Because real estate rates are determined locally, it's possible for all three scenarios to take place.

According to the September 2006 report by the National Association of Realtors, The Housing Bubble and Its Implications for the Economy, "The inventory of unsold homes on the market is at an all-time high of 3.9 million, which is a 40 percent rise from a year ago."

Sellers need to be savvier and more strategic in order to sell their home within a shorter timeframe and at a good price.

Consider these four points when selling your home.
  1. Know Your Home's Worth ?

    Don't rely on real estate websites alone for home valuations. While instant home valuations are fun to use, they are based on past home sales and use computer formulae that do not necessarily reflect current market trends. Your best bet is to get a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), a professional assessment of your property's value, from your real estate agent. With a CMA in hand, you are prepared to set your list price.

    Once you've settled on a list price, have your agent reevaluate it every couple of weeks to stay current. If you don't get any interest or offers within the first three weeks, your asking price might be unrealistic and should be adjusted.
  2. Condition Counts

    Quirky fixer uppers are a thing of the past. Today's homebuyer is all about instant gratification, and the last thing he or she wants to do is move into a house that requires immediate cleaning or repair. The best thing you can do as a seller is to present your home to potential buyers in the very best possible light.

    To present your home at its best, repaint tired and dirty walls, thoroughly clean all carpets, flooring and windows, and update front landscaping. Organize and update kitchens and bathrooms, the most problematic areas of a home. Make sure all kitchen and bath appliances and plumbing are in good working order.

    A home in a less-than-sparkling condition can suggest a desperate seller and may yield a smaller profit.
  3. Cover Part of the Buyer's Costs

    A generous overture can make you more attractive to potential buyers. Offering to pay some of the buyer's closing costs, funding a portion of the buyer's financing, or paying for inspections or repairs that reduce the buyer's out-of-pocket expenses can help distinguish you and your home from the competition.
  4. Enlist Expert Help

    Go pro on your home sale by hiring a qualified real estate agent to do the job. An experienced, local real estate agent will be your best resource in helping you to meet your real estate goals in this unpredictable housing market.

    When paired with the results of your own research, information provided by your local real estate agent can help you decide if selling your home now is the right thing to do.
    • Compare and interview several experienced, licensed real estate agents who specialize in your market area.
    • Ask for each agent's recent success stories in your particular market.
    • Contact and interview the agent's former customers

    Remember to go with the agent who has been successful in your local real estate market and whose experience, marketing approach, commission rate, personality and business manner best suit your own style.