Selling Your Home in a Tough Market - Part 1

So, you want or need to sell your home. You've been watching home prices fall over the course of the last year and the pace seems to be increasing. You know that there are a lot of homes on the market and that buyers have a lot of bargaining power.

What to do? Here are a few suggestions that may not make you happy, but they are realistic. If you have the choice of waiting to sell your home, you may want to consider that option. Real estate is cyclical and the market will shift, eventually.

There are two sides to preparing to sell your home. You need to prepare yourself mentally for the process. You will also need to make sure your home looks as good to a potential buyer as it does to you.

If you know that home prices have come down, then you cannot expect to get the same amount of money from the sale of your home that you may have received one, two or certainly three years ago. So, if your Realtor suggests to you a price which seems to be less than what you would expect, there are reasons for that. This does not mean that you simply roll over and accept whatever number is provided to you.

As a home seller, you also have a responsibility to gather as much information as possible about recent sales of comparable homes in your neighborhood. Any good agent will offer you this information (Comparative Market Analysis) without being asked.

Also inquire about a net gain sheet. Different agents may have different terms for this document. Quite simply, this document lists all costs associated with the sale of your home and will provide you the most accurate picture of how much money you will net from the sale.

Now that you are mentally prepared to sell your home, it is time to take a look at your home objectively. Remember, this will not always be your home. You are trying to make it look nice to someone who may not share your tastes.

Preparation of your home for the buyer is an absolute key element of a quick, painless and successful sale. You have heard of "curb appeal". This refers to the way your home appears to a prospective buyer from the time they initially drive up to your home, walk through the property and then return to the car to discuss how they could make your house their new dream home.

There are many elements of preparation of which you should be aware. Worn carpeting, low light levels, cluttered rooms and closets are all very negative aspects of a home and will definitely discourage a potential buyer.

Barking dogs, noisy neighbors, a filthy swimming pool and peeling paint are just a few more things which will deter a buyer. Listen to suggestions your agent proposes. This can save you a lot of time, can increase the sale price or at least maintain a fair price for your home.

Staging. This is a process by which a home, particularly a vacant home, is prepared for buyers to view. Some real estate agents do this work themselves; others will hire a staging professional. The homeowner pays the cost of staging.

A staging professional will place furniture, rugs, plants and other decorative items to give the vacant house a homey look. A potential buyer needs to envision themselves living in the home. It is very difficult to accomplish that in an empty house.

Put yourself in the buyer's shoes. If you were looking at the purchase of a home which required a lot of repairs, smelled like old socks and was painted fuchsia and chartreuse, would you ask for a price reduction? Of course, you would!

If a home is warm and welcoming, smells of freshly baked cookies and causes the buyer to picture themselves living there, your sale will move along quickly and painlessly.

Unless you have considerable experience with real estate transactions, hire a professional. Find an agent with whom you are comfortable. Get to know them and trust their judgment and knowledge.

You will pay them a commission. Under current market conditions, they will earn it. Rarely, if ever, do I perform my own surgery. There is a good reason for that. I pay for someone else's expertise. The wise choice would be to let a real estate agent or broker provide their expertise for you.

Also read Part 2 of "Selling Your Home in a Tough Market" exclusively featured on Yahoo! Real Estate by HomeGain.

Visit to find out 10 home improvements to make to your home before putting it on the market.

Or visit to find a Realtor, get the value of your home or find homes for sale.

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