Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Eight Tips for Selling a High-End Home in a Soft Market

I read an article published in January on the forbes dot com website that outlined eight suggestions to enhance the success of selling a high-end home in a soft real estate market. Since Atlantic Beach has more than a few high-end homes, I thought it would be prudent to share those tips here.

To be clear, each of the following tips is taken directly from the forbes dot com article, but the explanatory comments following are mine. I want to make sure forbes dot com receives no undeserved criticism or praise!

Tip #1 - Proper pricing. - There's a school of thought that pricing low, possibly even a little under the market value of the home, is a smart marketing tactic. Often that low pricing generates a lot of interest and may even result in competitive offers - real good news for the seller! The most attention a new listing receives is during the first two weeks of the listing. Homes that are priced too high during the first two weeks almost never sell for maximum price. Even in a good market, new listings that are priced to high suffer immediate disregard and end up becoming old, stale listings. Right or wrong, buyers assume that there must be something wrong with the home if it's been on the market that long. It doesn't usually occur to buyers that maybe the home is simply overpriced. In their minds they have already begun to envision the hidden nightmare. If, by chance, the early looker likes the home and considers making an offer, one of two things may happen - either they talk themselves out of making the offer assuming the seller will not consider an offer as low as theirs after being on the market such a short time or makes the offer and the seller decides not to accept such a low offer after being on the market such a short time. It's all downhill from their...by the time the seller realizes a lower price is necessary, opportunities have been missed and the listing ends up chasing the lowest priced comp to the end. The importance of proper pricing cannot be overemphasized!

Tip #2 - Hire a REALTOR. - Hey now, that's Forbes talking, not me! I do agree with this tip, though! There are a number of important reasons to use a REALTOR, but probably the most convincing is looking at sales data shows that, in most cases, homes that were listed in the local MLS by a local REALTOR sell for more than homes sold by owner. I can provide that data...just ask for it if you don't believe me. If that's not reason enough, there are some other reasons that are harder to quantify. Some examples: expert advice on need for staging/fixing up; aggressive marketing; offer evaluation; negotiations that the seller finds hard to do on their own behalf; follow-up ability with buyer's lender; facilitating showings and inspections, etc.

Tip #3 - Quick fixes. - Not every repair and freshening up pay off. The most important are the proverbial "curb appeal" - the buyer's very first impression of the home. The second first impression occurs when the buyer walks through the door. Light and the absence of odors are critical. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression!

Tip #4 - Incentives. - You never know what might turn a prospective buyer on, but you might strike the right chord with a new car in the garage to go with the house or a new surround sound stereo/flat screen TV system in the family room. It's hard to know if you recoup your costs on these kinds of incentives, but if they provide nothing more than a faster sale when you need it, incentives like this can be well worth it!

Tip #5 - Web brokers. - This is the direct opposite of Tip #2, but if you feel confident enough to handle all the aspects of the selling experience on your own, you could save the commission. A web broker usually charges a nominal flat fee to list your property in the local MLS and you could break even...after all, the buyer expects some of that savings, too!

Tip #6 - Staging. - If the home your selling is full of outdated decor or vacant, sometimes the services of a professional home stager can make a huge difference. Buyers form images of what the home could look like for them, but that's harder to do when the decorating is lacking or the home is vacant. A vacant home makes it difficult to visualize perspectives, such as how a king-size bed will fit in the master, or whether the sofa or china cabinet will fit in a desired spot. A professional home stager knows all the tricks of the trade to make the living space appear larger or more cozy or lighter or whatever is needed. Pricing varies, from someone who already has the necessary items on hand and charges an hourly rate/rental fee and a staff to do painting and/or minor updating to someone who simply charges an hourly rate to complete a plan that you will put into effect to someone who leases/purchases the necessary items and uses a mark-up for their compensation.

Tip #7 Tax considerations. - Depending on the sellers circumstances, there are times when what might appear to be a loss actually works to the seller's benefit. It is necessary to consult a tax accountant and/or attorney on this matter, but factors such as working out of the home or gains on other investments might create an opportunity to sell for a lower price and take the tax benefits from that situation.

Tip #6 - Consider renting out. - If there is no reasonable way for you to get the value of your home in the current real estate market, renting your home might be a great short-term option. With the number of foreclosures currently in process, it appears there will be a number of families needing to rent. If the numbers work out for you, and you stand to lose a lot selling at this time, renting your home might be the best solution.

Well, there they are - from Forbes through me to you! Hope they help!