If you’re selling a house or an apartment, chances are you know the market is slow. In a housing bubble year like 2006, more than six million properties changed hands; now in 2011, it looks like fewer than five million will. So, sellers may have to go the extra mile.
If you want to sell, there are some basic things you should do to make your house presentable: Clean your closets, sell or store your clutter (read here for how to cash in on everything from old jewelry to baby supplies), mow your lawn, and paint dingy rooms white. You want to make potential buyers feel like your property is a kind of blank canvas, and that it won’t be too much of a challenge for them to customize it.
However, what if you’ve already done those things, and your place still isn’t selling? Here are three more things you can do that will help:
1. Get Feedback
Sure, you think your house is the best one on the market, but what do potential home buyers — people who are out there right now shopping for a place — think? You can find out by following up with open house and appointment visitors and asking what they liked and didn’t like about your place.
Since a quarter of this feedback will be brutal (“I think your taste stinks”) and another quarter will be useless fantasy (“I don’t see why there wasn’t an extra bedroom and a swimming pool for the price”), this may be a task you want your real estate agent to handle. She should be doing it already, but if your property is sitting on the market, ask your agent specifically to talk to people who have seen the home and ask them why they haven’t made an offer. Sometimes going this route will reveal a problem that you can correct with staging. For example, “The living room seemed small,” is something that might be solved by simply putting in different furniture.
2. Visit and Analyze the Competition
Potential buyers are judging your house or apartment as part of a larger inventory of “other places on the market.” Is it prettier, bigger, cheaper, better located? You may not know until you get out and see what else is out there. Again, this is something that you can have your agent do.
One possibility is to have her lay out the three properties that are most competitive with yours, and how they’re different. One thing this analysis will do is let you know if you have a pricing problem — if there are three condos competing with yours and yours is $50,000 pricier, it’s unlikely yours will sell first.
(Additional reading: What’s a condo, anyway?)
3. Make It Easy for the Buyer
In this market, there’s a good chance your buyer may be moving to town in order to relocate for a job. If that’s the case, she’s got enough on her plate. Try to be flexible about your move-out date, and advertise that as one of the perks of choosing you.
If your purchaser is a first-time buyer, she’s probably nervous about everything. If that’s the case, our friends at Investopedia suggest offering a transferable home warranty, which will only cost a few hundred dollars but could ease your buyer’s anxieties about a refrigerator breaking after the sale has already closed.