7 tips to sell your home in a crowded market
When the neighbors are selling, too, it’s understandable to worry. But just because several homes are for sale on the same street doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. Here’s some advice to help boost your odds.
In today's economy, it's tough enough to sell just one home in a neighborhood. But when there are multiple "for sale" signs on the same street, sellers often fear they're in for an especially long, trying experience.
A crowded market creates visions of price wars among neighbors who've lived on the same block for years. Sellers may also worry that potential buyers will conclude that something must be wrong with the neighborhood if everyone wants to leave.
Surprisingly, neighborhoods with multiple homes for sale may have a few unique marketing advantages, says Rhonda Duffy, owner and broker of Duffy Realty in Atlanta.
"As a buyer, it's easier to visit a street that has several homes for sale than to make a trip to just one property," she says.
When more buyers visit your street, there's a better chance they'll see your home. That may boost your odds of getting a good offer.
Here are seven things you can do to improve your odds of a sale when the neighbors are selling, too.
1. Suggest a joint open house
If the family next door and the people down the street have houses on the market, suggest hosting a combined open house on the same day, Duffy says.
"Try to work with the other sellers so that everyone is supporting each other instead of competing against each other," she says. "You might even agree to distribute each other's fliers."
A combined open house can draw more people while also giving buyers a glimpse of how well neighborhood residents get along. If the interactions are positive, it reflects well on the sellers, Duffy says.
Lori McGuire, a real-estate agent and president of the McGuire Team, a part of Re/Max Select One in south Orange County, Calif., knows it can be hard to get competing owners to work together. However, she says tough market conditions often force sellers, and their real-estate agents, to give it a try.
For instance, McGuire has talked to real-estate agents about taking turns putting up "for sale" signs in neighborhoods with many homes on the market. That way, buyers who drive into the neighborhood "don't see 20 [signs] on the same street."
"That number may seem hard to believe, but it's possible for that many houses to be up for sale if the home is in a newer neighborhood and it's competing with other homes that the developer just built," she says.
2. 'Sell' your entire neighborhood
These days, it's not enough to simply sell your home; you also have to go the extra mile to promote your neighborhood.
"Help your buyer get past the fear that something may be wrong with the neighborhood by describing why your community is great," Duffy says.
For example, in your brochures, consider including relevant information about an active community social calendar, friendly neighbors or mature, well-manicured area landscaping.
Chances are the neighbors who are selling their homes are sprucing up their properties to enhance curb appeal. That should make your job easier.
Another way to plug the neighborhood is to write a seller's letter to potential buyers that anticipates and answers likely questions.
"Explain why you are moving, assuming it's for a positive reason, and how you're leaving something great behind," Duffy says. "Give the impression that you're happily moving away, not that you're happy to be moving away."
Make copies of the letter and place them alongside your fliers, brochures and other important sales material.
3. Give easy access to your home
When several of your neighbors are selling, too, it's best to be prepared to show the home quickly.
"If there are multiple listings in your area, you'll probably have a higher number of impulse house showings," says Myra Nourmand, a real-estate agent based in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Shoppers may have overlooked your house while searching online listings. When they visit your neighborhood to see another house on the market, they might spot the "for sale" sign in your yard and ask their agent to show them your property, too.
It's reasonable to expect people to give notice before showing up on your doorstep, but don't make potential buyers jump through hoops before they can see your home, Nourmand says.
Severely restricting the hours your residence is available for showings could cost you a prospect.
4. Stage your home
Home staging means decorating your dwelling in a way that appeals to a potential buyer, says Julie Dana, home stager and author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Staging Your Home to Sell."
"When done right, your home can really stand out from the others in the neighborhood," she says.
Dana's top home-staging tips include:
- Make sure address numbers are clear and easy to see from the curb. Otherwise, buyers might drive to your neighbor's house by mistake.
- Add lighting to make the house look great at night. "People often do an evening 'drive-by' before they decide to ask for a showing," Dana says.
- Clean and de-clutter. Mail, bathroom toiletries and kids' toys need to be out of view.
- Depersonalize. The knickknacks that make a house a home can distract buyers from visualizing a property as their own, so remove personal items such as family photographs, trophies and vacation pictures.
- Stylize the home with up-to-date designs. Doing something simple, such as placing a slipcover over an old sofa, can greatly improve a room's appearance.
Home staging is essential because even in this tough market, buyers tend to choose a home based on emotion rather than price, McGuire says. "Consumers are price savvy, and they'll make sure they're getting a good buy, but it is the emotional appeal of a nice-looking home that seals the deal," she says.
For sellers who want extra decorating help, Dana recommends hiring a professional home stager.
"One advantage that we have is we can give tips to a homeowner that the real-estate agent might be reluctant to share," she says. For example, if a house smells bad, the home stager can break the news to the owner and offer constructive suggestions for eliminating the odor.
"I've often had to be the bad guy in many situations," Dana says, adding that in most cases, the owner is grateful for the feedback.
Fees for home stagers vary according to the level of service needed, Dana says. An initial consultation with recommendations usually costs between $100 and $400.
Danielle Babb, a real-estate analyst in New York, suggests that sellers who plan to stage their homes complete major cosmetic improvement projects, such as replacing worn carpet. Buyers are more reluctant to take on even minor fixer-uppers in this economy, Babb says.
"People have tighter budgets, and lenders have even tighter loan restrictions, so buyers don't necessarily have the extra $2,000 out of pocket to put into a new home," she says. "The places that look like they're in move-in condition will be more appealing."
The first thing you should try doing is look in your area and see how much the houses are going for. Then compare those prices with improvements that you have made in your house such as hardwood floors, new boiler, finished basement, and etc.
Once you have a final price, put it up for sale on different classified ads sites, that way you can increase your chances of someone coming to see the house. Personally, I like to use ZidoZone.com because I find it so easy to use and it has a great reputation.
I liked ESVA's comment. Selling your own home is kind of like being your own contractor...it is a lot of work but can save you a lot of money. Luckily, you can "sub" out a lot of the hard parts! Need a professional opinion on the value of your home without hiring a realtor? Hire an actual licensed property appraiser for about $300! (His/her estimate is a great sales tool to show prospective buyers that you have done your homework on the sales price. Whatever the appraiser says your home is worth, subtract 1-2% to come up with the price you actually ask for. Wonder if there are any hidden structural problems with your home? Have the home inspected for $400 and share the report with prospective buyers when you get a clean report and/or you have fixed everything that was in need of repair. Need someone to help you list your house on the internet? Many of the FSBO websites offer extra assistance for a reasonable price...or hire the kid next door to help you for $100. We have found that putting professional looking for-sale signs in our front yard (not the cheap plastic ones they sell at home improvement stores) can help a lot. A few moves ago we invested in a nice painted wooden mailbox post ($40) that has hooks to hang a customized FOR-SALE sign. We usually try to have open houses at least one day each weekend--complete with "OPEN HOUSE" signs on the main road pointing toward our house with our address listed. Balloons tied to the open house signs work great to get attention. We have prospective buyers take off their shoes at the front door if we have nice/new carpet...it shows that we take care of our house. We never show the house when one of us is alone and we always try to let the prospective buyer see us waving to a neighbor to let him/her know that someone else saw them arrive. This also makes the neighborhood seem friendlier. We also make sure that we always have color brochures with lots of photos and home information (including the price) available for people walking/driving by. We print these on our home computer printer. We always print at the bottom of the brochure, "2.5% sales commission to buyer's agent available." When people come without buyer's agents, we tell them that we'll drop the price 2.5% if they do not use a realtor. 2.5% sure beats paying a full 6%. Usually about half the prospective buyers come with realtors. As far as setting up the inspections, etc, if a person can use a phone book and call the Better Business Bureau, he can do it himself. When we reach an agreement on the sales price with a buyer and they have provided us with a letter from their mortgage company showing they can get financing, we hire a good title company to take care of all the paperwork. We often go back to the same local title company we used to buy our house if we liked them. When you actually see what realtors do, it is not rocket science--it is smart networking. In today's computer age, we all have networks we can use for finding reliable help and advice at reasonable costs. In the last 3 moves, we have saved over $70,000 on realtor fees selling our own homes, even after paying 2.5% to buyers' realtors on two of the sales. We have always found serious buyers within 5 weeks of putting out our For-Sale sign, for our full asking price minus 2.5%, even when the housing market was at its worst. Everyone needs to make their own decision about whether to hire a realtor but this is our method and it has worked well for us so far. Someday we might decide to hire a realtor though-- if a situation calls for it. Each relocation situation is unique for us and each home sale strategy needs to be considered carefully.
In response to TripleDO3 and home pro, having had a trusted realtor list our home (built in the late 1800's) for 12 months and getting only three "lookers" during that time, it is now listed on websites that allow an owners to market their homes. If our home was overpriced it was because the realtor set the price too high, not us. We looked to the agent for advice and guidance because we believe that is part of what real estate agents get paid to do.
I know that pricing a vintage home is difficult and I know that homeowners of any age home believe their home to be worth more than any other home on the market, but proper pricing is also the RESPONSIBILITY of a GOOD agent.
I have been in sales for over 35 years and if you, as an agent, can't tell your prospect/client that what they want for the house is far too much, then you may be in the wrong profession.
oh, boy, again the real estate people are doing it again, the part where they want to eliminate or take turns putting up for sale signs is underhanded! We've gone out looking and drove through neighborhoods and if we go by a house that has a different realtors sign then the one I'm working with then I ask him about that house. If there is no for sale sign then I'm not looking at it. So if homeowners allow this then they have potentially lost a sale.
Yes we need a realtor but don't let them try these cheesy ideas, if they are this sneaky then they shouldn't be your realtor. After all they are part of the reason things in housing as gotten so bad, talking people into listing higher and higher until everyone is now suffering for it.