There's little doubt that the housing market is finally showing signs of a measurable recovery. The recent Case Schiller Index, a report that tracks the selling prices of homes nationally, showed a 1.2% increase in home prices from July 2011. The authors of the report cited stabilizing home markets and slight increases in household wealth as reasons for the encouraging data.
This is positive news for the real estate market but for homeowners still struggling to sell their homes, this data is of little value. Homeowners face stiff competition from the many other similar properties on the market. How do you make your home stand out among the many other homes prospective buyers will see before making an offer?
Make a Video
Before listing your home, switch roles. Make a detailed video that shows the interior and exterior of your home. Include closets, areas behind doors, the fence and all of the other less visible features. Then, view your video and think like a buyer. What do you see that would cause you to lose interest if you weren't the owner of the home? Show the video to friends and family, and ask them to give you candid comments. The smallest details are sometimes the difference between a buyer making an offer or moving on to the next home.
If your home isn't catching the eye of buyers, it might need more some work. A high-priced kitchen remodel to entice buyers probably isn't a great idea, but replacing damaged base boards, worn carpet and dead shrubbery are essential renovations in today's real estate market. If the video uncovered some eyesores, fix them. Luckily, these types of renovations don't have to be high-dollar projects.
Weekday Open House
The weekends are full of open houses. Not only are there more weekend open houses than there are prospective buyers, an increasing number of people work on the weekends to produce extra income. A weekday open house reduces the competition, and the evening time may allow parents to view your home when their kids are at a sports practice or other activity. Open houses cost nothing, so trying it on a weekend will only take some of your time.
Find a Better Agent
The economic downturn that resulted in millions of people losing their jobs produced a class of new real estate agents looking for additional income. If your agent is new to the real estate market, he or she may not have the professional network to get your home in front of large amounts of buyers.
If you're desperate to sell, find a high-volume agent in your area. To ensure the agent gives your home priority over his or her other listings, offer a bonus or higher commission for a quick sale. Make sure he or she adds it to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) so other agents know that your house comes with a higher payout.
Don't Take a Backseat Role
Even if your realtor is advertising your home and working hard, two people marketing your home is better than one. Put your home on your Facebook page, Craigslist, Twitter and other social media sites. Post flyers on company-approved bulletin boards and talk to local family and friends. Most people would rather buy from somebody they know and respect. You'll still have to pay your realtor a commission, but if you're desperate to sell, take an active role in the marketing process.
Lower Your Price
If your home isn't producing offers or interest, it's probably time to lower your asking price. Realtors will help you to set your initial price based on comparable homes in your market, but in the end, their analysis is just an educated guess. Always keep the price higher than the lowest price you're willing to accept. This allows for room to haggle.
The Bottom Line
According to the National Association of Realtors, the average number of days to sell a home in July 2012 was 69 - down nearly 30% from July 2011. This is encouraging news for homeowners, but selling a home is still difficult. It will take meticulous attention to detail and a strategy to make it stand out from the many other homes that prospective buyers will see before making their choices.