The projection for the housing market in 2008 is not very good, but that doesn’t mean you are stuck with your house. So many people will be horrified at the thought of selling their house this year, but there are ways to sell your house in any market, whether it’s good or bad. Here are some tips for selling your house no matter how much your housing market falls this year.
- Update Your Interior. I sometimes laugh when I am searching through home listings in Jacksonville, and the interior looks like something out of the 1970’s. The reason that the housing market is in a slump right now is simple economics. Supply has greatly exceeded demand, so you’re competing with thousands of other homes just like yours in your area. What will you do set your house apart from the others? The first places you can start is the kitchen and the bathrooms. These are the most expensive rooms to update, but they stand out the most to potential buyers. And if you’re going to update your home, do it right. There are ways to save money remodeling your house, but just because you’re putting in new materials doesn’t mean it looks good. When it comes to the kitchen, buyers want stainless steel appliances. It has the most modern look, and the prices really aren’t that much more than black and white. Buyers also love to see granite countertops. Your budget may not have enough money for a slab of granite, so look into using granite tiles. They are inexpensive, and they look great. You don’t have to replace your cabinets, unless they are in really bad shape, so look into refacing or painting them. Your bathroom can be tricky when it comes to remodeling. It depends on what kind of bathroom you have. If you’ve got really ugly wall tile, you may want to consider replacing it or reglazing it. The other way to really make your bathrooms stand out is replacing the vanity, sink, mirror, and light fixture. The vanity and sink will be costly, but try going to a wholesale supply store or scour the local Lowe’s or Home Depot for the items that were returned and marked down in price. The rest of the house is just a matter of updating some flooring, light fixtures, and putting on a fresh coat of paint.
- Give your home some curb appeal. This is the same idea as updating the interior of your home. Since buyers have so many options when it comes to searching for a new house, they will be looking for the house that stands out from every other house. The exterior will be the first impression they get of your house. Look into sodding your yard, replacing dirt with mulch or stones, and replacing some of your plants that look like weeds with palms or plants with flower buds.
- Undercut the Market. This is the one thing that most sellers will do last, and most real estate agents will frown upon doing this. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you should give away your house, but you have to be realistic. Think about when you receive an opinion about listing price from a real estate agent. They are going to give you a premium price estimate, because the higher that the property sells for, the more money they make. They don’t want you to undercut the current market, because that means you might start a trend for the rest of the neighborhood lowering their price. Sometimes we all need to face reality, and the prices of 2 years ago are definitely no longer the prices of today. List your house 10 to 15% lower than the other houses on the market in your area, and you’ll get a lot of attention from buyers.
- Give the buyer extra incentives to buy your house. Buyers love to feel like they are receiving something for free. With the sale of your house, include a free home inspection, pay a portion of the closing costs, or throw in a year’s worth of HOA fees in neighborhoods with common elements. You can be as creative as you want with this tip. I think a great idea for attracting younger, hip buyers is throwing in a plasma TV and surround sound system with the purchase of the home, or how about a hot tub? Some sellers trying to sell high-end homes have been throwing in one of their cars to the first buyer who offers full price! It sounds desperate, but if you have the equity in the home, you can buy another car anytime you want.
Don’t be discouraged in 2008. The media will continue to feed you information that the economy is going down the tubes, and they’ll point to the housing market this year to prove their point. The housing market is in the trough of a cycle. It will go back up, and it will be steady, healthy growth, rather than crazy, frenzied growth like we saw for the first half of this decade. If any of you have sold a house recently or know anyone who has done it fairly quickly, share your story with us in the comments section.