How to Adapt and Compete in Changing Real Estate Markets

The days where you could list a property, post a sign and start fielding offers are gone. Now sellers are caught with longer market times and many times dropping values. Houses are still being sold, but it is a different market. A savvy seller needs to change their attitude and way of selling in this buyer’s market.

Even more than in a seller’s market, you need to be constantly on top of the dynamics of your local market. You need to actively see what is on the market, and take notes so you’ll remember each house. This is a market in which only a few minor differences can mean the difference of a relatively quick sale at a good price, or a long, fruitless effort. Know what is selling, and for how long they were on the market.

Homes that sell quickly will fall into two categories – those properties that are in great shape and offer something special compared to other, similar houses, or average or poor quality offerings that are sold at a deep discount. Properties in the middle – those at average or high market prices but have nothing special to diferentiate them from the others on the market, will be doomed to languish long months unsold.

This is something that a smart seller will understand and react. Do you need a quick sale? Then you either need to discount deeply, or do something to put some sizzle when the buyer walks on the lot. You need to be honest with yourself about your needs and your property’s attributes. The natural thing is to be proud of your home. To get the most money out of it, though, you need to honestly know not only the good things about it, but be brutally honest on how it compares to other homes like it.

If you want top dollar, before you might have simply asked top dollar and within a few months the market would catch up with you. Not any more. You will have to work to get top dollar. You start that the house is in fine shape, landscaping is attractive, repairs are scrupulously done, the interior pleasing and uncluttered. Everything needs to have a “new home” feel, uncompromisingly clean and presented in a Homes & Gardens manner. If you need to, invest in a book. There are lots available that have grand tips about preparing a property for show.

Now the bad news, all this effort will only get you into the top tier of the homes in your price range. You need something a bit extra to push you to the very top, and that involves showcasing. Now you need 2-3 special “attraction points” that a buyer can focus their desires on. Maybe it will be a quiet seating area in the back yard under a shady tree, artfully placed to suggest quiet relaxation. Maybe it is installing an inexpensive, but dignified chandelier in the entry or dining area. They should be something fun, imaginitive and distinctive – the other properties have nothing like this! Whatever the attractions, each should be something visually satisfying and memorable – something that sets your home firmly apart and above the other offerings they will see.

For the other end – desperate sellers that need to sell but can’t make theirs a Magazine front page feature, they need to take a realistic look at their price. Many sellers, caught in the dangerous loans of the past few years, have serious financial problems making it almost impossible to sell.

Not only the real estate market, but the days of all mortgage brokers being the same are over. Some are quickly getting out of the business, others have excruciatingly tight standards, but some still have money to loan. Keep a firm awareness of your local finance market. Always know which finance company or mortgage broker has access to the best loans and easiest money. Be aware! Who is best can easily change week to week, so don’t get tied to one. Get information on currently available loans, including for what subprime lending requirements brokers still have. Be ready to pass this information on to prospective buyers.

Also, you need to get your message out. A mere sign in the front yard is not enough anymore. Plan on spending some money to get the word out… flyers, a newspaper ad, perhaps a small ad in one of the real estate booklets can bring your scores of potential buyers and a potential sale.

Educate yourself on creative ways you can make a sale and still be protected. There are creative ways that you can sell – including seller financing, partial seller financing, land sale contracts and others. Sometimes they are appropriate for your situation, sometimes not. Do your homework and find good answers.

So it is harder to sell your property now. However, there still enough buyers out there with good financing options that want to buy a quality home. Make yours something special, either by making it stunningly attractive, or making it a great financial deal. Both ways will be a quick sale. Your home is probably the biggest investment you have, and you need to make a good sale to get the most money out of it as possible, so it is probably worth the time to spend a few hundred dollars now, in order to gain thousands of dollars and several months time.

Only remember, being merely average or even merely a good deal, can make your property only part of the pack. Make it special, a true pleaser, and you will succeed.