5 Top Tips for Home Sellers

What Can Home Sellers Do?

It should come as no surprise to most sellers that we are in a Bank Repo market, with a small of supply of low priced of houses. But there are things that equity sellers can do to make the process productive.

1. Wait, if you can

In very troubled markets such as Las Vegas, Phoenix, South Florida and Southern California, you're better off waiting to sell, if you can manage it. With half the homes for sale in the Southern California market identified as bank repossessions, it would be harder for buyers in this area, for example, to fetch a great price for their home.

With rents strong, it makes more sense for some homeowners to rent out their home, rather than sell and take a loss. Be aware that renting out your home could increase your home insurance. Also, you would have to report the rental income on your taxes, though you’d be able to deduct things such as including mortgage insurance, homeowners association fees, maintenance, etc.

However, if you are moving up to a larger home, and have lived in your current house for at least five years, you might be better off acting now. The reason? You can find a bargain on the more-expensive house you're moving to at the same time rates for conforming loans are relatively low. "You are going to give someone else the buyer's market treatment on the other end".

2. Get your home in great shape, but at minimal cost

With so many houses on the market, curb appeal is now more important than ever. You need to impress buyers so that they will want to come inside for a look. And having your house in pristine condition definitely sets it apart from a lot of the trashed fixer foreclosures on the market.

But, spending a lot of money to put your home in shape isn't wise in the current low-ball market. So, focus your efforts on small projects that make your house seem fresh and less of a fixer.

3. Price it right

Be realistic and you will be rewarded. In many markets, homes priced just under market value are getting multiple offers, while their higher-priced competitors are getting low-balled.

Get an appraisal of their property done before they set a price with your listing agent.

And sellers who are in a hurry to sell could offer a home warranty as an incentive, or offer to pay some of the buyer's closing costs to help buyers who may just squeak through on financing.

In our troubled Stockton California market, some sellers are even paying higher commissions or offering bonuses to agents who bring in a buyer.

4. Don't go FSBO

Houses no longer sell themselves. You need someone with a lot of experience to give you advice and a lot of time and energy to do everything necessary to sell your home. Look for a hard-working agent who will give it to you straight on pricing, but still protect your interests once offers start coming in.

Here are a few things to look for:

Find someone who is accessible and returns calls quickly.

Select an agent who will give your home a real Web presence with lots of photos or a virtual tour.

Pick someone willing to do open houses for potential buyers (not just brokers).

Find someone who sells a lot of homes in your area. Ask for recommendations from your banker or friends.

5. Ask for a pre-approval letter with any offers

With all the turmoil in the lending market, sellers should take measures to protect themselves.

Make sure the buyer has access to solid financing, before you limit your options. And just as buyers may seek a longer contingency for financing, that's something as a seller you should avoid.

If the buyer won't go for that, you could ask for his earnest money to be released in various stages during the purchase process so there's less chance that you waste time and money.   Feb 28, 2013

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