Recently, someone asked us how to sell their car. While that may be difficult, it’s nowhere near as difficult as trying to sell your home. The housing market has drastically changed and millions of homeowners are dealing with underwater mortgages – mortgages that are greater than the value of their home.
There are many reasons you might need to sell your home, such as job relocation, family changes, to quickly become debt free, or because you simply can’t afford the house any longer. But how do you sell your home in a depressed housing market? Here are 6 tips to help you do just that:
1. Wait Out the Depression
No matter what the news anchors say, the housing market will turn around and home values will rise. It’s simply a matter of time. If you can wait out the market and avoid selling, that is likely the best way to avoid losing any of your investment.
2. Hire a Kick-Butt Realtor
Working with a realtor is the best way to get top-dollar and maintain low-stress while selling your home. Research continually shows that a good agent is worth far more than they cost. When searching and interviewing realtors, look for:
- Experience: Make sure they’ve been an agent long enough to have experienced the market’s ups-and-downs over the years.
- Neighborhood Expertise:Do you want an agent that’s sold one home in your neighborhood or 12? Exactly – hire an expert in your area.
- Track Record: You want an agent with a verifiable track record of selling homes quickly and for top-dollar, even in this depressed market.
- Customer Service: Your agent should give you the attention and personal service you deserve. Find an agent who’ll guide you through each step of the process.
3. Test The Waters
Before you consider selling, have your realtor perform a free Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). A CMA is determined by evaluating comparable homes in your area that have sold in the last 4-6 months. The homes are assessed on selling price, time on the market, square footage, improvements, and other factors that are then used to determine the approximate value of your home.
4. Pricing Is King
Your home is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. If you price too high, you don’t stand a chance. After your realtor has run a CMA, trust their expertise when pricing your home. They’re not emotionally attached the way you are, and will be able to give you objective advice.
5. Stage Your Home For Success
Even if you never watch HGTV, you may know that “staging” your home is a major key for attracting buyers, selling quickly, and getting a great price. Here are some basic “staging” tips you should follow:
- De-Clutter: No one wants to see piles of junk crammed into rooms, closets or the garage. Host a garage sale or rent a storage unit.
- De-Personalize: Prospective buyers want to imagine themselves in the home. It’s fine to leave up a few family photos, but put away the shrine to your son’s little league baseball career.
- De-Gross-ify: Nobody wants to visit, let alone live in, a dirty, dingy home. Give every corner and crevice a good, deep-cleaning.
- De-Weed: Curb appeal will often make or break your sale. If your lawn and landscaping is bare and disheveled, you might consider sprucing things up a bit.
- De-Mystify: Have you ever walked into a room and weren’t sure if it was a kitchen, living room, or home gym? Each room should have a distinct and obvious purpose. Arrange furniture in a way that is inviting and defines the space.
- De-Stink: We become immune to the way our homes smell. But if you smoke, have pets, or sprout mung-beans in your pantry, you need to give your home an aroma overhaul. Light mildly-scented candles, use a “fresh” scented air freshener, and remove anything that might contribute to nostril-offense.
6. Short Sale
Years ago, few people knew what a short sale was, but now it’s a hot topic. A short sale means your lender will allow you to sell your home for less than you owe on the mortgage. Because the lender will be losing money, you need to convince them to agree to a short sale without recourse, which prevents a lender from coming after you for the remaining balance.
A lender will only agree to a short sale if you are behind on your payments, foreclosure is looming, and you have proven your inability to afford the mortgage. The only benefit to the lender is that a short sale is quicker and less expensive for them than a foreclosure. But this is by no means a quick or painless way of getting out of a home you no longer want. This is a last resort to help you avoid the even more painful foreclosure process. Your credit will still take a hit, so you’ll need to rent for a few years. If you think a short sale may be your only option, contact a realtor with specific expertise in the short sale process to help guide you through it.
If you want or need to sell your home, you do have options, even in this depressed market. Do your research, explore the possibilities, and gather as much information and support as possible from professionals, experts, coaches and mentors. Just because it’s not easy, doesn’t mean it’s not possible! Take action now!
Are you trying to sell your home, or have you recently? What are some difficulties you’ve encountered? What made the process easier? Help us out by sharing your experience in our comments below!
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Clint and Katy Davis are PerkStreet Customer Columnists and founders of Davis Coaching. As financial coaches, their passion is helping people become and stay debt free! Their personalized coaching is designed to help you get your financial life where you want it to be. Like personal trainers for your finances, they can help you develop a specific plan to achieve your goals, and provide the expertise and accountability to get you there. If you’re ready to take control of your financial life, visit Davis Coaching online, check out the Davis Coaching blog, and connect with Clint and Katy on Twitter and Facebook.