Your Home: How to sell in tough times


Peter and Lauren Meyer of Montclair, N.J., had to make dramatic price cuts to nab a buyer. Their starting price in February 2010 was $1.149 million. After 5 price cuts, the home sold in November 2010 for $808,000.

(MONEY Magazine) — If you’re in the market to sell your home, you probably feel you can’t catch a break. Nearly five years into the housing bust, when many experts thought the real estate market would at least have stabilized, sales and prices are still dropping in most of the country.
In February existing-home sales tumbled 9.6% from the previous month, and the median price of a single-family home dropped to $157,000 from $163,900 the previous year, according to the National Association of Realtors. (Latest home prices)
You can’t count on things turning around soon, either. At the current sales pace, it would take 8.6 months to clear out the 3.5 million existing homes listed today.
With the boost from the recent homebuyer tax credit gone, anyone who decides or is forced to put a house up for sale enters a market where houses often linger a full six months — even a year — without any bites.
Put part of the blame on stiff competition: Foreclosures and short sales, which accounted for 39% of sales in February, sell for about 15% less than conventional homes.
“It’s dreadful out there for sellers,” says Patrick Newport, a U.S. economist at forecasting firm IHS Global Insight.
Fortunately, there is one glimmer of good news. Bargain hunters, too, know that home prices are down some 32% from their peak. In a recent CNNMoney survey, three-quarters said that it was a good time to buy a home. But translating that interest into an actual sale can require some extreme measures.
It’s not enough to show buyers your house is a deal: You have to convince them it’s a total steal. That means slashing your price, bringing in a pro to pretty it up, and creating a killer website for your home. Here’s how to do it right.
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