|5 tips for selling a home in a buyer's
|By Holden Lewis
Home sellers take note: Buyers are gaining more leverage.
In many real estate markets during the last three
years, sellers have wielded more power than buyers. That's still
the case, but now buyers are choosier, homes are staying on the
market longer, and prices aren't rising as quickly as they once
"It's a seller's market transitioning to a buyer's
market," says David Lereah, chief economist for the National
Association of Realtors. Sellers are reluctant to drop their asking
prices, but a lot of them might have to "because the buyers
now have a little more control, a little more power."
|Here are tips for
the homeowner who is selling in a market where
buyers are gaining clout:
|5 tips for selling in a shifting market
Accept that the market will set the sale terms. Don't take it personally
if you don't get the price you expected.
"The big thing is you've got to accept what the
market is, and make the most of it," says Jeff Lyons, general
manager of RealEstate.com. "It doesn't have anything to do
with you personally; it has to do with the market."
He advises sellers not to expect an extension of the
supersonic price appreciation that some markets saw in the last
couple of years. As Lyons puts it, you're just going to feel frustrated
if you think, "last year, everyone's house was worth 20 percent
more than the year before, so why isn't my house worth 20 percent
more this year?"
Lyons adds: "You're going to want to prepare
to be flexible." Luckily, you can be flexible on things besides
price. The move-in date, for example. "If it helps you sell
more quickly by moving out earlier than you want, that's a good
thing," Lyons says. "You never know what people might
want to do to make it convenient for them. If the buyer wants something
that isn't hard for you to give, that's something in your favor."
Maybe the buyer wants to store furniture in your garage
before moving in or wants to make the purchase contingent on selling
his or her own house. If you have flexibility, you have an edge.
Get ready for
Every real estate agent will tell you to improve the home's curb
appeal. It's even more important when buyers feel that they
can afford to be picky.
In a transition from a seller's to a buyer's market,
buyers "become much more sensitive to things like dated light
fixtures," says David Kerr, agent for ZipRealty's office in
Oakland, Calif. "When you walk in and the house has that 1970s
amber light fixture, they'll say, 'This house looks old,' and walk
out. It's easy and inexpensive to replace that light over the dining
Kerr isn't talking only about lights. Stained carpets,
scuffed hardwood floors, dripping sinks, torn window screens --
most of us live with flaws in our homes that we intend to fix eventually.
When you put your home on the market, that day has arrived.
"You really need to look at making repairs that
are profitable in terms of selling the house," Kerr says. He
gives this example of choosing your priorities: If your hot tub
isn't quite functioning properly and the bathroom has old, stained
cabinets with ornate pulls on the doors, fix up the bathroom first.
"They want to see that pedestal sink," Kerr says. If the
choice is between replacing the refrigerator and refacing ugly kitchen
cabinets, spruce up the cabinets.