If you're selling your home this year, be prepared for a marathon, not a sprint.
In most places, those heady days of putting a property on the market, receiving multiple bids, getting more than you expected, and accepting an offer in just days -- or weeks -- are over.
Now, for most houses in most parts of the country, it's a buyer's market. That means that more houses are for sale, there are longer stretches on the market, and prices have slowed, plateaued or, in some places, decreased.
Sellers "need to be prepared for a sustained effort," says Colby Sambrotto, chief operating officer of ForSaleByOwner.com.
Homes are staying on the market for about four months, according to the most recent national averages from the National Association of Realtors.
Sell your home
Traditionally, spring and summer are "prime time" in most areas of the country when it comes to buying and selling homes. If that's when you plan to plant your "for sale" sign, here are 10 things you can do beforehand:
10 steps to selling
- Recognize every market is different.
- Get your home inspected.
- Shape up before marketing.
- Devise a marketing plan.
- Check into company relocation assistance.
- Interview real estate agents.
- Set a price.
- Understand your price.
- Get rid of the junk.
- Stay on top of the market.
1. Recognize every market is different. Your state, town or neighborhood could dovetail with national numbers or buck the trend entirely. "There really is no national market," says Sambrotto. "There's a patchwork of regional markets." Never rely solely on one person's advice or opinon. Talk to a handful of professionals, do your own research and listen to your gut instinct.
2. Get your home inspected. "Before I would even call a real estate agent, I'd have my home inspected," says attorney Diana Brodman Summers, author of "How to Buy Your First Home." Some real estate agents advise against spending the money (most basic inspections range from $200 and $400, according to a 2004 survey from the American Society of Home Inspectors), because the buyers will get one anyway prior to closing. Others recommend it, because it gives sellers an early warning on any repairs they might have to make. But in this market, it's better to be proactive, says Summers. "I would rather know what the inspector is going to find and be able to fix it -- and pick who will fix it," she says. Her method also allows you to shop around for the best price instead of perhaps paying an inflated price later on.