Homes: buying, selling & credits
mortgage
Selling your home in a crowded market

2. 'Sell' your entire neighborhood

These days, it's not enough to simply sell your home; you also have to go the extra mile to promote your neighborhood.

"Help your buyer get past the fear that something may be wrong with the neighborhood by describing why your community is great," says Duffy.

For example, in your brochures, consider including relevant information about an active community social calendar, friendly neighbors or mature, well-manicured area landscaping.

Chances are the neighbors who are selling their homes are sprucing up their properties to enhance curb appeal. That should make your job easier.

Another way to plug the neighborhood is to write a seller's letter to potential buyers that anticipates and answers likely questions.

"Explain why you are moving, assuming it's for a positive reason, and how you're leaving something great behind," says Duffy. "Give the impression that you're happily moving away, not that you're happy to be moving away."

Make copies of the letter and place them alongside your fliers, brochures and other important sales material.

3. Give easy access to your home

When several of your neighbors are selling, too, it's best to be prepared to show the home quickly.

"If there are multiple listings in your area, you'll probably have a higher number of impulse house showings," says Myra Nourmand, a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based real estate agent.

Shoppers may have overlooked your house while searching for listings online. When they physically visit your neighborhood to see another house on the market, they might spot the "for sale" sign in your yard and ask their agent to show them your property, too.

It's reasonable to expect people to give notice before showing up on your doorstep, but don't make potential buyers jump through hoops before they can see your home, Nourmand says.

Severely restricting the hours your residence is available for showings could cost you a prospect.

4. Stage your home

Home staging simply means decorating your dwelling in a way that appeals to a potential buyer, says Julie Dana, home stager and author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Staging Your Home to Sell."

Dana's top home-staging tips include:
  • Make sure address numbers are clear and easy to see from the curb. Otherwise, buyers might drive to your neighbor's house by mistake.
  • Add lighting to make the house look great at night. "People often do an evening 'drive-by' before they decide to ask for a showing," says Dana.
  • Clean and de-clutter. Mail, bathroom toiletries and kids' toys need to be out of view.
  • De-personalize. The knickknacks that make a house a home can distract buyers from visualizing a property as their own, so remove personal items like family photographs, trophies and vacation pictures.
  • Stylize the home with up-to-date designs. Doing something simple, like placing a slipcover over an old sofa, can greatly improve a room's appearance.

"When done right, your home can really stand out from the others in the neighborhood," she says.

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