Home-Selling Tips for Spring Buyer's Market

Learn how you can help your sellers prepare their homes for the spring selling season.

March 1, 2008

If you have sellers who are planning to put their homes on the market in time for spring, now is the time to get it ready to show.

But wait, it's still a buyer's market. What can you do to catch the buyer’s eye and get them to make an offer?

It's going to take more than a fresh coat of paint and a new welcome mat. A buyer’s market raises the stakes, and your sellers will need to do a lot more work on their homes to get the highest price possible. Cleaning, painting, and repairing may not be enough.

Understanding today’s buyers and their preferences should help you pick which updates are most likely to help your sellers sell their homes faster.

Let’s take the most basic selling suggestions and explore why these are such important mantras.

  • Boost your curb appeal. According to real estate franchisor Coldwell Banker, a clean house with cosmetic upgrades like painting and planted flowers can help form a good first impression of your listing. Why? Eighty-four percent of home buyers use the Internet to search for homes. One-third of home buyers use the Internet first, before any other source. That means that people are making decisions whether or not to even drive by your listing based on how it looks in video, virtual tours, and photographs.
  • Make big fixes where you can. If your sellers’ budget allows, encourage them to invest in bigger improvements. Focus on "make or break" rooms like bathrooms and kitchens, because nothing says "uninviting" like an unattractive cooking space, according to Coldwell Banker. Why? The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® found in 2007 that a whopping 59 percent of home buyers remodeled or made improvements to their homes within three months of purchase. Forty-seven percent made improvements to the kitchen, another 45 percent remodeled or improved a bathroom, and 43 percent remodeled a bedroom. Keep in mind that the rate of new-home building accelerated during the housing boom, and buyers are used to seeing as much as 25 percent of available inventory as new. That's your competition, and the closer you can get the buyer to new, the likelier you are to sell your listing.
  • Be upfront with disclosures. Don't wait for the buyer to get a home inspection, or the buyer could find a reason to wiggle out of the deal. Encourage your sellers to get a seller’s inspection, so that they can improve the condition of their home before a buyer sees it. You can keep receipts of recent improvements and provide estimates on optional upgrades to potential buyers. These actions will reinforce the trustworthiness of the sellers and help overcome objections from potential buyers. With new homes, buyers have some guarantees that systems will be fixed by the builder if they fail, but they have no such guarantee with an existing home. Providing a home warranty will go a long way in assuring potential buyers.
  • Be realistic. Your list price should be competitive with nearby comparable homes with similar features and approximate condition that have sold or are on the market within the last three months. You may find that homes are taking longer to sell and that buyers are more selective. Your potential buyers may be using the Internet to find home valuation sites, so search those sites yourself and be ready to defend your sellers’ price with proper comparables.

Remember, your listing is competing with new construction and with the buyer's idea of what a home should look like. More than 33 percent of home buyers prefer a home less than 10 years old, yet the typical home purchased by all buyers was 12 years of age. That suggests that condition is very important.

If you can ease buyers’ fears about the condition of your listing, you’re much more likely to strike a deal.

(c) Copyright 2008 Realty Times

Blanche Evans is a writer/editor and CEO of evansEmedia. Formerly, she was a senior editor with Realty Times, where she was named by REALTOR® Magazine as one of the most influential people in the real estate industry.