10 Tips to Sell Your Home in a Buyer's Market
Presented by: Mel Coker, Columbia SC Realtor
Includes: Columbia, Northeast Columbia, Irmo, Chapin, Lexington, Lake Murray

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Home selling tips Home Selling 101: Selling in a buyer's market, with an oversupply of homes and/or falling home values, does not occur often, but certainly presents challenges. My top ten tips listed here should help you and most tips are applicable in any home selling environment. The final net sales proceeds may not be what you wish for or need or what a neighbor received 2-3 years ago, but, will most likely be what the market dictates now.

  1. Prepare Yourself for Market Conditions - the "market" sets the final sales price and terms. Prepare yourself mentally for fewer probable showings and a longer "time on market" and possible future price reductions. Also, if you can, put your home on the market in the spring. I've seen some sellers drag their feet during the summer and put their home on the market just as summer ends.
  2. Make a Good First Impression - It starts outside... I've had many buyers say "NO" just when we pull in front of a home if it is not neat. That first few seconds in front of a home can make or break a possible sale. Typically, the good indicator is that if the home is not neat outside, it's probably not neat inside. Mow the grass, get rid of weeds, rake the leaves, plant or exhibit colorful flowers or shrubs, trim back excessive or low hanging limbs and branches on trees that block the home, trim shrubbery down and away from the home, trim or cut limbs hanging against the home or roof, clean the front door, clean or paint railings on the front porch, replace the worn out welcome mat, put away the bikes and children's toys, clean gutters, clean the walkway for a clear path to your door!. Okay, now you have done the front yard, check out your backyard and give it the same attention.

  3. More: Spring Spruce Up Tips | Fall Landscape Tips

  4. Prepare Your Home for Showing - CLEAN the inside, paint where necessary, clean windows, apply or have applied a pest control treatment if necessary, eliminate odors, clean or replace air filters, clean the air filter returns, clean the dust off ceiling fans (they do get yucky), really clean the kitchen and bathrooms, organize, remove clutter, straighten up or put away children's toys, clean and organize the garage, make your home look like Mr. & Mrs. Clean live there!

  5. More: Home Staging Tips

  6. Hire an inspector - Very few sellers do it, but, a home pre-inspection may be of great assistance to you in determining what's wrong and what needs to be repaired in your home. You may not have been under your home or in your attic in a long time (or ever). Things change and things happen. These items WILL be found when the Buyer does a home inspection or termite or HVAC inspection. If your home has some age, you may want to do this before you put your home on the market to eliminate these concerns from the start. You can take care of major items at the start rather than in a time crunch running up to closing. You can also provide the home inspection report and any associated repair invoices to show that issues have been found and taken care of as a selling bonus. Consider doing a home inspection, HVAC inspection and termite inspection.
    More: HouseMaster Home Inspections

  7. Make repairs - Make repairs that are profitable or will be necessary for the sale of your home. Oftentimes, I see rotten wood on the outside of a home or water damaged ceilings for example. A home inspection will most likely require that these be repaired anyway, so do it now. Be sure to make NICE and professional repairs. I've seen some repair jobs that look they needed repair. Replace cracked floor or counter tiles, patch holes in walls, fix leaky faucets, fix doors that don't close properly, consider painting your walls neutral colors (especially if you have grown accustomed to purple or pink walls), replace burned-out light bulbs.
  8. Special touches inside the home - If you smoke inside your home, stop now. Most folks will stop at the door if they smell smoking odors inside a home. Add seasonal touches or flowers. Give your home a nice aroma with a cinnamon candle, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies or a faint pine scent. But don’t overdo it, as buyers might wonder what you’re trying to cover up. Turn on some classical music or soft jazz at LOW volume. If you know home buying prospects are due to arrive (or may arrive) for a showing, be sure to turn on some lighting and open blinds especially in the fall and winter.

  9. Select the Best Selling Agent - Make a good effort to select a professional selling agent. Is the sales agent actually a Realtor (try asking them what the difference is between a sales agent and a Realtor - if they stumble on this, move on!). Ask for a list of closed transactions during the past year. Do they hold additional certifications - this shows commitment to the profession and on-going education. Will they provide you with a detailed and written market analysis? Do they have a marketing plan to provide in writing? Do they have an Internet presence and does this website have strong content and easily found in search engines? Do they provide a listing tour or virtual tour? Will they provide you with the MLS listing sheet after the home is listed? I've seen many listing sheets with many errors (wrong square footage, wrong number of bedrooms, bad directions, minimal agent contact information) and all of these may contribute to a home not getting sold in a timely manner. Most importantly, what is their procedure (if any at all) to provide you with timely (weekly) follow-up on showings?
    More: About Mel Coker | All Real Estate Sales Agents Are Not The Same
    Mel's Got the Internet Covered! ColumbiaSouthCarolina.com | MelCoker.com | Mel's RE/MAX site | Lake Murray | Mel's Columbia Blog
    Contact Mel Coker for a FREE market analysis in the Greater Columbia area Call Mel Coker (803) 932-2144

  10. Set a Competitive Price - Your home is in a competition... to SELL! Set your price competitively. If your home isn't moving, check the price first—too high, and potential buyers may not even consider it. It's best not to waste time on the market, so set your home price right from the beginning. Rely on an experienced Realtor to provide you with a written market analysis package. This market analysis may include current active listings and recent closed sales that are similar to your home. The best and most important "comps" are recent closed sales. The most important and best selling period for your home is during the first 30 days of your listing. If there are any questions about your home value, for a unique home for instance, have a professional appraisal performed as another indicator of possible value. With adequate marketing and an appropriate time period, the "market" is the best determinant of value. For Columbia, South Carolina in late 2007 if you had a home to sell at $175,000 (about the average home price in Columbia), you had 596 other homes for sale within 10% of $175,000 (that's just in the most sought after school district areas too). That's a lot of competition!
  11. Offer a Home Warranty - I typically negotiate for a Buyer to get a home warranty paid for by the Seller and typically this negotiation strategy works. Offer a home warranty from the start and get an extra marketing advantage. A home warranty gives buyers additional confidence in a real estate transaction—they know that a good warranty stands behind the covered systems or appliances in the house. If they break down, buyers are covered for repair or replacement (subject to any deductible and applicable coverage). An added benefit to the seller is that buyers will be calling the home warranty company with their problems—not you. Also, the Seller typically has some degree of coverage during the listing period at no additional cost. Homes with a warranty are more attractive to buyers.
    More: AHS What is a Home Warranty? | 2-10 What is a Home Warranty?

  12. Be Flexible and patient - Follow the suggestions of your Realtor related to showings. Try to always accommodate showings of Realtors and sales agents. Use showing feedback from your sales agent to improve or make changes during the process of marketing your home for sale. If the home is not getting sufficient showings after a reasonable period of time and with adequate marketing, review comps again and consider a price reduction.

*** Homes SELL because they exhibit great VALUE! ***

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Mel Coker
MAX Metro Associates
690-B Columbiana Drive
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Columbia, South Carolina Real Estate and homes
Mel Coker, Realtor - RE/MAX Metro Associates
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