5 Creative Strategies for Selling Your Home

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If your house is currently sitting on the market and you find yourself desperately hoping for a housing recovery so that your house will finally get sold, you'll want to sit down before you read these stats.

Even with the rebound in the financial markets and some hints of a sustainable economic recovery, the housing market still doesn't look good...for you as a seller, at least.

According to the most recent data released by Clear Capital's Home Data Index, although home prices rose 4 percent this quarter, those gains still don't overcome the year's losses, which show that home prices are still down by 6.2 percent compared to last year. Plus, that modest gain is mainly because of the summer buying season.

If you're out West, home prices in that area rose just 0.7 percent. Worse yet, Yale University professor Robert Shiller, the co-creator of the Case-Shiller Index, predicts that prices could fall another 25%! Other economists are predicting the housing market could be going into a Triple Dip.

So where do these negative statistics leave you as you try to sell your house? Let's face it, you have probably tried everything your real estate agent suggested to help your house stand out in this depressed market: You had your house advertised in real estate magazines, put out organic snacks and bottled water at your open house, arranged fresh flowers, and implemented many home improvement and remodeling ideas. You may have even offered to pay closing costs, and yet in the end, you're always met with your realtor's not-so-reassuring words: "Your buyer just hasn't surfaced yet."

Strategies for Selling Your Home

Well, it's time to take matters into your own hands. You need to employ some very creative but effective strategies to get people in the door and interested in your home before prices fall even lower. Along these lines, here are five of the best tips that are sure to help you in your mission to sell your home.

PHOTO: Real estate website Zillow.com conducted a survey and 42 percent of respondents thought homes went up in value 7 percent a year, when the real answer is 2 to 5 percent a year.
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1.
Have an Open House Theme Party

You've probably hosted several open houses by now. But have you tried a theme party?

Turn your home into an art gallery if you know a bunch of artists or art enthusiasts. Have an ice cream social if it's warm out, or a hot cocoa or tea party if it's cold. Throw a timely holiday open house party with some tasteful decorations. Comfort and coziness will make your potential buyers feel right at home, which is just what you want.

If you market your open house with a theme, you're going to get people interested. They might come for the ice cream, but they may also stay to make an offer. These parties help potential buyers picture themselves living in your house.

2.
Rent a Billboard in Your Area

Do you think this level of advertising is extreme? Some people might; renting a billboard sounds expensive. However, depending on where you live, monthly rentals can be surprisingly affordable, and the payoff is great. Your home will be seen by tens of thousands of people, maybe more, and they'll remember you, because after all, how many people rent an entire billboard to showcase their home? Not many.

When serious buyers decide which homes to visit, yours will be at the top of their lists. All it takes is one single buyer to make your billboard expenses well worth the money and effort.

3.
Make a Video

Digital media provides some more affordable, and usually free, options if you don't have a billboard budget. It's amazing how many people have attracted buyers and closed the deal simply by making a creative video and posting it on YouTube or Vimeo. If you have a digital video camera, a short and simple video can get you some great exposure for your home. Make it informative and creative, and try to connect with the viewer.

Since online video sharing is so simple, this strategy lets your friends and neighbors support you by passing along the video to their friends and colleagues while boasting a great buying opportunity: your home. Moreover, since these videos will naturally be passed along to people who may be looking for a home, this strategy will help you reach a valuable, targeted market for free.

4.
Get Creative About What You'll Pay for

When a buyer expresses interest, sweeten the deal for them. Offer to send them on a weekend vacation (total cost: $1,500 or less), or volunteer to pay their first year's property taxes. Giving them something they can consider as separate from the home cost will make a more appealing offer than just knocking an extra $2,000 off the total. Once they're spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, a small discount only makes a small relative difference. With a creative gift, you give up less and provide something that seems more valuable and connects with the potential buyer on a more personal level.

You can also entice them by offering to pay for professional house cleaners, dog walkers, or pool cleaners for an entire year. These are life-enhancing services that most people wouldn't splurge on for themselves. And the cost of these services is negligible compared to how much you might save by getting an offer right away and not having your house sit on the market untouched.

5.
Tell Your Story

Potential buyers want to feel good about the home they're walking through. And you know they're wondering why you're selling in such a down market. Did you lose your job? Get a divorce? Are there issues with the neighborhood? Are you desperate to get the money and therefore willing to lower your price if they hold out long enough? Your story might be just as important as your realtor's sales pitch.

Don't let visitors concoct their own negative stories about why you're selling. Tell them yourself! Type up your story and leave it out next to your home's brochures. Tell them how much you love the house, explain why you're selling, and express excitement about the new opportunities coming your way. Reassure them that exciting days are ahead for them too if they move in and join this community, even if you're leaving it.

Remember, even if you are facing a negative situation, keep things positive, upbeat, and focused on the future. Your buyers want to feel good about the situation, so put them at ease with your personal story.

Final Thoughts

Trying to sell a home and find the right buyer can be an incredibly frustrating experience, especially in this difficult housing market. The trick is to get creative about drawing people in, and then hold their interest by providing some great incentives to make an offer. You'll stand out in their minds, and you may even get that elusive offer you've been waiting for.

Do you have any additional creative tactics to add to the mix? What strategies worked particularly well for you if you were successful in selling your home?

In addition to real estate issues, Heather Levin writes about financial topics including money management, green living, and careers on the Money Crashers personal finance blog.

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