The New Rules of Extreme Home Selling

As the housing market cools, home sellers are working extra hard to lure buyers.

Sales of new single-family homes dropped 4.3 percent from June to July, and sales of existing homes are expected to fall 7.6 percent in 2006.

To sell fast and profit, it's not enough to put up a "For Sale" sign or list a house on the Internet.

Old tricks like lowering the price and paying the closing costs are not as effective as they once were.

Today, those in the know are "extreme selling" -- using bigger, more creative gimmicks to win buyers.

Real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran recently explained the tricks of the trade on "Good Morning America."

Find Unique Ways to Advertise

Forget traditional "For Sale" posters and become friends with Photoshop. Many are using the software to paste pictures of dead celebrities into photographs of their home. Why?

In the crowd of ads, the celebrity gimmick stands out. It breaks up the monotony of looking at listings. Potential buyers will remember a house as the Marilyn Monroe house or the Elvis house. An added bonus: They'll probably point out the ad to others.

Advertise in creative places -- not just online and in the newspaper.

Bigger is better: Post an ad on a billboard to reach a vast audience. On average, billboard space rents for $360 a month in the suburbs. Web sites like billboardexpress.com offer an 8-by-8 ad for less than $100.

One Florida real estate agent invented "magnetic advertising" by making giant magnet ads and sticking them on the side of her car.

Home sellers can do the same thing for their homes.

Create a Virtual House Tour Online

Sellers can use the Internet by creating and posting videos. Using the popular Web site YouTube, many have made video tours of their homes and posted them on the Internet for potential buyers.

Unlike a couple of photographs, a video offers people a comprehensive view of the home.

Team Up With Other Sellers for a Joint Open House

Nothing boosts the selling power of a house like another equally marketable one next door.

Recently, a community developer organized a joint open house in four Detroit-area neighborhoods -- 35 of the area's homes were open for viewing on a single day.

Up the Ante on Refreshments

Leave the lemonade and cookies in the kitchen.

One broker brought a latte cart to a house that potential homeowners would not buy.

In one day, the number of visitors to the house tripled. The house sold in nine days, with three offers and at $26,000 over the asking price.

Remember Who's Talking

Online discussion forums about houses on the market are growing in popularity.

Potential buyers dish about properties at Web sites like Ziprealty.com and Redfin.com, writing reviews of homes available for sale.

Exterior paint chipping? It's not unlikely that someone noticed and posted a critique. Keep in mind potential negatives that could later show up on an online message board.

If All Else Fails, Throw in the Dog

It may not be a tactic many would employ, but it makes a great story.

Desperate to sell his house, a man in England offered to give away black-spotted pigs to the buyer.

He intended them to be pets, but some potential buyers wanted to turn them into bacon.

The bottom line: Anything that gets people talking is good news for a seller.

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