Does the Home Sale Slump Have You Stumped? Close the Deal With Expert's Tips

Real estate expert gives tip for selling your home in a down market.

February 25, 2010, 6:39 PM

Feb. 26, 2010— -- New home sales are at an all-time low, and the market isn't expected to recover anytime soon.

With the housing market so slow, homeowners who have to sell -- perhaps to move for a job or because of a looming foreclosure -- may not see much interest in their property. If there is interest, buyers may offer considerably less than expected.

It's a tough situation, and it places people under enormous pressure, but it's not impossible.

"Good Morning America" spoke with some of the country's top real estate brokers, including Gary Keller, the author of the best-selling "Shift: How Top Real Estate Agents Tackle Tough Times."

Keller explained how people can sell in a buyer's market.

"If a seller wants to sell their home and say goodbye to it, the buyer is going to have to perceive it as a good buy," he said.

Keller is the chairman of Keller Williams Realty Inc., one of the largest real estate franchises in North America. He shared some tips for sellers:

1. Don't try to make money. It's counterintuitive for most people, but sellers will do better if they don't ask for too much money. Listing a home at just below what a similar home in the area sold for will increase the odds of closing the deal, he said.

2. Don't be lazy. Even though buyers may be looking for bargains, your home shouldn't look like a warehouse sale. Because presentation matters, sellers should get rid of any accumulated clutter. Take the magnets off the refrigerator, take down photos, open windows and take trinkets off bookshelves, Keller said.

While basic is better, Keller pointed out that some photos may help show a home at its best. For example, Dennis and Josephine Hahn's real estate agent put together a photo album of the couple's New Jersey home during various times of the year. The album showed the home when the flowers were in bloom and when the swimming pool was sparkling.

Don't Neglect Repairs

3. Don't be cheap. Sellers should perform simple renovations and repairs -- from fixing leaky faucets to replacing appliances -- before placing their homes on the market.

Linda Dore, a real estate agent with Re/Max Team 2000 in Chicago, even suggested that sellers conduct a home inspection before listing their property.

"Have your home pre-inspected," she said. "If there are any surprises, deal with it before it hits the market. ... If the buyer finds it, they are going to ask you for a larger credit or they are going to ask for a more expensive repair than you would have to do if it were done beforehand."

4. Be available. Real estate agents across the country tell sellers they need to be available for showings and willing to negotiate prices. Sellers should be able to answer prospective buyers' questions about schools and the neighborhood -- and even the neighbors themselves.

• Because competition is higher in the summer, some agents believe that now is an excellent time to list homes. Also, interest rates are near historic lows and the first-time homebuyer tax credit eligibility ends soon.

• In "Shift," Keller says sellers shouldn't ask for too much money up front. If someone sets an initial sale price that is too high and potential buyers lose interest, it will be that much harder to get them to take a second look -- even if the seller continues to lower the price.

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