5 tips: Selling a house in a buyer’s market
By Holden Lewis
A successful poker night begins before you reach the table, when you resolve not to chase after hands that you have no realistic chance of getting. Similarly, a successful home sale begins before the house is listed, when you decide not to expect to make a killing.
“All you can do in a falling market, if you have to sell, is have the best possible product out there at the price it should be,” says Diane Saatchi, an agent with Corcoran Group on Long Island, N.Y. “Not what you wish you could get, not what the neighbor got two years ago, but at the price you should get now. That’s the reality.”
It takes discipline to face that reality. Humility, too. For many sellers, “the only disappointment is that their friend, six months or a year ago, got more than they’re getting,” says Bill Christiano, a loan officer with MortgageIT in Westchester, N.Y. “Ego gets in the way when they’re trying to sell. Or stubbornness, I should say.”
Break through your ego and stubbornness by looking at the good deals that your neighbors are offering. “The most important thing is to really shop the competition on the market right now,” says Elizabeth Razzi, author of “The Fearless Home Buyer,” published in 2006, and of “The Fearless Home Seller,” to be published in February.
Saatchi says that when buyers outnumber sellers, you can get away with selling a house with ratty carpet, smelly furniture and walls that need painting. The market was like that last year, but not now. Saatchi suggests hiring a house inspector before putting the house on the market. “Know now, and fix it,” she says.
Finally, “Don’t get greedy,” says Pam O’Connor, president and CEO of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, a national network of 650 regional and independent brokers. “Just because it went up to some astronomical value and it went down from there, you have to be realistic that there has been moderation in the market.”
It takes research, often conducted by a real estate agent, to come up with a realistic asking price, and discipline to abide by it.