I've written a lot of posts about selling homes in the Beach Cities. For a long time the advice was pretty standard... price it right...make sure it is clean... spruce up the landscaping... advertise it everywhere and price it right. These items are market basics and should be part of any plan to sell. But in today's South Bay- Beach Cities real estate market a seller may need a few more innovative ideas to get their property sold.
One of the good things about being in real estate a long time is that while every market is different they are also a lot alike. The California real estate market is one of booms and busts. It is cyclical by nature and usually changes every 7-10 years. As markets change sellers need to change with them and often must start thinking outside the box. In today's market it is even more important for Sellers to think outside the box if they need to sell.
So what can a seller do to get their property sold? Here are 8 ideas that may improve your chances...
1. Make sure that you are a seller:
I know that sounds a bit strange but a lot of people with homes on the market are not really sellers. They are might be sellers... that is if they get an offer they like and if they find a new home they like then they might sell their home... These sellers are generally not serious about selling and will rarely get an offer they like. Having a home on the market is difficult at best. You have to always keep it neat and be ready to show at short notice. These sellers would be much happier if they took their homes off the market and waited a few years for the market to change or until they really need to sell.
Don't think taking your home off the market until the Spring will make it more valuable.... it won't. Right now the best you can hope for is that prices will reach the point where they flatten out sometime next year. I don't think you will see prices begin to move upward again for another 4-5 years.
2. Price it right and keep the price right:
This is the # 1 item on everyone's short list. But it's not always as easy as it sounds in today's market... especially now that it is taking longer to sell a home. You can look at all the comps, spiff up the house, be right on the money and still not see offers very quickly as buyers are taking their time. Then in a few weeks a new listing hits the market that is significantly lower in value because it is an REO or a desperate seller and suddenly you have new market values. You need to be aware of what is happening in the market all the time.
Recently a number of listings in Manhattan Beach saw some major price reductions. If you have a home in competition with those listings the value of your home just went down. So you need to know your market and where it is headed.
3. Have a clear idea about what you want to do before you list:
If you want to buy another home then you should have an idea about prices where you want to move. If you plan to rent then you need to know in advance what the rental market is like. If you are downsizing to a smaller place then you should start to go through things you may want to give to friends or relatives or to Good Will. These are seemingly small decisions that can take a lot of time. If you get a buyer who needs to move today you don't want to lose him because you are not ready to move.
4. Consult a Stager:.
You know you will probably have to clear clutter, paint , possibly put in new carpet and landscape so why not get someone who knows how to do this give you a hand along with some great ideas. Sometimes a short consultation with someone is enough to determine how to make your home shine and show off the best features.
5. Make sure the house always looks great:
If you are working full time or have a large family this might mean hiring a professional to spruce up the house once a week. Consider this a bonus for always having to be in the mode to show.
6. Leave the house during showings:
I know a number of sellers who have lost themselves bunches of money by being too chatty with a potential buyer. It's one thing to talk about a roof problem that you have had fixed but quite another if you start discussing how you have to sell asap because of a move to New York. Remember that you are always in negotiation with the buyer and their agent. Keep your lip zipped when talking about money.
7. The First Offer may be the best:
I don't know why this is true but it is almost 90% of the time. Don't disdain that first offer that is a few dollars less then you want in a down market. It could not only be the best offer you receive but the only one for a long time. Now that's not to say that all first offers are good ones... sometimes they are way off the mark... but you need to carefully evaluate the offer before dismissing it.
For instance an offer that allows you to stay in the property rent free for a month if you are waiting for a home to close escrow in another area might be worth more then you think when compared to having to rent a place short term or get a hotel room and put all of your possessions in storage.
If you are buying a new home then a quick escrow with cash in the bank might just get you a better deal on your up leg purchase. Again you must evaluate all offers as there is a definite time factor of money that comes into play.
8. Think about taking back a 2nd TD:
While some sellers have little or no equity in this market there are still a lot that have a a great deal of equity in their homes. As lenders become more persnickety about the amount they will loan even to well qualified buyers it might be to your advantage to take back a 5%-15% second at a good interest rate if the buyer has a sizable down payment. I would not suggest it if the buyer has less then 15% down but it is something you might consider for buyers who have 15%-20% with great FICO scores but need a bit more room if the lender decides at the last minute they want 25% down which is happening a lot in our market.
It's also a way to make up a little money if you settle for a lower price. You will be able to get the current market rate which will be better then rates offered by banks. I just had a long discussion with the sellers of 511 N. Dianthus about this. We went over all the good and bad points and decided that it makes sense for them to take back a note.
Selling your Beach City home in today's real estate market can be a challenge. However with some forethought and a little luck it will happen. Be patient and remember a sense of humor always helps. If you can laugh at the small absurdities of life the big ones get a bit smaller....