Winter sales can score above-asking prices
In high-demand markets, exposure is everythingBy Dian Hymer, Tuesday, January 25, 2011.
In today's challenging home-sale market, it does you no good to have your home on the market if it isn't for sale at market price. You spend a lot of time, energy and money getting your home ready to sell. Then you have to go through the drill of open houses, private showings when you're expected to leave, and anxiety about whether or not your home will sell.
A listing priced above the rest of the market helps to sell the well-priced listings in your neighborhood, but it doesn't help sell your home. If your home is on the market for a price that's unrealistic and you have no flexibility, you should withdraw it from the market. Better yet, research the market before listing your home for sale to see if the price you want is obtainable.
Distressed sales are another matter. If the market value of your home is less than the amount you owe against, you may have to put the house on the market at or above market price to satisfy your lender that you can't sell it for enough to cover the mortgage payoff and other closing costs.
Some listings in some areas sell relatively quickly and others take much longer to sell. These are usually listings that are either overpriced or don't have a broad-based appeal. If you're looking for a more specialized buyer, it's hard to predict how long it will take to sell. The right buyers could come along soon after you list, or it could take several months or longer.
Many sellers wonder if they should take their home off the market if it isn't selling and/or it's during the winter, which is often a slower period for home sales. One of the reasons there are fewer sales during winter is that there are fewer homes on the market than there are in spring, summer and fall.
HOUSE HUNTING TIPS: Gardens don't look as good in winter as they would later in the year. But low-inventory markets tend to benefit sellers. There is less competition from other sellers than you'll find in spring. Selling early in the year can be particularly beneficial to sellers if interest rates are low.Article continues below
In February 2010, a listing came on the market in Piedmont, Calif., a San Francisco East Bay community with an outstanding school system. There was virtually nothing on the market in the $1 million to $1.5 million price range, and a lot of buyers were looking to tie up a Piedmont home while interest rates were still low.
The Piedmont listing was priced competitively at $1.19 million. The sellers received three offers and the listing sold for more than $1.25 million. If they had waited until late spring or summer, they probably wouldn't have done as well pricewise because there was a lot of inventory on the market by then and the market had softened.
Some listing agents advise sellers whose homes aren't selling to cancel the listing and bring it back on the market a few weeks or months later as a new listing. The benefit of this is that the listing shows up in the multiple listing service (MLS) as "new" for a few days. Also, the days on the market start from the new list date.
Buyers and their agents aren't fooled by this strategy. The listing will still appear in the MLS as both canceled and relisted.
The trick in this market is to have your home on the market when the right buyer comes along.
THE CLOSING: If it's off the market, it's likely to be overlooked and not shown.
Dian Hymer, a real estate broker with more than 30 years' experience, is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author of "House Hunting: The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers" and "Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer's Guide."
Contact Dian Hymer: Copyright 2011 Dian Hymer
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