Sunday, January 20, 2013

What Does it Take to Sell a House?

We have dreamed for a house in the country, where the boys would have plenty of room to roam without having to worry about traffic, and we could raise animals, garden and do all sorts of other hobbies.  When we moved due to a job change, we found the house we were looking for and took possession in March 2012.  So we owned two houses.  Flash forward one year – we still own two houses. 
We have lowered our asking price three times, held two open houses, and advertised on the web and locally.  Very few people have stepped into our house to take a look.  We would very much like to sell this house!  A few months back, I was very frustrated by the lack of traffic we have received and turned to the internet to find ways to attract more interest.  Here are the top incentives for sellers to offer buyers.  Let me know in the comments section what you think of these ideas or what ideas you may have!

  1.  Reduce the asking price – if a buyer is stuck between two options of equal houses, surely they will go for the cheaper option.  We have lowered our asking price about $20,000 with still no bites.
  2. Pay closing costs – we decided to offer this as an incentive.  According to Freddie Mac, closing costs can range from 2-7% of the asking price.  Plus tack on taxes, insurance and the title fee, a first time home buyer may be unaware of the additional “fees” associated with buying a new home.  We have offered to pay up to $1,000 of the buyers closing costs, still no luck.
  3. Buy a home warranty – we have decided to also include this as an incentive if the buyer so chooses.  For as little as $450, we can give a buyer piece of mind in their purchase.  If something major occurs in the first year, air conditioner, plumbing or water heater fail, the warranty can cover these costs and convince the buyer they are not walking into a money pit.
  4. Agent Bonus – our agent persuaded us to offer this.  I was wary at first.  Shouldn’t our agent be doing everything in their power to attract buyers and get offers anyway?  Offering the bonus, may provide an incentive to the other realtors in town who are not associated with our agency.
  5. Pay Points or Buy Down Rate – Sellers can offer to pay mortgage points for the buyer.  One point is 1% of the loan.  So the buyer does not have to worry about when to “lock in” their loan, the seller can offer to pay points so that their interest rates are reduced.  The buyer saves money over the life of the loan and the seller can possibly deduct the amount paid for points in their taxes.

Of course there are probably hundreds of other incentives you can offer – leaving appliances, big screen TV’s, washer and dryer and the list goes on.  Share your ideas in the comment section.

Check out pictures of our listing here!  It is a great house – with a lot of new features.  Since purchasing seven years ago, we have replaced all of the windows, built a deck and a shed, installed a new furnace and water heater, turned a shower into a shower/tub, replaced carpet in the kitchen to a wood laminate and painted most of the interior.  Take a look, make an offer!  It would make a great rental property!

Being super-desperate, I tried one other method.  I often have the NBC Today Show on in the morning as I get myself and the children up and ready.  They often have Real Estate Expert Barbara Corcoran on to tackle questions or showcase houses.  With nothing to lose, I emailed my question to the show – and was shocked when I got a call from a producer at the Today Show to skype my question on air.  It was a neat experience – I talked with a producer five times on the phone.   My Saturday morning started out at 5:30am with a skype check and then I had to be ready to go at 6:20am.  We are in central time, an hour behind New York City, so it was an early morning.  As I waited for my cue, I could see the broadcast on my computer screen.  Suddenly it was my turn, I asked my question (it was weird being able to see myself as I talked), I worried about the background sounds I was hearing, and then listened as she talked and showed pictures of my house.  I did not realize they would cut back to me, so I looked as if I was not paying attention.  Joseph thought I should be nodding and smiling, but I looked more aloof!
It has only been a day since the segment aired, but I am still holding out hope that this could lead to something.  Pictures of the house were shown on national television!  I am not sure the advice Ms. Corcoran provided will do much in our circumstance, and I felt it was pretty generic, I am still glad I asked and again – pictures of the house were on national television.  That can’t hurt, right?  She wanted us to invest $5,000 into cleaning, painting and staging the house.  While it is a vacant, empty house, I feel that it is clean, the interior was painted within our time, and the exterior siding is in great condition.  I know that when we purchased our current house, we took down wallpaper, wood paneling and painted walls, things I feel that the buyer would want to make final decisions over.   The carpet could probably stand to be replaced – but again something I think the buyer would want a say over.

Anyway, you can see my Today Show debut here. 

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Take a look – add a comment on what you think we should do to increase traffic to the house and get offers.  After the segment aired, a friend suggested contacting a furniture store to see if they could stage it for us, providing publicity for them – and a not so vacant house for us.

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