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Review of all things Real Estate: How to get your listing noticed in a neutral market?

For everyone who wanted to sell real estate this year but hadn’t pulled the trigger yet, the top of the market has passed. Per the market activity report, we have moved from a super strong seller’s market to more of a neutral market.

Many economists, real estate professionals and authors are indicating we are approaching a buyer’s market but consensus is that we are not there…yet. Properties are going into escrow but at a slower rate (28% reduction from this time last year) but with increasing inventory (up over 50% from 4 months ago), rising interest rates and inflation causing concern about purchasing power, there is just not as much buyer activity as there was 90 days ago.

So, what can a property owner do to set their property apart so that it’ll get noticed; what will make it stand out? This will be a two part article since this subject has many important facets, the first part will deal with the physical condition and appearance of the property and proper pricing. Next week, we’ll discuss some “radical” ideas for making your listing stand apart from the competition and get it sold.

The first step is to take inventory of what condition the property is in; are there collections of accumulation? Declutter. Look at it this way, do you really want to pay to move all the “stuff?” If you want to keep items that you don’t use often, then pack them into a rented locker or a POD; when the house sells, the items will have to be packed so do it ahead of time because it’ll help declutter the house. Remember that how we prepare a house to sell is not an indictment on how we live; we want it to be easy for buyers to envision their photos and furniture in the property. Decluttering also helps the rooms feel bigger and more open, as will washing the windows; let the natural light come inside.

Be aware of strong smells (cooking, pets, smoking) inside the house that might be offensive to buyers and take measures to remediate them. Cleaning carpets, buffing floors and fresh paint goes a long way, the paint makes it smell new, fresh and appealing.

The next step is to review your curb appeal because we only get one chance to make a first impression; make it a good one. Whatever your landscaping choice might be, it should be neat, well-groomed and appealing. Adding color spots is an inexpensive way to draw the eye to the property which helps create a welcoming feel. If there are piles of excess tomato racks, empty flower pots and/ or other clutter, it’s best to clean it up and haul it away.

If there are obvious repairs needed inside or outside, spend the time and money to fix them because in a neutral or buyer’s market with a lot of inventory, buyers will try to find reasons not to purchase because they have choices. A local agent should be able to assist with fresh eyes since often we are so used to seeing something that we don’t see it anymore. Both inside and outside, neat and clean sells.

Next is the most important way to get your listing noticed by buyers, accurate pricing for the current market. Did your neighbor’s home sell for a super price with multiple competing offers above list price six months ago? Great…but the market of six months ago (even three months ago) was a different market.

If the goal is to sell the house, then set a realistic price. Homeowners in our market enjoyed 18-20% value appreciation for each of the past two years, so homeowners have made a lot of equity. Giving back a little bit of those gains with accurate pricing for the current market will get the house sold even in a lower activity market.

Local agents who live here and work here are your best resource for proper pricing, but only look back three months for comparables; beyond that, the data will be skewed and not accurate. Properly priced properties sell. Stubbornly holding onto a too high of a price when the market is moving downhill, then timidly cutting the price in small increments is called chasing the market downhill; to get ahead of the downwardly drifting prices requires aggressive price cutting.

And, oh by the way, while stubbornly hanging onto the too high price, consider that the market time will increase and the associated carrying costs with holding onto a property that isn’t priced to sell.

Condition of the property and correct pricing are two important ways to get your listing noticed. Next week, we will talk about somewhat out of the box thinking to further have your listing stand apart from the competition.


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