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Dump this house! How to sell your home fast

5 mistakes anxious sellers make, plus tips to get the highest sticker price
By Barbara Corcoran
updated 8:59 a.m. ET, Mon., Jan. 14, 2008

So, you need to get rid of your house and you need to do it quick. Perhaps you have an adjustable rate loan that is about to skyrocket, or maybe you just got a job in another city. Whatever the reason, don’t panic. This may not seem like the best time to dump your house, but if you follow my advice, it's possible.

Below are the five biggest mistakes struggling homeowners make when selling their home. I’ll also show you some foolproof home-selling tactics that will get you the highest sticker price for your house.

The five big mistakes overanxious homeowners make

Making small price reductions again and again
Nothing smacks of desperation more than incremental price drops. The longer a property is on the market, the more jaded the buyers become. The more times the price is cut, the staler the offering appears. Buyers reason that a lot of people must have seen it and that a lot of people must have rejected it. And if that is the case, then why even bother to consider it?

Instead, slash the price. Find out what your house is worth by looking at similar properties in the neighborhood and price it 10% below them. The most enticing houses on the market are the newest and the cheapest. If you can be both, you’ll offload yours in no time at all.

Hiring the wrong broker
There are many ways of finding a good broker. Personal recommendations from friends and colleagues are often the best way to go. If someone outside the real estate business with nothing to gain is bringing up a broker, you can be pretty sure you’re on to a winner. The best brokers —  the top 10 percent —  do 90 percent of all the business. So don’t get stuck with a lemon. You want someone with enthusiasm and drive, someone who will give you the attention you need and steer you through the whole messy process with courtesy and professionalism.

Waiting it out
If you decide to wait, you are joining the thousands of other homeowners who have also decided to wait. When a few decide it’s time to take the plunge, you are already too late. If you need/want to sell now, then sell now. There will never be a better time.


Showing your house before you get rid of your clutter
You wouldn’t try to sell your car without first clearing it out, would you? Trying to sell your house when it is full of clutter is the same thing. People don’t see charming family mementos and alluring bric-a-brac; they see visual noise, like empty soda cans and banana peels strewn on the back seat of a Chevy. The buyer doesn’t want to see your house; they want to see their house of the future. Find a temporary home for all of your cherished possessions and let the house speak for itself.

Not taking the first quick bid
This happens time and time again. The buyer gets a bite early on and they are suddenly filled with confidence. It feels like you’re standing over a pond packed with a million hungry fish. The first offer doesn’t seem great and you naturally assume there are bigger and juicier fish to be had. So you throw the tiddler back in. Big mistake. That “tiddler” is often the catch of the day.


Here are some tactics that will help you lure more buyers in:

Rent a wide-angle lens ($24 to rent for three days)
Buyers today shop by photos. Lots of good photos on a sunny day make your home look larger and brighter.

Sell your house on eBay
This is a foolproof way to get your home attention with really zero risk involved. The only cost is a $150 fee. Ebay draws a lot of traffic to your home and what makes it really great is that you can walk away at the end. The auction is noncommittal. Even if someone meets your price, you can always change your mind.

YouTube your house
A YouTube tour gives the buyer your personal perspective on what’s special about your house and can be linked with most major search sites. If you choose this method, you should be proactive in getting the video seen. Send links of the video to any interested parties and make sure your broker is doing the same. Insist that your broker get it on to their company’s Web site.

Go beyond traditional realtor networks
Two out of three homebuyers start their search online. The five highest-traffic Web sites are: 

  • #1
  • #2
  • #3
  • #4
  • #5 

    Make sure people visiting these sites are seeing your home. If you are unable to do this yourself, ask your broker to do it for you.

    Organize a neighborhood open house
    Join up with other neighbors on a Sunday to lure more buyers in. Include a latte cart or a giant inflatable house in the backyard for kids to jump on.

    Include a financial goody bag for the buyer
    For example, you could offer to prepay taxes or closing costs. You can also pay for a year of landscaping, pool cleaning or maid service. Be creative and see what kind of incentives you think would entice a buyer.

    Offer a big broker incentive
    Consider offering your broker a weekend in Paris or a luxurious day at the spa.

    Hire a professional home-stager
    You can check for local members.

    Remember to promote your own house
    On average, it takes eight lookers to get one bid. The more people in, the more bids you get.

    Rent a local billboard in your neighborhood
    This may sound far-fetched, but it is not as expensive as you might think. You could also create magnets for your car to advertise your home (with house picture and contact information). Or dress your kids and their friends in “Buy My House” T-shirts and send them to town. Sometimes whacky tactics like these pay off.

    With all this in mind, get out there and see if you can’t buck the trend. If you are willing to do what is necessary, there is no market you can’t sell your house in.



    © 2008
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