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Selling Your Home In Today's Market

Apr 20, 2008
Whether you're moving because of a new job, or are trying to avoid foreclosure because you got suckered by a mortgage broker, you're not alone in your desire to try and sell your home.

As of this writing (2008), the subprime mortgage rate meltdown has made homes a drag on the market; unlike three years ago, when housing prices were going up, and selling a home was easy, now you have to be a bit cannier about it.

Your three principle options for selling your home are selling it yourself, selling it with the assistance of a flat rate or discount broker, or selling it through a real estate agent, with a negotiated commission. Past advice was to tap into the then-current hot market and see about selling it yourself for a few months before trying to enlist the aid of a broker.

When looking into these three sales options, there are some basics you should do before engaging a professional or starting this journey. The first is market research. Look carefully at what home prices are really selling for in your area, and set your expectations accordingly. Look also at how nice the other homes in your area are; the nicer they are, the likelier it is that you can post a sale of yours.

The second are the basics of any home showing cycle: Put a fresh coat of paint on the exterior, clean up the house, remove clutter, and clean up windows. Make sure to fix whatever's absolutely broken before trying to sell the house, and try to present it in the best light possible. We know that's almost impossible with children in the house, but it's often times the difference between selling a home and getting passed over.

While it's still possible to do 'for sale by owner' home sales, it's gotten a lot less likely. If you're going to go this route, all the burdens are on you - scheduling the showings, marketing the home in the region, and handling all the federal and state disclosures, title transfer and paperwork. Plus, you have to identify potential buyers, and differentiate between well and poorly qualified ones. If you do go this route and get to the point of signing papers, be sure to retain an attorney to look over the title transfer papers. When looking at marketing your own home, get three 'market comparisons' from experienced agents. They know what they'd sell the home for. Be up front with them - if you're going to try to do an owner-sale, most will still help you. More than 80% of home owners who try to sell their own homes give up - and in down housing markets, that's closer to 95%.

The big benefit of having a broker comes with the first and second issues mentioned in the last paragraph. You have to schedule all the showings, you have to do all the marketing, and those are tasks that take a certain number of hours per day to make happen. One of the reasons why brokers are generally worth their commissions is because you're paying them to do things you don't have time for, or you're paying them to do things that they can do better than you can - like get the home out into listings, line up home buyers and show them multiple homes, and knowing the ins and outs of title transfer paperwork. All of these are exacerbated in a down housing market.

Your second choice is a flat rate or discount broker. Aside from the benefits mentioned above - of paying someone else for their time and expertise, a discount broker can tap into resources you don't have access to, like the multiple listing services used by real estate pros. This one change can reduce sales times by half or more. While both discount and full service brokers have access to this service, the discount brokers generally charge less for them. Furthermore, a lot of discount brokers have a flat rate package (between $2,000 and $5,000, depending on services bundled) to help walk you through the federal and state disclosures.

Not all discount brokers are identical - some are flat fee brokerages (as described above), others try to work as a full service broker, but charge a lower commission rate to stay on top of the market. While these (like full service brokers) are negotiable, you should remember that the broker is going to work as hard as they think they're going to get paid.

That last piece of advice is the key to getting a winning relationship with a full service agent. While some agents try to tell you that commission rates are graven in granite, the truth is that there's always room for negotiation. In general, the stronger the housing market, the more readily you can talk down commission rates. Full service brokers are exactly that - you are, just like with any broker, paying a premium to use someone else's experience.

Should you be dealing with foreclosure, traditional methods of selling your home might not be the best way to facilitate the sale. You may not have enough available equity in your home in order to cover the fees of even a discount broker. And waiting for a few weeks, or even a few months, for your home to sell can have a major impact on both your credit, and the situation with your lender.

In scenarios like these, you should consider selling your home to a real estate investor. Real estate investors will often purchase homes from owners that are facing foreclosure, or behind on mortgage payments. Investors are also interested in homes that need to be sold fast, but perhaps require repairs or renovations in order to be sold using traditional methods. A reputable investor can work with you to sell your home with no commissions and no closing costs, saving time and money, and allowing you to move on.

If you are facing foreclosure, have multiple mortgages on your property, or are several payments behind on your mortgage, you need help fast. Vivid Properties is a group of real estate investors that specializes in buying houses from people like you. You'll receive a fair price for your property, and a simple, no-hassle closing with no costs to you.
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