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Selling a Home In a Bear Market

Jun 24, 2008
The recipe for slow growth is firmly in place. Take evaporated disposable income going toward everyday necessities like food and, gas, mixed with a dash of higher unemployment, dysfunctional government, inane energy policy, high taxes, pulled pork (earmarks/farm subsidies), and you will get a heaping helping full of wait and see stew.

This is the wealthiest country on earth, and there's plenty of money to be spent. The average family is pulling back out of necessity, the upper middle income folks are sitting tight, and the wealthy wait to see if their earnings will be stolen through confiscation by Obama to pay for more government bureaucratic entitlement failures. These are the primary sources of uncertainty, and the pull back in consumer spending.

If you must sell a home you can take heart, people still need a place to live. There will be homes selling, just not in the numbers most markets are accustomed to seeing. Who will sell, and who won't?

This is Springfield Illinois where the market was spoiled with over 4000 homes being sold annually for the preceding four years. This is a new year which has home sales on pace for about 3400. This is not a crash, more of a return to more normal levels of sales. The challenge is the number of homes for sale, continuing to set records. There are more homes listed for sale today, 1974, than will have sold during the first six months of 2008.

This is called competition of the highest order; fewer buyers, more sellers. The result? Unlike the robust years of the recent past, low offers, short appraisals, stricter financing requirements, longer time on the market, and a lower sale price to list price ratio are the norm. Not to mention foreclosures and short sales.

So how does one successfully sell their home in these bear market conditions? Know the holy grail of home selling; price, condition, and agent selection. These are the deal makers, or deal breakers. Experience is often overrated, however not when selling a home under these conditions. An agent that has experienced buyer markets is infinitely better suited to advise you on the primary components of getting sold; price, and condition.

My advice is to hire the best agent and company in your market. That would be an agent with a proven sales record, with top quality Internet presentation, and marketing materials. Ask to see samples. Trust but verify agent's, and company's claims.

Establish a pricing plan before you list your home. This market is changing faster than a teenage girl's mood. Knowing where you are going with the price at prescribed times while on the market, will increase your chances of selling threefold. How do I know? Since introducing my pricing plan strategy, three times as many of my listings have sold and closed as the average of the top twenty five agents in the market. There are 690 agents.

Have your home inspected, and make repairs before you list your home. Offer a copy of the inspection report to financially approved home buyers that show interest, then sell 'as is'. This eliminates the opportunity for buyers to leverage more money from you following their inspection. Buyer's want their own inspector? No problem, give the buyers first right of refusal to write an offer while they have the home inspected. Seven days should be sufficient. Then negotiate the sale price of your home. Once.

There is a plethora of information available regarding preparing a home for sale. Let me make it easy for you. Everything you do is to create a sense of cleanliness, and spaciousness. If flooring needs replaced, replace it. Walls need painting, paint them. Use the 'I would' rule; if anything causes you to pause and think, 'should I do this?', I would.

Do you have to give your home away in order to sell? No. You just need to be better priced than your competition.

Do you need to make your home like new? No. Just so your home shows better than your competition.

Do you have to hire the best agent/company in the market? No. Just one better than your competitors hired.

It's like the fellow who was slowly reaching for his shoes while camping with a friend when they spotted a bear heading toward their campsite. The man's friend said; you can't out run a bear. The man replied; I don't have to out run the bear, just you.
About the Author
Fritz Pfister is a licensed Realtor with RE/MAX Professionals Springfield Illinois.
Fritz is a leader in the local real estate market and hosts a live one hour radio program, now in its' 13th year.
Fritz's website is
Fritz is the only agent/team to have sold over 1000 homes since 2000. Advice from experience.
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