In January 2011, more than one out of every five homes sold in the U.S. was a foreclosure re-sale. Foreclosure re-sales are extremely attractive to buyers because they typically sell from anywhere between 18-59% less than comparable homes nearby, depending on the market. The low pricing on these homes makes it all the more difficult for a traditional seller — the one who is not selling a distressed home — to set their home apart, get traffic to their listing and ultimately sell it for a good, fair price. If you live in a high foreclosure market and are trying to sell your non-distressed home, here are a few tips that might help you:

1. Do foreclosures lurk in your market?
All real estate is local. Though more than one of every five U.S. homes sold in January was a foreclosure, you need to determine the foreclosure percentage where you live. For instance, in the Columbus real estate market, one-third (33.6 percent) of home sales in January were foreclosure re-sales. However, in the Philadelphia real estate market, just one out of every eight (14 percent) homes was a foreclosure re-sale. Why it is important to know this about your market? It helps to understand the kind of competition you’ll face when you list your home. The more you know about other homes on the market, the better you can position your home in terms of pricing and marketing.  Obviously, if there are a lot of foreclosures in your neighborhood, you’ll likely have to price your home more aggressively. You can find the rate of foreclosure re-sales in your city, neighborhood or ZIP code by visiting the Zillow Real Estate Market Reports.

2. Play up the condition of your home
This is your edge. For the most part, homes that are traditional sales tend to be in better condition than foreclosures. Foreclosures are oftentimes unkempt, stripped of appliances, plumbing or wiring, and possibly even vandalized by the previous owners, or squatters. Banks usually sell them “as-is,” which means the buyer is on the hook for any repairs. As a seller of a traditional sale, your home should stand out compared to a foreclosure re-sale. Get your home in tip-top shape by making any necessary repairs, freshening up the interior, and giving it some curb appeal with flowers planted outside, and adding a dash of color to a nicely painted front door. This added attention to detail will reveal itself in the listing photos and during showings.

3. Photos, photos and more photos
Foreclosure listings typically only have one, maybe two photos each, and they are usually only of the exterior. Maximize your online exposure and make your home stand out by posting as many high-quality photos of your home on your listing as possible. On Zillow, there is no limit to the number of photos you can have, and it’s been proven that traffic to a listing grows considerably with many listing photos. Ask your real estate agent how to best stage your home before the photo shoot. Clear out clutter, take down family photos, and do whatever you can to make sure potential buyers can see themselves living there.

4. Tout the closing time
Foreclosure re-sales are notorious for taking months to close. Home buyers have been known to be knee-deep in the buying process after several months of waiting only to find out that the deal on the bargain basement home of their dreams fell through. If you can close in less than 30 or 60 days, that is a major selling point and should be noted by your real estate agent.

5. Spruce up your neighborhood
Does your neighbor’s grass need cutting? Is trash littering your sidewalk? Be proactive and take control. Politely offer to cut your neighbor’s lawn, and get some neighbors and friends together for a street cleaning. It will spruce up your neighborhood and make your home – and everyone else’s — shine. Since foreclosures are often unoccupied and not maintained, no one is putting in the extra effort to take care of that property, and perhaps, the surrounding neighborhood. Buyers not only look at the home they are buying, but observe whether nearby homes and streets are cared for, too. It could make or break a deal.

In the end, selling your home in a market where supply outpaces demand is difficult, regardless of the presence of foreclosures. However, if you can make your home stand out compared to nearby foreclosures, you’ll have a better shot at getting your home sold in a timely manner and for the price you desire.

About the Author

Alison writes about rental and mortgage market trends for Zillow Blog.

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