Selling your home in a market where there are more homes available for sale than there are buyers means that you really have to work at it. Buyers in a seller’s market are looking for value. They want the best house for the money. Buyers can be picky and simply won’t settle. You have to get in front of the buyers, have your home showing in its best possible condition and have the home priced right from the start. You must know the competition and see your home as a “product” listed on the open market. Make it stand out from the competition, either in how it is delivered to the market or how it’s priced.

Know the competition

It’s common that a would-be seller will receive “comps” from their agent around the time that they agree to work together. As part of the comparative marketing analysis, an agent will show a seller what is on the market, pending and sold. Oftentimes, it could be weeks or months before the seller actually lists his home. A slow market means more inventory and more competition for sellers. A seller must know what other homes are available and price their home accordingly. Hit the open house circuit the weekend before you list or keep a search going online of similar homes. Knowing the competition will help you decide how to price your home. You want to be the home that stands out from the crowd….in a good way.

Consider pre-marketing your home

A generation ago, buyers needed an agent to know exactly how long a home had been on the market. Why? Because that data was locked up in agent-only databases. Today, once a listing goes active, the days on market or DOM starts ticking for all the world to see online. The DOM is the best way for a buyer to gauge how your home fares in the market. If the DOM hits three months and your home is still listed, chances are slim you will get a full-price offer. These days, it’s smart to put out feelers before your listing goes live. Work with a good local agent and have them do some pre-marketing of your home to test the price and the market’s response to it. How does this work? In most communities, it’s not uncommon for agents to announce upcoming listings within their firm or on social networks. In some communities, there are entire websites dedicated to “pocket” listings.

Make sure your home is widely marketed

Buyers are everywhere today and your listing needs to be where they are. Most are online, specifically on mobile devices at all times of day and night. If your home is not listed where buyers are looking, that’s one less opportunity. In a buyer’s market a seller can’t afford to miss one buyer. If your agent doesn’t understand the concept, you should be working with another agent.

Work with the right agent

Speaking of the right agent. Having the best agent representing your home will make the difference between selling and moving on or having your home sit on the market. A good agent is someone who actively sells in your local community. They know the customs and trends, not to mention governing laws. Agents like to work with agents they know. Work with an out-of-area agent or someone not familiar with your area and you risk being poorly represented.

Photos are key

A generation ago, a photo shoot wasn’t always necessary when selling a home. Today, it is potentially the most important part of the home-selling process. A buyer’s first impression of your home today will likely be online, via an email alert online or a text with the listing from their agent. You should spend as much time and attention on your photo shoot as you would for the first open house. Also, make sure that your listing photos are high resolution and optimized for the web and mobile.

Spend the right money to get the home ready

There is nothing worse than an eager seller spending a fortune to renovate their home prior to selling, only to do so in a manner that is not neutral or buyer friendly. A recent survey by Zillow Digs shows that the ROI on these projects isn’t high. If you want to get your home ready for sale, take a step back and spend money the right way. The best thing a seller can do is to clean and de-clutter. Investing in storage is one of the smartest things a seller can do. Also, smart cosmetic fixes like painting, cleaning and changing out some fixtures or finishes is money well spent when getting your home ready to sell.

Succeeding in a buyer’s market is not simply a matter of hiring an agent and listing your home. You need to do your homework: Know the competition and what is selling. Work with an agent who has relationships with the local community and knows your market. Don’t list your home with an agent who doesn’t have a plan to make sure that your home is widely marketed across the Internet and on mobile devices — that is where buyers are today. Be open to non-traditional means of marketing your home. One misstep in the selling process could set you back weeks or months.

Want to know whether you’re in a buyer’s or a seller’s market? Check out Zillow’s recent analysis.


For more insights into the important changes happening in real estate, read Brendon’s new book “Next Generation Real Estate.” Brendon’s practical real estate advice is regularly sought out by print, online and television media outlets including FOX News, CNBC, USA Today, Bloomberg, FOX Business and Forbes. A licensed Realtor and an active investor himself, Brendon owns real estate around the U.S. and abroad and is licensed to sell in California and New York. As a trusted real estate expert, consumers often call on Brendon for advice and to help them find a real estate agent. You can follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.


About the Author

Brendon DeSimone is the author of "Next Generation Real Estate: New Rules for Smarter Home Buying & Faster Selling," the go-to insider’s guide for navigating and better understanding the complex and ever-evolving world of buying and selling a home. DeSimone is the founder and principal of DeSimone & Co, an independent NYC real estate brokerage providing individualized services and a fresh, hands-on approach. Bringing more than a decade of residential real estate experience, DeSimone is a recognized national real estate expert and has appeared on top media outlets including CNBC, Good Morning America, FOX Business, HGTV, FOX News and Bloomberg. Consumers often call on Brendon for advice and to help them find a real estate agent. You can follow him on Twitter.

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