Selling a Home Fast in this Tough Real Estate Market

The current real estate market is a fierce buyers market, meaning if a buyer is lucky enough to still have a job, have any money left, still have a good credit score (FICO score) and wants to take a chance buying a home in an unstable and possibly still declining market; he or she is worth their weight in gold. If a home buyer has committed to this process in these times, he/she is very serious and that is valuable to know.Since the market is glutted with homes for sale at rock-bottom prices,a qualified buyer demands the absolute best price, most beautiful, largest sq ft, cleanest, best location home out there. In other words they want a “smokin’ deal”and wouldn’t you? They get a Realtor and see up to 40-50 homes depending on price range, area location and amenities desired. It is the best deal that gets the offer.

How to get that offer?

It must be perfect: harsh, isn’t it? Free up space and make the home look larger by packing up clutter, personal effects, cutsy baby pictures, vacation pictures, Aunt Freeda’s paint by number artwork, crafts, silver spoon collections, desktop papers. In fact, put away at least 50% of the personal effects and “doo-dads” on every surface. Some exerts say too many personal effects distract a buyer – not so, in my opinion. It simply makes a room look smaller. Since the value in a home according to Realtors and appraisers is square footage, then giving a buyer more visual square footage makes the home a better “deal”. Unless the buyer is a family member, they won’t have the same taste as you. So pack it all up and put it away in storage. You’ll have a head start on the packing and sell the home quicker to boot.

The goal is to make each room in your home look like a fancy hotel room. Have you noticed that when you enter a hotel room, all your senses are delighted by beautiful decor, soothing/coordinating colors, decorative flare, wonderful smells and mood lighting? There is little on surfaces or counters and only one or two tasteful pieces of artwork at eye level, a blindingly clean space with shine bouncing off every angle. Is this an accident or a well thought out plan by hotel owners to make your stay superior to the competion? Apply the same prinicple to your home and get those better offers.

Clean up your act

Yes, this is going hurt. Take the time to do a “deeep” clean. Bathrooms must look like Home Depot display aisles; spotless, especially the shower/tub. All surfaces need to be clutter free and shining. Beds must be expertly made with military quarter bouncing ability, floors and baseboards lint/dirt free, shelves cleaned and organized, kitchens looking like no one has ever cooked in themand yes even inside oven. That’s where 80% “ish” of woman look first. Fine steel wool will remove grease, grunge and stuck on food from cooking surfases. Once again, all drawers, shelves and closets should have at least 50% of items removed and packed in boxes. This makes the storage areas look so much larger.The bottom line: clean and organize like the President’s coming for dinner.

Paint it

A fresh coat of paint is like scrubbing the entire house with comet. Paint any surfaces that are too bright, loud, dingy or dirty, using soothing, tasteful colors. Home or paint stores have color chips of coordinating paint schemes, so use those; why “re-invent the wheel”? The exterior paint color scheme can send buyers running away or entice them to make an offer. A cool or dark color scheme makes a home look cold and small. Lightr colors make a home look larger. A soft yellow base with white trim or warm taupe with white trim seems to the winning combination with the most curb appeal.The National Association of Realtors cited a light yellow base color to be the most popularly sold house in the United States.

Make your home look like a model home – stage it like the pros

Take 50% of furniture out into the garage and neatly pack it up. Rooms look larger with less in the room. Group according to activity. A model home designer sets a room to look functional and cozy, for instance, a living room might have two groupings: a reading center and TV grouping. So clearly define each space and set the scene.

The yard

The front of the home is the curb appeal or first impression. If it doesn’t measure up, buyers tend to ask the Realtor to keep driving and move onto the next showing. There’s just too much competition out there. Clean, sweep, prune, cut, mow, weed and scrub till it looks like a TV show. Adding a few inexpensive items like colorful flower planters or painting the walkways an alluring color will attract those buyers inside.

Spend some time and energy preparing your home for success and get those winning offers.

Advice to Real Estate Short Sellers: Selling an Underwater Home

Sellers attempting to sell their home for less than their current mortgage value need to pursue a short sale. Most mortgage documentation allows for the seller to do this with the bank’s permission; however, many times a seller will either have to make up the difference with cash or the bank will simply forgive the rest of the loan. In the case of the seller making up the difference, it is rarely a problem with the bank. On the other hand, when the seller is asking the bank to forgive the difference the transactions becomes much more complicated.

Deal with Banks in a Short Sale

Before considering a short sale, sellers should first speak to their bank regarding the short sale process. There is a tremendous amount of work that can be done before the home even goes on the market and for everyone’s sanity, this work should be done in a timely fashion. Before calling, a seller should have their latest W-2s and their latest tax filings. If possible, get the home appraised to evidence the fact that the market value is below the current value of the loan.

It will be important that the seller be able to show hardship. Sellers should be prepared to show the bank exactly what assets and liabilities they have and what they pay each month. This would also include 401k and retirement assets. While the bank may not expect sellers to cash in their 401(k) to repay their loan, it will be another data point they use to consider the seller’s financial wherewithal.

Find a Short Sale Realtor

When all the documentation is in order, contact several realtors that have work experience with short sales. Short sales are always time consuming and a challenge. Having a real estate agent familiar with the process will minimize the headache of seller, who will most likely not have any experience with the process. Experienced short sell realtors can also proactively help sellers better market the property to prospective buyers interested in short sales.

When interviewing realtors, layout what has been done and layout the full financial picture. Remember, the realtor should be the seller’s advocate to the bank and to the buyer.

Don’t let the process of the short sale become overwhelming. Start with the understanding that it will take about six months or more and will require significant legwork on the part of the seller and the seller’s agent. Also, don’t forget to consult an accountant or real estate lawyer. Some forms of debt forgiveness are taxable and in some cases a successful short sale could result in a very large tax bill at the end of the year. Be smart and be patient.