It’s tough being a seller in a buyer’s market, but with the right research and strategy you can definitely improve your odds and be successful at achieving your goals.  Naturally, we all want to get the most money for our homes and sell in the least amount of time possible. While this is attainable, it is unlikely in a buyer’s market, and it all depends on your expectations. Let’s take a look at some strategies you can utilize to improve your odds and beat out the competition.

Know what your house is worth

When positioning your house in a buyer’s market, or any market for that matter, you need to know what it is worth. If you are using an agent, they should be providing you with meaningful comparables that closely resemble your home.  Also, you need to consider the prices of homes currently on the market in your area. Your house needs to be priced competitively if you want to get it sold within a reasonable time frame. Don’t overprice your home 10-20% to leave room for negotiating, it won’t work. Not only is this strategy extremely ineffective but it will likely prevent buyers from even wanting to come see your house.  You need to be able to get them through the door if you are going to have the chance to sell it. If your approach is to list high and reduce later when there is no action, you are better off listing it at the right price. This will reduce the chances of your home sitting on the market for an extended period of time. You will have a competitive edge against those who don’t consider these facts.

Evaluate your 2 markets – where you are selling and where you want to buy

There is no such thing as an overall market when selling your home. Your friends may think you are crazy for trying to sell in a “slow market” but many of these opinions are likely media driven. It’s important to understand that certain neighbourhoods within a city can have their own market trends. In your research, you may find out that your neighbourhood is one in which properties move more quickly than the average. Unfortunately, you may find out that where you are selling tends to have a slower market than where you want to buy. Finding out all this information ahead of time will help you tremendously with how you position your property in the market. Be proactive and find out these details ahead of time so that other decisions you make, when setting the stage to sell, are influenced by this information. Focus on the two markets, where you are selling and where you are buying, and forget the rest.

Take care of the minor repairs

A buyer’s market means you have more competition, so you need to make sure the interior and exterior of your house are in tip top shape. If potential buyers come inside and see disarray or lack of care then they will start to wonder what else  may be an issue in the home and walk away. Go through your house and pay attention to the fine details by making sure everything is in order. Replace light bulbs, fix paint chips, missing light switch panels, clean hard to reach areas, clean windows and screens, etc. If your paint colours are flashy and less common, consider painting them more neutral colours to increase the calming atmosphere. In a buyer’s market, everything matters, so don’t give potential buyers an easy way out.

De-personalize and store things away

When buyers view your home they want to be able to visualize your house as being their own, and it’s difficult for them to do that with all your personal items marking the territory as yours. Make potential buyers comfortable by removing items like family photos, memorabilia, trophies/awards, religious decor, and any other personal possessions that would prevent a buyer from being able to make an emotional connection with your home. Put these items in storage and keep them tucked away. Not only will these removed items increase a buyer’s emotional connection with your home but reducing the clutter will also increase a buyer’s perception of space in the home. It’s a win-win!

Leave some things behind

One thing that can strengthen the attraction to your home is by agreeing to leave some things behind for the buyer. Most buyers not only consider where they want to move but also the expenses that go along with it. If you include the appliances and other items that may be ideal for buyers in your price range, then it’s one last thing they have to think about. If the average home in your area is not offering such items then you will be ahead of the competition when the buyers evaluate your price and what you have to offer them.

Be flexible with your showings

Everyone is busy these days, and one of the hardest parts of selling is the fact that you need to be ready anytime a potential buyer wants to view your home. You must be ready and prepared for this, if not, you may push away potential buyers therefore negatively affecting the sale of your property. If you have young children, it’s definitely within reason not to allow last minute or very late showings, but try your best to accommodate those who show interest in wanting to see your home. Remember, maximum traffic adds to maximum exposure.

Treat all offers like it will be the only one

Some buyers like to test the waters and play the “how low can they go?” game. Sure, it can be frustrating at times but it’s just how some people like to play. Many times sellers become quickly agitated and either sign back the offer at full price or tell the buyers they aren’t interested in dealing with their offer.  Try to be objective and play back. There are some buyers that make an offer, and if not accepted, walk away. If so, that’s fine, they probably didn’t want it that badly in the first place. However, this is not usually the case, and if they didn’t want your home they usually wouldn’t bother writing up an offer. Treat all offers seriously, no matter the value, and obviously if it’s within some degree of reason. Try to understand why they offered that specific amount. Sign it back to with a price you are comfortable with and show some movement to get the ball rolling. You will be surprised how often something is worked out to a point where both parties are satisfied.

Have a strong marketing strategy

When trying to sell your home in a buyer’s market you need to have a solid marketing plan. If you are using a real estate agent make sure they have the tools to expose your market to all the major channels. If you are going the FSBO route, you can’t just put up a sign and wait for the buyer’s to come to you. Whether it’s with an agent or not, you need a well thought-out plan with accurate pricing, targeted improvements and focused marketing and exposure. Most buyers start their search online and so this channel is extremely important. Websites like MLS, Facebook, YouTube, Kijiji, and other social avenues are imperative to achieving maximum exposure. Do the legwork ahead of time to optimize your chances of success.

Listen to your agent

If you have found an agent you can trust and has a successful track record of selling homes, listen to their recommendations. Their advice is based on a great deal of experience and there are usually clear indicators when something needs to be changed. You will also have some great input and insight, since you have lived in the area for some time, so share all the details with your agent. Teamwork is definitely needed to reach your goals, but remember that your experience is typically in how to enjoy the home, not selling it. In a buyer’s market you will likely need that expertise to get your home sold in the desired time frame and at the right price.

Andrew Hopgood
Sales Representative
Sutton Group – Select Realty Inc.
London, Ontario
Direct: 519-317-2215
Office: 519-433-4331

A blog helping people understand more about Real Estate in London, Ontario and Canada