If you're thinking about selling your home, it goes without saying that you need to put it in the best position possible. But how can you do that? Money expert Clark Howard has two home-selling tips that he says are essential in today's market.
In July 2022, sales of existing homes slid by nearly 6% compared to the previous month, according to a report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The report says that figure represents the sixth consecutive month of decline.
Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist, characterizes the market this way: “We’re witnessing a housing recession in terms of declining home sales and home building. However, it’s not a recession in home prices. Inventory remains tight and prices continue to rise nationally with nearly 40% of homes still commanding the full list price.”
With home sales falling off, you may be wondering what’s going on. Clark has some thoughts.
Clark: Home Sellers Have Gotten ‘Lazy’ and Here’s Why
“Home sellers have had an opportunity to be lazy over the last couple years,” Clark says. “I mean, you didn’t even have to put that sign in the yard.”
“Buyers have waived inspections, they’ve gotten into bidding wars. All this fever pitch – almost like a panic market – drove prices up an extraordinary amount of money,” Clark says, “outstripping people’s ability to afford homes, and – dare I say – made sellers lazy.”
But he says those days are over now.
Clark’s 2 Home-Selling Tips
“So the question is, what happens to you if you’re like, ‘Huh. I wish I had gotten around to selling when buyers were in a frenzy. The frenzy’s over. What do I do now?” Clark says.
Here are a couple of things you can do to increase your chances of selling your home.
1. Set a Realistic Price
“What you do is you go back to the old playbook,” Clark says. “You need to be more careful how you price, because you’re going back to a cycle where if you do overprice upfront, you ultimately have your home go stale in the market. And you end up with a total net sale for less than if you price more realistically upfront.”
How To Research Home Comps
If you hire a licensed real estate agent, he or she will be able to pull “comps” (short for “comparable sales”) from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). But if you’re thinking about selling your home yoursself, you’ll need to turn to other resources.
Many online real estate marketplaces (think Zillow, Redfin) have pricing tools on their websites. But you should take those prices with a (large) grain of salt, as pricing on those sites can be really, really wrong.
- Use online real estate sites to search the selling prices for homes that have recently changed hands.
- Search public property records at your local tax assessor's office or website.
- Consult the Federal Housing Finance Agency's house price calculator, which projects home appreciation values for many areas.
Keep in mind that many of the online sold home listings may not have the most recent information. Only the MLS will have the latest data. But doing your own research will give you a general idea of the comps in your area.
2. Beautify Your Home’s Exterior
“The curb appeal stuff matters again,” Clark says. “So your house needs to look good from the street again. It can’t look like a terrible fixer-upper if you’re going to try to get as much money from your home as possible.”
That means you should pay particular attention to:
- Lawncare, including cutting back shrubbery and removing any wood debris or limbs
- Cosmetic repairs (replacing rotted wood, missing shingles, older/discolored light fixtures)
- Peeling paint or fading stain on your home's exterior
While going the do-it-yourself route, as Clark once did, can save money, you may be able to find an affordable professional contractor online.
Clark says some homeowners tend to develop a sort of tunnel vision: After all, you see that peeling paint and dangling light fixture every day. “You kind of ignore them; you don’t even notice them anymore,” he says. But if you’re intent on selling your home, Clark advises, “You’ve got to take care of those things again.”
Clark says, as the residential real estate market corrects itself, home sales may continue to trend downward, but it’s nothing to be alarmed about.
"We are not going to have any kind of collapse in pricing because we're so housing-short," he says. "But it means you're going to have to stand out from the crowd as a seller and be more realistic and be as flexible as you need to, to get a deal done."
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