Preparation can get you ready for the selling process, but finding a buyer requires a well-executed marketing effort.
There are a number of components to a well-conceived marketing plan. Understanding each - and what it can contribute to your sales effort - is important to achieving the best possible results.
Advertising is a key part of an effective marketing plan. Your real estate broker should advertise the property periodically in local newspapers. Generally, the cost of advertising is included in the commission, so make sure your property gets its share. Signage is also important - a prominently displayed sign on the property is one of the most effective pieces of advertising, so make sure there is a clear and visible spot available.
Multiple Listing Service
The Multiple Listing Service, or MLS, is a catalog of available homes in a given market area. Your agent will list your home in the local MLS so that other agents in the area can access information when working with buyers. The MLS is only available through your agent - and it is a powerful selling tool.
Open houses are another major marketing tool when selling a home. There are two basic types of open house. The first, generally scheduled during the week, is for area agents to stop by and take a look at a home that is new to the market. The second type is held on a weekend - usually a Sunday afternoon - and is intended to allow homebuyers to visit the property without an appointment.
A lockbox is a small device containing a key to the house that is attached to or near the front door. Local agents can access the box to gain entry to the house at any time. Ideal for unoccupied homes, the lockbox may be problematical if you have kids or pets - or are simply uncomfortable with this arrangement. If you do not use a lockbox, make sure that your agent has a key or that you are available on short notice to open the house.
Using the Net
The Internet has begun to revolutionize the home selling process. Shoppers (and sellers) have access to more information than ever before. It's important to select an agent who has a significant understanding of the Internet. Your agent should have a web site where shoppers can access information about your home and should list the property with one or more major online listing services.
Have Your Home Ready
Your home should be maintained in a constant state of readiness to be viewed. Try to keep things as clean and uncluttered as possible. Keep the yard well tended and make sure that access to the house is unfettered (keep snow cleared away in winter).
Have potpourri or scented candles on hand to keep the house clean and fresh smelling. If you have a fireplace, consider having a fire burning during viewings (season and time permitting). Ask your agent for other suggestions on presenting your home in the best possible way.
Handling Kids and Pets
Whenever possible, arrange for children and pets to stay with a friend or neighbor during showings. If the children are home during a showing, explain that they should be quiet and well behaved while the buyers are in the house.
When Should You Lower Your Price?
Despite the best pre-market comparisons and marketing efforts, sometimes a seller simply does not get any offers. One potential reason for a lack of buyer interest is a price that is too high - especially if the market is weak.
Before lowering the price, however, it makes sense to check out if there are any other problems to blame. Has there been sufficient advertising? Did the agent hold an open house for agents and another for the public? Does the house have any features that are turning buyers off? If so, can they be corrected?
If everything else seems to be in order - and assuming that other homes in the area are selling reasonably well - the price is probably the problem. A reduction may be just the thing to increase traffic levels and generate a few serious offers.