your house, inside and out, and watch the tape as if you were a
prospective buyer. Is the lawn weedy or the garden bare? Is your
home uncluttered and spotlessly scrubbed? Sparkling-clean houses
sell faster than those that look too lived-in or show an abundance
of the owner's personality.
Take a second look at your listing price. Visit
open houses in your neighborhood. Are similar homes priced lower?
Selling prices may have dropped since your first comparative market
analysis. In a hot market, if you haven't sold your home within
one month, chances are good that you've overpriced it. If you do
lower your asking price, consider a figure slightly below those
of other comparable homes if you are interested in a speedy sale.
Do whatever it takes to be away from your home during
showings and open houses. The presence of sellers makes it difficult
for prospective buyers to take their time or talk openly with their
partner and agent. Leave some treats out to make potential buyers
more comfortable: beverages, nuts, cookiesanything that won't
lose freshness or be too messy.
Ask your listing agent to talk to buyer agents in
his or her firm who have shown your home. The feedback from their
clients can guide you in making home repairs, toning down your décor,
making landscaping improvements, and the like.
Hold an open house on a weeknight. Competition is
lower, and you'll attract the interest of buyers who can't make
weekend appointments because of other commitments.
Take out some extra newspaper ads or print up flyers,
even if your agent is doing a good job with promotions. Look for
out-of-the-ordinary places to advertise, such as trade magazines,
company newsletters, and other alternative resources. You can even
offer perks to buyers, such as a cash bonus or a season ski pass.
Neutralize your color scheme. Most buyers prefer
pale, neutral colors that make it easier to imagine a new home as
their own. Houses with white exteriors are the highest sellers;
for interiors, try whites, off-whites, or pale grays.
If you've had offers but you considered them too
"lowball," try readjusting your sights. Determine the
lowest price you find acceptable, and consider anything more as
icing on the cake. In a longstanding dry market you may even have
to sell at a loss, so it's important to take every offer seriously.
You don't want to alienate a potential buyer who has solid financing
because you've set your sights unrealistically high.
Is your listing agent giving your house adequate
attention? If not, start by having a candid talk. If there's no
change, discuss the problem with the firm's broker. As a last resort,
wait until your listing agreement expires and find an agent with
a proven track record in your area. On the other hand, if you have
a fabulous agent but the market is underwater, consider offering
an increased commission or a bonus for your listing agent as extra
incentive. If you do sweeten the pot for your agent, amend your
listing contract to reflect the change, and be sure it's added to
the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) bookbuyer agents will also
be inspired to give your house extra attention.
Relist your house to give it a kick-start. When
it was listed on the MLS, it was assigned a number reflecting the
date and year of the listing. By now it may appear outdated to buyer
agents; relisting will provide you with a new number. Check into
the policies of your local MLS: You may need to make a change to
qualify for relisting, such as temporarily taking your home off
the market, adjusting its price, or changing listing agents or firm