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Selling a house can be a time-consuming and costly process, no matter where you live or when you list it. But you can make the experience less painful and even get higher offers by paying attention to the current conditions of the market and adjusting your approach accordingly.
These tips for selling your home can help you prepare for any kind of real estate market, so that you connect with enthusiastic buyers at the right time and sell with confidence.
» MORE: How to sell your house
Determine what type of market you're in
In the world of real estate, the market is usually one of two things: a seller’s market or a buyer’s market.
In a seller’s market, there are more potential buyers than there are homes for sale, meaning that competition can be fierce among bidders. These conditions favor sellers, who are likely to see more interest in their home, enjoy higher offers and go under contract more quickly.
In a buyer’s market, on the other hand, there are more homes for sale than there are potential buyers, and homeowners may have to do more work to attract offers.
» MORE: The best time to sell your house
Tips for selling your home in a seller's market
These tips for selling your home can help you make the most of a hot real estate market.
Price your home competitively
When the market favors sellers, it’s tempting to inflate your home’s listing price because it seems like the demand is there. However, you’re probably better off working with your real estate agent to set a fair price based on recent sales data of similar nearby homes.
A strategic price tag will draw more interested buyers, who may naturally drive up the price by bidding against each other. Buyers who are searching online for a home within a certain budget might not even see your home if the listing price is too high, potentially driving down competition.
» MORE: How to price your home to sell
Find out if you qualify for discounts
Depending on your background or profession, you may qualify for closing cost discounts or credits through networks that support certain home sellers. For example, if you are a first responder, service member, teacher or health care professional, you may qualify to work with a real estate agent within the Homes for Heroes network and save on the agent’s gross commission fee.
There are also programs affiliated with mortgage lenders that offer sellers financial incentives and rewards, and it could be worthwhile to research options that may be available to sellers in your field of work. Professional organizations and credit unions that serve customers in your industry are good places to look for more information.
Weigh multiple offers carefully
If potential buyers start a bidding war over your house, it’s easy to get blinded by the dollar signs and choose the highest offer. However, neglecting to consider other factors can leave you open to complications.
Has the buyer been preapproved for a mortgage?
Does the bid include contingencies that could make the deal more precarious?
Is their bid so far over the home’s appraised value that a lender is unlikely to finance the sale?
Are they willing to move quickly to close?
These are the kinds of questions you’ll have to consider to gauge whether a bidder’s high offer is really the best one on the table.
Know your next move
As soon as your home is under contract, it’s likely that you’ll find yourself on the other side of the transaction as a buyer. You’ll want to have a sense of the competitiveness of the market that you’re moving into and know your next move if your house sells quickly.
For example, some sellers may move in with friends and family while they take the time to look for their next home. If that won’t work for you, you may consider something called a rent-back agreement, which involves the new homeowner allowing you to remain in the house temporarily until you can find a new home.
You’ll also want to make sure that you have a realistic estimate for moving expenses, which you should budget for along with your closing costs and other fees.
Tips for selling your home in a buyer's market
When an interested buyer is hard to find, these tips for selling your home can help you stand out from the competition and get a good offer.
Prepare your house with home staging
Buyers may struggle to see themselves in your home simply because of the way that it’s styled. You can help buyers overcome this by hiring a professional home stager, working with your real estate agent to stage the home or taking it on independently as a DIY project.
By cleaning, removing clutter and personal artifacts, and painting rooms in warm neutrals, you can show buyers that you’ve taken great care of your home and help them visualize what it would be like to live there.
Boost your curb appeal
The yard and exterior of your home are the first things that potential buyers will see in person, and enhancing its curb appeal will grab their attention. Cleaning and tidying your yard, repainting if necessary and upgrading outdoor fixtures can all make your home more attractive to buyers.
Prepare to make concessions
When the market favors buyers, they may feel emboldened to ask for home improvements or make an offer under the asking price. Knowing this, it’s a good idea to go into a sales discussion with a sense of the kinds of concessions you’re willing to make.
Are you willing to negotiate on the asking price?
Are you flexible on the closing date?
Are you willing to pay for some repairs if requested?
Are there contingencies that you’d like to have but would be willing to waive in a pinch?
If you know what concessions you are (and aren’t) willing to make, you’ll be in a better position to negotiate with buyers.
Explore nontraditional selling methods
An important part of the selling process is choosing the right listing agent. When reviewing potential candidates, you’ll want to make sure that their expected commission is within industry standards, typically about 6%.
If you’d prefer not to pay that commission, you can weigh the pros and cons of selling the home yourself, also known as "for sale by owner" or FSBO. This can be a complicated process that requires significantly more work on the part of a seller, which is why few homeowners actually go this route. However, those who accept this challenge do it because they prioritize bypassing the listing agent’s commission and having more control over the sale.
Another option to explore is selling to an iBuyer. These tech-based real estate companies, such as Opendoor, Zillow Offers and Offerpad, can make quick cash offers on homes, sometimes within a single day. Sellers pay a fee for the convenience of working with an iBuyer, but this can be a direct way to sell your home fast in an otherwise sluggish market.