Westchester Broker offers Top Tips for Selling in a down market

Yes, I’m an attorney but I am also a practicing broker so I know my local real estate market well.  We are in tough times, my friends, and many, many homes in Westchester are worth 30%, 40%, even 50% of what they were worth a short two years ago.  Pundits say we have hit bottom but I don’t see it.  Now, that does not mean you should give up the possibility of selling your home but you need to adjust to this tectonic shift because real estate is no longer terra firma.

Her are my Top Tips to Selling in a Buyer’s Market:

1.  Align with a great broker not necessarily someone who sent you a postcard or who has a big name behind them or who was your kid’s cubscout den mother.  Do your homework and make sure the broker knows the market and knows how to market – two different things but equally as important.

2.  Be realistic in your expectations.  A house is only worth what someone is willing to pay you for it and what a bank says it’s worth.  If you set your price too high it won’t work unless you catch the dream buyer in an all cash deal. Realistic pricing is the key to a successful sale. If you think your home is worth $2 million but a bank will only appraise it for $1.4 million, you will be sitting in your old home a long, long time.

3.  Staging is key.  A good broker may recommend a professional designer to “stage” your home and make it attractive to buyers.  An even better broker knows enough about home staging to make the suggestions herself.  Buyers want to see a clean home without bright colors on the walls.  This makes it difficult for you because you probably need to still live there while it’s on the market.  I get that but you need to get that no one wants to buy a mess or a headache!

4.  Your stuff is old and they want new.  Unless you’ve renovated a kitchen or bathroom in the last five years then they are old and buyers will generally walk away.  There is way too much “new” stuff on the market for them to undertake renovations in tough times.  They want turn-key solutions for an easy move.  I am not suggesting that you need to update your kitchen and bathrooms to make a sale but I am telling you that you will need to adjust your price accordingly.

5.  Photos sell homes or at least get traffic in the door.  A good broker will know her limitations when it comes to taking photos of

Graphic: Sujin Jettkasettakorn FreeDigitalPhotos.net

your house.  If she is a good photographer, she will take the best possible shots to highlight your home’s features and post them online.  If she is not that great with a camera, then a professional may be called in to take some killer shots.  Your online listing needs photos.  This is how buyers make their initial search for a property, online……so get with the program.

6.  Grieve those taxes.  Westchester County has extremely high property tax rates and many, many homes are over-assessed.  Don’t sit around waiting for a county-wide reassessment.  Do your homework and contact an attorney to see if you might be successful in a grievance procedure.  If there are two houses of equal square footage and same condition on the same street, one may pay lower taxes and the buyer will naturally be drawn to that property instead of yours.

7.  Timing is everything.  Serious buyers generally look for a new home between mid-February and late-September.  They would like to move in the spring and settle in before the kids go back to school and/or before the holidays arrive.  If your house has been on the market now for nearly seven months and you’ve lowered the price 2-3 times then you have exhausted your options.  Take it off the market and come back fresh in mid-February at a new price point when new buyers will see it as a fresh listing rather than a stale one that raises red flags.

Now go forth and sell but call me first!