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How To Sell Your Home In a Down Economy

Updated on July 8, 2011

How To Sell Your Home In A Down Economy

Do you need help selling your home in these challenging economic conditions? Here are five proven tips, endorsed by seasoned real estate agents, to sell your home faster and with a higher selling price.

The real estate headlines are scary! Real estate sales are down, home prices continue to drop, housing inventory is up and buyers are faced with new challenges when attempting to get a mortgage. This is the U.S. real estate market in a down economy.

What is a seller to do?

I recently caught up with Megan Tolland, a seasoned Realtor with Century 21 in Massachusetts. Megan has been selling real estate for more than 15 years and has won numerous Top Sales awards in her division. In addition, she holds GRI and ABR real estate selling accreditation.

Megan shared her five proven tips to selling your home in a down economy. The home selling process starts by choosing the right Realtor, then creating an effective Real Estate Marketing Plan. Your home must be prepped to sell then priced correctly. And, your selling team must be aggressive and follow-up on all leads. Read on for more details.

How to Sell Your Home
How to Sell Your Home

1) It Starts With a Great Realtor

In this market, working with a top-notch realtor is critical.

First, your realtor should be very familiar with your market. They should know what’s selling and what’s not. The neighborhood profiles, the school systems and the comparable properties in your area,

Second, your realtor should be busy, but not too busy. Interview your agent and check their references to determine how many houses they’ve sold over the past year (often referred to as transactions). Also find out how many other sellers they are currently representing. Ideally you want to find a successful agent and someone who has time for you and can be very responsive to your needs.

Last, you are going to be spending a lot of time with your realtor so finding someone you click with is important.

Before choosing your Realtor, you should ask for references and endorsements from other sellers who have recently worked with the agent under consideration.

2) Add a Very Strong Real Estate Marketing Plan

Real Estate marketing is the tool to get buyers and other realtors to want to come see your home for sale. This is what drives the traffic to your open house and/or your website listing.

The real estate marketing plan is usually built and managed by your Real Estate Agent. When you meet with your agent, ask questions and familiarize yourself with this plan.

In the past, posting newspaper ads were an important step in selling your home, but today the Internet rules. Your property should be visible on a number of different websites such as and the specific website for your real estate company, ex. Many top realtors have their own personal website as well.

Larger firms like Century 21 also help drive traffic to your website listings through radio advertising and real estate and/or local magazine advertisements.

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3) Prepare Your Home For Sale

Before your home is listed, your Realtor should complete a walk through of your property and provide suggestions for updates or changes to best prepare your home for sale. There are many things that can “turn off” prospective buyers.. and you want to make sure that buyers are engaged and interested, not turned off.

Much of the prep work for your house is very low cost or no cost, which is a plus in this challenging economy. And these small changes could make a big difference in the time it takes to sell your home and the selling price.

The outside of your home is the first thing that prospective buyers will see so “curb appeal” is very important. The lawn should be cut, the shrubs should be pruned and landscaping should be maintained including laying fresh mulch. Any loose bricks or loose handrails should be repaired. All outside lights should have fresh working bulbs and consider adding a new “welcome mat” by the front door. Freshly planted, seasonal flowers are also a nice touch.

For the property’s interior, make the small investment in a fresh coat of paint, ideally in neutral colors for all your rooms. Your home should look and smell fresh and clean (pet and smoke odors neutralized) and your carpets should be professionally cleaned. All rooms should be well lit.

You want to make the available interior spaces look as large as possible. Remove furniture from crowded rooms and remove clothing from closets to showcase some empty storage space. Your counter tops in your kitchen and bathroom should be cleared off with appliances tucked neatly away.

If you are not design inclined, you may want to consider hiring a Staging company to help you. A professional stager will help to decorate your home, rearrange your existing furniture and/or bring in some new rental furniture to make your home look more attractive to prospective buyers,

The website provides a detailed list of the top ten reasons you should stage a home. The top two reasons listed are that you will make more money on the sale and sell your house faster. They report that the U.S. Housing and Urban Development council has found that a staged home will sell, on average, 17% higher than an un-staged home. The website also reports that sellers who typically spent $500 on staging services for their home, recovered over 300% of the cost when they sold their home. recently published more information and statistics about 2008 home investments and the expected return when selling your home. This home investment article can be accessed here.

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4) Price It Right

Your Realtor should help you price your house to sell. There are three key considerations: active listings, pending listings and recent sales- for comparable homes, often called “comps”.

Although prices on recent sales are important, those deals were likely negotiated two to three months prior to the closing and our economic conditions change monthly- even weekly. So, the selling prices are important, but may need to be adjusted to reflect current market conditions.

Pending listings are the most recent deals, but the selling information is not always public. If your Realtor can access this data, even informally, it’s helpful in price setting.

The Active Listings are your main competition. Home buyers are likely looking at these homes and yours, so you and your Realtor should too. Know your enemy!

In a down market, Megan Tolland recommends that you price your house aggressively.

5) Follow Up On All Leads

There is a lot of real estate inventory available, so in addition to the marketing plan to drive traffic, you need a plan to follow-up on traffic. In most cases your Realtor handles the follow-up activities.

These should include telephone calls or emails to prospective home buyers who have visited your property, reaching out to other agents who are working with clients whose interests may match what you are selling and following up with website visitors who have viewed your online listing or advertisements.

In closing………….

If you follow these five Realtor secrets, you will significantly increase the likelihood of selling your home in this down economy.

It’s important that once you have an accepted offer, your Real Estate Agent nurtures the deal until it reaches the closing, which is the most important day in your home sale.

Your dream buyer is pre-approved for a mortgage, doesn’t need to sell any existing property and lives or works locally. This makes the entire process that much easier.

Megan Tolland, Century 21
Megan Tolland, Century 21

Selling or Buying Real Estate In Massachusetts?

If you are considering selling your home or buying property in Massachusetts and would like to consult with an experienced Realtor, please contact Megan Tolland, an Award Winning Realtor with Century 21 in Framingham, Massachusetts. Her website can be accessed via this link:

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    • Vladimir Molotkof profile image

      Vladimir Molotkof 6 years ago from Mid West

      Man, it can be so hard to sell a home in this economy. If you worked with a custom home builder, you might have a higher chance to sell it offers because you don't have a run of the mill home. Sometimes, selling a home comes down to a lot of luck.

    • profile image 7 years ago

      The goals of most sellers are the same regardless of whether or not they list with a real estate professional. They want a quick sale with the highest possible price and the least hassle. For all houses for sale by owner it is imperative to have the right things in the advertisement so that they are able to attract the right kind and the highest amount of buyers. There are great tips from mahopac homes that can help and guide you.

    • profile image

      JG 7 years ago

      I already know these tips. Was hoping that there would be something else to help. :-(

    • Reynolds_Writing profile image

      Reynolds_Writing 9 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks Gregg.. I hope the real estate market picks up over the Summer- and that these tips help you.

    • profile image

      gregg2333 9 years ago

      Good info. I'll use it when I try to sell my house over the summer.

    • profile image

      blondie2345 9 years ago

      This is a great written summary of tips for home sellers. In this down economy we need all the help we can get.

    • profile image

      realtorintampa 9 years ago

      I am a realtor and endorse these tips. Well written

    • profile image

      terrysarkle 9 years ago

      Good tips. I plan to sell my home in the summer and this information is very helpful