5 Tips For Selling Your Home in a Buyer’s Market

Xavier De Buck
Published on February 4, 2016

5 Tips For Selling Your Home in a Buyer’s Market

Are you currently selling your property?

You might be lucky enough to live in a seller’s market, such as London, New York, Hong Kong or even Camps Bay (Cape Town, South Africa), in which case you will have no problem whatsoever getting a great price for your property!

Unfortunately, there’s a very good chance that most of this article’s readers are finding themselves in a buyer’s market.

As you know, all markets are cyclical; whether we’re talking about used cars, financial markets, or the real estate market: each and every market goes through up and down cycles. Those cycles tend to be easy to detect after the fact, but aren’t as straightforward to pinpoint when they start or finish! Wouldn’t that make our lives so much easier?!

First things first: let’s start by defining what exactly a buyer’s market is? According to Investopedia, “A buyer’s market is a situation in which supply exceeds demand, giving the purchasers an advantage over sellers in price negotiations.”

In other words, with fewer buyers than sellers, those buyers are now spoilt for choice and this will without a doubt be reflected in the lower prices they’re going to pay!

So far, so good?

Will incorrectly-priced properties in the area take even longer to sell than normal? You betcha!

Do scenarios of multiple buyers making offers at the same time still happen? Of course, they do – just rather rarely!

Does this mean we will be seeing new record sold home prices in the area? I’m afraid not!

Homeowners who are still looking to sell in a buyer’s market actually do have a choice: sell at the current market price (which may or may not be lower than they’re expecting), or hold off until later, when real estate market conditions have improved. This assumes, of course, one can wait until then!

However, most people do not necessarily have the luxury to pick & choose when they want to sell. It can be a job promotion ‘with an offer you can’t refuse’ elsewhere in the country, a change in family situation, divorce, death, unforeseen financial pressure, sudden emigration plans etc.

Tip 1: Check out your competition!stuck in buyer's mrket

This is without a doubt the quickest way to find out whether going onto the market with your home will be at a price in line (or not) with the comparable neighboring properties for sale!

These are a few points to consider when going through this important exercise:

–           Which types of houses are currently on the market in your area? At which prices are they marketing their properties? How do they differ from yours to justify the price variation?

–           Get your hands on a list of most recent sales prices in your area. Some websites provide this information, or if you don’t feel comfortable using those data, why not ask your local real estate agent to help you out? Plus, it’ll be a nice way for you to get familiar with that particular agent’s services.

–           Why not get in your car, be a buyer in your own area, and spend a week(end) researching/looking at everything in the neighborhood? What is being presented to the current buyers out there? What a great way to get a true feel of what your home will be up against!

It should be clear by now that there’s some homework required before you list your house, especially when facing a buyer’s market! Don’t worry – there’s still plenty of time to make your home more presentable based on what you’ve picked up during your ‘neighborhood buyer research’ adventure!

Tip 2: Decide carefully on your choice of real estate agent!buyer's market in sell-outs

Whether you opt to work with a top real estate agent in Northcliff or prefer your own representative in selling your home, make sure you give the process of choosing the right real estate agent some extra thought. At the end of the day, you would like to sell your property for the highest price, in the shortest period of time, and with the least amount of inconvenience.

The days of the real estate agent putting up a ‘For Sale’ sign in your front yard, crossing his fingers he’ll get lots of phone calls, and selling it in 1-2-3 are over! Especially when selling in a buyer’s market, you’ll have to do way more to attract the right buyer!

As with most every day questions we have, I would suggest going to Google and search for the real estate agent’s name. It’ll become clear very quickly who you’re dealing with!

Is the agent casting a wide enough (online) net to reach as many interested buyers as possible? Does the agent have a dominant online presence across a number of the top social media platforms? After all, nowadays 90% of buyers start their home search online and if your agent cannot be found online, what kind of online exposure will your property ever get?!

On the other hand, imagine if you Google your real estate agent’s name and the agent is very active on social media, has written numerous blog articles about a variety of real estate topics, promotes property listing videos, or even has a complete neighborhood page, providing an enormous wealth of information to potential buyers! Bill Gassett, a top real estate agent from Massachussetts, has the perfect example of how a neighborhood page should look like and how it can be integrated with the presentation of a property listingWould that impress you as a homeseller to have this type of agent representation when selling your property?

The marketing of your home will be a reflection of the level of marketing of the real estate agent himself! If the agent clearly succeeds in the latter, there’s no doubt the former will be amazing as well!

When selling your home in a buyer’s market, it’s crucial to select the right real estate agent, as now, more than ever, will you want the agent to bring his expertise to the table! The guidance provided by the experienced agent will make a world’s difference in whether your home will sell quickly or whether it will linger on the market, waiting in the queue with all the other unsold properties.

Let’s avoid any unnecessary financial & emotional headaches by choosing the right real estate agent from the get-go!

Tip 3: Get your home ready to sell!

You only have one opportunity to make a first impression! That goes as well for putting your home on the market!

Would you like for your home to stand out from the crowd (in as positive way, that is)? It is therefore very important to make sure your home is presentable.

Is the involvement of a professional stager a must? Of course not! I’m not saying it wouldn’t help sell your home in a more timely fashion, but with some minimum DIY preparation, you would be amazed how much more presentable your home will be!

However, generally speaking, most home sellers might not be aware of what’s all needed in order to properly prepare one’s home for sale, and that’s yet another service which can be provided by your real estate agent. You might be ‘in a hurry’ to sell, but it will pay to hold off going onto the market until you’ve finished the preparation: quick fixes before selling always pay off!

Concentrate on getting the following list done:

–           Cleaning house: get those floors & carpets deep cleaned, clean all windows, do a thorough clean of the kitchen (lots of grease to be found!) and bathrooms (don’t forget showers!);

–           Declutter rooms: start putting all the collected clutter over the years in boxes and put it away in the garage, or even better, in storage;

–           Garden work: concentrate on your landscaping, make sure the lawns have been mowed, walk way/pavements have been sweeped, shrub been pruned and all debris has been removed;

–           Fixing stuff: this is where your DIY skills come in (or the local handyman’s), and you finally repair all the broken door handles/locks, leaky faucets, broken tiles, and clean grout;

–           Painting: you might be overdue for that fresh coat of paint on your entrance walls/door and ceilings;

–           Setting the stage: this is where the final touches happen of removing all pet-related items (toys, litter boxes, etc), re-arranging or removing excess furniture, use of scented candles in the rooms.

Once the above is taken care of, would it be fair to say that your home will be neat & tidy, and now be visually appealing to interested buyers? And I’m sure it didn’t break the bank in getting the house to ‘selling shape’!

Tip 4: Price your home correctly!

Price, price, price. It always comes down to price!

It shouldn’t be a big surprise to hear that when it comes to selling your home in a buyer’s market (especially then!), that correctly pricing your home from the beginning cannot be stressed enough!

It cannot be stressed enough! (just making sure you get this utmost important point)

There have been so many articles written about the topic of overpricing and its consequences, yet we hear from friends and family all the time how they’ve been struggling to sell their home for months. How often does one find out much farther down the line that the properties were overpriced from the start?

If you’re serious about selling your home and you’re looking to sell it as quickly as possible, you need to be realistic in pricing it from the beginning. Time is not on your side as a home seller, as the longer a property has been exposed to the market, the more questions arise as to why it hasn’t sold yet.

Is there any particular reason why this home is still on the market? How long has this property been for sale? And it’s still not sold? What’s wrong with it? The sellers must be desperate at this point, so do you think we ought to try to put in a low offer?

Unfortunately, these are very frequently-occurring questions real estate agents get from interested buyers when looking at overpriced properties!

Today’s buyers are very well informed. There are plethora of property data online to be found, which they use to base their decisions on. It’s not unusual for an interested buyer to have visited every single property for sale in Northcliff, and being able to immediate tell whether a property is overpriced. Good luck trying to convince them otherwise!

One cannot deny it does take some discipline to abide by the real estate agent’s pricing advice, as well as humility (the ego and emotional attachment can get in the way as well) to accept the fact that your house might not worth as much as you had hoped for, or that the neighbors with a ‘lesser house’ got more money for their house only a year ago!

Welcome to a buyer’s market!

Bottom line: Set the price at what you can get, not what you think it’s worth! Whereas you can try to ask 10% more than you expect in a seller’s market and see what happens, you do not have that luxury when selling your home in a buyer’s market!

Price your property realistically and you get to sell it in a timely fashion! Don’t get suckered in trying to test the buyer’s market by overpricing your property!

Tip 5: Be flexible!don't make us beg

Besides your property’s location, price and its conditions, it pays to be flexible in a buyer’s market.

Most homeowners in today’s market find themselves in unchartered waters. After all, they more than likely bought on average 10 years ago when the real estate market went up, up, and away!

Today’s buyers are in possession of some powerful data on what’s happening in your local area. They know which houses have been on the market for how long, and how many price reductions there have been. Buyers now know they can get away by offering less than asking price!

Whichever offers get presented, as a home seller in a buyer’s market, one will need to be a bit more patient and flexible when it comes to negotiating price and counteroffers.

Will you get your full asking price? Very likely not. Yet, why not try to see how high the buyer is willing to go?

Let them argue as to why they’re only willing to offer such an amount. If your home has been properly prepared as suggested earlier in this article, the chances are good you’ll have most negatives covered already!

Closing thoughts

When selling your home in a buyer’s market, the unfortunate reality is that buyers will be paying less than what you think your property is worth.

Incorrectly-priced properties will take longer than normal to sell. Situations of multiple offers on a house are unlikely something you’ll see in a buyer’s market.

If I can’t get that house for my price XY, no worries – I’ll just try that other house for YZ. Someone will take my low-ball offer!

Buyers are truly spoilt for choice with so many houses on the market, and the lower level of their offers will reflect exactly that!

In the end, the homeowner is the one making the call how aggressively (or not) to price his property.

If he decides to go against the advice given above by his real estate agent, hopefully reality will catch up with him very quickly, or his house will be on the market for a long time.

And when it does sell, it’ll unfortunately be at a price below where he could have sold it all those weeks/months ago when he started the whole marketing process!

Let’s hope the homeowner makes the right call!

Other Helpful Home Selling Resources:

Please use the above tips when selling your home in a buyer’s market! Who knows, it might result in, not only in saving you thousands, but also avoid unnecessary emotional drama!

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About the author: The above article “5 Tips For Selling Your Home in a Buyer’s Market was written by Xavier De Buck, your top-producing Johannesburg real estate agent. Xavier has been nationally recognized and awarded for providing service excellence, exceptional property sales, whilst exhibiting the highest level of professionalism. With over 15 years combined experience as a real estate agent and real estate investor, if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in Johannesburg, Xavier would love to share his property knowledge and expertise.

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