There is more on the market now that (perhaps) ever before. So the question sellers are asking is, “how do we make our home stand out from the competition?”
Between 1 June and 1 August 2004, 117 homes (no condos) were listed in the City of Charlottesville. 131 sold in in this 60-day period. More houses sold than were listed.
146 were listed in the same timeframe of 2007. 127 sold between 1 June 2007 and 1 August 2007. Fewer houses sold than were listed – certainly an indication of a Buyer’s Market, but things are selling.
The answer is simple yet requires work – on behalf of everybody. From a client whose house is not yet on the MLS:
How do you plan on showing the house to differentiate it from other houses on the market? We have been to the open houses of the (three other properties in our neighborhood).
I bring these up because I would buy a house based on impressions, and if I saw ~10 houses in one day I will remember 1 or 2 things about each. In the cases above, I wouldn’t remember good things. I do not really care what you do to our house, as long as it sells, but wonder what the plan is to get it remembered favorably.
1) Make your house stand out because of the price (make it more competitive than the rest).
2) Make your house spotless. Clean windows, baseboards, floors, corners, cabinets … everything.
3) If you don’t have a huge back yard, make it functional as it is. If you do have a huge back yard, offer your riding mower.
4) Make it sparkle. Do any and all reasonable (and some not-so-reasonable) repairs before it hits the market.
5) Remove any and all objections that you can before the house goes on the market. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
In short, sellers are having to do far more work than they have before, and buyers are demanding more. Buyers are asking for the moon right now; our job as listing agents and sellers is to get them to ask.
Update 31 August 2007: Greg writes a similarly-themed article today.