Why Most Sellers Shouldn’t Panic

Trying to get across a "Don’t Panic" message in a 4 1/2 minute segment on the Today Show yesterday was quite a challenge.  Since I’m fortunate enough to have the medium of this blog to elucidate, here are some additional tips, advice and comments that I would have made if I had an hour 😀 And of course, much of this applies to those homeowners across the country who have the misfortune of living in a declining market.

  • If you don’t have to move, just chill-I wanted to be clearer about the fact that sellers who have no intention of moving for years but painstakingly compare their home value to peak value are creating unnecessary anxiety.
  • NO NATIONAL HOUSING MARKETAlthough I briefly mentioned the hyper-local nature of housing markets, I really want to drive home that what is happening to home values in Vegas has almost nothing to do with values in Phoenix (I say almost because you can’t ignore that credit defaults and tightening lending standards that have an effect on all markets; some more than others).  Manhattan for example is a perfect example of multiple micro-markets all rolled into one as even certain neighborhoods are outperforming others.
  • NAR Stats and Statements-I hope that I was clear in stating that it’s way too soon to tell if a 3% uptick in sales volume from January to February  means anything.
  • Property Values Across the Country-Only the Baltimore home example from yesterday actually lost money because the owners sold.  The other 2 owners purchased their properties some time ago, have seen very impressive gains, and would have a long way to go before those gains vanished.
  • Moving or Staying Put-The bad news comes to the investors or speculators who purchased at the peak of the market for the quick flip. They either have to sell and take a loss or change their plans and hold the property until it recovers and that could be years.
  • Other Options for "Peak" Purchasers
    1. Investigate the success of auctions in your area as sometimes the auction atmosphere elicits the best price for a home.
    2. Rent the property.
    3. Sell at a loss or lesser profit depending on your current market conditions.
    4. Or stay put.

Here’s a bit more insight on the tips I provided if you decide to stay to increase a home’s value (Obviously it is a difficult decision to pour more money into a home that you feel is decreasing in value so these aren’t things I would do unless I was planning on being in the home for a 5 or more year time frame):

  • Add a room– maybe convert half of your garage to living space, create a small den or solarium. More space usually means more money.
  • Update or replace kitchen and baths-the thought of renovations are overwhelming to many buyers and old kitchens and baths give buyers leverage when negotiating the purchase price.
  • Landscape-beautifying the exterior of a home to increase it’s curb appeal. It’s the first impression a prospective purchaser has of your home and doesn’t have to be expensive.

And if you MUST sell these are less expensive ways to help your home stand out regardless of market conditions:

  • De-clutter-remove as much of the clutter from your home as possible including most or all of the family photos, clean book cases, and make sure as much of your floor shows as possible. Less clutter means more money.
  • Replace or remove old carpeting-nothing screams "renovation " to a buyer like old, worn out carpeting. Have it professionally cleaned, replace it or remove it altogether if you have nice floors beneath it.
  • Stage-either hire someone or visit some of the model homes in your area to see how they are being presented. Use this as your goal with the understanding that you likely don’t have the budget of a builder but if you make every effort to go for a clean, crisp look it will likely be better than what you have now.

Now how was I supposed to say all of that in 4 minutes?

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