If you need to sell your home, but it has lost value since you first bought it, you’re facing a pricing puzzle. But before deciding on a fair price that may be below what you really want, consider the costs of not selling by asking more. If your home sits on the market, waiting for a higher offer, you’ve got to figure the costs of continuing your monthly mortgage payments, utilities, maintenance and insurance. Compare the asking prices of similar homes to the actual sales prices, often determined more by the lenders than the buyers. If you’re asking more than your home’s current value, the required appraisal will show that, and the lender won’t approve the buyer’s loan, leaving you back at Square One. Walk in the buyer’s shoes and do your homework. Go ahead and tour similar homes listed in your area. Compare their price per square foot and see how yours stacks up against the competition in terms of value. This should help you arrive at an aggressive asking price that will hopefully be your sale price. Local inventory determines your price, too. Divide 1 by the number of months of inventory (ask your agent for this number to determine the local “absorption rate”). 8 months of inventory yields a 12.5 % likelihood of selling, so speak with your agent and price accordingly.
If you’re in the market to buy a home, take a counter-intuitive tip and imagine the day you’ll be selling it. That’s right - whether you’re a first time buyer, or relocating, this home probably won’t be your last, so look for features that will pay off when the day comes to move again. North, South, East or West, the biggest amenity the next buyer will look for is central air conditioning. In the Deep South, over 90% of buyers rank central air as critically important, and three-quarters of buyers everywhere else put it high on the list. Another often-overlooked feature is storage. Over half of buyers desire a two-car garage and walk-in closet for the master bedroom. Ample closets and storage space just can’t be stressed enough. If at all possible, avoid costly upgrades and offer incentive down the road by purchasing an energy efficient home with newer windows, pervasive insulation and Energy Star appliances. If the home is already wired for cable, satellite and high-speed Internet, makes it so much better. Finally, it’s all about location, location, location. It’s the one thing you can’t change about the home you buy, so look for good schools (even if you don’t have children) and proximity to shopping and recreation. Just ask your agent about the most popular features in your area and take heed!