Full-price offers or above are more likely to be accepted by the seller. But there are other considerations involved:
* Is the offer contingent upon anything, such as the sale of the buyer’s current house? If so, a low offer, even a full price offer, may not be as attractive as an offer without that condition.
* Is the offer made on the house as is, or does the buyer want the seller to make some repairs or lower the price instead?
* Is the offer all cash, meaning the buyer has waived the financing contingency? If so, then an offer at less than the asking price may be more attractive to the seller than a full-price offer with a financing contingency.
Market value is what price the house will bring at a given point in time. A comparative market analysis is an informal estimate of market value, based on sales of comparable properties, performed by a real estate agent or broker.
The first step is to lower the price. Also, go through the house and see if there are cosmetic defects that you missed and can be repaired.
Secondly, home sellers should make sure that the home is getting the exposure it deserves through open houses, broker open houses, advertising, good signage and a listing on the multiple listing service (MLS).
Another option is to pull the home off the market and wait for the market to improve.
Finally, frustrated sellers who have no equity and are forced to sell because of a divorce or financial considerations could discuss a short sale or a deed in lieu of a foreclosure with the mortgage lender.
A short sale is when the seller finds a buyer for a price that is below the mortgage amount and negotiates the difference with the lender.
In a deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure situation, the lender agrees to take the house back without instituting foreclosure proceedings. But these would be considered more radical options than lowering the price.
A comparative market analysis provides the background data on which to base your list-price decision. Study the comparable sales material presented to you by the different agents you interviewed initially. If the analyses are more than two or three months old, have your agent update the report for you.
If all agents agreed on a price range for your home, go with the consensus. Watch out for an agent whose opinion of value is considerably higher than the others.
* Sweep the sidewalk, mow the lawn, prune the bushes, weed the garden and clean debris from the yard.
* Clean the windows (both inside and out) and make sure the paint is not chipped or flaking. And speaking of paint, if your home was built before 1978, new federal law gives a buyer the right to request a lead inspection. If you think you might have some problems, do the inspection yourself beforehand and make any fixes you can.
* Be sure that the doorbell works.
* Clean and spruce up all rooms, furnishings, floors, walls and ceilings. It’s especially important that the bathroom and kitchen are spotless.
* Organize closets.
* Make sure the basic appliances and fixtures work. Get rid of leaky faucets and frayed cords.
* Make sure the house smells good: from an apple pie, cookies baking or spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove. Hide the kitty litter.
* Put vases of fresh flowers throughout the house.
* Having pleasant background music playing in the backgroun also will help set your stage.
Your real estate agent will be happy to provide a comparative market analysis, an informal estimate of value based on comparable sales in the neighborhood. You also can research “the comps” yourself by checking on recent sales in public records. Be sure that you are researching properties that are similar in size, construction and location.
This information is not only available at your local recorder’s or assessor’s office but also through private companies and on the Internet.
An appraisal, which generally costs $200 to $300 to perform, is a certified appraiser’s opinion of the value of a home at any given time. Appraisers review numerous factors including recent comparable sales, location, square footage and construction quality.
A seller may need to adjust the listing price if there have been no offers within the first few months of the property’s listing period.
The market slows down in late summer before picking up again briefly in the fall. November and December have traditionlly been slow months, although some astute buyers look for bargains during this period.
Home sellers should make sure that the home is getting the exposure it deserves through open houses, broker open houses, advertising, good signage and a listing on the local multiple listing service.
If the seller is using a real estate agent and the property isn’t getting proper exposure, find another agent.
For overall housing statistics, U.S. Housing Markets regularly publishes quarterly reports on home building and home buying. Your local builders association probably gets this report. If not, the housing research firm is located in Canton, Mich.; call (800) 755-6269 for information; the firm also maintains an Internet site. Finally, check with the U.S. Bureau of the Census in Washington, D.C.; (301) 495-4700. The census bureau also maintains a site on the Internet. The Chicago Title company also has published a pamphlet, “Who’s Buying Homes in America.” Write Chicago Title and Trust Family of Title Insurers, 171 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60601-3294.
The sales price is the amount of money you as a buyer would pay for a property.
The appraisal value is a certified appraiser’s estimate of the worth of a property, and is based on comparable sales, the condition of the property and numerous other factors.