The Wall Street Journal yesterday published this no-nonsense piece directed to today’s would-be home sellers in what is no doubt the worst market in at least 20 years.
The conservative Journal, which normally likes to find some topspin on even the most bearish stories, pulls no punches with this one. It is unequivocal, seeing no relief on the horizon.
“…don’t think this is just a momentary lull, a short slowdown before the market recovers and then takes off again. What you see today is the market you have, for now and, quite possibly, for a long time to come.”
Whew! That’s not far short of the gloomy view I projected just a few days ago in my last post on Redfin, Why I May Never Buy a House Again.
The WSJ piece lists seven points, some of the common “fix and clean up” variety. But I consider two of the points absolutely critical, which I’m summarizing and quoting from below:
3. PRICE IT CHEAPLY
…you must set your price below comparable nearby properties. Look at the asking prices of neighboring houses, and set your price to beat them. If prices in your area are generally down 20% from where they were at the bubble peak in 2005, then price your house 25% to 30% below its peak bubble value. Your area down 40%? Be prepared to take just half of what the house was worth three years ago.
7. TAKE THE OFFER.
If any qualified buyer comes in with a reasonable offer, be prepared to accept it. … Negotiate, of course, but recognize that the buyer has a lot more clout than you do. Your house, as wonderful as you think it is, is worth only as much as someone is willing to pay for it. And that, unfortunately, will probably be a lot less than you think.
Two other points stressed in the article are also, in this market, highly recommended:
4. HIRE A TOP REAL-ESTATE AGENT.
I never thought I’d say this, and it’s probably biting the hand that feeds me, but these are crushing times for selling a home. As the article says:
Ask … for the local real-estate office’s top salesperson. All offices have one or two sellers who greatly outperform their colleagues. That’s who you want.
6. PLAY THE BANKER.
If you have no mortgage you have to pay off, your strongest selling point might be your ability to finance all or a substantial part of a buyer’s purchase….Worst case? Your borrower defaults and you take the property back. And sell it again.
All great advice. And in the end, the Journal characteristically does find some lipstick on this pig:
“Hey, it could be worse,” writer David Crook opines. ”You could be selling a Hummer.”