Saturday, April 28, 2007

Fix it, don't gimmick it

Some sellers get sidetracked in their effort to attract buyers, especially in a market that no longer decidedly favors sellers. For instance, some sellers think the best way to attract buyers to their home is to offer an incentive to the buyer's real estate agent, such as a trip somewhere at closing. Although, an agent perk might result in a showing or two, it's unlikely to affect a buyer's decision to buy.
It would make more sense to provide an incentive to buyers. That is, if incentives work. However, the promise of a free trip stands little chance of convincing today's value-conscious buyers that they should buy your home. When builders have trouble moving a new product, they offer meaningful incentives, such as upgraded finishes or landscaping, which actually add value to the property.
Don't offer gimmicks; instead, correct defects -- cosmetic and structural -- and price the property right. The biggest incentive you can give a buyer is a well-prepared home that's listed for a realistic price. The listings that are selling in today's market are priced right for the market, they look good and there's no doubt in anyone's mind that the property is available.
Selecting a listing agent who understands how to sell homes like yours in this market is one of the keys to distinguishing your listing from the others. A good agent will speak candidly with you about the probable selling price of your home. An experienced agent will also be able to advise you about what work is worthwhile to do to your home prior to marketing.
Before you even begin preparing your home for sale, it's a good idea to consult with your agent to make sure that the improvements you have in mind are worthwhile. Good agents are in tune with home-buyer preferences such as paint colors, lighting fixtures and floor coverings. Your agent can put you in touch with home stagers and designers who can help you select the right colors and floors.
Good merchandising is critical to a successful home sale, particularly when there are many listings on the market. Before you sign a listing, make sure that your agent will provide you a marketing campaign that will attract as many buyers as possible to your home.
Exposure is essential. You want an agent who will provide your home with extensive exposure to the local and broader markets, and who will also pay close attention to the quality of exposure your home receives.
HOME SELLER TIP: Internet advertising has revolutionized the way the residential real estate is sold. So, it's important that your agent's marketing plan include broad internet exposure. At a minimum, your home should be listed, with photos, on, the largest residential real estate Web site.
Recent studies show that 80 percent of home buyers use the Internet during the course of their home purchase. Studies also show that buyers reject a listing if it doesn't have photos because they think there must be something wrong with it.
Not only do you need photos of your home on the Internet, but they need to be good photos. Home buyers who have limited time screen the inventory of homes for sale online and eliminate listings based on the photos. Make sure that your agent provides good-quality photos of your property.
Avoid the temptation to oversell your property. A buyer who was recently looking for a luxury home complained that the photos of many listings she'd seen were so good that she was often disappointed when she saw the properties in person.
- Dian Hymer
- from my monthly Newsletter - Jack McSweeney

Monday, April 23, 2007

CPI update

Fueled by surging energy prices, the closely watched Consumer Price Index (CPI) shot up 0.6% in March, the biggest increase since a similar rise in April 2006. However, core inflation -- which excludes volatile energy and food prices -- rose 0.1% in March, the smallest increase in three months, and better than the 0.2% rise Wall Street had expected. Inflation for the first quarter of 2007 was 4.7%, far above the 2.5% increase for all of 2006.

The Conference Board said its Index of Leading Economic Indicators climbed a tepid 0.1% to 137.4 in March, as analysts had expected. The latest reading reverses two straight months of declines. The index is designed to forecast economic activity over the next three to six months.
Retail sales rose 0.7% in March, up from a 0.5% gain in February. It was the best showing since a 1.1% rise in December, the Commerce Department reported April 16. Analysts had predicted a 0.8% increase.

Construction of new homes edged up 0.8% in March, the second straight monthly rise, the Commerce Department reported April 17. Applications for new building permits also rose by 0.8% in March, the first advance in three months, providing a glimmer of hope that the worst of the housing downturn might be over.

For the week ending April 19, interest rates on 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages declined, remaining well below year-ago levels, Freddie Mac said April 19.