Five Creative Tactics to Sell Your Home

Sellers are resorting to creative tactics to stage, enhance curb appeal, and sell their homes. These tips may surprise you.

Roberta Murphy's realty office was having an impossible time selling a breathtaking five-bedroom, five-bath Mediterranean in Encinitas, Calif. Despite sweeping vistas of the Pacific, not to mention a guest suite, five fireplaces and over 5,000 square feet of living space, no buyer was prepared to pony up the $2 million asking price.

That is, until the seller decided to toss in a shiny red Ferrari.

"In the current housing market, home sellers are resorting to more creative sales tactics because buyers are sitting on the fence," Murphy says.

As an agent with Villa Sotheby's International Realty in San Diego, Murphy has witnessed a rise in creative tactics sellers are employing to attract buyers. But not everyone can afford to toss in a sports car, trip to Hawaii or fancy furniture. Sellers desperate to unload slow movers should re-evaluate their listing price and consider these strategies.

1. Upgrade

"When you have a glut of inventory, your house really has to shine above the competition," says Adam Kaufman, a Cleveland-based agent with over $400 million in real estate sales. Buyers in today's market know they can be very particular. As a seller, Kaufman explains, you have to make a stellar first impression.

Kaufman strongly advises that sellers replace dated carpeting, strip wallpaper, install granite countertops and upgrade to stainless steel appliances.

"If a buyer walks through the front door and is dissatisfied in any way, he or she is off to the next house," Kaufman warns.

2. Stage That Home

"Sellers need to understand that the way we live in our home is not the way we sell our home," says Karen Hirschberg, a home stager in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

When Hirschberg is called in to help sell a house, she tells her clients to emulate a model home. With a model home, she says, everything from the landscaping to the interior is picture perfect and designed to attract the widest pool of buyers.

The first step in any home-staging is a thorough de-cluttering. Sellers should purge the house of all personal belongings, family photos and countertop appliances. Furniture should be rearranged so as to make the room appear larger. "Space sells," she says.

If the family has already moved -- and taken the furniture with them -- Hirschberg suggests calling in a stager to furnish the home. "People have trouble connecting with an empty house," she says.

3. Curb Appeal

"People make assumptions about the interior of a house based on the exterior," Hirschberg says.

Try these easy strategies for enhanced curb appeal:
  • Power wash the house
  • Lay a fresh cover of mulch in the flower beds
  • Paint the front door
  • Replace the address numbers

4. Ancient Chinese Secret

"Feng shui is something that sellers are beginning to appreciate more and more as a technique to sell their home. Especially within the Asian community," says Beverly Hills-based agent Joyce Rey.

If a house isn't selling, some believe the fault lies in a shortage of Qi (chee), or energy flow. Bringing in a feng shui expert to evaluate the home and make modifications to the placement and arrangement of items within is said to improve the odds of a speedy sale.

5. Going, Going, Gone

"Home auctions were all but nonexistent a few years ago, but they are more widely available now," says Roberta Murphy.

While a house auction is indeed a reliable way to sell a house quickly, there is no guarantee the seller will be pleased with the price. Also, warns Murphy, buyers are subject to home auction fees that can be as high as 8 percent of the sale price. And limited disclosure statements can be potentially disastrous.

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