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For Sale by Owner Articles • Owners.com - Home Selling Tips

Selling In Winter

By Robert Irwin
 
If you're in the process of selling your home "by owner" in mid-winter, you've undoubtedly been told that it's a hard sell. It's true that most buyers wait until spring before beginning their home search. And that means that there are fewer buyers out there. Nevertheless, you can successfully sell your property, if you're willing to adjust your sales plan to this time of year.
For example, in mid-winter there are generally two kinds of buyers out there. On the one hand there are the bottom fishers. These are investors who are out looking to "steal" your home from you. They make low-ball offers in the hope that a desperate seller, short of options because of the time of year, will agree to a quick sale at a depressed price. Obviously you don't want to sell under those conditions.
The other type of buyer is much like you. For one reason or another, these buyers need a home, now. They're out looking and if they find what they want, at a reasonable price, they'll buy. This is the good buyer you want to attract, but how?
KNOW YOUR BUYER
As a "by owner" seller you're going to need to get the word out about your home. This should begin with an online listing where you can tell potential buyers all about your property's features including showing images of it. (Check out the listing services of Owners.com.)
Next, you need to drive buyers to your web address and this usually takes the form of small ads in local newspapers as well as flyers, brochures, word-of-mouth, even 4x5 cards in the local grocery store. It's here that you need to aim your advertising to the good buyers you're most likely to find.
For example, in mid-winter there are fewer buyers with kids. The reason is simple; the children are in school. Most buyers with families wait until late spring and summer when the kids are out of school to move. That means that your most likely good buyer is either going to be a mature couple - empty nesters looking to downsize or move sideways - OR, first time buyers - young couples without families.
Mature buyers tend to look for smaller homes, particularly those on a single level. If you have this, then by all means let it be known in your ads.
First time buyers typically have difficulty buying because of the high cost of housing. They're attracted to price reductions and even more so to owners who are willing to carry back some of the financing. If you can offer a buyer a second mortgage for some of the down payment, don't keep it a secret. It could be the key to securing a qualified but cash short first-time buyer this time of year.
CREATE A WINTER HAVEN
This is particularly the case in the northern tier of states where snow is rule. While everyone else simply cleans off their driveway, make an effort to clear your front yard, so buyers can see what you have to offer. Keep your lights on, inside and out to make your home cheerier. Keep the thermostat up (now's not the time to save on gas/oil). Keep a pot of aromatic hot cider going on the stove. And be sure you purchase some winter-blooming flowers in pots to put around the inside entrance of your home to suggest spring.
TIP
Use such words as "toasty," "warm" and "cozy" in your ads. And be sure to mention an efficient furnace or fireplace.
 
Robert Irwin is the most prolific real estate writer in America having produced over 100 published books in the field. His TIPS & TRAPS McGraw-Hill series has sold well over a million copies and his FOR SALE BY OWNER KIT and FIND IT, BUY IT, FIX IT and other books have been strong sellers for Dearborn.
In addition Irwin writes a regular real estate column for The Wall Street Journal online and is introducing a new weekly column forOwners.com.
Irwin has sold his own property "by owner" and during over 30 years in the business has been a broker and consultant to lenders, agents, buyers and sellers.
He can be reached through his website RobertIrwin.com.

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