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What you should do if your home isn't selling

There are more homes on the market this spring than there were last year at this time. Some homes are taking longer to sell and price reductions are more common. If you're having trouble selling, what should you do?

Be realistic about the time frame. If your home has only been on the market for a few weeks without offers, don't panic. But do be in touch with your agent. Find out if market conditions have changed. If a lot of listings like your home have come on the market recently, it will probably take longer for you to sell than it would have if you were the only game in town.

Get feedback from your agent about buyers' reactions to your home. Your agent should call agents who showed your home to find out why their buyers didn't make an offer. What did they object to about your home? If they bought another listing, find out which one.

Ask your agent for a list of all the homes like yours that are currently on the market and also those that recently sold. For each listing that sold, find out how close the sale price was to the list price? Did the seller's discount their price to get their home sold? How long did it take to sell? Are there other listings similar to yours that are priced more competitively? Examining comparable listing and sale information will help you to determine if you need to adjust your price in order to facilitate the sale.

FIRST-TIME SELLER TIP: Sellers often wonder how long they should wait before making a price reduction. The time frame will differ depending on current market conditions in your area and on how well priced your home was to begin with. Pricing homes is not an exact science; there is a bit of guesswork involved. If you guessed wrong about the list price of your home, and the feedback is that your home is priced too high for the market, you should adjust the price right away.

Some sellers object to reducing the price of their home too soon after it's offered for sale. Keep in mind that homes are most salable when they're new on the market. This is when they usually receive the most showing activity.

Recently Oakland home sellers effectively reduced their list price early in the marketing effort. They listed their home at what they thought was an attractive price. But the inventory of homes for sale swelled just as this listing came on the market so buyers had plenty to choose from. The home in question was cute but it had a couple of defects. It was located on a busy street and had a sizable termite bill. Although there were lots of showings, no offers were made. The sellers decided to reduce the price to undercut the competition. Their home sold quickly for more than the new reduced price.

Price is not the only factor. You may need to revamp your marketing program. If you've refused to have a public open house or a For Sale sign, reconsider. These two marketing tools have worked effectively to sell homes for decades. Prospective home buyers drive neighborhoods where they want to live. A sign in front of a home that's for sale is one of the best forms of advertising. It also lets neighbors know that your home is for sale. Neighbors often have friends who want to move into the area.

THE CLOSING: It's not uncommon for buyers to find the home they buy at a Sunday open house.

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