Selling your home is one of the most challenging and unpredictable transactions you may ever make in your life. House sales can seem exciting and lucrative when homes are moving fast, but when the market is slow, homeowner anxiety may abound.

Fortunately, you can take many steps to prepare yourself and your home for a quick sale, even in the slowest of markets. Just because you see other properties stay on the market for long periods of time does not mean your sale will be slow too.

Before we get into the actionable steps to sell your home, we will talk about the two general types of real estate markets: a seller’s market (fast) and a buyer’s market (slow).

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Seller’s Market: A Fast Market

A seller’s market is one that favors the seller. A homeowner who wants to sell typically looks at a seller’s market as a good thing (although we will explain how a seller can benefit in a slow market too).

Fast markets in real estate are characterized by an abundance of people who want to buy a property but few properties for sale. In these markets, buyers are less picky and can quickly make an offer, so it is naturally easier to sell in these markets quickly.

Buyer’s Market: A Slow Market

A buyer’s market, or a slow market, favors the buyer. In real estate, a slow market happens when there are many homes available, and few people competing to buy them.

On the face of it, a slow market may seem like a bad time to sell your home. In reality, though, it is only a bad time for the unprepared and unmotivated to sell their homes. Slow markets present opportunities for those willing to put in the extra effort to make the sale.

When you pay attention to the details, your home becomes a product with unique selling points. Here are some questions to contemplate when you are planning to sell:

  • What is special about your location?
  • What do you not like about your home that could be attractive to others? For example, maybe you hate not being able to park on the street in the wintertime due to snow route restrictions, but the upside to this situation is that your home is on a plow route.
  • If there are other similar homes on the market, in what ways is yours different?

We are asking the above questions to get you thinking about the marketing of your home. When the market is slow, you need all the marketing advantages to funnel buyers to your front door.

A slow housing market means that buyers can be picky. When this is the case, it is not enough to assume your home will sell itself: it will be up to you and the professionals you hire to show buyers why your home is something about which to get excited.

Now that we have discussed some real estate basics, we will discuss specific steps to help you sell your house fast in a slow market.

picture of an excited male real estate agent that will sell your house with a negotiated discount on commissions

Step 1: Make Necessary Repairs and Improvements Before Listing


Picky buyers are likely to find problems with your home that you may not have even considered problems. However, if your home has maintenance concerns that you are aware of, these need to be addressed before listing if you want to sell fast.

With all of the real estate marketing options online nowadays, people will already know your home from pictures and Google Street View before they walk through the door. If problems are apparent from the online listing, you may not see the foot traffic needed for a fast sale.

If you are aware of any repairs needed to your home, try to complete as many as possible before listing. Do not give a potential buyer reason to offer low or ask for complicated conditions of sale.

Do not undertake repairs that will not bring in more value than they will cost to complete, but do improve obvious areas. For example, a new kitchen faucet to replace the old leaking one will dramatically improve your home’s appeal during a walkthrough.

Even if you are not planning on listing immediately but think you may be selling soon, starting on these repairs now can prepare you for the listing while spreading out the cost.

Step 2: Maximize Curb Appeal


Emotions play a large role in real estate transactions, especially for primary residences. The key to a quick sale is to make potential buyers fall in love with your home.

First impressions start with the exterior of your home and how it presents itself. If you are short on funds to complete basic repairs, this is a key area to focus your resources.

It likely won’t make financial sense to undergo major landscaping efforts before listing your home, but you should make the most of what you have. Keep the lawn neat, the paint touched up, and the property neat and tidy.

Step 3: Stage Your House to Sell


Staging a home is an art, and when done properly, staging will create positive feelings in people who view your listing and your home.

While you may have decorated your home to your own unique tastes, staging your home to sell means getting it ready to sell in such a way that it allows prospective buyers to picture themselves as the resident. Neutral tones and furniture that show off your home’s positive features are key.

As part of the staging process, you should be decluttering and organizing your space. Less clutter gives the impression of more space, and less clutter also means that you will be able to move out quicker (which is advantageous in a quick sale).

picture of an excited female real estate agent that will sell your house with a negotiated discount on commission

Step 4: Price Your House Correctly


An appropriate price for your house will make a big difference in both the speed at which your home sells and also the amount you will receive. It is very difficult to pinpoint your home’s exact value it will sell for, but a professional can make a very accurate analysis, much more accurate than a home value estimator website.

Sellers are quick to overvalue their homes, which can be detrimental to selling quickly and at a good price. If you ask for too much in a slow market, potential buyers will not show interest.

Instead, an appropriate price that is even slightly lower than comparable homes can increase interest in your house, which can help it sell faster. If your house is priced correctly, you will see more reasonable offers than if you list unreasonably high. A pricing strategy is critical for selling your house fast in a slow market.

Step 5: Offer Home Buyer Incentives


Homebuyer incentives are available to many homebuyers in the form of tax relief, which is available from various levels of government. First-time homebuyers are especially likely to find these incentives.

If you want to sell your house fast when the market is slow, you can take a page out of the government’s book and offer your own incentives. For example, perhaps you can offer $2000 in repairs, which the buyer gets to specify with the sale of your home.

Offering any buyer’s incentive will likely require you to spend money as part of the sale of your home. But if you are looking to sell fast and a small reward for a quick sale gets you a good offer quickly, it can be well worth the expense.

Here are some ideas for homebuyer incentives that you, the seller, can offer to attract buyers:

  • A home warranty on specific defects, which you can specify depending on your situation.
  • Closing cost assistance, where you offer to help the buyer with buyer’s costs associated with closing the deal.
  • Offer to make improvements specific to the buyer’s requests. This approach allows you to save money on repairs upfront and then use that saved money for repairs your buyer requests.

All of these ideas can help your home attract more buyers, even in very slow markets.

Step 6: Hire a Professional Photographer


Potential buyers are going to shop for your home online. Most if not all of your walkthroughs will be preceded by a detailed examination of your home’s online listing.

To generate foot traffic and interest in your home, the online listing is essential. Like staging, a competent real estate photographer can create the positive feelings you want your potential buyers to feel when viewing your listing.

You can take the pictures yourself, but a professional photographer will be worth the expense if all you have to work with is your cell phone camera and amateur photography skills. To really showcase your home, the right cameras is a must for real estate photographs and you should even consider real estate drone photos.

Step 7: Hire a Successful Real Estate Agent


Your real estate agent will be your biggest ally or largest liability in the sale of your home. The real estate agent will have more contact with your potential buyers than you will, and it is their reputation and approach to customer service that will influence your home’s sale.

In a fast market where homes are selling quickly due to high demand, your choice of a real estate agent may not be as important. In a slow market, though, you need to select a real estate agent based on their past successes carefully.

Past success in previous slow markets is a good indicator of a real estate agent’s ability to work well with picky buyers. You want a real estate agent who can relate positively with people and who is emotionally intelligent.

Not all real estate agents market themselves the same way as their colleagues. Some may not advertise as much because they see repeat business and new customers from word of mouth. Ask around to people you know who have sold recently to see which real estate agent they recommend.

picture of an excited male real estate agent that will sell your house with a negotiated discount

Step 8: Market the House Like Crazy


Marketing is the cornerstone of success for selling your house in a slow market. All of the steps in this article are related to marketing your house so that it is portrayed attractively to your ideal buyer.

Make sure that your house listing is getting enough exposure. A good real estate agent will handle most of the listing exposure, but you can also promote your home by telling your friends, family, and coworkers that you are selling.

Since you are your home’s current owner and resident, you understand its strong points. Review your listings and advertisements to make sure that these strong points are well-communicated.

Step 9: Make Sure the House is Ready to Show at All Times


Serious prospective buyers will want to walk through your home before making an offer. While it is inconvenient to be told by your real estate agent that you need to be out of the home with little notice at any time, being flexible will help accommodate sudden requests for showing.

If you ask for too much notice before a showing, you could be limiting potential buyers from seeing your home. When the market is slow, you want to be as accommodating as possible to different buyers.

Once you have staged your home and taken pictures for the listing, keep it in that condition. The less work you need to do to prepare for a showing, the easier and less stressful it will be to accommodate a last-minute walkthrough.

It is difficult and frustrating to live in a perpetual state of uncertainty and artificial cleanliness, but if you want to sell fast, this is the type of effort that will set your home apart from the competition.

Step 10: Offer and Be Ready to Move Out ASAP


Once you have an offer on your home, there are still many factors to consider before it is safe to say your home is sold. The possession date is one of these factors, and it must be agreed upon as part of the offer.

It is normal to want lots of time to move out of your home, especially if you need to arrange your next place of residence. However, a buyer may want to move in unusually early, and if you want to sell quickly, you will want to be able to accept these types of offers too.

Since you are selling your home, you know that you are going to be moving soon. Therefore, you should have as many of your possessions packed and ready to go as possible. If you still have not decluttered your home, get it done to ease the moving process.

Thinking like a salesperson is critical to selling your home fast. Think about what you would want as a buyer. Once you have decided to buy, you likely would not want to delay the process.

If you can offer a quick possession date on your property and be ready to move out quickly, your home is open to more offers than a home where the seller is more restrictive.

Step 11: Consider Seller Financing


If you can offer seller financing to potential buyers, you are open to more offers than other sellers. Seller financing is when you, the seller, extend credit to the buyer, and the buyer pays you for your home without the involvement of a lending institution.

The major risk you take in offering to finance a buyer is that you assume the risk of the buyer defaulting on the loan. However, you can set the terms of the agreement and can offer to finance a buyer with poor credit, expanding your pool of potential buyers.

You will want to be fully aware of all the legislation that applies to you if you offer seller financing. If you can offer this type of arrangement, you can save time in the sale as buyer qualification at a lender will no longer be a factor in your sale.

picture of a group of top local agents ready to sell your home with discounted fees

Final Thoughts

While a slow buyer’s market may be a difficult time for many sellers, the actionable steps above provide you with a plan for putting your home ahead of the competition.

Selling your home is a business transaction, and if you approach it with the appropriate mindset and market your home to your ideal buyer, your sale can be fast and your price fair even when other homes stagnate.

The right professionals, advice, and resources are available to the seller who wishes to take advantage of them. If you assemble a team and strategy that makes sense for your home and your situation, you can be a successful and fast seller in the slowest of markets.


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