Top 10 Ways to Beat the Sluggish Housing Market

Don't let the slow market get you down. Whether you're a home seller looking for offers or a homebuyer facing stricter loan requirements, rev up your real estate potential with these helpful tips.

For Sellers

1. Give your house a makeover that adds value and keeps it up with the Joneses'. That doesn't mean you should run out and install Italian marble. But if hardwood floors are the norm in your neighborhood, replace the carpet. 

2. Use the secrets of staging experts, or hire one. Staging can be as easy as a fresh coat of paint, new cabinet hardware and strategically placed lighting. Think of it as a creative, inexpensive facelift for your home.

3. Find out what's wrong with the house and get it fixed. Don't wait until that serious buyer finds faulty wiring or a termite problem and then pulls the plug on the deal. Be proactive. Get an inspection before hitting the market.

4. Come up with a comprehensive home-selling strategy. Don't put an ad on Craigslist, stick a sign in the ground and call it a day. Whether you're going FSBO or using an agent, selling your home in a buyer's market requires a well thought-out plan with accurate pricing, targeted improvements and focused marketing and exposure.

5. Hire an aggressive, well-connected real estate agent. Find an experienced agent with a proven track record who knows how to pound the pavement. In this market, name recognition is important, so find the go-to person for buyers and their agents in your community.

6. Help a buyer buy it. Offer incentives that put money in the buyer's pocket, such as buying down the interest rate, absorbing more of the closing costs or offering seller financing. 

7. Consider renting or offering a lease option. Minimize the impact of two mortgages by renting your house out until you find a buyer. Or offer a lease option to a motivated buyer who doesn't have enough cash to buy a home outright.

8. Make the house move-in ready. Throw in the furniture, flat-screen TV, washer/dryer, appliances, backyard jacuzzi AND the kitchen sink. The less money a buyer will have to shell out to furnish the house, the higher the perceived value.

For Buyers:

9. Use calculators and tools to evaluate your potential purchase. Be careful not to get caught up in the hype of a buyer's market. Make calculated decisions by determining your potential IRR (internal rate of return) on a property. 

10. Evaluate and boost your financial profile. If you're having trouble finding favorable terms or interest rates on a mortgage, make yourself more appealing to lenders by boosting your credit score. 

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