Location and price aren't everything. Success in getting top dollar for your home may also come down to a few "unique" factors, such as the words you use in your property listing.
With just 1.89 million homes for sale, the housing market is off to a slow start this year. Low supply, especially relative to demand, does mean properties are moving a bit faster, though. February data from Realtor.com released earlier this month found that homes nationwide spent an average 102 days on the market, down 1.9 percent from January.
It's in the sellers' best interest to keep that figure low. "People make a lot of inferences, correct and incorrect, about houses that have been on the market for a long time," said Stan Humphries, author of "Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate." Namely, that there must be something wrong with the property, and that there's room for negotiation in the price.
Some smart planning can help you sell faster, and at a better price:
Most real estate professionals say spring is the best time to list. But that's a pretty big window. "In every market, there's this sweet spot," said Humphries, who is also the chief economist at Zillow.com. Aim to list after the first wave of sellers in January and February, and before the influx of buyers in April and May, which will mean your listing pops up when most buyers are starting their hunt, boosting the average sale price by 2 percent. Nationally, that timing works out to the last two weeks of March, he said, or maybe a little later for cold-weather locales.
One-third of sellers don't use a traditional agent, but going the "for sale by owner' route doesn't mean you don't need some professional help, said Steve Udelson, president of real estate site Owners.com. A DIY approach won't always cut it. "You're probably only going to reach one in five buyers, at best," he said, which can lead to sellers' boomeranging back to full-service agents after their home has been on the market for months (costing them on selling price and commissions). He suggests allocating some funds for marketing on listing sites and on a buyer's agent commission to entice them to bring clients.