Special Segment: Secrets to Selling

February 16, 2010 4:28:33 AM PST
The spring home-selling season is underway. Homeowners who've wanted to sell have waited through the recession, hoping this year would be better.With foreclosures and short sales driving down the price of homes, sellers have to be motivated and willing to accept the current reality.

When John Hebert and Sanka Hayden first listed their Hyde Park townhouse, Hayden was pregnant with Daisy. Daisy is about to turn two. They've reduced their asking price three times and no sale.

"It's got us in a state of limbo. We want to decorate Daisy's room and move on with our lives," said Hebert.

The couple pulled the listing, did renovations and plan to list their home at $100,000 less than the original asking price.

"The fact is if we want to move we're going to have to go as low as they're willing to come up and that's pretty low," said Hayden.

The president of the Chicago Association of Realtors says asking the right price is imperative these days.

"You're not priced competitively today. You're priced where it's compelling. You got to compel the buyer to come in and take a look at your place," said Genie Birch, Chicago Association of Realtors.

Birch says the selling price should be what the market will bear in your neighborhood minus a couple of thousand dollars. She recommends sellers get professional help determining that price.

"You want to have the greatest edge the best product out there at the best price. If you don't, you just sold you just sold your neighbor's house because they're going to use your home as a comparison," said Birch.

Birch also say perks get attention like seller offering to throw in a parking space, the buyer's closing costs, six months of assessments, even a decorating credit.

How do you make your home stand out and make it memorable? We're all bombarded with decorating ideas. At the grocery checkout aisle, there are plenty of ideas.

"Because we're all avid home decorating show watchers these days, you have to be a really savvy almost decorator," said Julea Joseph, founder, InteriorStylist.org.

Part of Joseph's business is staging a home to sell. She recommends:

  • neutral colors with a few pops of colors
  • cull collections of books, DVDs and kitsch
  • declutter - take out anything that is not essential
  • light well
  • heat well
  • consider renting accessories if your furniture isn't up to the challenge
  • Joseph recommended Jim Hugger rent furniture to make his father's old house in Downers Grove look more appealing to a modern buyer.

    "I'm not mister interior design so there's no way I would have thought of putting it this way," said Hugger.

    Susan Loughran is packing up her airy two bedroom condo in Lakeview to move to a new home in the suburbs. Loughran knows that her selling price won't be what she dreamed. She admits accepting the realtor's suggested asking price was hard.

    "Heartbreaking at first, I mean devastating," said Loughran.

    But with that acceptance came a realization -- yes they're taking a loss but the value their got on the new home will likely overshadow the loss eventually.

    "In 10 to 20 years we'll be able to realize the loss on the other end. That's the only hope we have right now," said Loughran.

    When considering incentives, be creative. What would you like? Extras we heard about include trips and getaways. If new appliances or windows are needed, think green. Consider upgrading to Energy Star appliances. When listing the home, provide at least 10 pictures in a virtual tour online. And the pricing is so critical now. Realtors says it's the toughest conversation to have with homeowners.

    It's not about what's owed or what's needed by the seller. It's about what someone is willing to pay.