Tips For Selling Your Home In A Down Market

• Do the projects that will protect against damage and decay
• Repaint
• Tidy the yard
• Driveway cracked? Reseal
• Fit in with neighborhood trends
&bull: Don’t overdecorate
• Clean clutter
• Make it homey
• Price to sell

How to sell your home in a down market [Consumer Reports]
(Photo: damageinc86)


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  1. foghat81 says:

    Earth shattering!

  2. snazz says:

    this is like saying “brush your teeth, and someone will want to date you…. even though your fugly”

  3. tastic says:

    The most important factor is the last one. I recently sold a townhouse that I bought in 1994. If I had sold it 18-24 months ago, at the peak of the market, I’d have made more money and I went into the selling process with those (unrealistic) expectations. After my broker did a thorough market analysis of like units, I listed it for a bit more than he recommended, but still enough to get my neighbors up in arms at “de-valuing” their property. It sold within a month, at almost $20K above the list price because this approach induced a bidding war among three different buyers, all of who “perceived value” in the price. I have to admit, I was leery of this low-ball “let them come to you” approach, but at least in my case, it worked like a charm.

  4. virgilstar says:

    About the only useful one of these is the last one, “price to sell”. Since most people selling in a down market are doing so for financial reasons, and most of these same people over-value their homes, this one is the least likely to be accomplished.

    Maybe you should replace “price to sell” with “suck it up buddy, you paid too much and you’re gonna lose out on some cash!”

  5. etinterrapax says:

    I can’t emphasize decluttering enough. We looked at a house that I think we really could have bought, if we could have seen it. The sellers weren’t there when we saw it, but their agent was. The basement and garage were stacked to the ceiling, and it was impossible to tell what any of the rooms were supposed to be, for the piles of crap. I remarked to that effect, and the seller’s agent told me that the sellers had already had a Dumpsterful carted away! Unfortunately, what we could see around the edges of the piles was that the owners hadn’t done a lick of home maintenance in a couple of decades, and ultimately, there were just too many repairs needed for the price they wanted. I’m always baffled when people don’t treat their homes as the investment that they are, and then still expect them to appreciate.

  6. lamorevincera says:

    I absolutely agree with all of this. A few more…

    -Paint in neutral colors only. It gives buyers more of a clean slate to look at, and it’s easier for them to imagine their stuff in it. You may love your green bedroom, but it may turn someone off.

    -When an agent is scheduled to bring a potential buyer to your place, time it so that cookies have JUST come out of the oven, and put them in a basket on the kitchen table. It makes the house smell wonderful. If you can’t do that, put a small pot of water on the stove and boil a few cinnamon sticks in it. Just make sure the pot’s gone right before the buyer walks in.

    -Take out your collectibles. You might actually turn off a buyer with your Nascar or Precious Moments memorabilia.

    -If you are answering the door when the buyer and agent show up, PLEASE look clean. I was just looking for a house, and wrote one completely off before even stepping inside when a complete slob of a man opened the door. If you can’t keep your dinner off your shirt or your drool off your chin, how could you have taken good care of your house?

    -If you’re home when a buyer’s looking at the place, get out of the way. DO NOT follow them around making comments. If they have questions, they’ll find you and ask.

    -This should go without saying, but CLEAN THE PLACE from top to bottom! Have the carpets cleaned!

  7. startertan says:

    I recently sold my townhouse as well (closing next month). I did what I could, made sure to keep the house clean, kept the dog clean so she didn’t stink up the house, got rid of all my cr@p and put all the storage stuff in one spare room, and tried to keep the price high but fair (is that an oxymoron?).

    Anyway after 60 days I thankfully have a contract in. It was hard keeping the house clean with the dog and the long hours/commute for work.

  8. Youthier says:

    @lamorevincera: So true. When my husband and I were househunting in January, we looked at a house that had been on the market 4 months. It was cluttered, had a deer head on the wall in a living room that had a deer/camo border, the toliet was UNFLUSHED, the carpet hadn’t been vacuumed and the dog was flipping out in his cage in the kitchen.

    Fast forward to two weeks ago, when my coworker was telling me about the dirty, camo house she and her husband looked at.

  9. jeffislouie says:

    That’s crazy talk!
    You mean to sell your home in a down market, you have to clean it up and make it look nice!
    Wow, got any more advice for me consumer reports?
    How about “How to order food at a restaurant”? It could include things like:
    -read the menu
    -consider what you would like to eat
    -tell the waiter what you would like
    -If necessary, use a knife fork and/or spoon to transport the food to your mouth
    -chew thoroughly
    -remember to swallow

    Stuff like this serves as a reminder to me why I cancelled my subscription with them. My 8 year old niece could have written that fluff.

  10. @virgilstar: “About the only useful one of these is the last one, “price to sell”.”

    We were buyers in a down market. You would not BELIEVE some of the houses we saw where the yard was apparently housing the Beverly Hillbillies and all their cars, the house and driveway required “minor” repairs but enough that we could foresee spending the first six months living there just fixing “minor” things, the siding let go unpainted or the roof missing a few shingles from the last windstorm, messy houses people had apparently just stepped out of leaving behind dirty dishes and, in one case, a stoned teenager still actively smoking pot when we toured the house.

    @lamorevincera: “Precious Moments memorabilia.”

    We looked at one house that was really beautifully-kept, very nice, but WALL TO WALL Precious Moments in EVERY ROOM in expensive china cabinets. It gave the whole house a really creepy vibe. Between that and the pepto-bismol pink carpet and HUGE floral wallpaper, I was very off-put by the house. Instead of being “this is a lovely, well-kept house” it fell into our pile of, “we’ll consider it if we find nothing better.”

    I think the hardest one is “make your house look neutral.” I mean, you’ve spent the last several years making your house look NICE, and it’s hard to accept that you have to re-ugly it in order to sell it!

    (To be quite honest, I wish our previous owner had left a little more decor-character in the house. A lot of the stuff they painted over was nice! Not necessarily to my exact taste, but neither are the white and beige walls everywhere. They did leave us all the wallpaper, and I HATE wallpaper, but it’s too much trouble to take it down.)

  11. Avacasso says:

    I am putting my condo up for sale this week. These are all common sense, but still useful ideas.
    The declutter step is the key, also a nice way to simplify and donate some stuff to people who may need it (Goodwill, Salvy, Freecycle, etc.). Hopefully all of my ‘decluttering’ and updates will help move the place faster, it is hard to keep it so clean and orderly!

  12. anatak says:

    Right, these tips seem terribly trivial. But after house hunting for 3 months – in a down market – I can tell you that there are plenty of people AND their agents who are oblivious to all of this stuff.

    I will agree that the last one will make you or break you, and in a down market could mean the difference between selling in a month or selling in a year… or two.

    Grandma and weird Uncle Fred smoking outside the entry way – not good.
    Dead animal in the basement (non-trophy) – not good.
    Unfinished and/or half-assed home “improvements” – not good.
    A notice from the city stating the unsafe condition of the electrical system – not good.
    An entire wall of the house buckling – not good.
    Studs unattached to headers (thats one of those new “floating walls”) – not good.
    Obvious signs of a break-in – not good.
    A “guest house” that resembled more of a meth lab – not good.

    Just because you’re willing to ignore glaring issues with your property doesn’t mean buyers will too. I saw all of these things and more that left your jaw on the ground. All the fresh baked cookies in the world can’t fix this.

    Sharply discount, or call in the dozer.

  13. Avacasso says:


    Thus underlies the importance of getting a realtor who won’t blow smoke up your ass and will tell you “your place looks like crap, straighten it up!”

    But to me, nothing says home like a guesthouse meth lab. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

  14. anatak says:


    I guess they should have ticked the box labeled “Income Property” on the listing.

    In a down market, agents get desperate and will list darn near anything at the chance of the sale. They could have at least tidied up the meth lab for a less of a, “oh, shit – the cops are coming” look.

  15. bastarre says:

    I’m in a seriously down market right now and in the process of buying my first home. Some of the properties are incredible. $200k custom home bordered on both sides by doublewides and all kinds of other crazy shit. In the end I chose a townhome (new construction) that was priced to sell. Development was started at the height of our “boom” and priced at $214k (1776sq ft) and my offer of $167K w/$10k concession ($94sq/ft) just got accepted. Huge beautiful new place with ZERO out of my pocket (closings/prepaids/etc). Cool thing is next year, based on community happenings prices *should* skyrocket (not counting on it though). Man I LOVE homes priced to sell in a down market. Lots of people missed out on my cash cause they just couldn’t take care of their homes/property.

  16. gruffydd says:

    A few more suggestions:
    Remove all family pictures
    Have vases of fresh flowers
    Remove books from bookcases (same idea as the Precious Moments/NASCAR collectibles)

  17. Dustbunny says:


    ITA. I put my condo up for sale a month ago and it’s a real strain to keep everything neat. No more dumping all the mail and magazines on the kitchen counter : ( I don’t know how much longer I can stand living in this unnatural uncluttered state of being.

  18. minneapolisite says:

    We’re not even on the market, but I keep my home “buyer ready” 95% of the time anyway. Why only bother making my home beautiful for someone else, when I could make it beautiful and enjoy it myself for awhile?