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Take Off the Gloves to Compete With Foreclosures

Suzanne Grace is a licensed real estate agent in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Foreclosures are the bane of any home-seller trying to sell their home. We’ll give you some tips on how to cope if your home is competing with one. 

1. Know Your Enemy Most banks are very eager to sell, so they’re creating an underpriced competitor – you’ll need to be just as aggressive.

First off, find out if your neighborhood has some foreclosed properties, and wait until they are sold before listing your home (if that’s possible).

Second, figure out how to price it. When determining comparisons, appraisers no longer care if the home next to yours sold as a foreclosure — a comp is a comp is a comp! The risk factor when buying a foreclosure is no longer considered as high.

Either way, the buyer will be able to do their due diligence, and they contractually have the time to have inspectors view the property; in the event there is something wrong with the home, making the purchase risky, the buyer can still back out of the deal.

So you need to price competitively with foreclosures. And even then, you might need to go the extra mile. Buyers are very cautious about overpaying. Once you choose the price at which to list your home, keep in mind that you will need some flexibility.

As a real estate agent, I work with the comparables of sold homes to help set the price of your home. However, all it takes is a neighbor to significantly drop their price or for a foreclosure to come on the market and the comparables have now changed.

2. Stay Put Buyers appreciate a home that is well taken care of and loved. A vacant home typically feels cold and empty while one that is still occupied has a warm, cozy feel, attracting more buyers.  This gives you a leg-up over foreclosures – and it’s something to play to the hilt when preparing your home for showing.

3. Keep It Neat Be sure your home is always presentable. With so many foreclosures on the market today, buyers are seeing homes at their worst. If your home is presented in a neat and clean way, it will attract more positive attention – particularly against that cold foreclosed home down the street. 

4. You did what to your home? Homeowners always update, upgrade and remodel their homes according to their own personal taste. It’s easier to sell a home if the decor and paint colors are neutral, allowing the buyer to visualize their own style in the home.

You also have a leg up on foreclosures here – they don’t come with disclosures. If the kitchen was upgraded, there is no way to know when it was done or how – although some cities do require permits for this, there are many others that do not. Keeping updated records, photos, and permits handy for your buyer to review will make them feel much more confident about buying your home.

5. Get real about price Buyers today are also watching the days on market and tend to be much more aggressive in their bargaining and negotiating if a home appears to be sitting for any length of time. Don’t be insulted by a low offer; work with that buyer and see if you can meet them halfway on price and terms.