Selling in a Congested Housing Market

As you look up and down streets around your neighborhood, what do you see? If you live in the average American community, you probably see a string of lawns peppered with "For Sale" signs. With the real estate market in a slump, an increasing number of neighborhoods have multiple houses for sale on a single block, a single street -- even in a single cul-de-sac.

If you live in an over-crowded market and are planning to put your house up for sale, you may assume it's going to be a tough road ahead. You probably envision cutthroat price wars with neighbors who used to be your friends. You may fear buyers will steer clear of your neighborhood altogether. After all, they may wonder: Is something wrong with your area if so many residents are leaving?

Suburban neighborhood

While it's easy to panic when putting your house on a jam-packed market, the news is not all bad. As it turns out, selling in a neighborhood with multiple houses for sale could actually give you a competitive advantage over those isolated homes for sale.

Some real estate experts say buyers are attracted to neighborhoods with many houses for sale. Instead of driving all around town, they can make one easy trip to a single community and view four, five or six houses. Plus, if buyers are already on your street looking at other homes, they may notice the "For Sale" sign in your front yard and decide to stop by for a peek.

If your neighborhood is swarming with For Sale signs, you can increase the odds of selling with these tactics:

Rave about your neighborhood. When you put your house on the market, you're not just trying to sell your home, you're trying to sell your neighborhood. It's important to promote your neighborhood to potential buyers, especially when there are numerous homes for sale on your street.

In your brochures, fliers and online descriptions, include information about what makes your community so wonderful. Promote the pleasant neighbors, family-friendly atmosphere, well-manicured lawns, mature landscaping or other features that make your neighborhood desirable. You may even want to explain why you are moving, whether it's for a job, to move closer to your family or to downgrade to a smaller home. Buyers may need a little reassurance that there's nothing wrong with the area -- it just so happens that quite a few people need to move for various personal reasons.

Fortunately, if many other homes are for sale on your street, those homeowners are already going above and beyond to improve their yards and the exterior of their homes, which makes your entire neighborhood look much more appealing.

Share an open house. If your neighbors next door or across the street are also selling their homes, talk to them about holding a joint open house on the same day. While it may seem unnatural to help out your competitors, there can be advantages to combined open houses.

First of all, when you hold an open house for two or three homes instead of just one, you attract more potential buyers. Plus, buyers will be impressed to see you and your neighbors working together instead of fighting a ruthless home-selling battle. This will prove to them that neighbors in the community are genuinely friendly with each other.

Always be prepared to show the goods. If there are several homes for sale on your street, you should be ready to give potential buyers access to your home at a moment's notice. You'll probably have a lot of spontaneous house showings because buyers are already in the area looking at other homes. They may have missed your house when searching the online listings.

Try to keep your house and yard clean, neat and ready for guests at all times. While buyers can't expect to show up on your doorstep and walk in at any time without any warning, you should be prepared not to turn anyone away at the door. After all, you could essentially be turning away an offer. So if a realtor and potential buyer calls or shows up for an impulse showing, just ask them politely to give you a few minutes to straighten up.

Make sure the price is right. When it comes to pricing your home correctly in today's sluggish market, you can no longer rely on historical data. It's important to know your neighbors' current asking prices as well as the most recent home sale prices in your neighborhood -- particularly when you're selling in a crowded market.

Ask your real estate agent for frequent updates on prices in your area. This can help you decide if your house is overpriced for your particular market. If other homes in your neighborhood are selling for much less than your asking price, it may be time to come down.

It can be tempting to price your home higher than your neighbor's -- especially if you believe you have the better, prettier house. However, try to resist this urge. If you ask for more than your neighbors, you'll basically just help them sell their homes before you.

Of course, in some instances your house may actually be worth more than one nearby. Maybe you have more bedrooms and bathrooms, granite countertops in the kitchen and all-new appliances. If this is the case, buyers need to know precisely why your price is higher than a neighbor's property.

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