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Homeowners turn to creative selling methods

With the housing market in a slump, more people are enticing buyers with creative selling tactics – but local real estate agents said the right price works better than any gimmick.

In Alta Sierra this weekend, one developer will auction his home to the highest bidder after failed attempts to sell the house on the traditional real estate market.

“In the depreciating market that we’re in, you have to be creative,” said Gary Stokes, who runs an affiliate branch of Fidelity Housing Solutions from his home in Lake of the Pines. The Phoenix-based company buys homes in seven days and offers non-traditional selling options.



The 3,400-square-foot custom home on more than 2 acres is appraised for $875,000, Stokes said. But bidding will start Sunday at nearly $560,000.

Stokes has received a number of hits on his Web site, http://www.sellingsunday.com, he said, and expects more than 200 people to show up for the auction.




It’s a bit of a gamble to sell this way, Stokes said, but was confident the bidding would reach the price he wants.

“It typically ends up closer to the appraised value,” Stokes said.

In western Nevada County, 1,070 homes are for sale, compared to 400 in 2004, according to figures analyzed by Skip Lusk, executive president of the Nevada County Board of Realtors. Houses for sale from June to July have spent an average 122 days on the market, compared to 115 days the year before, Lusk added.

“We’ve tripled in inventory, and we have less buyers today,” said Lynn Griggs, with ERA Cornerstone Realty Group. “People are having a hard time even getting homes shown.”

The philosophy of “whatever works” has become more commonplace in the realty business, Griggs said, although she doesn’t use the approach herself.

Cheryl Rellstab, of Keller Williams, worked with a homeowner who offered a new mustang to sell a home several months ago. When that didn’t work, the seller lowered the price and switched to a Ford pickup – also without success, Rellstab said.

More conservative approach

“I’m not a firm believer in gimmicks,” Griggs said.

Instead, sellers should consider setting a price at ten percent under market value.

“You’re going to have more people look at a house in the first 30 days,” Griggs said. As the third agent for one client, she recently sold a house that had been on the market for two years. The house sold for $150 less than the original asking price.

“Staging” a home is another effective tool.

An interior designer who visits the home can advice on ways to make the home more presentable to a buyer. Things like reducing clutter, painting and keeping things clean and neat all help sell a home, Griggs said.

“What sold two years ago is not selling today,” Griggs said.

Rellstab agreed. Seller financing incentives also help clinch the deal, she added.

On Friday, Rellstab was finishing a deal for an $875,000 home using a seller buy-down on a loan called a hybrid fixed-option ARM. The arrangement gives the buyer a lower monthly payment for the first five years, Rellstab said.

The homes that sell in a slow market are the ones in the best shape with the best price.

“You have to be the pretty boy on the block. That’s what I tell my clients,” Rellstab said.

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To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail lbrown@theunion.com or call 477-4231.


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