ROBYN: I’m Robyn Moreno for howdini.com. The housing bubble has burst – we hear that all the time. But does that mean that this is a bad time to sell your home, or should you get out now before the situation gets worse? Here to help us know when to sell a home is CNN’s personal finance editor, Gerri Willis, whose new book is called Home Rich: Increasing the Value of the Biggest Investment of Your Life. We’re in a recession; the market is really volatile. Should I sell my house now before the prices slip any further?
GERRI: It’s really hard to time the prices in the housing market. And I have to tell you: unless you absolutely have to sell right now, I would stay out of the game. It’s really tough right now. There aren’t a lot of buyers; there is a ton of inventory you’ll be competing with. If you can stay out of the market, do so.
ROBYN: What if I need to sell my house? How can I determine the best price?
GERRI: Well it is all about price. That is the most critical decision you’re going to make. What you need to do is get cops. What are other houses like yours that are aimed at the same market, what are they selling for? And what are they selling at per square foot? That’s the calculation you need to make, so that you can apply that to your own home price.
ROBYN: Is there anything that I can do to make my house look a bit more attractive, especially if it’s in a weak housing market?
GERRI: Absolutely. You definitely want to make sure that you stage your house, on your own. You know, people pay experts thousands of dollars to do this; you don’t have to do that. Start with the exterior; make sure that trees and shrubs are trimmed, and the, and the lawn is clean and pristine, that you have flowers. Paint the front door a bright color. And then once you’re inside, neutralize the colors of the wall and then I hate to say this, but you really need to bring out all the things that make the house your own, like pictures of the family, trophies, all that stuff should go out because when people come to this house, you want them to see this house as their own. One more thing; right before you put it on the market, take one piece of furniture out of each and every room. You don’t know how cluttered your house looks to other people. So you definitely want to make it look clean and open when people start looking at it.
ROBYN: What if I have to move to another state, and I just cannot sell my home? What should I do?
GERRI: Well, this is a toughie. If you’re getting a new job, one thing you might ask your new employer, is are they willing to take on the cost of your old home. Some folks will do that. It’s unusual. You can also rent your place out and have a local manager take care of it for you. But again, these are expensive options.
ROBYN: What are the pros and cons of actually selling my house on my own?
GERRI: Well, it’s tough. Particularly in today’s market, I would actually want a pro at my side to take all the necessary steps, give me advice about the market place. If you do it on your own, you’re really going to want to price it under market, make it appealing to people that they’re definitely going to come in and take a look.
ROBYN: Is there any advantages for me to sell my own home? I save, you know, some money on commission.
GERRI: Yeah, in a, in a normal market it's not a bad idea. And there’s some parts of the country where it’s really common that people sell their houses on their own, like Michigan is a big FiSBO market. But for a lot of us, I think, we want to have somebody at our side to guide us through the process.
ROBYN: And what about selling it on the Internet? Because I know there’s a lot of sites where people can actually sell their home on the internet. And would you advise a first-time seller to do something like this?
GERRI: I, you know, the internet is always an important part of the strategy for any home seller, at any time. I think you have to make sure that, whether you’re, you’re doing it on your own or you’re getting help from someone else, you have to make sure the pictures you put on the web of your home have to be fabulous. You’re best to doing one of the 360 videos; that’s a big help. You know, you have to make sure that all the information is up to date and it’s clear and complete as possible.
ROBYN: Thank you so much, Gerri Willis, for teaching us how to sell our house in this really tough market.
GERRI: My pleasure.
ROBYN: I’m Robyn Moreno for howdini.com.