Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Advice: Agents' Secrets To Selling in 30 Days!

"Want to sell your house in 30 days? Click here to find out how Movoto can help."

When we spotted that ad on Movoto.com, a real-estate Web site in California, we found the title so compelling that we decided to ask some top-producing local agents what a seller in Chicago would need to do in this market to achieve that ambitious goal.

On Presidents' Day, hoping to catch a few devoted agents who couldn't pull themselves away from their computers even on a holiday, we e-mailed this question to a few of our agent friends at several brokerages: What advice would you give a condo owner who asked you, "What is the most important single thing I need to do to sell my condo in 30 days?"

Within minutes, the replies rolled in:

Rubloff's Eric Rojas: Price, presentation & paint. Everyone will say price, but if your unit is not in tip-top shape, you are taking a risk of turning off buyers who do not want to start out making repairs. A Realtor needs to have the guts to tell his clients what they need to improve, and then help make it happen. I have many examples of less-than-30-day sales this year already, primarily because the places looked great for their market placement.

When asked how much below fair-market value one should list to sell quickly, Eric added: There is no guarantee, but you definitely have to go on at, or lower than, the best comparable you find (especially if the market time on that was decent enough). The main point is having it show-worthy and not leaving the simple fixes to chance… just get it done and paint the unit!

To illustrate, he offered this example: For instance, I sold a 2BR/2BA South Loop condo in 22 days at 1631 S. Michigan. The place was flawless due to painting and small updates by my clients and showed great. I realized there were no 2BR/2BA South Loop units at 1400-plus square feet that looked this good and had huge windows and exposures in both bedrooms and along the whole living room. (Most larger units there have “crappy” second bedrooms or masters or second bedrooms without windows.) I priced under $400K and we closed at $387K with no other concessions. That’s with South Loop averaging big market times.

The sellers had bought the unit for $370K eight months prior, put $10K into the place, decided they wanted to move to a luxury building, and we sold it for $387K.

Koenig & Strey's Francesca Rose: Top-Notch Representation. I was going to say, "Bottom-line pricing, drop-dead staging, top-notch representation and seller pays buyer's closing costs." But you asked for the single-most thing, so I would say, top-notch representation. A top-notch agent will obtain the other three criteria. This market is no time for amateurs, discount brokers, or part-time agents. I use the doctor analogy: When you need open-heart surgery, you don't entrust your life to your dermatologist. When your condo needs fast selling in a down market, you get the best specialist available.

Rubloff's Joe Schiller: Spend to stage. Staging is very important and will probably include investing in paint, plants and accessories, along with renting a storage locker. Spend money to make money.

Rubloff's Jill O'Grady: Price. How much, if any, below fair-market value would you set the list price?, we asked. There is not one answer to that question. I wouldn't list below the comp [market value], but at the low end of it.

Editor's Note: Surprisingly, selling a condo in 30 days is apparently not a particularly difficult feat. When we checked the MLS data, and, at the suggestion of one agent, excluded new-construction units, we discovered that the average market time of the roughly 9,600 re-sale units sold in 2007 was 107 days. But roughly 2,600 of those units (27%) were sold in 30 days or less. (We don't know how reliable those numbers are, but, without insight from some of you experts, that's the best we can do.)

BTW, when you click the ad on Movoto.com, you are asked to register so agents can share with you their secrets to selling in 30 days. Among them: "tailored marketing" and "effective market analysis." That's California, and this, my friends, is Chicago.

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