Selling a house at the right price, quickly, is much harder in today's market. But it can be done. Here are five extreme-sales techniques that may get your property moving while your neighbors' homes sit and grow weeds.
And the winner is: Over the years, lots of people have sought to get rid of hard-to-sell property by offering it up in a raffle. The idea is simple: Say you want $500,000 for your home. You sell 10,000 people tickets for $50, pick a winner out of a barrel and turn over the title. It's so simple. It's also illegal in most areas of the U.S. When individual citizens raffle something valuable off for their own profit, they're considered under-the-table gamblers.
However, some have gone around this by having a contest for their house. Participants need to write an essay about why they should win, or they need to paint or photograph a portrait of the home, and turn them in with an entry fee. Have the winner decided by an outside, uninterested party and you've got your buyer. This method may not be the fastest way to sell your home (going through 10,000 essays has got to be grueling) but it's surely one of the most creative. Be sure to consult with an attorney, however, to make sure you're following the law.
Saints alive: If you've got a real estate problem, what's wrong with a little divine intervention? A group of Italian nuns in the 16th century found a perfect plot of land to build a new convent, but they didn't have the money to complete the sale. It's said that the sisters prayed to St. Joseph for his intercession and buried medals with his likeness in the ground of their desired home for good measure. The result: The nuns got the land and the convent.
Today, the St. Joseph tradition lives on in some communities. It's said that burying a St. Joseph statue upside down on the property you're trying to unload will get you the deal you're praying for, fast. But make sure you dig the statue back up before you move. If you don't, legend says you'll likely have trouble at your new home.
Hire a ringer: A big part of selling a home is making it stand out from the competition, which is where professional "stagers" earn their keep. These are interior design pros who study how to make rooms attractive for potential buyers with furniture, paint, lighting and other tricks. Stagers generally work on model homes and the high-end luxury market, but if selling fast is critical, it may be worth the investment.
Swap meet: You've got to live somewhere after selling your home, and what if the owner of the house you're looking for would like the house you're selling? There are a number of new-house swapping Web sites, like onlinehousetrading.com and goswap.com, which offer you the ability to trade homes with someone else.
"People have done this for years, but the Internet makes it easier to find people looking to trade their homes," says Steven James, a Los Angeles real estate agent. "You've got to make sure you can qualify to buy their place and they can qualify to buy yours, and the house may not be exactly what you want, but if it works, everyone can move in happily."
Extra, extra! If you're looking for a better price or a quicker sale, you might have to add something to the deal to keep the buyer away from the open house down the street. The most common sweetener is leaving a room or two or more furnished. This is a great incentive if the buyer likes what you have and doesn't want the hassle of moving his own goods to the house. Often, it can be just a piece of furniture that will do the trick, like a piano or entertainment center.
What else can work? It makes sense to offer just about anything you'd be willing to part with to make the sale, from a fully stocked wet bar to the Jet Skis in the garage that haven't been wet in a year.
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