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Home Selling in a Recession: 3 Things You Need to Know

While selling your home can be a fraught proposition even in the best of times, it can be downright scary in a recession. If that occurs, there are a few special considerations to keep in mind.

Here are three things you absolutely need to know if you decide to list your house for sale if and when a recession occurs.

#1. Time is money

There’s one general rule to keep in mind: The longer your home is listed for sale, the harder you’ll find it to close a sale with a decent offer. It may sound unfair, but it’s an unfortunate reality that’s due to one unfair assumption buyers often make: When a home doesn’t sell quickly, there must be something wrong with it.

That assumption becomes even stronger when the home has a history of a series of price cuts, which often occurs when the home is initially overpriced. The price reductions can stigmatize the property, delaying a good sale even further and warning off otherwise qualified, interested buyers. Price your property appropriately, to begin with, and be prepared to pursue multiple marketing strategies.

#2. First impressions count even more

When you’re selling in a hot market that’s packed with buyers who are flush with funds, you can afford to cut corners.

Lots of sellers in the first year or so of the pandemic ultimately chose to sell on an as-is basis for cash buyers, making no improvements to the property at all and letting the purchaser handle upgrades and repairs.

You don’t really have that luxury in a recession. Every point of contact with a buyer must be optimized and your property must make the very best possible impression at each step along the way.

That means at a minimum:

  • A fresh coat of neutral-toned paint on the interior walls
  • Replacing outdated fixtures and appliances
  • Cleaning up the yard and exterior for better curb appeal
  • Decluttering the interior and staging

The goal is to create a “showcase home” vibe for your house and its exterior. You want potential purchasers to look at your home and be able to see themselves living there tomorrow.

#3. Yes, you probably should use an agent

Back in the wild market fluctuations of the early pandemic, a lot of sellers also proceeded on their own, without the assistance of a real estate agent. That’s probably not a great idea right now.

You’re competing for a smaller pool of buyers, who are likewise working with more limited and more expensive funding options.

At the same time, there are competing homes for sale in your market, many of which have been staged within an inch of their owner’s lives and upgraded to the latest and greatest Home Depot and Restoration Hardware have to offer.

An experienced and qualified real estate agent can make a difference for you here. No one will be more familiar with your local market.

A good agent will also know which repairs and upgrades to prioritize to make the best use of your budget. They’ll have a strong network of support professionals to help stage, photograph, and market your home assertively, as well.


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