HOW TO SELL YOUR HOME IN A DOWN MARKETBy Robert Irwin
(Warner Books, New York), 1991, 192 pages, $10.95
Reviewed by Robert Bruss
Prolific real estate author Robert Irwin has created another gem. This one is aimed at the home seller who is having difficulty finding a buyer for their home. The book is loaded with practical tips on how to sell a home in a buyer's market, which means there are more homes for sale than there are qualified buyers.
Although Irwin is perhaps a little too negative about the current slide in home prices in some areas, he is very realistic. The first step in a successful home sale, Irwin says, is to price it realistically. But he warns that many homes won't sell for the top prices they commanded a year or so ago. The key to successful pricing is to check recent comparable sales prices, Irwin explains, and then adjust the price of your home for its pros and cons.
The second step is to hire a "publicist." Yes, that's what Irwin says. By that he means hire a successful real estate agent who knows how to publicize the fact your home is for sale. In a sub-section called "The Trouble With Agents" Irwin warns "Finding a real estate agent who is also a publicist, however, can be difficult." Then he explains why. Incidentally, Irwin gives high marks to using the agent's local multiple listing service. He emphasizes how to get other local agents interested in selling your home. Just in case your home doesn't sell in the "regular way" through a real estate agent, Irwin then also explains the pros and cons of real estate auctions.
The only thing wrong with Irwin's excellent book is the order of the chapters could be improved. For example, after explaining how to sell your home, in chapter five Irwin backs up to talk about "clean and paint." That should have been the first or second chapter.
The last half of the book is devoted to creative, unconventional ideas to sell your home in a slow market. The author explains the pros and cons of promotional giveaways that sell homes, dealing with low commission real estate agents or even trying to sell your home without an agent, plus five techniques for getting out, such as lease-option, trade up and even timesharing.
I especially liked the chapter called "When to Bail Out" because some home markets are so depressed that walking away from a home that has virtually no prospective buyers at any price can be the smart thing to do. Irwin cautions on how to take this desperate step. He even discusses the pros and cons of letting your home go into foreclosure, including the adverse tax consequences.
Mortgage lenders won't like the book's chapter called "Financing to Get Your Money Out" which is about refinancing to take out the equity that you couldn't get by selling your home. The idea is to make the home's equity more liquid, so the owner can move on to another home.
In summary, this is another of Irwin's excellent books. It is highly recommended for home sellers to read before putting their homes on the market for sale. Real estate agents and home buyers also can benefit from understanding what the seller is thinking about in a stagnant market for home sales. Very highly recommended.
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