By Tara-Nicholle Nelson,

#9: Differentiate your home from the competition.
Between the short sale next door and the foreclosure down the street, it’s very tough to demand top dollar for your home when buyers have so many bargains to choose from.

Let’s get one thing straight — this is a competition. When a buyer sees your home, they are choosing between your house and the others on the market in their price range. The home they choose is the winner.

So, how can you spank your home’s competition, real estate-style?

Make your house the place to be. Short sales and foreclosures are notorious for skimping on the marketing. So go all out to get neighbors and buyers into your home and talking about it by having an Open House party that highlights the best lifestyle features of your property. If your home has ocean views, throw a twilight cocktail party. If it’s a great family home in the best school district in town, have hot dogs, a bounce house and face-painting. Be a little over-the-top, and have your Realtor invite the neighbors and the local buyers’ brokers.

Take your staging to the next level. When I show foreclosures to my clients, I generally keep a vat of hand sanitizer in the car and pass it around between properties; that’s just how filthy they can be. You can set your house totally apart from the bargain-basement priced competition by making sure it is only shown in immaculate condition. Bathrooms, kitchens, walls and floors should be pristine, and if you can swing new chic paint and flooring choices, that’s even better. Stage it with tasteful furnishings and decor that depict the uncluttered, space-maximizing life every buyer wishes they could live, even if it means you have to move out in the meantime!

Use incentives to buy some house hunter love. Any expensive lifestyle amenities that you can leave behind, especially house hunter faves like stainless steel appliances and fireplace-mounted plasma TVs, make good buyer incentives your Realtor can tout in your home’s marketing. I’ve even seen sellers offer to park a new Prius in the garage at closing, you know, so that the new buyer can save on gas to afford their new mortgage! (Do check with your Realtor regarding incentive strategies; some items might not be allowed by the buyer’s bank.)

Make your place easier to buy than a short sale or foreclosure. Every homebuyer on the market today knows that doing a deal with the bank can be, how shall we say, less than fun and less than fast. Okay, it can be slow and painful. So, your home’s marketing should let the world know that buying your place will be a smooth, easy deal. If you are in the position to offer any seller-financing or other creative deal structures, like a lease-purchase option, even better — you’ve just expanded the pool of folks who can qualify to buy your home!

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