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The Real Deal / Pop quiz for Westport home sellers

Updated 12:39 pm, Thursday, February 21, 2013
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Here's a true/false quiz for home-sellers on topics we've covered in this space over the past year.

1. The housing market in Westport/Weston is hot.

True. While prices have not recovered, deals are being made every day despite the icy weather. Properties that are presented and priced well are moving quickly, sometimes with multiple offers.

Buyers waiting in the wings, ready to make offers. And most of our inventory is last year's leftovers -- tired and overpriced.

So if you plan to sell this year, the time to list is now. If you're already on the market, now is the time to refresh and re-price your listing.

2. Buyers know a good deal when they see one.

True. Today's buyers are more educated about the market than ever before. When they see a house that's well presented and fairly priced, they act. When they don't, they wait.

3. The longer your house is on the market, the less you will get for it.

True. The first question potential buyers usually ask their agents is: "How long has this house has been on the market?"

If the answer is more than 30 days, the subtraction process from your list price begins immediately.

As market time accumulates, more is subtracted.

4. Your best pricing strategy in the current market is to list right at market value or perhaps just a bit under.

True. This is a gutsy strategy, but one that always works.

Pricing this way will get your property sold fast which, as we learned in statement No. 3, means you will get the highest possible sale price.

It's a good bet a buyer will offer you asking price, or close to it. Or even a bit more.

The best thing about this strategy is that it puts you, the seller, in control of the transaction. Messes a bit with buyers' heads. But in a good way, at least for you.

5. If you set a price higher than market value and gradually lower it, you will net much less than if you had priced it right from the beginning.

True. Agents call this "chasing the market down," and it's hard to convince some sellers not to do it.

Especially those who claim they don't have to sell.

The problem is, there is an enemy known as "market time," and every seller should fear it.

If you truly don't have to sell, you're better to take your house off the market until you do, rather than to accumulate market time.

Refer back to No. 3.

6. Perfect presentation (aka "staging") will maximize the sale price of your home.

To the dismay of many sellers, this is emphatically and undeniably true. Properties that have been staged sell more quickly and thus -- remember No. 3? -- at a higher price than those which have not.

Along with bulls-eye pricing, staging is the best way for sellers to wrest control of the transaction back from buyers in a soft real estate market.

Today's buyers don't want to imagine how wonderful your house could be, they want to see it for themselves.

In general, the more your house can look like a Pottery Barn catalog, the better.

So when your Realtor suggests staging, please have an open mind.

7. Your first offer is your best offer.

Usually true. That's because first offers come from buyers who are well educated and ready and able to move forward.

They are motivated. And they've chosen your house.

Do not dismiss this buyer. Experience has shown that the next offer may take time in coming and is usually not as good as the first. Remember point No. 3.

8. If you get an offer between of 90 to 95 percent of asking price, negotiate it to a higher number but then don't make the deal, you are likely to regret it later.

Very, very true. Some sellers expect to receive a steady stream of offers from which to choose. Kind of like getting the bus -- if one passes by, you can always catch the next one.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.

Revisit No. 3 again; it's the most important information in this column and perhaps in all of real estate.

All sellers would be wise to heed it.

9. If you're not getting any showings, your house is overpriced.

Once again, true.

10. Your house is an exception to the rules.

False. Nobody's house is an exception to the rules outlined above, unless perhaps it's located on a rare and spectacular waterfront parcel -- or someone seeks you out and price is no object.

Buyers will not pay more than market value for your property or for anyone else's.

And trust me -- if and when you become a buyer, you won't either.

Evi Coghlan's "The Real Deal" appears every other Friday. She is a licensed real estate agent with the Riverside Avenue office of Coldwell Banker and a former marketing consultant to Fortune 100 companies. She may be reached at 203-247-6691, by emailing her at evi@evicoghlan.com or visiting www.evicoghlan.com