Real Estate Matters

Need to Sell? Think Outside the Box.

By Ilyce R. Glink with Samuel J. Tamkin
Saturday, June 27, 2009

My friend Fred needs to sell his house -- fast.

Fred just accepted an exciting job offer in another city. I'm thrilled for him, not only because it's an exciting opportunity but also because he's exiting the unemployment rolls. Now that he has a job, it's time to sell his home so he can move on with his life.

What's worse than trying to sell a home during the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression? Not much. But houses are selling in some places, albeit slowly. What you need to generate interest is a strong selling strategy combined with some grassroots marketing.

Fred asked me for some advice. As a home seller, he hasn't had much luck in the past. Several years ago, the house was listed for a long time after he took a job in Michigan. When that job didn't work out, he and his family moved back.

But managing the property and its unsuccessful sale while he was in Michigan wasn't much fun. He didn't like the agent who listed the property, and wasn't pleased with the results (almost no showings and no offer, consistent with trying to sell in a lousy market).

This time, Fred is determined to sell before he and his family move out of state. I suggested he might have better luck with some grassroots marketing tactics that take advantage of several recent home sales on his block.

-- Talk to your new neighbors.

Fred lives in a wealthy suburban community that includes some of the top school districts in the state. While the community includes multimillion-dollar mansions, his small single-family home is considered a starter home for the community.

Several homeowners on Fred's block have sold their houses in the past few weeks. I asked him who moved in. He told me that both of the families that moved onto his block are immigrants who are trading up into the new school districts. One family is originally from India and the other is from East Asia.

Clearly, Fred's neighborhood is experiencing some interest from immigrant families hoping to give their kids an excellent public school education. That's good news, since it gives him access to a new group of prospective buyers who may be interested in his property.

While Fred and his wife hadn't had any contact yet with their new neighbors, I told him to knock on their doors this weekend (a plate of brownies in hand) and let them know he and his wife are selling their home.

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