Home-Sale Hardball: What Works Now

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If you need to sell a house that's underwater, the last thing you want to do is shell out a realtor fee that's going to cut into your loss even more. But doing an FSBO in this market means a lot more than sticking a sign on your lawn and listing a few open houses in the local paper.

You need to be persistent, networked and pretty darn creative.

Here are some extreme tactics homeowners are using to lure serious buyers.

At least some of them actually worked.
Know Your Market

A family trying to sell a 2,000-square-foot, 3-bedroom, Tudor-style home in multicultural Queens, N.Y., translated their for-sale signs into Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese, and posted them in nail salons, laundromats and ethnic supermarkets around the neighborhood.

Network, network, network

Lisa Antinore, the family member in charge of selling the Queens home, also told all of the crossing guards at her son's school ("They talk to everybody," she says). She also wore a T-shirt that read "ask me about buying my Gorgeous English Tudor" around her neighborhood one weekend. She posted the home, with a link to her Zillow listing, on her Facebook page and asked her 572 FB friends to add her post to their profile. "This is what did the trick," she says. She landed a buyer in 28 days.

Blog
Guy Mastrion, a home-seller in Saratoga Springs, NY, started a blog about local life and real estate. The website has images of the quaint former spa town, links to local news and sports, and some Trulia listings for houses selling in the area. It also has a lot of postings, photos and a YouTube video related to the "featured property" at 8 Granite Lake Dr. in Greenfield, a few miles outside of Saratoga. It just happens to be the house that Mastrion is trying to sell.

Advertise
One home-seller in Westchester, N.Y. has taken a tip from pizza delivery guys and propped an advertisement on the top of his car. It has a picture of the house and a phone number. We haven't heard how it's working but we have heard that people are noticing it. We got this tip from a person who parks in the same lot with the seller at work.

Get Help From Your Neighbors
Suzanne Kay-Pittman, who recently put her 4-bedroom, 3-bath Nashville-area home on the market, agreed to let a neighbor help make her house look like a bargain. She told HousingWatch that her neighbor plans to put a for-sale sign on his lawn with an asking price $50,000 higher than hers. "His thought is that if someone sees his sign and the price, and looks at my MLS listing, then that buyer may be more interested in my house based on the price," she says. The signs went up over the weekend so it's too soon to know if it will work.

Spy on Your Own House
Dave Darby actually used a realtor when he sold his 3,300-square-foot house in Carmel, Ind. at the beginning of the downturn, but didn't leave anything to chance. Before the agent dropped by with a prospect, he'd vacuum the place clean. Then he'd come back afterward and track the footprints on the carpet to see which rooms attracted the most interest. Then he spruced those up, as in "I turned on some mood music in the den and opened the blinds to better expose those views." He reports that while neighbors' homes were already sitting on the market for months, he managed to find a buyer in a few days-and get 98 percent of his asking price.

Offer a Reward
One Couple in Brooklyn, N.Y. created a website, advertised on Craigslist and NYTimes.com, and hosted the requisite open houses with no luck. So now they're putting up serious cash in an effort to dispatch their 2-bedroom, 2-bath duplex (pictured above) in an up-and-coming neighborhood. The couple posted on a local parenting list-serv and passed the word along to friends and colleagues that they would pay a $2,000 finder's fee to the person who sends a buyer their way.

If You Can't Sell, Try Trading
A growing number of people who can't sell their homes are doing permanent home swaps, via websites like DomusSwap, OnlineHouseTrading, and Pad4Pad. No one tracks home-trading so it's hard to know just how many people have closed deals this way. But if you're interested and a bit of an exhibitionist, you can apply to be on a reality show about home-trading.

Get rid of your house and get your 15 minutes of fame at the same time. That would be a DIY coup that you could brag about for years-to all your new neighbors.


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