As the housing recovery that began last year continues to gain steam into 2013, selling your home may become less of a headache.
But you can be sure of one thing: You're always likely to make the process easier if you use smart marketing tactics.
Some of them are givens: De-clutter your home for open houses, enhance your landscaping, etc. But there are also some underutilized selling methods.
Culling tips from interviews with a variety of industry insiders, AOL Real Estate has compiled a list of some of the best of them. Click through our gallery to learn 13 ways to sell your home in 2013.
13 Ways to Sell Your Home in 2013
13 Ways to Sell Your Home in 2013
Traditionally, sellers are told to play down any quirks to their homes. But that's not always the right move: Foibles could possibly suit the needs of some buyers.
J. Philip Faranda, owner of J. Philip Real Estate in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., says that it’s even worth leading with a home’s foible in some cases. He said that he helped one client sell his home by highlighting its oversized garage.
“The garage bay was huge. The previous agency tried to de-emphasize the strange-looking garage,” he said. “We took out an ad in a trucker magazine to find someone who needed a big garage bank.”
Todays’ myriad technologies offer a treasure trove of marketing tools. A particularly nifty one is a QR code, Faranda says. You can leverage this technology by putting it on your for-sale sign. That allows a passerby to scan the code with a mobile device and visit the home’s online listing.
If you can’t get that high-tech, provide a URL on the sign that brings a visitor directly to the home’s mobile-customized online listing, not just the home page of the listing’s brokerage.
Media reports on the housing market these days often dwell on banks’ tight underwriting standards. That can lead some buyers to shy away from homes that they could actually afford.
As a result, it may be wise for a seller to advertise financing options to potential buyers.
“Most people, because of all the publicity of banks tightening their standards, believe that they need six figures in order to buy a house,” Faranda said. But, in fact, it’s possible for borrowers with the right qualifications to spend far less than that to buy a relatively expensive home, he said.
Take a $500,000 home, Faranda said. In today’s market, “you could put that [a home] can be purchased for $18,500 down at an APR of 4.25 percent with a monthly payment of $2,200.”
Indeed, a Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgage only requires a 3.5 percent down payment.
Ask the right questions when choosing a Realtor, advises Louis Cammarosano, general manager of listing service HomeGain.
Does the Realtor have a strong record of recent sales? Does he or she sell listings at or near their asking prices? If not, ask why.
Also discuss pricing strategies that are right for your home. Have the Realtor provide you with a comparative market analysis.
Just listing a home on the MLS is not enough, Cammarosano said. And find out if a candidate has ready access to homebuyers, as well as whether they are full-time or part-time professionals.
Most homes sell before September, largely because many buyers want to move into new homes before the school year starts, Cammarosano said.
So if you want the best shot at attracting the most buyers, put your home on the market as early in the new year as possible, he said.
Offering free home maintenance for a period of time can be a good way to sweeten the deal for some prospective buyers.
“Provide free services, where a seller prepays on behalf of the buyers for services,” advises Ariana Loucas, a Realtor in Columbia, Md. She said that services could include anything from maid service to pool maintenance, or even snowfall removal.
A short sale refers to when a borrower sells a home for less than what the homeowner owes on a mortgage. Homeowners who previously shied away from short sales may want to reconsider them in 2013. Policy changes among banks and investors have made them significantly easier to pull off.
Here are some tips on how to sell your home short:
“Re-think what constitutes a ‘hardship’ needed for banks to approve a short sale,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president of online foreclosure marketplace RealtyTrac. Looser guidelines are more flexible on what a bank considers a hardship, and lenders are now much more willing to approve short sales for homeowners who are still paying their mortgages, he said.
Use a Realtor who is a short sale specialist. “Look for agents who are Certified Distressed Property Experts or SFR Certified (a short sales and foreclosure resource) through the National Association of Realtors," he said.
Communicate early on in the short sale process with your lender. You may be able to work out a pre-approved short sale price or even take advantage of cash-incentive programs.
Dangle the possibility of winning a prize, like a trip or an iPad, in order to attract buyers to house tours. Raffle the prize off after a certain date.
“This will increase foot traffic to the house and may help you find that perfect buyer,” Loucas said. “So maybe the buyer doesn’t get the house bid, but can win an all-expenses paid dinner at a local restaurant.”
Providing buyers with floor plans and a schedule of monthly expenses makes it easier for a buyer to determine if a property is right for him, Cammarosano of HomeGain said. Offering such information upfront also suggests to a buyer that the seller aims to be transparent -- which could enhance seller-buyer rapport.
“Some homes may have energy efficient appliances, or insulation that keep costs low. The seller would want to highlight and document that,” he said. “Floor plans are important as the potential purchaser can look at them when they get the home and plan how their existing or planned purchased furniture may fit.”
The more you show your home, the more possible buyers you are likely to reach. And since “having the seller around often makes the buyer uncomfortable,” according to Cammarosano, “If possible for all showings, the seller should plan on not being at home while the Realtor shows the home.”
“The man or woman who works late might be the best potential purchaser. So having a 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. showing shouldn't be out of the question."
Using Facebook and Twitter to spread word that you've put your home on the market can be a fruitful marketing tactic, most industry professionals would agree.
Paul Zweben, a Douglas Elliman real estate agent, said he posts every one of his listings on his employer's Facebook page -- with information on its first open house.
"Just another way of getting our listings spread virally," he said.
Katie Lance, social media director at real estate website Inman News, also recommends leveraging video applications including Videolicious, Ptch, Tout and Viddy. The apps allow users to shoot and edit videos, and then distribute them across social networks.
"Instagram can also be used to take photos of not just the rooms in a house but unique details that make the house stand out," she said.