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Selling In Slowing Housing Market

The red-hot real estate market has cooled off considerably, which isn't good news if you've got your house on the market.

The latest government reports on sales of new and existing homes give the clearest evidence yet that the decade-long housing bubble may well be bursting.

But on The Early Show Friday, author and Wall Street Journal reporter June Fletcher suggested some things you can do to up your odds of selling your house, even now. And you probably haven't heard of several of them.

Fletcher, who's out with a book called "House Poor: Pumped Up Prices, Rising Rates, and Mortgages on Steroids: How to Survive the Coming Housing Crisis," told co-anchor Rene Syler she thinks there's a big shift coming in housing. People will be buying a home to live in, not necessarily because it's a potential gold mine or investment.

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In "House Poor," Fletcher gives practical advice to sellers and prospective buyers on how to gauge, and wade through potentially troubled real estate waters.

As for selling in this market, Fletcher says, "You're going to have to do some work." Long gone are the days when houses went in one day, and for the asking price or more.

Pointers she gave on The Early Show included:

SET YOUR PRICE REALISTICALLY

How do you know how to price your house? Fletcher says, "Look at what other similar houses in the neighborhood are selling for and then set your price at 10 percent under the market.

"This is a counterintuitive move," she admits, but, "by setting your price 10 percent under the market, your home will get more attention. You'll get more people looking at your home and you'll create a sense of urgency to get people to act to buy. This urgency, and a greater number of people looking at your home, drive up the price by creating a bidding war for it." Fletcher says she's seen people get more money than they would have with a higher asking price by initially asking for 10 percent less.

She adds, "You have to do something to distinguish yourself in a shrinking market and lowering the price will do that."

MAKE MEMORY POINTS

What is a "memory point"? Fletcher calls it "that special detail that is memorable and sets your house apart from the others. It makes your house memorable. Everyone has granite counters these days. So, you might want to install a concrete one for a fraction of the price. And, it will be distinctive.

"I worked with someone who bought a house because of a beautiful little stained glass window on the third floor. He always told people he bought a beautiful window with a house attached."

Fletcher adds: "If you're going to sell your house you're going to want to make it attractive."

She doesn't necessarily advise completely redecorating your home, saying, "You don't want to be known as 'the house with the ugly wallpaper,' but you also don't want to depersonalize a home too much. You can use some of the tricks used by new home builders when they build their models. One thing they do is furnish the home with scaled down furniture — smaller furniture. It makes the rooms look larger. You do want to take out anything that makes the place look crowded. We all have a fantasy of buying a place with more space."

USE UNUSUAL ADVERTISING MARKETS

Fletcher says: "Most people place ads in the real estate sections of their local papers and magazines. They end up being in with hundreds of other ads. I really like places where your ad will stand out, places that are out of the ordinary. Think of publications that don't usually have real estate ads, such as alumni magazines, hobby magazines, train magazines, places you wouldn't usually think about, but where your ad will really stand out."

ADVERTISE ABROAD

"We're living in a global market," Fletcher says. "No matter what happens in our economy, our homes are still a bargain to people in other parts of the world like Germany and Japan. Learn to think globally. One Florida realtor places all his ads on the exit ramp at the Lufthansa Airlines terminal so, when visitors from Germany arrive, the first thing they see are his ads."

To read excerpts of "House Poor," click here.

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