EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


April 15, 2008

Focus: Selling in a buyer's market takes patience, preparation

In the past, real estate was all about location. These days, it's also about price and presentation, say local real estate professionals.

Priced right, the home will move, said Joan Fitzgibbons, of Carlson/GMAC Real Estate in Andover. The key is finding the right price point.

In recent years, "if you overpriced a listing, you'd wait and the market would catch up to you," Fitzgibbons said. "Today, if you overprice, you don't ever catch up to the market. You have to price it to sell — even if it's below the market value for today. You have to price it for tomorrow."

The idea is to appeal to buyers who may be tempted to wait for prices to fall farther.

"There are buyers, but they're doing a lot of looking, a lot of thinking and a lot of waiting," Fitzgibbons said. "If you compare this market to 2003 and 2004, it's a great buyer's market."

Blaise Coco of Coco, Early & Associates, of Lawrence, Methuen, Windham and Salem, N.H., said his office is fielding dozens of calls a day from prospective buyers interested in looking at listed homes. Buyers recognize a good deal when they see one. Coco recently got three offers on one house listed around $220,000.

But there are still a lot of houses for sale. So sellers have to become more creative about how they present their homes, said Paul Consoli of Ben Consoli Realtors of Bradford.

"The search for real estate is a visual search," Consoli said. "The house must show as well as it possibly can."

Consoli works with sellers to "stage" their homes so they look their best in photographs on his Web site.

"Our job is to help customers think about presentation, to look at it like a buyer might look at it," he said.

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