5 steps to a quick home sale

In a hurry to sell your home? Here's how to make sure you snag the best price in shortest amount of time.

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By Beth Braverman, Money Magazine staff reporter

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(Money Magazine) -- 1. You have to seriously undercut the competition

Selling a home in a down market almost inevitably means settling for a disappointing price. But to unload your home fast, you're going to have to dip 10% to 15% below what comparable homes in your neighborhood recently sold for. You still may not be able to compete with foreclosures and short sales, but at least you stand a chance of getting buyers to notice your listing.

To prevent yourself from becoming overly attached to your asking price, try to determine the lowest possible offer you'd accept before your listing hits the market. That will help remove your emotions from the negotiating process later on, says Palm Beach realtor Heidi Cole.

2. Outside fixes have the biggest impact

Since your house won't be cheaper than the distressed property down the block, it has to look far better. But you may not have the time or money to redo the kitchen, so focus on cosmetic improvements that will bring the most buyers to your door.

Spending a grand can go a long way toward improving your home's exterior, says staging expert Sandy Hare of Eugene, Ore. Get the outside of your house power-washed, paint the door, replace the knocker, and hire a gardener to give your yard some TLC.

3. First-timers are your friend

The most efficient way to market your home is to target the most likely buyers. First-timers bought over half the homes purchased so far this year, thanks to a new federal tax credit and the flexibility to buy without the burden of selling another property (super-low mortgage rates don't hurt either).

The average age of the first-time buyer: 30. To boost your chances of reaching the Gen-Y crowd, get yourself a snazzy online presence (see No. 4) and spread the word about your next open house through social networks like Facebook and Twitter, says Warwick, R.I., realtor Ron Phipps.

4. Online tricks will make your home pop

Buyers are faced with thousands of listings. Help them find yours by peppering your description with amenity keywords like "deck," "pool," and "granite counters," says Heather Fernandez of real estate search site Trulia.com. Then make sure they like what they see by using a wide-angle lens to make your rooms look bigger in pictures. And set your home at the lowest end of its price range; a $299,000 home will seem expensive to a buyer in the $250,000 to $300,000 range, but a $301,000 home is a deal to someone looking between $300,000 and $350,000.

5. Your secret weapon is a speedy deal

It can take months for banks to approve a deal for a short sale or a foreclosed property. Make sure your agent lets potential buyers know that you can close the deal within a few weeks.

Another advantage you hold over distressed sellers: the ability to be creative in negotiations. If a potential buyer is wavering, offer to pay part or all of the closing costs or cover a year's worth of association fees. At the very least, consider throwing in some new appliances or a paint job. After all, in this market no one is going to want a home that doesn't seem like a bargain.  To top of page

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