As the most robust season of the year for most real estate markets comes to an end, those whose properties have not yet sold face challenging decisions. Many eager buyers who came out of the woodwork in springtime and then finalized their purchases over the summer are now gone from the landscape, and less buyers means greater competition for sellers whose listings are languishing.

Here are half a dozen helpful tips for home sellers who want to attract a buyer and close a deal before colder weather sets in, real estate markets slow down, and most of those who are shopping for a new home go into hibernation until next year arrives.

1. Evaluate Realtor Performance
First of all, evaluate your listing agent’s performance in an objective manner. Are they doing enough to advertise the property, and have they held any Open Houses to encourage visits from potential buyers?

If you live in a LGBT enclave, does your real estate agent understand the local LGBT market and have strong connections to those who live and work in the neighborhood? Sometimes hiring a broker who is also an active and supportive member of the LGBT community can be an advantage if you are a LGBT homeowner.

2. Redefine Your Goals
As the brisk sales season winds down it is important that you reexamine your specific goals as a seller. Ask yourself whether you are really determined to sell and move, or whether you might be interested in alternatives such as refinancing, renting part of the home to a tenant for extra income, or waiting until the market improves and you can realize a greater return on your investment.

3. Study the Competition
In a competitive market it is essential that you know what other sellers are doing. Know the listing prices of competing homes. Stay current regarding sales prices of homes similar to yours that have recently sold and how long were they were on the market.

Check out other homes. Examine their curb appeal and the conditions of important features and components such as the roof, the paint job, and the landscaping. If your home needs updating in order to compete, factor that into your strategy and pricing.

Analyze sales data and make sure that your offering price is where you want it to be in terms of being either on the high side, somewhere in the middle, or the best bargain on the entire street.

4. Add an Incentive
By adding a home warranty, a repair allowance, or an offer to help pay your buyer’s closing costs you can often inspire hesitant buyers to get off the fence and sign a contract.

You can also offer intangible incentives through improved curb appeal, a home staging makeover (where you hire a professional to decorate your home to look like a model home), or a simple cosmetic upgrade that won’t strain your budget but will quickly dress up your property.

5. Crunch New Numbers
Holding on to houses across the winter season can mean that you will face higher utility bills, especially if you live in an older home that is relatively expensive to heat. The longer you keep the home the more taxes and insurance you’ll pay, too – but you will also reap some tax benefits by paying mortgage interest. Crunch the numbers with the help of your Realtor to understand the bottom line benefits to holding or selling. That information will help you decide whether to wait for higher prices next year or to lower your price to inspire a sale now.

6. Use Calendar Benchmarks
Even houses that are difficult to sell will move if the price is attractive enough to buyers. But sellers often procrastination when it comes to dropping the price – even if they believe it is a smart thing to do – because they get too emotionally involved.

Remove the emotions and avoiding costly delays by relying upon the calendar – not your feelings and whims – to trigger price drops. If you plan to drop the price 20 percent to motivate a faster sale, for instance, one strategy could be to drop the price 10 percent if nobody makes a serious offer within 15 days. Then if the house is still not attracting enough attention, automatically drop to the 20 percent off mark when the 30 day deadline expires.

Mark the dates on the calendar and give instructions to your Realtor to set things in motion if time elapses past a designated deadline.

If you absolutely need to sell right away, then prepare to do whatever it takes rather than trying to hold out for a slightly higher price. And if you happen to be upside down in your mortgage like many Americans, talk to the lender or a credit counselor about loan modification. The worst thing is to do nothing, so remain proactive and positive to invite success.

Remember to trust the sale of your home to a professional committed to equality, integrity, and hard work in service to the LGBT community at Or call toll-free 1-888-420-MOVE (6683).

Jeffery Hammerberg is Founder and President of Gay Real Estate, Inc. – the nation’s largest group of companies connecting gay & lesbian home buyers and sellers to gay, lesbian and gay friendly real estate agents. Since 1997, Hammerberg has created a virtual real estate marketplace for the LGBT community.

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