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Tips for sellers Don't waste time floating a high price out there just to see if you get a nibble
Price it right. Trying to make your house stand out by offering potential buyers enticements like a free vacation or a set of golf clubs is so last month. Today it's all about price. Homes sell most quickly if they are put on the market at a price that's just a bit lower than those of similar homes in the area.

"Buyers will have lots of homes to choose from now, and they'll move on quickly if you don't offer the best deal," says John Veneris, a real-estate broker in Downers Grove, Ill.

Don't waste time floating a high price out there just to see if you get a nibble. "You have to stay more current than in the past, so your broker should show you the prices of comparable homes that have gone into escrow in the past month, not three months ago," Veneris says. And if you don't get an offer in four to six weeks, he says, drop the price 4 to 6 percent.

Think round numbers. About 80 percent of people buying and selling homes today get information by searching online multiple-listing sites like Realtor.com, which is run by the National Association of Realtors. To conduct a search on that site, buyers specify a price range, beginning and ending with round numbers. So if you price your home that way, more people will see it.

"I tell my brokers not to list a house at $349,000; put it on the market at $350,000 instead," Ron Phipps says. "That way people shopping online for houses from $300,000 to $350,000 will see your home, and so will people looking between $350,000 and $400,000."

Pick the right improvements. You might want to update your kitchen or a bathroom for your own comfort, but don't expect to recoup the project's whole cost when you sell your home. In today's market, you might get the best return if you spruce up the outside of your home by adding a wood deck, energy-efficient windows, or new siding, according to a nationwide survey of real-estate professionals conducted last year by Remodeling magazine. (For more, see "Remodeling projects".)

Consider the type of listing. If you've decided to go with a real-estate broker, there are two common ways to list your home, and that decision can affect how much money you'll eventually walk away with. You can designate it as an exclusive agency listing, which means you have one broker but can still sell it yourself and save the commission. If you instead opt for an exclusive right-to-sell listing, only the broker you designate can offer your home during the listing term (often six to 12 months), and you can't sell it yourself.

Interview more than one agent. Ask around for recommendations and meet with several possible candidates. They should clearly explain how they would market your property and should describe how they handle open houses and newspaper and Internet advertising. Ask whether there will be any advertising costs, transaction fees, or other incidentals that you will be expected to pay. Transaction fees in particular are negotiable. After you select an agent, make sure the marketing plan is part of the listing agreement, so if the plan is not followed, you will be able to cancel the listing and take your business to another agent.

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