Selling

You’ve found a brand-new home that’s just right for your family, both in price and size, but you can’t move until you sell your current one. It’s time to be creative.

Not just you, either, but your builder, too, says Kerry Mulcrone, a Minneapolis-based new-home sales trainer.

At a recent convention in Vegas, Mulcrone reminded a packed seminar session that builders are in the same boat as their buyers; therefore, they need to be their buyers’ partners.

“The days of like it and buy it are over,” the sales instructor said. “Both of you have the same mission, so to turn a looker into a buyer, you have to figure it out together.”

Mulcrone’s main suggestion –– to bundle the sale of the old house with the new –– took the crowd by surprise.  She called on builders to visit their would-be buyers’ “departure” houses to determine what can be done to make them more saleable. If a house needs a coat of paint, send a painter, she advised. If it needs some sprucing up outside, send over a landscaper.

“Their old house is going to be someone else’s new house,” she explained, “so help it look new again.”

She also suggested that builders use some of their model home furniture to “jazz up” the buyers’ old residences. “You’ve got garages full of it,” she snapped.

The message for sellers is the same: Ask your builder to take a look at your house to see what he can do to put your place in tiptop shape and then dress it up so it shows as well as a model home.

Of course, sellers have long been advised to spruce up their homes before putting them on the market.

But this might be the first time someone has suggested that builders help in that endeavor.

It really makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

And why not? If they want to keep their organizations intact as they muddle through the housing downturn, then builders, as Mulcrone suggested, might have to help goose the transaction along.

Mulcrone didn’t mention trade-ins, but this, too, may be worth considering if you are having trouble unloading your current home. Builders used to take their buyers’ houses in trade all the time. If a buyer’s house didn’t sell within a certain period, the builder bought it from him.

You may have to take a deeper discount to persuade your builder to take your house off your hands, especially in this market. But it’s worth a try. At least you’ll be rid of that albatross around your neck. And who knows? The builder might have a portfolio of investment houses that he’d like to add to, or he might know someone who does.

If you are worried about qualifying for a mortgage, consider asking the builder to set you up with his construction lender, who has a vested interest in making sure the builder sells his houses.

If the builder fails, his lender loses, too. Consequently, the lender –– in theory, at least –– should be willing to cut buyers a little slack, especially if the lender keeps his loans in his own portfolio as opposed to selling them to investors in the secondary-mortgage market.

Another option, of course, is to become a landlord and rent the place. But if that idea makes you nervous, consider leaving the place in the hands of trustworthy house sitters. There’s a whole group of nomads out there who are willing to live in houses on a short-term basis and keep them in showing order until they sell.

Some or all of these ideas might seem crazy, but the idea is that we might need to start thinking outside the box at some point.

Most builders in the GTA have been rigidly inflexible over the last few years, so it’s refreshing to start discussing “win-win” scenarios and co-operation.

Imagine that!  🙂

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