Jul 19, 2010

Could Your Home Attract an Out-of-State Buyer?

A couple years ago, while visiting Ithaca, New York, I talked to a seller whose home had been on the market for several weeks, with no bites. She looked resigned, but then brightened up, saying, "We're hoping one of those California buyers will come along!"

It was probably a far-fetched hope -- and yet one worth having. After all, a study by Brigham Young University showed that, across the country, out-of -state buyers  tend to pay 5% more for homes than in-state folks. (Thanks to SmartMoney magazine for reporting on this, in an article called The Psychology of Real Estate, in its August, 2010 issue.) This phenomenon especially holds true (of course) in areas where real estate prices are lower compared to, say, California, New York City, or upscale communities in other states.

Too bad there's not much you can do to persuade someone to move across the country to buy your home.

But, on the chance that some Californian or New Yorker is already looking in your general area, it's worth making sure that your house is easy to find.

The Internet is already a huge help in this endeavor. Just by having your agent list your house on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), you'll have taken the first step toward findability. You might also consider placing classified ads in whatever large municipal newspaper an out-of-towner is likely to look at, in addition to advertising in the small, local papers that will probably bring in most of your potential local buyers.

For actual visitors to your home, assume that some will know nothing about the area, and be creative in providing information about nearby amenities. If, for example, leisure magazines or other media have written guides or reviews about your area -- perhaps about dining at nearby restaurants or enjoying nearby parks or neighborhood walks -- make color copies of the articles to display at your open houses.

After that, you'll have to trust to luck! But rest assured that, as you read this, some Californian is probably turning to his or her spouse/partner and saying, "Do you realize that if we sold our tiny two-bedroom here, we'd have enough to buy a mansion in, say, Ithaca?"