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Home & Real Estate

Home Sellers May Need to Sweeten the Deal

Moving on can be a headache when the old house just isn't selling.

Hector Sanchez is a man with a past he can't shake. Sanchez, 33, wife Alejandra Lopez, 30, and daughter Sara, 1, began a new life last summer in Atlanta, where Sanchez took a job as art director of Atlanta magazine. The young family is eager to buy a house near downtown, but they're still tied to Chicago, where their condo has been on the market since last spring. They bought it for $204,000 three years ago and listed it for $244,500 initially. It's now reduced to $235,000.

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There's also the complication of a $24,000 owners' assessment for building repairs imposed just before the family moved. "We've had one offer," says Sanchez. "After they asked about the assessment, we didn't hear back."

They say location is everything in real estate, but timing is key, too. The condo was listed just as prices in Chicago started to sink. The good news is that the market may have bottomed. Average prices have declined just 2.4%, and inventories seem to be flattening out.

To help make the sale, Sanchez should use his art-director talents to "stage" the unit, refurnishing the empty space to create a homier feel. And he should take a cue from the high-rise developers he's competing with by offering goodies -- mortgage payments for six months, a year's worth of maid service or, in this case, a chunk of the assessment.

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