The average time on the market in 2016 for the 2,950+ homes that sold through MLS was 51 days. As you might expect, homes priced over a million dollar took longer to sell—an average of 92 days—while the shortest time on the market was 36 days for homes between $225,000 – $250,000.  But, even within those categories some homes sell within hours while others may languish on the market for months.  Unsold homes but still active on the market have an average time of 119 days, more than twice the time for solds. So what makes a home sell in a matter of hours rather than months? Obviously, price is a determining factor. Most professional Realtors give sellers a price ‘range’. Realtors intuitively want to get the best possible price for a seller and so most recommend the top of the market which may ultimately not be in the seller’s best interests. In today’s market, my recommendation is to price in the bottom third of the range and when considering price look only at other active on the market comps. After all, that’s how buyers are going to view the market, not what sold and closed six months prior.

Price, however, is not always the primary motivator for a sale. Unique properties fall into a special category. Homes with unobstructed views of either mountain or inlet views, a four car garage, a particular school district, the ability to walk to work, being close to family and friends, a larger than average backyard at the end of a cul-de-sac are all factors that help create a fast sale. These special features that make a home unique also command a higher value. Buyers are willing, even in today’s market, to pay more for what they really desire. I use the verb ‘desire’ deliberately because these special features are not necessities. Once a buyer finds their desired feature the home is sold.

It goes almost without saying that a home built in the 1980’s or even the 1990’s needs a ‘do over’ in order to be competitive in the market. And if that’s not financially possible at least a professional cleaning and de-cluttering. The magic for any ‘do-over’ is keep it neutral with clean lines. In Alaska, gray is fading fast as the preferred wall color. It just doesn’t lend itself to six months of fading light.

And then there’s marketing. Professional photos are a must. I know my new iPhone 7 has a better camera and can even make movies and videos but there are better cameras and more experienced photographers than most of us are and Realtors should be using them. After all, those photos get syndicated to the online world and a buyer’s first look is where acceptance or rejection occurs. And it’s hard to change that first impression, right or wrong.