Local News

Homeowners get creative to unload houses

Posted October 22, 2008 5:12 p.m. EDT
Updated October 22, 2008 6:54 p.m. EDT

— The nationwide financial crisis – and the mortgage crisis that preceded it – have made it more difficult for homeowners to sell their houses.

That has led sellers to get creative and real estate agents to get houses online.

During the first nine months of this year, for example, it took an average of 85 days to sell a home in Wake County, up from 67 days during the first nine months of last year.

"We thought it would be an easy sell, but we'll see," said John Biddle, one of a growing number of homeowners looking for creative ways to sell his house.

Biddle has listed his four-bedroom house in Durham on CraigsList.com, the online site for people looking to buy and sell goods and services. He even listed the house on the site's swap list in case the right deal came along to trade homes.

"We tried to be creative with all of our options for selling. (CraigsList) was a free alternative," he said.

Terry Aitken, a broker with Fonville Morisey Realty, said she lists all of her clients online, something she didn't have to do a few years ago.

"There were so many buyers flooded to our market that you didn't have time to (list online) before it was sold," Aitken said. "We don't have the demand now. We do have to do more to attract our buyers."

Eighty-six percent of home buyers now start house-hunting on the Internet, she said. To get people in the door, the sales pitch has to start before people look away from their computer screen.

"If you don't give them something substantial when you walk through the door, you're not going to get the sale because there's so much competition," Aitkin said.

Biddle's home has been listed online for about three months. He updates the listing every couple of days to keep it near the top of the site.

"If you don't update often, you'll find yourself at the bottom of the list (beneath) maybe 300 or 400 houses," he said. "Anywhere you can get an advantage over someone else selling their home, you have to take advantage of that."