Selling a house in a small town requires the same strategies for selling a house in the city—making sure the home is attractive to buyers, listing the home with an agent or otherwise getting it before prospective buyers, and so on—but some other tricks may help your small-town home sell faster.
Consider Your Target Market, and Sell to It
Nearly all homes have some factors that make them appealing: Some are roomy, some have old-fashioned charm, some are on quiet streets and so on. Your community also has characteristics that make it appealing: It may have a small college, be on a picturesque river or have great hunting land nearby, for example. These factors will be more appealing to some people than others; determine who are the people most likely to want to buy your home, and target your efforts accordingly.
Assuming you like the home, start with people like yourself—but don't stop there. The same home might have appeal for a pair of newlyweds or a retiring couple, for example.
Think about people both in your community, who may be thinking of a different place to live or of purchasing an investment property, and outside of it, including city people who are looking to get away from it all. (According to Kenneth Johnson, a professor who studies rural demographics at the University of New Hampshire, this is happening to an increasing number of city dwellers who are disillusioned with crowds and traffic and are more free with their employment thanks to technological advances that allow them to work remotely.)
Once you've made a list of possibilities of people who might be interested in your home, think creatively about how to get the word out to them. Consider putting an ad in publications they might read (such as farm or hunting publications, if that applies to your situation), or on online sites (particularly local ones) they might visit. Also consider whether there's anything newsworthy about your situation, or the home itself, that would lend itself to an article in one of those publications—which would be worth much more in publicity than an ad would be.
Let Word of Mouth Work for You
Small towns are famous (or infamous) for passing information via word of mouth or, as your grandmother may have called it, gossip. This can be used as a factor in your favor as you try to sell your home. Depending on the quality of the "grapevine" in your community, this may be all the marketing you need.
Consider the places where people gather to talk—local restaurants or coffee shops, for example. Post fliers about your home in a prominent place there, and, better yet, stop to talk to some of the people there as you do so.
Tell your friends to tell their friends about your home being on the market—and go out of your way to tell the "in the know" people in your community about your home's for-sale status.
Remember to tell the postmaster—in a truly small town, this person keeps tabs on just about everybody and may know of someone for whom a change in housing is required, or whose son or daughter is returning to the area and so on.
You should also make sure that word of mouth is not working against you—if everyone knows that your basement flooded last spring, for example, make sure people also know about the drain tile you installed last summer that makes a repeat event unlikely.
If word of mouth seems to be dying down and you still have no takers, schedule an open house. People love to peek into their neighbors' houses, so you may get a houseful of lookie-loos, but these same people could pass on their (hopefully favorable) impressions to others they know. It is especially important to "depersonalize" your home for the open house, if you hadn't already, so that people who know you don't automatically think of you when they think of your house.
Don't Forget the Obvious
Make sure there's a "For Sale" sign in front of the yard. This will start the word-of-mouth chain nearly as well as you can.
Heidi Marttila-Losure has six years of daily newspaper experience as a copy editor, copy desk chief, and magazine editor in North Carolina and Iowa. She has also worked as a copy editor for several online news organizations. Marttila-Losure currently works as a writing, editing and graphic design freelancer. She received her bachelor's degree in English writing and religion.