If you look at the unconventional techniques being used in the real estate business, you might think that "desperate times call for desperate measures." Some of these more unorthodox real estate techniques are actually working.

Your "competitive edge" is a term employed by professional marketers to describe the element that makes your product superior to the rest of the field. It's the one attribute that differentiates an item and compels a consumer to buy it.

In the slumping real estate market, consumers have been desperately seeking the competitive edge that will differentiate their homes from all other unsold properties. A traditional tactic might include using a home equity loan to renovate a property and make it more marketable. But since home equity loans are harder to come by, homeowners are employing unusual alternatives.

Feng Shui way

One tactic involves combining the Chinese decorating style known as feng shui with the popular real estate marketing concept known as home staging.

Feng shui manipulates a home's interior to allow for good energy flow, enhancing the positive feelings a buyer will get while evaluating your home. (This technique would discourage placing a large piece of furniture at the entrance to a house, as it might subconsciously cause a person to bounce back out the door.) By combining feng shui with traditional staging tips, such as removing personal items and religious artifacts, realtors are hoping to create more inviting properties.

Eliminate the negatives

Beyond tangible staging techniques, sellers are focusing on the intangibles. If a source of pain and negativity, such as a divorce or a bankruptcy, has taken place in the house, sellers take steps to erase the bad vibes. If the seller can make a symbolic break with the cause of the negative energy, some believe that good feelings will return. After a nasty divorce, for example, remove all legal paperwork from the premises, and place in an off-site storage area.

Saints alive

St. Joseph is the Catholic patron saint of home life. For people desperate to sell their homes, he's also become a critical ally-or at least his statue has.

Here's how the St. Joseph ritual works: If your home's for sale, take a statue of St. Joseph (preferably a small one), and bury it upside down in the yard. After your home sells, the statue must then be placed in the seller's new home.

Some view the act as a superstition, others as a testament to their faith. However you label it, there are sellers who swear that their property sold once St. Joseph went subterranean.

There's a tinge of desperation in the housing market these days, especially since home equity loan money is drying up. Employing these offbeat selling techniques doesn't have to mean you're hanging by a thread. In life, many successes are created by sweating the details. These methods might create a major difference in your home. Try them-the person walking through your home's good vibrations might wind up sitting opposite you at the closing table.

Published on January 24, 2008