By Douglas A. McIntyre

The environment for home sales becomes more difficult with each passing month. Some estimates put 11 million mortgages, about 20% of the U.S. total, underwater, meaning that homeowners owe their banks more than the underlying properties are worth. Home repossessions reached more than 100,000 for the first time in September. Rising foreclosure rates continue to further depress housing prices.

The federal government let its tax benefit for homeowners expire in April and has not renewed it since them. The program did boost sales earlier this year. Shoppers must now face a market without the credit in which many home prices continue to fall.

The clamor over flawed foreclosure paperwork and robo-signers could further chill the housing market. People who might buy have bought a home in foreclosure will now worry about obtaining proper documentation and effective transfer of title.

24/7 Wall St. spoke with experts at real estate research firms and RealtyTrac to find the best way to sell a home. We also interviewed management from the National Association of Realtors, a number of real estate brokers, bank managers and elected officials in affluent communities. What emerged from these conversations and our research is the following: successful home sellers often do the same small number of things correctly. Often, these tactics are the difference between finding a buyer and not.

1. Pick the Best Broker

Many people who decide to sell contact a real estate brokerage with a sterling reputation or go to one that has the largest number of listings. Frequently, when potential sellers call these firms, they are turned over to the first available broker in the office. That person is often not the best representative. As a matter of fact, what is a successful broker doing in the office anyway? There are a small number of brokers in most markets who have a better track record than their peers. Most of them have been brokers for a long time and did not lose their jobs when the housing bubble collapsed.

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The Eleven Reasons People Can’t Sell Their Homes