Why Isn't My Home Selling?
How Do I Sell My Home?
The bulk of mail I receive from unhappy readers asks for tips on selling a home and they want to know why their home is not selling. Many have had their home on the market for months without a showing. Some home sellers have had dozens of buyer previews but not one purchase offer.
In buyer's markets, it is especially important to pull out all the stops and make your home stand out among the sea of inventory on the market.
Ask yourself: why a buyer would choose your home over all the other homes for sale? The answer is the way you market it.
Poor Condition of Your Home
Check out your competition. If 90% of the homes in your market are not selling, then your home needs to outshine the top 10%. Look at the homes that are pending sales because that's your current indicator. Sold comps could be two to three months in arrears of market movement. If you want to know what is happening right now, the pending sale data will tell you which homes are selling.
Apart from preparing your home for sale, consider its condition. Perhaps you should consider adding updates or doing repairs before selling. If the top 10% on the market have new carpeting and your carpeting is worn and dated, your home is not going to sell. Replace the carpet. But ask your agent first because 9 times out of 10, today's buyers prefer wood or wood-like laminate over carpet.
Paint the walls neutral -- not white. Check its curb appeal.
Not Enough Photographs or Badly Shot Photographs
Homes in MLS that have one photo are passed by. Homes with dozens of photographs get noticed. Take quality photos or, for optimum marketing, hire a professional photographer. Shoot wide angles with plenty of light showcasing your home's best features.
For goodness sake, keep the toilet lid closed.
- Don't just shoot the master bedroom or largest bedroom. Try to capture them all because buyers will count the number of bedrooms in the photo lineup. If one is missing, they might incorrectly assume your number of bedrooms is fewer.
- Don't get yourself or the camera in the photo of the bathroom by shooting the mirror's reflection.
- If your hallway is narrow, don't take a picture of it. Get a close up of your fireplace or other interesting feature instead.
- Take many photos of the kitchen. The kitchen is generally the most important photo. It is the heart and soul of the home.
- Before photographing the dining room, set the table.
- Living room photos should show space, so move out some of that furniture.
- Remember to include the back yard and gardens.
- Add descriptive text to each photo; make your poetry sing.
You Haven't Paid For Extensive Marketing and Advertising
No single aspect of marketing sells a home. It's a combination of marketing efforts. If your online media outlet makes a mistake and lists your home under the wrong section, don't panic -- homes have sold to buyers who found them in the wrong place. For that reason, consider placing an ad under several classifications.
- Print four-color postcards and mail them to surrounding homes in the neighborhood and to out-of-area buyers.
- Create four-color flyers containing several photos to distribute to prospects and those who tour your home.
- Hire a virtual tour company to shoot and upload videos.
- Massively advertise every weekend.
- Hold Open Houses on Sundays that coincide with other neighborhood open houses. Sometimes Thursday evenings attract buyers for twilight tours.
- Get feedback from buyers about what they liked and disliked about your home, and make adjustments to overcome objections.
- Consider shooting a video yourself and uploading it to YouTube.com, even if it's just you talking about what you like about living there.
You Hired the Wrong Listing Agent
You want to work with an agent who is competent, experienced and honest.
There are a variety of ways to find an agent but the easiest way is through referrals from friends and family.
If you desire full-service and want an agent to spend tons of money on the listing, hire a full service brokerage and interview several agents. To find the best listing agent, don't base your decision solely on the suggested sales price or how much the agent charges you because there are other considerations. Discuss home pricing and commission negotiations last. First, find out the agent's strategic marketing plan.
Some discount agents don't invest a lot of time and effort into marketing, especially if they are paid a salary. Experienced agents will be your best bet. You can trust experience. Search for experience in an agent not only by an agent who has been in the business for many years, but also an agent who has sold a lot of homes. There is a world of difference between an agent who sells 12 homes a year and an agent who sells 100.
You Haven't Priced Your Home to Sell
Sellers say, "But I don't want to give away my house." Of course, not. You want to sell it. To sell your home, the price must be right. Don't "test" the market or ask an inflated figure because if you do, your home will probably sit on the market and the DOM will continue to tick. Dated listings (homes that have been on the market too long) don't generally sell for list price.
To avoid overpricing your home, examine the sold comparable sales. Adjust for square footage, if necessary. If your home has a bad layout or is located in bad location such as next to a school, on or near a busy street or bordering a liquor store, you're not going to get the same price as homes with a good layout and in a good location.
For example, if the last three homes sold at $400,000 but you feel they are not comparable to yours because they don't contain updates -- but they were located on a quiet street and your street is noisy -- your home is probably worth about the same. A plus-$50,000 adjustment for the updates could wash out the minus-$50,000 for the busy street.
In a buyer's market, price your home a minimum of a percent less than the last comparable sale. If you can't live with that price, then don't put your home on the market and set yourself up for disappointment. Overpricing is the worst mistake a home seller can make.
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.