Why Homes Don’t Sell

You’re relocating, upgrading, downsizing or just need to sell your home, but the flyer box is being refilled for the tenth time and grass is growing around the base of your “For Sale” sign. The longer the property stays on the market, the more doubt agents and prospective buyers will have about it. Here are some possible reasons your home may not be selling and what you can do about it.

Your home may be over-priced for the current market.

Unrealistic overpricing is the most common reason homes don’t sell. Overpricing is the reason that there are so many price reductions each week. Sellers are usually optimistic, basing their value of the home on its positive aspects (usually versus the negative aspects of what they know about the other homes in the neighborhood), fond memories associated with their time there, and local comparable sales and listings (comps).

Homebuyers shop comparatively, comparing features to features against pricing.

An overpriced property will price out some buyers who might have qualified or been interested at a lower price. The property may not appraise and financing could fall apart. The higher price may put you in competition with other houses that provide more value at the same price.

Your home doesn’t show well.

This is a competition – against new homes with amenities and incentives and against other existing homes with various levels of upgrades and improvements and care. The condition of the home and its aesthetics make a huge difference.

Neutralize anything that might turn off a buyer: unusual paint jobs or loud colors, awful window coverings, worn carpets, tattered or tacky furniture, bad smells. Open space, tidiness and organization win points with buyers. Paint is a good return on investment; things look good and smell fresh. Smell is a very important factor; buyers don’t want to smell your pets, laundry or last night’s dinner.

Repairs also score points. Buyers want homes in good condition with properly functioning systems: plumbing, electrical, heating/air conditioning. Replace broken roof tiles, fix/stain/paint decks. Fix leaky windows.

Your home is in a bad location or not easily accessible.

With real estate it’s location, location, location. This can have the greatest impact on your home’s value. Imagine the same property in Orange County or San Francisco or East LA. Sounds (noise), smells, visual distractions (neighbors with front yard debris or cars in disrepair, etc.) can also detract from your home’s desirability.

Foliage can screen off adjoining properties, a fountain can create white noise, color can draw the eye to more positive aspects of the property.

Find something to promote about the home: proximity to shopping or transportation, schools, or home features like upgrades and renovations.

Your home may be poorly designed, outdated or upgraded too much.

Odd floor plans and lot configurations require buyers to stretch their visualization of daily life.

Upgrades add value, but don’t necessarily justify pricing far above the neighborhood comps.

You may have bad pictures.

More and more buyers are looking at homes online as a first step. Many are looking for reasons to see your house in person; others are looking for reasons to rule your house out. A professional photographer is well worth the money. Make sure you clean up the house before the pictures are taken. Stage each room and make sure there is adequate lighting.

You picked the wrong listing agent.

This does happen. Your agent can overprice your home, market it ineffectively, be unresponsive to other agents and buyers or fail to communicate with you throughout the process. If your agent is hard to work with, other agents may not want the hassle.

You are battling competition or market conditions.

Economy, interest rates and public perception can all affect market conditions. Selling in a “seller’s market” usually means inventories are low and prices are strong and may be rising (due to higher demand and smaller supply). Selling in this market will increase your chances of selling sooner and near or above your asking price.

In a “buyer’s market,” sales slow down, inventories increase, and buyers get bargains from motivated sellers. Selling into this market, you will be competing against vacant new construction and rentals. The most effective strategy is lowering your price; another option is waiting it out.

You have ineffective marketing.

There have been times when listing with the multiple listing service (MLS) was all an agent had to do; other agents would bring buyers.

Nowadays, multi-level marketing plans are necessary: listing on the MLS, attractive signage, putting the home on listing tours, advertising in local media and holding open houses are all good ways to get the word out about your home. Consider using flyers and mailer campaigns as well as social media.

Houses are selling in this market. Look at your property objectively, select a good agent, spend a little money (creatively) to accentuate the positive and downplay the negative. Also be sure to price the property appropriately, take good pictures and have a good marketing plan.

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