This time of year the market is rife with properties that have failed to sell. If you are one of the Sellers who is dealing with this unfortunate circumstance, here is a quick guide to some of the main reasons why your home didn’t sell and, indirectly, what you can do to set yourself up for success if you decide to try again.
Borrowing from Mr. Letterman’s late night format:
10 – You are offering a commission that is not competitive. If other Sellers are offering X%, you would do well to follow suit. Don’t offer X% minus .5% or 1.0%, or some other number. Get competitive. It sounds self-serving for me as a Realtor to say that, but it is economic reality. Think about it: if I stand to make less showing your home when I could make more showing your neighbor’s (this assumes the houses are equally comparable), which one do you think will get the appointment and have a chance at being the next to sell? When you incentivize Realtors, the will show your home, assuming it’s appropriate for their Buyer. Realtors are your first line of defense in the current Sellers’ “war” against the Buyer’s market that we’re in. (Note: I have oversimplified here for the sake of brevity. Alot of excellent Realtors will show both houses – but what if there is only time for one? What if the one that pays more is also slightly nicer than yours – as a Realtor I only want to show my Buyers the best houses – can you see how you take a risk when you choose not to compete in the commission marketplace?)
9 – The words “offers encouraged” appear somewhere in your description. This seems like encouragement, but in fact, a Realtor’s translation of this phrase might sound something like this: “we know our price is too high but we don’t really want to lower it to encourage more showings and offers”, or more succintly: “we are not serious about selling” A corollary to this is: “Seller to offer $10,000 credit for repairs” – it’s ok if you want to DO this, but don’t broadcast it – mostly because it alerts your appraiser that your property is worth less.
8 – Your days on market exceeds approximately 180. During the first 30 days you presumably got the most amount of traffic that you’ve had, indeed that you are likely to get, so once you get too far beyond that Buyers and Realtors alike start to wonder if there is something wrong with the property. From about 60 – 90 days, you may still be getting a trickle of traffic but if you are not proactive with your exposure you will not get offers. Even up to 120 days you still have a shot at selling, again if you have been proactive. Get beyond 120 though and you are in dangerous territory and the property becomes stigmatized. Now you’ll have to improve your price to below market value just to get showings. If you have a luxury property, it could take 6 months, but it does not have to take a year or more to sell your home, no matter what the price or how unique it is. Engage with your Realtor to frequently evaluate the status of your exposure (which involves price, among other things) in the marketplace. Actually, this probably should rank up around number 5 or 6.
7 – The first line of your property description is not compelling. Use the first 7-10 words to captivate the Buyer. On some major real estate portals, that is all that the Buyer can see when your listing shows up in their search results, before they have to click to see the details. If there is not appealing text there, they might not click on your listing at all and you just lost an opportunity for a very silly reason.
6 – Your description is not long enough or is not customized. On some major real estate portals, the “flowery” text of your description does not automatically upload from the MLS. It has to be added manually, or customized. Has your Realtor done that? If not, you have NO description, just a bunch of stats, like number of beds, baths, acreage, garage spaces. It’s boring and it won’t truly capture the Buyer during their moment of “do I want to see this house or not”. It is appalling to me how many Realtors are not doing this.
5 – Your property is not being shown on enough portals. Most realtors can do a passable job of getting your listing to Realtor.com, Zillow.com, Yahoo.com, Trulia.com. But what about other opportunities like Craigslist, Backpage, Oodle, smaller sites like local newspapers’ online classifieds, and niche websites like oldhouses.com? Make sure you are getting maximum exposure on as many websites as possible. An okay number would be 100 sites, a better number would be 300 sites. It is doable if you have the right, savvy agent.
4 – You don’t have enough photos. Our MLS allows 24 photos. Load ’em up, especially if your home shows very well. There is no reason not to. Buyers want photos and more photos. Many of the online portals allow even more than 24, so make sure you are maximizing your photos ops, so to speak.
3 – The quality of your photos is poor. The Buyer doesn’t want to see your bed, he/she wants to see your Bedroom. Show as much of the space of the room as you can. If you have a top of the line appliance like a Thermador professional range, it’s a great idea to show that in a photo because it stays with the house, but also be sure to show the rest of the space in the kitchen, especially since you’ve got at least 24 photos to use. It goes without saying that none of your photos should be blurry, dark, or have any glare spots. It’s a great idea to hire a professional photographer, but you can also get excellent quality photos with today’s pimped-out digital cameras.
2 – Your pricing strategy ignores Internet browsing patterns and obscures you from a whole pool of Buyers. If your price is not a standard benchmark, you’ve got a problem. Example: You want to price at 899,900 becuase you think you are fooling the Buyer into feeling like it’s really not 900,000. That might work for sweaters and televisions, but the Buyer who is looking at houses from 900 to 925 will never see your house and what’s worse he’ll miss seeing you by a measly $100.00. Don’t fall for retail pricing theory. Choose nice round numbers. Think about how people shop. In that echelon, they shop in 50,000 to 75,000 increments, so your price should be a benchmark within that criteria, i.e., your 899 listing should be priced at 900 or 875, not 895, not 885, not 880. Your price reductions, if you need them, should, most often but maybe not always (ask me for details), follow the same pattern. I am oversimplifying slightly for the sake of brevity, as all the details and nuances of this are difficult to explain in writing, so contact me if you want a more thorough explanation.
Aaaaaaaaaand, the number one reason your Main Line Home hasn’t sold is:
1 – Your price is too high. You just aren’t competitive with other homes in your neighborhood. Hire a Realtor who will take you out and show you the competition, and then help you to formulate a pricing strategy that makes, and KEEPS, you competitive so that yours is the NEXT home to sell.
I specialize in listings that have failed to sell and Main Line Homes for sale. In six years, I’ve only had 1 listing to expire. If you’re serious about selling, you deserve results. Contact me for more information and to get your home SOLD.
Rebecca Diamond, Main Line Homes for Sale
http://www.MainLineHomeTeam.com for testimonials and to look online at your competition (better to go see them in person though) among other Main Line homes.