When a house doesn’t sell as quickly as expected, it’s easy (for the owner anyway) to lay the blame on a soft real estate market, or a lousy selling season. After all, neither of those things are the seller’s faults, nor under the seller’s control. The fact is, though, that 90% of the time when a house doesn’t sell quickly, it’s due to problems that are within the control of the home’s owner. And that’s good news. It means that they’re fixable – and once they’re fixed, the house should sell quickly.
If your house has been on the market and isn’t getting the attention and offers that you expected, it may be time to reevaluate a few things. Here are several potential reasons that good houses typically don’t sell well. Go through the list and see if your home fits into one of them.
Priced Above Market
The number one reason that a house doesn’t sell quickly is that it’s priced above its true market value. I don’t care what your real estate appraisal says, or how much you need to get for the house, or how much you invested in improvements – the only real measure of your house’s true market value is what people are willing to pay for it.
The best way to figure that out is to find out how much people have been willing to pay for similar houses in your neighborhood. Once you know that, you can logically calculate a price for your own house based on the market price for similar houses. Keep in mind, though, that any time you price your home more than 5% above the typical price in your neighborhood, you’re taking a very real risk of pricing yourself out of the market.
If you’re not getting calls at all from people interested in seeing the house you’re selling, it may be the fault of the photograph of your home in the MLS brochure or web site. While some realtors will encourage prospective buyers to take a look because ‘the picture doesn’t do it justice’, most buyers won’t even call about a house that doesn’t look good in the brochure.
Invest in a professional photographer to get the best possible picture of your house. If there’s a time of day that it looks its best, arrange to take the picture then, and be sure to crop the photo to show the house at its most flattering. That photo is very likely to be the first look that prospective buyers get at your house. You want it to make a great first impression.
Terrible Curb Appeal
You may be losing sales before potential buyers even set foot in the door. Take a walk across the street and look at your house from the curb. That’s the first view that people get of your house as they approach it from the street. If the lawn is shaggy and overgrown, or the house is badly in need of a coat of paint, buyers will be wondering what else hasn’t been taken care of over the years.
Make sure that your house looks good from the curb. Make sure that shutters are firmly attached, paint is fresh and the lawn and bushes are well-trimmed. The better your house looks on the outside, the more likely you are to get prospective buyers to step inside.
If the house is dirty, cluttered or smells of old tobacco smoke and pet odors, it will be difficult to find a buyer. Very few people want to buy a dirty house. Like a house that appears neglected from the outside, a house that isn’t taken care of inside will make buyers wonder what they’re getting themselves into. No one wants to spend their first week in a new house cleaning up after the old owners.
Clean up your act before you start showing the house. Get rid of personal belonging or stow them out of sight. De-clutter counters, tabletops and walls. The fresher and cleaner your house is, the better prospective buyers will feel about buying it.
Odors are one of the most insidious deal killers. If you live with pet odors, cigarette smoke and mildew smells all the time, you may not notice them – but potential buyers will. Even if it’s not consciously noted, a house that doesn’t smell good has a subtle psychological effect that can kill a sale before it gets started.Odors have to be attacked at the source. Take down curtains and wash them with a fresh-smelling fabric softener before re-hanging. Get rid of musty smelling carpets, and stop smoking inside your house.
If you’re not certain what it is about your house that’s keeping it from buying, ask your realtor to get feedback from those who come to see it. Keep track of their comments to help you put your finger on just what you need to do to make your house more appealing.