You feel frustrated, angry, and confused. The O.C. real estate market is on fire, houses are selling left and right. But, despite multiple people coming to see your house, you just haven’t had any bites.
The weeks have turned into months, and you’re not sure what else you can do. You shake your fist at the sky and scream, “Why, oh why won’t anyone buy my house!?!”
Your agent tells you that lowering the price is the only way to get a buyer at this point. But that can’t be true, can it? It must be something else…
The truth is, it could be any number of things. But if you are in a seller’s market and your home isn’t selling, there is definitely SOMETHING wrong.
So, here are 13 reasons that your house may not be selling. Let’s start by getting the more contentious “List Price” argument out of the way.
13 Reasons Your House Isn’t Selling
1 – Your List Price is Simply too High.
What does “too high” mean anyway? Isn’t our home worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it?
Yes! But that someone can’t be you, it has to be one of those buyers out there who are looking at your home in the context of the entire local market. When setting your list price, you need to take a close and objective look at the comps, and then keep checking them on an ongoing basis.
Sometimes the market can turn downward from one month to the next. If you don’t adjust your listing price accordingly you could quickly find yourself trying to sell way above the competition. If you were a buyer, which houses would you look at first?
Many sellers intentionally price their home a little higher to leave room for negotiation. Be careful doing this! If you accumulate to much market time, you could seriously hurt your chances of receiving the best possible offer.
2 – Your Home is Not Being Properly Marketed
This is a big problem. Any house can sell if you lower the price enough. But getting the best price requires a great marketing plan, and great execution of that plan.
Any dope with a real estate license can take pictures, slap a sign in the yard, and list your house on the MLS. But you shouldn’t settle for exposure when what you need is lots of exposure.
You don’t get the best price by waiting for the best offer to magically fall in your lap. You get the best price by negotiating the best price, ideally by having multiple offer to leverage against each other.
Remember: More Exposure = More interested buyers = More Offers = More Money!
3 – Not Enough, or Outright Bad Pictures
Pictures are probably the most important part of your home listing. At the very least you need enough pictures so that buyers can get a good sense of the layout of your home.
Ideally, your pictures will be bright, beautiful, and numerous. Dark or blurry pictures can make your home feel dreary, and paint a mental picture that just doesn’t do justice to your real house.
Also, if possible it’s best to avoid pictures with the photographer’s reflection in them. These takes people out of the daydreaming experience. In the movie business they call this breaking the fourth wall.
4 – Your Agent is Sub-Par
This obviously ties back into the previous point about marketing. If your agent doesn’t have an effective marketing plan beyond just listing on the MLS, then you really should hire a new agent.
But while marketing your home is your agent’s primary job, it’s not the only job. He or she also needs to provide great service, both to you, and to those interested in your house.
I wish I had a nickel for every time I was trying to set up showings for my buyers, but wasn’t able to get in touch with the listing agent. No matter how much I followed up, when it came time to go see homes, we just had to skip that one because we couldn’t get an appointment. It’s happened far too often, usually they end up calling back a day later, but by that time it’s too late: We’ve already moved on another house.
The point is, that agent failed in a very basic way to expose his seller’s house to one more qualified buyer. Don’t hire that agent!
5 – The Curb Appeal Needs Improvement
One of the best returns on investment is curb appeal. Water the lawn, pull some weeds, plant some shrubs and BOOM! All of the sudden your home is standing out in a great way. You can even bring in a landscaper to consult on some cost-efficient ideas for improving your curb appeal.
Curb appeal can make a big difference as first impressions are very important in real estate, just like they are in all aspects of life. It’s actually a studied psychological phenomenon.
When the first impression is poor, people subconsciously start looking for more problems as they tour the house. If the first impression is awesome, on the other hand, buyers actually start to focus on other benefits and it becomes easy to disregard some of the other minor problems.
Read this article on landscaping tips to improve your home’s value.
6 – Your Description is Over-Embellishing
If your house is in average condition, don’t describe it as “mint condition, absolutely perfect in every way!” Obviously you want to paint the best picture you can, but you must do it honestly and within reason. Don’t lie.
Lying might get people in the door, but they will quickly discover the disparity between what you said and what you delivered. Once they realize that you lied, they will pretty much suspect everything else you say or present about the home is also a lie, or that you are covering up some other huge problem.
Check out this article on positioning your home in the local market.
7 – Your House Needs Some Work
Does your home need some TLC that’s not being reflected in your asking price? If so than you really have two very simple options: either fix the price, or fix the house.
If your home needs a paint job, or fences need mending then what you really have is a fixer upper. If you try to sell your fixer upper for full market value, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
There is definitely a market for fixer-uppers, but just know that the buyers in that market are only there because they are looking for a bargain. You are more likely to come out ahead by just making the needed repairs and listing at full price!
8 – Your House Looks Like It Could Only Ever Be Your House
I know, it seems silly. “Of course my house is mine… What is that supposed to mean?” Let me explain. Your house is a product, and you are trying to sell that product to someone else. You’ve lived here for years, but to the prospective buyers this home is brand new, and it needs to feel that way.
You need to present your house in a way that allows buyers to imagine it as their own. Family portraits, funky colors on the walls, doggy beds, display cases full of dolls, cups, or sports memorabilia all make buyers feel like they are walking through a stranger’s house, not looking at their future home.
Remember, perception is reality: what people imagine and feel has a very real and tangible impact on their decisions and actions… like whether or not they make an offer.
Check out this article on 6 ways to sell your house faster.
9 – Your House is Out of Fashion
This can be a hard pill to swallow sometimes, especially if you really love the kitchen remodel you did 15 years ago. Styles and tastes just change over time, and residential real estate is no exception.
One thing I always recommend to sellers these days is to ditch the popcorn ceilings if they haven’t already. People these days seem to place a premium on homes with smooth, flat ceilings and inset lighting.
The good news is that it’s pretty easy to see what buyers in your market want. Just check out the pictures and data of the most recent comps and you will start to see some trends. Perhaps homes with certain types of tile or hardwood are selling faster and for more money.
10 – Your House is Cluttered with Stuff
Generally, too much clutter will decrease the marketability of your house. I’m just going to come right out and say it: It makes your home look junky and it turns buyers off (remember what I said about first impressions in #4).
Get rid of as much stuff as you can, or put it in storage if you need to. Remember, buyers are going house to house looking for the one they want to buy. If some of the other homes for sale are nicely staged, than your house is going to look like a disaster in comparison.
Clearing the clutter in most cases won’t cost you anything, but it will make a HUGE difference in the desirability of your house.
11 – People Can’t Actually go See Your House
If your house is difficult to show, it logically follows that you will get less showings and less offers. If you restrict access to your home by requiring excessive notice, or limiting showing to certain hours or days, you will likely have a hard time getting people in to see it.
12 – Following the Prospective Buyers Around
When buyers come to see your home, many sellers have the habit of following them around from room to room and trying to point out all of the different features or details. There are a couple reasons this is not a good idea.
First, you are likely making the buyers uncomfortable which will cause them to rush. Second, they need their space to discuss the pros and cons with their agent and each other. It’s difficult for people to do this when the owners are within earshot.
13 – What is That Smell
If your home has a particular odor, you need to find out where it’s coming from and stop it, or at the very least put in some air fresheners. The most common culprits for odors are cat litter boxes, dog beds, moisture under the sink, or a loose wax seal for a toilet.
There You Have It
So there it is. If your home has been sitting on the market for too long without any action, you just might be guily of one of these 13 deadly sins. Identify the problem, fix it, and get that sucker sold!