By: Paula Pant
Wondering why your home is still sitting on the market after weeks-or even months-of showings? Can’t figure out why your open houses are well-populated but nothing ever comes of them? Or maybe no one is coming to your open houses at all?
It’s easy to get frustrated when your home isn’t selling and you don’t know why. Which is why we’ve rounded up 10 of the top reasons houses sit on the market. Chances are no one’s biting because
Your home is really only worth what people are willing to pay for it.
you’ve committed one (or more) of these mistakes. Identify which ones they are, do the work to set them right, and you could be signing on the dotted line in no time.
1. It’s priced way too high. Like or not, the market dictates how much you get for your home-regardless of how much you think you’re home is “really” worth. Buyers will be looking at comparable homes in your area and seeing how yours stacks up, and if your asking price is much higher, it will work against you.
Remember, your home is really only worth what people are willing to pay for it.
2. Your timing is off. More people house-hunt in the spring, summer and early fall than they do in the winter. It’s simply a matter of convenience — no one wants to trek from house to house in the snow and freezing temperatures, and even if they find a house they like, no one wants to move in at that time, hauling cardboard boxes across snow and ice. Unless they need to find a home ASAP, many put their searches on hold over the winter.
That’s not to say you can’t sell your home during the wintertime, but you need to take the season into consideration. Offering incentives (like a $500 credit towards moving services) and targeting buyers who are on a similar deadline can help.
3. Buyers can’t find it. More and more buyers are searching online, and if your home isn’t listed in all the places they’re looking, they could be passing you by. Make sure your home is listed on major real estate sites like Homefinder, Zillow and Trulia, as well as on the multiple listing service (or MLS) used by realtors.
4. Your photos suck. When buyers do find your home’s listing, your photos (or lack thereof) could be sending them away. Buyers want to get a good feel for what a home has to offer before they decide to arrange to visit it in-person, and they can’t do that if you have no photos, few photos, or photos that are of a very low quality.
Include plenty of shots of the major areas of your home, as well as what the front and back exterior look like. Highlight any special selling points. Make sure these photos are well-lit, in focus and show off your home at its best.
5. It needs some work. While some buyers may be willing to take on a “project,” the majority of them won’t-especially if you’re asking the same price as homes that don’t need any repairs. From big things like a leaky roof to little things like a leaky faucet, you don’t want your buyers creating a running list in their head of projects they’ll need to take on if they buy your home.
Fix everything you can before you list so that when buyers tour your home, they can focus on the home and not how much it will cost them in repairs.
6. It’s got too much “you” in it. Roman statesman Cicero once said that people fail because they “refuse to set aside trivial preferences.” Apparently, he would have been a great at selling homes.
You want people to be able to picture themselves living in your home, and they can’t do that if too many of your personal touches are on display.
Get rid of those family photos on the mantle in the living room and your kids’ drawings tacked up on the fridge. Repaint bold-colored walls a more neutral tone. Remove any statements pieces that aren’t to everyone’s taste. If you’re a big collector, take some of your souvenirs and knickknacks down and box them up for your next home.
7. You’ve made some weird changes. You might have loved the idea of turning your garage into a rec room, but most buyers would rather have the storage space for their vehicles and tools. Converting that spare bedroom into a huge walk-in closet might have been fun for you, but most buyers would rather have the extra bedroom for children or guests.
If you’ve made a renovation or upgrade that goes against what most people expect to find in a home in your neighborhood, you could be turning off potential buyers and could also hurt your resale value if someone does make you an offer. Undo any such changes if you can, or be prepared to lower your asking price to reflect them.
8. Your curb appeal needs help. If buyers don’t like the state of your home from the outside, they’re not as likely to come inside to see the rest of it. If your listing shows your home at its best but you’ve since let the weeds overtake it, buyers will wonder what’s happened to the inside. Unswept paths, overgrown lawns, chipping paint, sagging gutters — all of these things signal to buyers that you haven’t maintained your home properly, and they make take one look and decide to drive on.
9. You’re smothering buyers. As much as you may want to see “how things are going” or be around to answer questions or offer insights, you need to let your real estate agent handle things. Go out for coffee, go see a movie, go do anything that gets you out of the house (and out of buyers’ hair) when your home is being shown.
Not only will this put less pressure on buyers; it will enable them to feel free to voice their real opinions-which can help you identify sticking points you need to work on to make your home more appealing.
10. You’re trying to go it alone. Real estate agents’ fees can take a decent amount out of your total sale proceeds, it’s true — but if you go the DIY home-selling route, you run the risk of getting zero proceeds when it doesn’t sell at all. If you’re having trouble selling your home on your own, it may be time to call in a pro.
Agents can help you present and market your home to the right target audience via the right platform. They can help you get the word out in a way that “for sale by owner” signs and local news classifieds just can’t — especially if you’re inexperienced or in a hurry. They can also help you navigate the world of negotiating and closing when an offer finally arrives.