Of all the surprises I encountered as a new investor, one of the biggest “shockers” was the fact that it was WAY easier for me to buy properties for cheap than it was for me to sell them fast.
Most investors can probably relate to this problem on some level. If you do more than a few transactions per year, it's only a matter of time until you get a property under contract that just won't freaking sell.
I Know The Frustration
When I started my real estate investing career, I had a lot of things going against me…
- It was late-2008, which was closely followed by 4 solid years of a major recession along with some TERRIBLE selling conditions.
- My primary focus was on vacant land – which (in most cases) has a significantly smaller pool of buyers than almost any other type of real estate.
- All of my properties were located in Michigan, which at the time was the #1 hardest-hit state by the recession.
- I wasn't a licensed real estate agent (and I'm still not, btw), which limited my access to the largest pool of buyers (aka – the Mainstream MLS Machine).
- I frankly wasn't born with the gift of salesmanship. It wasn't easy for me to “put myself out there” and drum up new business.
Believe me when I tell you, I've dealt with my fair share of properties that were difficult to sell. I know from experience that it is a very helpless and discouraging feeling to be “stuck” with a property that nobody seems to want. When you pour a lot of time and money into the deal that nobody seems to care about – it can really create some mental setbacks for an investor… to the point where you find yourself questioning everything.
As you can imagine, it makes for a pretty miserable experience and this is not a place I want you to be.
What Does This Mean?
When you have a property that just isn't selling, this should tell you something. In almost all cases, there is at least one key message (and possibly two key messages) you should be taking away:
Message #1. The buyers in your market don't agree with your asking price.
Keep in mind… this doesn't necessarily mean your price is wrong (although this is a possibility), but it DOES mean that in some way, you are failing to communicate this value to your buyers in a way that they can believe.
Sometimes it's because your pictures are terrible, sometimes it's because you haven't provided enough basic information, and sometimes you just haven't conveyed WHY your property is so valuable (location, comps, features, potential uses, etc.). In short, you are failing to connect the dots in the minds of your buyers. You're either asking too much (because the value truly isn't there), or you're not providing sufficient information for your buyers to say, “YES, I want to buy!”
Message #2. IF there is a buyer with the means & desire to buy your property, your promotional efforts haven't reached them yet.
In many instances, it all boils down to a simple lack of promotion. You've said all the right stuff, you've clearly communicated the value and you've provided all the right information – but you're not using a big enough loudspeaker.
For all intents and purposes, if your message isn't reaching the right people, it doesn't matter what you say or how good your listing is. If you haven't figured out how to get in front of your ideal buyers… it's all for nothing. For this reason, it is imperative that you put the necessary effort into promoting your listings thoroughly. Getting your property in front of the right eyeballs is a big deal. If you fail to do this, all of your other marketing efforts are literally wasted energy.
10 Proven Selling Remedies
With these things in mind, I wanted to give you a few ideas to fall back on when it seems like all hope is lost. I've been in this place myself – and in those moments, I've used all of these tactics and ideas at one time or another. In many cases, they have provided precisely the change/improvement/fine-tuning that was needed to generate interest from the right people and get my properties SOLD!
Let's jump into it…
1. Create a Better Property Listing
The quality of your property listing can have a monumental impact on the “sale-ability” of your property. In many cases, you will have one shot at making a first impression people, so if you aren't putting your best foot forward when your listing is first published – you can lose A LOT of would-be buyers. I've already gone into great detail about this in this post, but essentially – the components of a great real estate listing boil down to a few key things:
Use Photos That Are HIGH QUALITY (and pay a pro if you need to)
It really should go without saying, but for some reason – a lot of sellers just don't get this.
Have you ever shopped for properties online and seen listings with no pictures whatsoever? If you're like 99.99999% of the population, you probably scrolled right past them without a second thought – am I right?
Images are extremely important to a listing. We all know this… so why on earth don't we all use the best possible images we can produce?? If anything is worth a little extra time and money, this is it.
Write a Powerful Property Description
I could go on about this for hours (and you'll find a lot more detail right here), but the long and the short of it is this: learn to tap into people's emotions. Understand which aspects of your property are truly remarkable and hit on those features in great detail. Remember – at this stage of the game (when people are getting their first glance at your property) you're selling a dream, so write about your property in a way that makes it sound like a dream come true.
Use a Headline That Will Get Noticed
When you're advertising on websites like Craigslist, the importance of your headline cannot be emphasized enough. The name of the game with headlines is to catch your buyer's attention (to the point that they will actually click on your ad). If people aren't enticed to look at your listing in the first place, what's the point of creating a good listing in the first place?
Consider Paying for a Promotional Video
Videos are becoming a major player in real estate sales. Take a look at this example below and tell me – would this kind of virtual tour help you to envision yourself in a property? Does it communicate the property' value? I'll let you be the judge.
2. Promote Your Listings In More Places
I've found that in many cases, the calls don't start pouring in until I've posted my property listing in multiple places. When you have your marketing hat on, it's all about letting the world know what you have to offer. Think about it… if only 1 in 1,000 people will be a REAL, viable buyer for your property, this means you need to get your listing in front of thousands of people in order to talk with a few serious buyers.
In most cases, this usually isn't going to happen just by posting one ad on Craigslist and calling it a day. You need to post your ad EVERYWHERE. Be relentless! Get it in front of as many eyeballs as possible!
3. Promote Your Listings More Frequently
When you're dealing with websites like Craigslist, Backpage and eBay Classifieds (where ads get pushed off the front page pretty quickly), you MUST renew these ads on a regular basis in order to stay in front of people. If you don't keep this information near the top of each list, a lot of people aren't going to see it – this is just a fact of life. I hate to say it – but most buyers aren't going to scroll down to page 50 just to see your listing… if you're not front and center, you won't be seen by the masses – so be sure you're staying on top of this whenever possible.
4. Offer Seller Financing with Attractive Terms
In my experience, seller financing has been by far the most powerful money-making tool in my toolbox because:
a. It allows me to make a lot more money from the exact same sale price.
b. It allows me to create multiple streams of passive income for years into the future.
c. It gives many more buyer access to my property who never would have been able to obtain outside financing.
For more information on the power and benefits of seller financing, you can learn more about it here and here. Seller Financing doesn't always make sense for every deal – but if you're willing and able to accept installment payments for your property over a set period of time (which will multiply your revenue in the process), why not sweeten the deal for everyone in the transaction?
5. Make Improvements to the Property
Regardless of the type of real estate you're trying to sell – there is almost always the outside chance that someone would be willing to pay your asking price (or even more) IF it came with just one additional feature… the trick is to simply figure out what that additional feature would be. Whether you want to go as far as building an attached garage, or maybe just install the latest Toto toilet in each of your bathrooms. Need some other cool ideas? Check these out.
6. Offer a Home Warranty
If you're selling a property that comes with a lot of uncertainty (e.g. – If you're selling a 100-year-old house with a 30-year-old roof that needs to be replaced soon), a Home Warranty will allow you to eliminate these kinds of mental roadblocks from the minds of your buyers. If you're getting the sense that your buyers aren't comfortable with some aspect of your property – figure out what that is and see if a Home Warranty won't resolve the issue.
7. Are Buyers Saying “No”? Ask Them Why!
The word “Why” can be immensely powerful when you're trying to assess the needs and wants of your buyers. A lot of companies spend millions to understand what their customers want, so take it from the pros – it pays to know the needs and greeds of your buyers! When you understand what your buyers want (vs. what you're currently able to provide) – you can get to work on filling in this gap and giving them an offer they can't say “No” to.
8. Build a Buyers List
A Buyers List is a major component of some real estate investing operations. I know of some investors who literally don't even list their properties publicly – they simply send an email to their buyers list and as a result of their vast connections with cash buyers, they're able to sell their property in less than 24 hours.
Can you imagine being able to sell your property that easily? It's certainly possible, but you need to put the effort into creating your Buyers List first (and building a solid Buyers List can take a lot of time and effort). If you think this would be a helpful tool to have at work in your business, I'll show you how to create one right here.
9. Pick Up the Phone & Seek Out Buyers
I used to work with an investor who was excellent and handling himself on the phone. Whenever he got a new deal under contract – he wouldn't sit around and wait for the buyers to come to him, he would go out and find the buyers himself.
How did he do it? He would start with a simple Google search! Step 1 was to look for any/all of the potential buyers in his area (preferably, those who will be repeat buyers). He would call Builders, Developers, Realtors, Appraisers, Contractors, Investors and other real estate professionals – because he knew that ALL of these people had tons of connections with the buyers in the area (and many of them are buyers themselves).
If you want to take control of your selling process – don't be afraid to pick up the phone and start reaching out to people. Be proactive and take control of your sales process! The sales are virtually guaranteed to happen sooner if YOU are making the calls (rather than waiting for the calls to come to you).
10. Lower the Price
You'll notice that this is the last item on this list. That's because lowering the price is oftentimes the easiest thing to do, but it's also LAST thing you need to do.
Lowering the price is easy because it doesn't require much thought or mental energy. In many cases, it will allow your sale come sooner rather than later, but it's also a great way to shortchange yourself before you've exhausted all your other options. Just because it's easy to lower your number doesn't mean it's in your best interests to do so.
It's true – sometimes you really are asking too much for your property because and the value just isn't there, but there are also plenty of scenarios where your property can easily sell for every bit as much as you think it should, but it will only happen if you find the right button(s) above and push them.
If you're able to look a few levels deeper and focus on getting your buyers to see the value, I think you'll find that many people are more than happy to pay your full asking price IF they truly believe they're receiving value in excess of the amount that you're asking them to pay (and don't forget, “value” means different things to different people).
11. Donate Your Property (Bonus!)
If you're at the end of your rope and nothing else seems to be working – it may be worth your while to consider donating your real estate.
As this article explains, donating real estate isn't always the right fit for every situation, and it's important to find the right type of non-profit that is actually willing to consider your property as a donation (like this one, for example), but if you can make the right connections, it could be a viable alternative to simply write-off the value of your property and take it as a tax deduction, rather than going through all the effort of finding a buyer who will cash you out of your investment.
Be Ready to Adjust Your Expectations
Getting a property to sell doesn't always require a complete overhaul of your selling strategy. Sometimes it's as simple as changing ONE of the variables listed above.
On the other hand, sometimes you really do need to reassess everything... so be flexible and don't rule anything out. If you keep an open mind and keep ALL of your these loose ends tied up – you could very well end up selling your property this week (instead of months or years from now).
It's also important to recognize that selling real estate doesn't always happen at the speed of light. I hear from a lot of people who get frustrated when they haven't found a buyer after having their property on the market for one month… and I think it's worth noting that some properties just take a few months to sell and that's okay. There are many factors that can affect the speed (or lack thereof) of your selling process – especially when the market is sluggish in your area – and sometimes you just need to have patience.
I agree, it can be frustrating when results don't materialize immediately but don't lose hope! Selling is a skill that needs to be developed over time (I'm still developing it myself). The whole concept of getting into the heads of our buyers doesn't come naturally to most of us – we aren't mind readers after all… but once you learn the basic fundamentals of how to generate interest and move your inventory quickly, you'll find that this is a very helpful and profitable skill set to have.
Believe it or not – I have never encountered a property I couldn't move eventually. On some rare occasions, the price wasn't exactly what I had hoped for, but it's important to recognize that EVERYTHING will sell at the right price (even if that price is very, very low).
The truth is – any property will sell at the right price, and every property has a buyer out there IF you can get that buyer to see the value. The key is to be flexible, to be honest about the situation you're in, and to always be willing to learn from each individual situation. If you bust into your market, convinced that you somehow have all the answers – you're doomed (because let's be honest – nobody is a mind-reader).
I've been in this business for the better part of a decade now and I'm still learning new things from every property I sell. People change, markets change, economies change, everything changes – so be ready to change with the times and do what is necessary to stay on the cutting edge of the selling process.