If your property isn’t selling in this market, you’re doing something wrong.
Sure, every local market is different, but most ones across the U.S. are booming right now. It’s a seller’s market, and will likely remain one for the foreseeable future.
Here are seven potential reasons why your property isn’t selling … and exactly what to do about it.
Problem #1: You Overpriced It
Let’s start with the most obvious issue, shall we?
You want to walk away with the top dollar when you sell your property — as well you should. But ask yourself: “Is my property positioned to sell for top dollar?”
If you’re selling on-market with a Realtor, you presumably asked their opinion on sales price when you listed the property. Did you listen to their advice? Or, did you stubbornly insist your property is worth more?
If your Realtor proposed the price and it’s still not selling, ask around for more perspectives and opinions from other reputable agents familiar with your market. Look up comps on Zillow or Trulia and get a sense for the local market yourself.
Lowering the price isn’t the only solution. You could offer a conditional discount if the buyer can settle by a certain date. Or you could even offer a seller concession to cover your buyer’s closing costs on a similar conditional timeframe.
Lastly, you can always pull it off the market for a week or two while you address some of the other potential problems on this list.
Problem #2: It’s Crammed with Your Stuff
You’re not a hoarder (and even if you are, you probably won’t admit it). But properties filled with furniture, personal decorations, knick-knacks, gewgaws, trinkets, and just general “stuff” is a huge turnoff for buyers.
It’s not just the clutter that deters people. The more furniture in a room, the smaller it looks.
One solution: Pull everything but the bare minimum furniture out of the property, if you’re continuing to live there. It literally makes your property look bigger.
The other problem with your stuff littering the property is that it makes it far harder for prospects to visualize their own belongings in it. People make decisions emotionally, based on what they can visualize and imagine for their future.
Make it easier for them to visualize themselves living there! Get rid of as much junk as possible.
If you're an investor selling a vacant property, you can always go in the other direction and stage it with some minimal, tasteful furnishings. Just make sure you consult an interior design/staging professional; your taste probably isn't as chic as you think.
Problem #3: It’s Ugly
Have mustard-yellow appliances from the ‘70s? Or bathrooms last updated when Reagan was president?
All right, so those are obvious issues. But it’s not always so clear.
If you live in a property you intend to sell, you probably don’t notice the chipped tile in the bathroom or the scuffs on the walls. But let me tell you: Prospective buyers will.
Talk to your Realtor about what aesthetic changes would make a big difference. It could mean refinishing the hardwood floors, repainting the walls, re-carpeting, or updating the kitchen and/or bathrooms.
It doesn't stop with the interior, though. Look outside. How’s your curb appeal? Could the exterior use power washing? How’s the landscaping? Does the front door “pop”?
Don’t just ask your Realtor, either. Ask around among your friends, when they come and visit to get their initial feelings about your property's exterior.
If the property is an investment property, ask for feedback from prospects and their Realtors after they view the property.
You can sell ugly homes, just not for top dollar.
Problem #4: It Has a Structural or Mechanical Problem
Structural and mechanical problems scare off most buyers — plain and simple.
“But,” you splutter, “I got a quote on fixing that, and I've shown it to prospects! It will only cost $5,000 to repair!”
Maybe. Maybe not. Buyers catch one whiff of structural or mechanical problems and they wonder, “What other major problems are lurking beneath the surface?”
Consider fixing these problems yourself and pricing your property accordingly. A $5,000 structural repair might allow you to sell the property for $25,000 more because it removes risk and fear for buyers.
Problem #5: It Stinks (Literally)
Who wants to buy a property with odor problems?
Besides making a terrible impression on prospects, it also raises similar fears and questions in the minds of buyers. Can the smell be removed? What’s causing it?
Is it toxic mold?! OH MY GOD THIS HOUSE IS A DEATH TRAP!!!
You can see how bad odors can be the kiss of death for your listing.
Find the problem yourself. If the property is carpeted, start by replacing or steam cleaning the carpets. If there’s any risk of mold, bring in experts to remediate it.
Lysol is your friend. So are scented candles. Open windows help. Above all else, clean the property until it sparkles.
Problem #6: Your Photos Suck
Prospects are sifting through dozens – if not hundreds – of online listings. Sure, they filter their searches by price and bedrooms, but once they pull up those filtered listings, they’re looking at photos first and foremost.
Yours better not suck.
If you took the photos yourself, your photos are probably not up to snuff. If your Realtor took them, well … they might be okay, but chances are they're not much better.
Ask for feedback from others — preferably people unfamiliar with your property.
Consider hiring a professional real estate photographer. According to a study by Imoto, listings with professional photos sell 50% faster and 39% closer to the full listing price. They also generate 118% more online views.
A professional photographer isn’t an expense; it’s an investment with a measurable return.
Problem #7: Your Realtor and Marketing Suck
Not all Realtors are created equal.
In fact, many Realtors are downright unprofessional: stay-at-home moms looking for some extra income or corporate lackeys trying out a side gig.
Do you really want to put an asset worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in their hands?
Find the elite Realtors in your market. In particular, find esteemed, well-reviewed agents who specialize in your specific neighborhood. They’re the ones who will be able to give you the best feedback about pricing, condition, and so on.
It doesn’t stop with local market knowledge, either. They know people in the market.
They also know which marketing tactics will be most effective for that neighborhood. Postcards? Flyers at the local gym or community center? Virtual tours? Virtual reality tours?
Good Realtors also constantly seek feedback: from prospects, from other Realtors, and even from other local experts.
Hire the best Realtor, for your specific neighborhood and market.
It’s Not You, It’s … No, Actually, It Is You
It’s easier for investors to be objective about their properties when they go to sell. They aren’t emotionally involved, and they aren’t blinded by being too close to the property and its quirks.
Homeowners have a harder time gaining perspective on their home.
Take a step back. Try to look at the property with completely fresh eyes. Ask others for their opinions, beyond just speaking with your Realtor.
Your daughter’s bubble-gum-pink bedroom is a problem. Your husband’s man cave that smells like homebrew is a problem. They may be endearing to you, but they’re giant turnoffs to your prospects.
If you want to sell for a certain amount, and prospects aren’t biting, start looking at what you can do to make the property worth that price. What will entice buyers to actually pay that?
Will a marketing gimmick, such as smart-home systems or a backyard hot tub, help generate more attention and showings? (Aside: You can buy a used hot tub for $500-$2,000.)
Buyers want up-to-date, clean, move-in-ready properties. Most of all, they want to buy a property with no major risks hanging over their heads. If you want your property to move, look for ways to give buyers what they want.