Of all the surprises I encountered as a new investor, one of the biggest “shockers” was that it was WAY easier for me to buy properties for cheap than 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 followed by four 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 my properties were located in Michigan, the #1 hardest-hit state by the recession.
- I wasn't a licensed real estate agent (and I'm still not, by the way), which limited my access to the largest pool of buyers (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; 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 a deal that nobody seems to care about – it can create some mental setbacks for an investor, to the point where you question everything.
As you can imagine, it makes for a pretty miserable experience, and this is not the 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 asking 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 they can accept and believe it.
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, comparables, features, potential uses, etc.).
The bottom line is, 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, this boils down to a simple lack of promotion. You’ve said all the right things, clearly communicated the value and provided all the right information – but you’re not using a big enough loudspeaker.
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, you must 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, your other marketing efforts are 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 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 GIGANTIC impact on the “sale-ability” of your property. In many cases, you will have one shot at making a good first impression on 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.
The components of a great real estate listing can be distilled down to a few key things:
Use Photos That Are HIGH QUALITY (and pay a pro if you need to)
This should go without saying, but for some reason, many sellers just don’t get this.
Have you ever shopped for something online (a car, a property, or any other random product you're interested in) and bought from a listing or sales page with no pictures? Do you feel comfortable buying something without first seeing a good visual representation of what you're getting?
If you’re like 99.99999% of the population, you probably want a good look at what you're buying ahead of time.
Images are extremely important to a listing. We all know this… so why 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, but it all boils down to your ability to tap into people's emotions. Understand which aspects of your property are truly remarkable and elaborate 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 advertising on websites like Craigslist, the importance of your headline cannot be emphasized enough. The whole purpose of a headline is to catch your buyer's attention (to the point that they will 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 much more common selling tool in property listings today. Take a look at this example below and tell me – would this drone video help you see the value in a property? Does it help you envision some of the possibilities?
I'll let you be the judge.
2. Promote Your Listings In More Places
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, you need to get your listing in front of thousands of people 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 (where ads get pushed off the front page pretty quickly), you MUST renew and update these ads regularly 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. 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
Seller financing is a very powerful money-making tool because:
- An investor can make much more money from the same sale price.
- An investor can create streams of passive income for years into the future.
- It allows many more buyers to be a viable match for your properties, especially those who wouldn't otherwise be able to obtain outside financing.
Seller Financing doesn’t always make sense for every deal, but if you’re willing and able to accept installment payments for your properties over a set period (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 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 figure out what that additional feature would be.
In some cases, the zoning of a property may make it obvious which improvements would be an automatic value add (for example, if a lot is zoned for mobile homes, adding a cement slab to the property may make sense). In other cases, you'll be better off asking your prospective buyers directly,
“What is this property missing? What would need to be changed or improved in order for you to buy it?”
Remember, not every buyer wants the same thing, so the idea isn't to blindly do whatever a random prospect tells you. The idea is to simply understand what people want… and if you notice a recurring theme, that can help inform you about what improvements you ought to make.
6. Offer a Warranty
If you’re selling a property that comes with a lot of uncertainty, like:
- A 100-year-old house with a 30-year-old roof and appliances from the ’80s
- A vacant lot with potential limitations in what it can be used for
- Any kind of property that just isn’t selling (whatever the reason may be)
A warranty can help you eliminate the mental roadblocks from the minds of your buyers, giving them the added comfort that this property will serve its purpose, and any unexpected “surprises” will be covered for a predetermined period.
Whether you purchase a formal Home Warranty or offer it on a handshake basis to your buyer, offering ANY added security will usually put you way ahead of the competition because most sellers don’t do it.
If you feel your buyers aren’t comfortable with some aspect of your property, figure out the problem and see if a warranty might resolve the issue.
7. Are Buyers Saying “No”? Ask Them Why!
The word “Why” can be immensely powerful when trying to assess your buyers' needs and wants. Many 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, you can work on filling in these gaps and giving them an offer they can’t refuse.
8. Build a Buyers List
A Buyers List is a major component of some real estate investing operations. I know of some investors who 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 properties in a matter of 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 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 very skilled on the phone. Whenever he got a new deal under contract (a deal he was planning to assign to another investor), 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 one was to look for any/all of the potential buyers in his area (preferably, those who were 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 were 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! Sales are 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 often the easiest move but also the LAST move you want to make.
Lowering the price is easy because it doesn't require much thought or effort. In many cases, it will effectively make your sale happen 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.
It's true – sometimes you are asking too much for your property because the value isn't there. Still, there are plenty of scenarios where your property can easily sell for 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 need to reassess everything... so be flexible and don't rule anything out. If you keep an open mind and keep ALL of 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 many people who get frustrated when they haven't found a buyer after having their property on the market for one month, and it's worth noting that some properties just take a few months to sell, and that's okay.
Many factors can affect the speed of your selling process, especially when the market is sluggish in your area. 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 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.
I have never encountered a property I couldn't sell 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).
Every property has a buyer if you can get that buyer to see the value. The key is being flexible, level-headed, and willing to learn from each situation. If you convince yourself that you somehow have all the answers, you're doomed (because nobody knows it all).
I've been in this business for many years now and still learn 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.