July 20, 2015
Has your home been sitting stagnant on the market for months? There are a number of reasons that your house may not be selling, but the solutions are often simple. Obviously, there are basic steps that are “givens” that every seller has to take before listing -- cleaning and decluttering, sprucing-up curb appeal, repainting and freshening where necessary. However, even when sellers remember to care of these items, there are still classic mistakes many sellers make that keep their houses on the market longer than necessary. Here are five:
In a robust or recovering residential real estate market, home-sellers sometimes make the mistake of “starting out high” with an asking price that’s unrealistic, given the area comps, or comparables. The problem with overreaching like this is that once a home hits the market at an inappropriate price, you’ve lost the interest of a whole group of buyers who might otherwise be good prospects. Once you’ve scared them off, it’s hard to backpedal. Experienced real estate professionals have a saying – there’s a buyer for every home, providing it’s priced right.
Late fall and winter aren’t great times for houses to hit the market. House-hunting traffic at Thanksgiving and Christmas is low for obvious reasons, and the depths of winter are no one’s ideal time to head out to an open house. Rather, spring, summer and early fall are ideal times to list your house. That time of year is best for families with kids needing to change schools, the weather is optimal, and chances are your home will look its best then.
There’s something about going through a home in which every room screams personal facts about the current owners that is an immediate turnoff to potential buyers. Walls festooned with dozens of family photos, shelves overflowing with school/sports awards, children’s crayon drawings on the refrigerator door, displays of hobbies and special interests that would-be buyers might find objectionable (think gun racks and hunting trophies) - these are all examples of things that are a real estate buzzkill. A house for sale must “read” as a blank artist’s canvas on which a buyer can project his or her own family and lifestyle – not be confronted with yours at every turn.
Most real estate professionals agree that, at an open house, the current owners should not be present. A current owner hovering while a would-be buyer tours his or her home makes everyone nervous, hinders buyers’ honest reactions to the property and can result in buyers feeling pressured and/or hurried. Better for current owners to go for a drive, head out for a cappuccino or take in a movie on open-house day.
While a small percentage of “For Sale By Owner” transactions are successful for a fortunate few, do-it-yourself residential real estate sales are most often a mistake. It’s an enormous benefit to work with a real estate sales professional. Not only will you immediately tap into his or her established network of current buyers and active house-hunters, your online presence will be stronger, your marketing more professional, your staging and photography more polished and perhaps, most importantly, once an offer comes in, you won’t have to engage in complex buyer negotiations on your own.
Remember, if your home isn’t selling, there’s a reason. If, as a seller, you find yourself in that predicament, ask yourself if you might just be making any or all of the above common mistakes!