We’re currently in the fifth year of one of the hottest seller’s markets ever. In many places, homes are selling within days – or even hours – for the list price or above.
If your house isn’t selling, there are only two possible reasons: either the price isn’t right or you’re asking too much for the condition or location that that your home is in. Either way, you’ve got to figure out what you’re doing wrong in order to get the problems fixed and your house sold.
There’s nothing much you can do if you have a location problem, such as living on a busy street, or near a local dump. However, there are things you can do to inexpensively improve the condition of your home.
And, you can do something about the way you market your home. Here are some suggestions to get your property moving:
Make sure you:
Assess what other homes similar to yours are selling for in your neighborhood. Do they have similar amenities? Are they in the same condition? How much are the sellers asking for, and receiving, for their homes. Visit open houses in your neighborhood and try to get a sense of what kinds of homes are selling, what condition they’re in, and how much buyers are offering.
Give your home a fresh listing number. If your home has been on the market for more than six months, the multiple listing service (MLS) number will make it look old and stale in comparison to newer listings. Taking your property off the market for a few weeks or even a month or two while you improve its condition or redo your landscaping, and then relisting the property could help. If you change agents, your property will automatically receive a new listing number.
Think about changing agents. If your agent hasn’t been doing a bang-up job marketing the property, or if he or she doesn’t seem to be that interested in showing up or returning your phone calls, it may be time to hire someone new. Consider hiring someone who works exclusively in your neighborhood, who has a good track record of getting homes sold. (Of course, you’ll want to interview a few different agents to make sure you’re hiring the best one for the job.)
Give your curb appeal a punch. It’s almost summer and many homes could do with a good dose of color. Consider hiring a professional landscaper to give your garden a 2-hour touch-up. Buy a few pots and place colorful annuals at strategic places in your front and back yard. Power wash your home, or paint the exterior. You’ll often get back at least what you put into it and sometimes a whole lot more.
Don’t forget to clean. Your home could be in perfect shape, but if prospective buyers trip over the dust balls in the front hallway, they may assume there’s something wrong with your home that can’t be fixed with a little elbow grease.
Give the buyer broker a raise. In a strong market, sellers assume that brokers don’t have to work that hard. But buyer brokers are working harder than ever. If your house has sat for the past six months, consider giving a bonus to the broker to bring the buyer to your door – and make sure your agent puts that bonus in the MLS for all buyer’s agents to see.
Give the buyer a break. Many first-time buyers are strapped for cash. If you’ve got a house that would make a fine first-time buyer home, offer to buy down the buyer’s mortgage, pay some of the closing costs, part of the real estate taxes, or even provide the buyer with seller financing.
Lower the price. If the condition of your home meets or exceeds the standard for the neighborhood, considering simply lowering your price. Today’s home buyers are a sophisticated lot, and they know when a seller is unrealistic about dollars and cents. However, if a house is priced right, often several home buyers will flock to the property and a bidding war will ensue. If that’s the case, you might end up getting the price you originally wanted – even though you started out a lot lower.